Showing posts from March, 2009

Full Circle

As we close out this month-long celebration of Reading, I thought I would share an incident that just took place on a recent visit to my daughter's home. But, first let me give you a quick history of reading in my family. As far back as I can go...a few generations...the women in our family have been literate. My great grandmother read to my grandmother, who read to my mother, who read to me. I, in turn, read to my daughters and they have followed suit reading to their daughters. It is a pasttime that we all delight in. So, it came as no surprise when my daughters became mothers to see bookshelves filled with children's books in their homes. This past weekend I visited with the girls. On three separate occasions, each of my three granddaughters climbed into my lap with a book to read. In the middle of reading to my oldest granddaughter, I realized that this gift had come full circle. In my mind's eye, I could see the generations holding children on their laps reading

Words as Balm - Words as Pain

My mother, bless her, gave me many solid ideals upon which to base my life. One of her favorite bits of advise was, "If you don't have something good to day, don't say anything." You see, words, regardless of what the nursery rhyme states, do hurt. They can literally maim another person's spirit, integrity, and mind. Alternately, words can be the balm that heals the spirit, builds the integrity and comforts the mind. While we may have all the intentions in the world of saying something good, I have learned that sometimes, what we say can either be mistaken or said in a careless way that unintentionally hurts others. I know this first hand, because, as my mother told me, I had chronic foot and mouth disease (F&M) other words, I was constantly putting my foot in my mouth by saying things that I shouldn't. As an extremely inquisitive child, I wanted to know why people had crutches, why our skin was different colors, why some people didn't have clean

The Language of Giving

( Photo Credit ) Many years ago, I was taught the meaning of the beautiful Hebrew word, mitzvah . As I was taught, it means good deed. Further, when you give of yourself there is a double mitzvah - the giver initiates the good deed by giving, the receiver gives a good deed back by taking the gift with grace and gratitude. As an English as a Second Language (ESL) instructor, I have been blessed with many mitzvahs from my students. Helping them to learn English so that they can succeed in our world is my mitzvah to them. Their willingness to learn, enthusiasm for life and sincere gratitude for the opportunity to learn is their mitzvah to me. Due to this, the teacher in me is always on the look out for new and innovative ways to help my students learn. Recently, a reader here sent me a wonderful site to peruse. FreeRice is a double mitzvah! On the "About" page on the site you will read this: "FreeRice is a non-profit website run by the United Nations World Food Pr

Literacy = Power

Literacy is one of the most powerful tools we humans can access. Yet, for many of our brothers and sisters around the world, those in power deny them literacy. Paulo Freire , the esteemed educator from Brazil, taught that when we teach people to speak/read/write, we give them the tools to "read" their world. Most political scientists will attest to the fact that when a power is planning to overtake a population, one of the first things they do is destroy the native language by making it criminal to speak it. When people are not allowed to speak their own language, they cannot "read" (understand) their world. They become fear-filled, thus easy to manipulate. It gives me great pleasure as a teacher of reading and writing to empower my students to be able to utilize the tools they need to understand the world around them. When people are able to communicate with others with confidence, their lives have richness, a depth that is not present when they are unable to rela

March is Reading Month

Nanilin's oldest pixie, reading! I was close to five when I first read. The book was one of those small, almost square Tell-a-tale books published by Whitman that everyone owned in the 50's. Big Little Kitty interested me far more than Dick and Jane. I loved the tale of a run-away kitten who sees the world. I wanted to be Karen Kay, the pretty blond haired, blue eyed child, owner of Muffin. It was an idyllic story for a child living in an inner city tenement. Of course, Karen Kay's yarn led me to read other books. Soon, I had my own library! Amazingly, we might not have had electricity or coal for heat, but we had books...lots of them! Unlike many children, I never out grew my love for picture books. I still have my original copy of Big Little Kitty, which is held together with tape; the binding long since succumbing to my constant reading. I also have The Night Before Christmas, another Whitman book. To these favorites, copies of many other classic, as well as les