Father’s Day Press Release: How US troops all over the world can say ‘I love you’ to their kids back home

GHMILY Anniversary Edition Cover ArtPress Release: Bestselling storybook Guess How Much I Love You and nonprofit United Through Reading help deployed military dads deliver a special message to their kids, perfect for Father’s Day

Although millions of children in the US will be celebrating Father’s Day with their dads on June 21, for many children whose fathers are serving in the military, dad won’t be at home. But thanks to nonprofit United Through Reading and a very special storybook, there’s a way for every dad to tell his kids he loves them this Father’s Day – however far away he might be.

United Through Reading helps thousands of military men and women separated from the children in their lives during deployment to share in the magical bedtime story experience together, wherever they are in the world. And so service members all over the country – and the world – have the opportunity to be video-recorded reading storybooks to their children at home, whether it’s from a tent in Afghanistan, a base in Djibouti, Africa, or one of nearly 200 recording locations worldwide.

Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney and illustrated by Anita Jeram is one of United Through Reading’s most popular book choices, especially for Father’s Day – its story celebrates the unique bond between father and child. The tale of Big Nutbrown Hare and Little Nutbrown Hare’s attempts to measure their love for one another has resonated with parents and children all over the world, and has struck a particular chord with military families facing separation. A global bestseller celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, Guess How Much I Love You has become one of the world’s best loved picture books.

Guess How Much I Love You is one of United Through Reading’s favorite book titles,” says United Through Reading CEO, Dr. Sally Ann Zoll, Ed.D.  “Since it was written 20 years ago, we have been providing the storybook to service members near and far to record for their loved ones at home. The story is simple, but the message is a very special one, reassuring little ones at home that a Father’s love is immeasurable with the beloved line, ‘I love you right up to the moon and back.’ For service members who are away from home, the story serves as a reminder that their love can close the distance.  This book is a treasure!” ​

PRT Farah Completes United Through Reading Read-a-thon

U.S. Navy Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Jennifer Kleve, left, a medic with Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) Farah, helps set up a camera for U.S. Army Capt. Jacob Estrada, right, security force commander for the PRT, prior to his participation in a United Through Reading Read-a-thon on FOB Farah, Jan. 18. Participants in the program were encouraged to read to children in their families or to students at Birch Elementary in Idaho, to promote childhood literacy. United Through Reading is a non-profit organization that enables deployed service members to share their love and support with their children by reading books aloud on DVD. PRT Farah’s mission is to train, advise, and assist Afghan government leaders at the municipal, district, and provincial levels in Farah province Afghanistan. Their civil military team is comprised of members of the U.S. Navy, U.S. Army, the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). (U.S. Navy photo by Lt. j.g. Matthew Stroup/released)

Learn more: Deployed dads deliver #FathersDay message with @UTR4Military and #GuessHowMuchILoveYou

A heartfelt video especially for Father’s Day featuring military parents reading Guess How Much I Love You to their children back home in a United Through Reading recording. http://youtu.be/-PvcCmSkfZE



United Through Reading is a non-profit 501 (c)(3) public benefit organization that has been around for more than 25 years; it’s mission is to unite military families facing physical separation by facilitating the bonding experience of reading aloud together.  United Through Reading offers service members the opportunity to be video-recorded reading storybooks to children at home which eases the stress of separation, maintains positive emotional connections, and cultivates a love of reading and early childhood literacy.  At nearly 200 recording locations worldwide, service members can read to the children who are special to them from units on ships, in tents in Afghanistan, on bases around the world, and at more than 40 USO centers worldwide.  Since its inception, nearly 2 million military parents, spouses and children have benefited from the program.



 IBSN:  9780763674489 $16.99 / $19.00    

Guess How Much I Love You is celebrating its 20thanniversary in 2015.Now available in a deluxe anniversary edition, Guess How Much I Love You is one of the most successful children’s books of all time, selling 28 million copies and published in 53 languages. Published by Candlewick Press, Sam McBratney’s timeless, endearing story of Big and Little Nutbrown Hare, beautifully rendered in Anita Jeram’s watercolours, has charmed people of all ages. It has become one of the world’s best-loved picture books, and the phrase ‘I love you right up to the moon and back’ has come to signify a way of saying ‘I love you’ to someone special. You can find out more about this extraordinary book here http://www.guesshowmuchiloveyou.com/us.


Candlewick Press is an independent publisher based in Somerville, Massachusetts. For over twenty years, Candlewick has published outstanding children’s books for readers of all ages, including books by award-winning authors and illustrators such as the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, Kate DiCamillo, M. T. Anderson, Jon Klassen, and Laura Amy Schlitz; the widely acclaimed Judy Moody, Mercy Watson, and ’Ology series; and favorites such as Guess How Much I Love You, Where’s Waldo?, and Maisy. Candlewick is part of the Walker Books Group, together with Walker Books UK in London and Walker Books Australia. The Walker Books Group has a unique ownership structure that includes all of its employees worldwide. Visit Candlewick online at www.candlewick.com

17 Ideas to Help Beat the Summer Slide

designThough the term Summer Slide sounds fun and innocuous, it actually refers to learning loss. Learning loss is inevitable when young, developing minds are idle for 3 months. Reading skills and levels are particularly impacted with research indicating that kids who do not read over the summer can lose up to three months of reading achievement. In addition, this learning loss is cumulative over the years, which is a daunting obstacle to overcome as children get older.

It’s expected that anytime you stop practicing a skill for several months, there will be some catching up when you pick up the skill again. Reading every day is vital to combatting Summer Slide, but there are also other innovative and interactive methods parents can apply to keep summer fun while stimulating young minds at the same time:

(1) Read Something Every Day. This is the #1 rule and parents should lead by example and read too. Whether it’s a magazine, the newspaper, a comic book or novel, encourage children to read at least 30 minutes every day. Keeping a basket of books in the car is a great way to steal some reading time.

(2) Read at Least 6 Books this Summer. Create your own home reading program with an incentive for completing 6 reading level appropriate books. If you don’t know your child’s reading level, consult their teacher. Parents know best what will motivate their own children. Challenge your child to come up with a name, theme and logo. It can be as simple or as complicated as you’d like, with your own timeframe and rules. Just make sure to follow through and encourage your young readers.

(3) Read Aloud with Your Child. It seems counterintuitive to read aloud with your child when they learn to read on their own. But reading aloud with your child presents many benefits, especially as they get older. Consider a family book club where you and your child take turns reading aloud to each other from a mutually selected book.

(4) Read the book and then watch the movie. Many books have been adapted for the big screen, it’s tempting for all ages to skip the book and fast forward to the movie. For early readers on to YA Fiction, incent and reward your child with a book movie party after they’ve read the book first. Then, hold a critic’s review and discuss the differences and similarities, likes and dislikes.

(5) Book swap with friends. Get together with friends and have informal book swaps where kids can borrow books from each other. No matter what librarian, parent, teacher or website recommends, peers can be the best source of good reads.

(6) Cook with Your Children. Reading recipes, measuring, and preparing can develop comprehension, math, and motor skills. In addition, children who engage in meal prep are more likely to eat different foods.

(7) Trips to Museums and Zoos. Museums are great resources for learning and most of the time, kids aren’t even aware they’re learning. Be sure to take your time and allow kids to read all of the great signs and graphics set up at each exhibit.

(8) Keep a Journal. A great way to keep writing skills polished over the summer is to have kids keep a daily journal. Jotting down just a couple of sentences a day can help keep up sentence structures, penmanship, and vocabulary.

(9) Listen to Audiobooks. A long car trip is the perfect opportunity to listen to an Audiobook. The Library has a huge selection of Audiobooks to choose from. Also, on hot summer days, staying inside and listening to an audiobook for a few hours can be a perfect, relaxing, mid-day activity.

(10) Regular Game Nights. Games can make kids into better students. In addition to being fun, they can teach valuable math, reasoning, executive functioning, teamwork, and sportsmanship skills.

(11) Join the Summer Reading Program at the Library. Summer library reading programs began in the late 1800s as a way to encourage non-working school children to read during summer vacation. Today, library reading programs are the public’s most popular choice for summer reading programs. Commit to visit the library once a week during the summer and let your child take their time browsing and selecting books. It’s free, air-conditioned, and the books are always changing, you’ll be surprised at what you’ll find.

(12) Incorporate geography. Print out a map of the world and ask your child to pin countries and states where the characters in the books live or visit. This can be a fun way to initiate interest in different locations around the world. Also, readers may gain satisfaction in keeping track of all the different cities they have virtually traveled to through their reading.

(13) Give Kids Access to Books. Even if you have a large selection of books in your home library, visit the Library regularly. The inventory at the Library changes by the hour and it’s guaranteed that kids will find something new to read every visit. Also, book ownership is important in establishing an appreciation for books.

(14) Give Kids a Choice in Selecting Books. Allow them to choose what they want to read. Even if it’s 100 graphic novels, giving kids a choice will capture their attention and interest longer.

(15) Keep Up with the Math Facts. There’s many way to keep up with math facts and many of them require no more than a few minutes of investment at a time and best of all, flashcards aren’t required. Quiz facts while waiting for meals, riding in cars, taking walks, or riding bikes. Just a few minutes a day can keep the dust off.

(16) Set Aside Time Every day. Most people want to avoid routines in the summer, but sticking to a time every day for reading will help develop expectations and good habits during the usually unscheduled summer months.

(17) Set Goals and Celebrate. Reading shouldn’t be a chore, and the habits that young readers develop now can benefit them into adulthood. Have a discussion at the beginning of summer and set realistic goals. Be sure to reward and celebrate accomplishments along the way and at the end of summer.


Asperkids: Seeing Pink on the Autism Spectrum

On this the eve of April, also known as National Autism Awareness Month, the United States will begin to light up blue as a special opportunity to educate the public about Autism and issues within the Autism community. It is a wonderfully charged initiative that will positively touch many families and individuals who live with Autism and Asperger’s. However, as communities recognize and support the various “Light It Up Blue” campaigns across our nation, our education on Autism is only half complete without “Seeing Pink on the Spectrum” as well.

“Seeing Pink on the Spectrum” creator, Jennifer Cook O’Toole, is bringing attention to the fact that girls on the Autism/Asperger’s spectrum present characteristics and traits that can be VERY different than how boys on the spectrum present. Not only is this true for Autism/Asperger’s, it’s true for ADD/ADHD as well. And because not all parents, educators and even some medical providers are aware of these differences, some girls on the Autism/Asperger’s spectrum are getting lost, or labeled incorrectly.

Jennifer Cook O’Toole was diagnosed as an Aspie in adulthood, is the mother of three Asperkids, the wife of an Aspie, an award-winning educator and author of the internationally-celebrated “Asperkids” book series. Through her Asperkids organization, she is on a relentless mission to educate and help the Asperger’s community on this issue, among others:

“Girls who don’t fit in are casually dismissed as ‘too smart,’ ‘oversensitive,’ and ‘dramatic.’ Adults will shrug, ‘Girls can be so mean.’ Or they pejoratively attach labels like ‘bossy’ or ‘stuck up’ when they ought to use the one that can help: ‘Aspie’.”

Her article, “Seeing the Pink on the Spectrum: An Aspie Mother’s Gift to Her Aspie Daughter….and Yours” is a must read. With a checklist included, this article could help you understand you or your child better.

Find out more about Jennifer Cook O’Toole and Asperkids at www.asperkids.com.

10 Lessons The Arts Teach- National Art Education Association

“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.” –Pablo Picasso

In this technology focused era with over scheduled days, excessive workloads for students and parents and trimmed school budgets, it’s easy to ignore the importance of art in child development. This importance doesn’t hinge on whether a child has “talent”, rather it’s about “creativity” and fostering a child’s ability to express themselves and create a meaningful experience. Through these meaningful experiences, whether by art, sports, or music, they develop cognitive, social, problem-solving, communication and emotional skills-key ingredients for developing a healthy child.

Parents can encourage children to participate and get interested in art in a variety of ways. At home, having art supplies available and accessible is vital in engaging children.  Though art can get messy and supplies can create clutter, accessibility and freedom to create are important variables in the art process. Parents need to get involved, whether taking the time to create art with your kids or viewing art at a local museum, parental involvement determines how much art a child is exposed to outside of school.

According to the National Art Education Association, here are 10 Lessons the Arts Teach:

1. The arts teach children to make good judgments about qualitative relationships. Unlike much of the curriculum in which correct answers and rules prevail, in the arts, it is judgment rather than rules that prevail.

2. The arts teach children that problems can have more than one solution and that questions can have more than one answer.

3. The arts celebrate multiple perspectives. One of their large lessons is that there are many ways to see and interpret the world.

4. The arts teach children that in complex forms of problem solving purposes are seldom fixed, but change with circumstance and opportunity. Learning in the arts requires the ability and a willingness to surrender to the unanticipated possibilities of the work as it unfolds.

5. The arts make vivid the fact that neither words in their literal form nor numbers exhaust what we can know. The limits of our language do not define the limits of our cognition.

6. The arts teach students that small differences can have large effects. The arts traffic in subtleties.

7. The arts teach students to think through and within a material. All art forms employ some means through which images become real.

8. The arts help children learn to say what cannot be said. When children are invited to disclose what a work of art helps them feel, they must reach into their poetic capacities to find the words that will do the job.

9. The arts enable us to have experience we can have from no other source and through such experience to discover the range and variety of what we are capable of feeling.

10. The arts’ position in the school curriculum symbolizes to the young what adults believe is important.

SOURCE: Eisner, E. (2002). The Arts and the Creation of Mind, In Chapter 4, What the Arts Teach and How It Shows. (pp. 70-92). Yale University Press. Available from NAEA Publications. NAEA grants reprint permission for this excerpt from Ten Lessons with proper acknowledgment of its source and NAEA. https://www.arteducators.org/advocacy/10-lessons-the-arts-teach

Whether you sign your child up for a class, take them to the museum, or sit in the driveway with sidewalk chalk, participate and engage in art with your children. These experiences will foster a deep and rich inner growth in children that you will not regret As Picasso said, “The important thing is to create.”

Don’t Underestimate the Effects of Sleep Deprivation

Recently, The New York Times and The Huffington Post published articles about the effects of sleep deprivation. The New York Times article describes how the symptoms of chronic sleep deficit can sometimes disguise itself as symptoms of A.D.H.D.  It is an eye opening article worthy of a mandate for change in sleep habits for adults and children alike. Certainly, not all children and adults diagnosed with A.D.H.D are chronically sleep deprived. However, the relationship between the increase in A.D.H.D diagnoses and the increase in sleep deficit cannot be ignored.

The Huffington Post article discusses results from a survey of 1,000 people (18 + older), conducted by an internal research team. The survey included questions about stress triggers and how stressful moments are managed.  Although this survey may not necessarily be clinically or scientifically robust, the results are sound. The most common stress trigger is getting too little sleep.

Some people process sleep deprivation by being more lethargic and unmotivated and others may become hyper and unfocused. No matter how you process sleep deprivation, it is having a profound negative affect on how we function.  For better or worse, there are a lot of factors that compete with sleep. Furthermore, sleep is complicated. Kids need delta sleep, which is the deep sleep they have needed since birth for growth and development.  Delta sleep is also important in adulthood for rejuvenation. Research shows we are getting less sleep than we used to. Not everyone can afford to get more sleep at night. However, making better lifestyle choices during the day, including: limiting screen time, practicing mindfulness, eating healthy and getting exercise can help families move forward in the battle against sleep deprivation.

The New York Times- “Diagnosing the Wrong Deficit” by Vatsal G. Thakkar

The Huffington Post- “HuffPost Survey Reveals Lack Of Sleep As A Major Cause Of Stress Among Americans” by Lisa Belkin

npr.org-”Tracking A Rise In ADHD Diagnosis” Talk of the Nation


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