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Communicating with children

by Kendal Rautzhan

Don’t you find it annoying, even insulting, when you try to tell someone something or ask someone a question and they ignore you? We’ve all had that experience and we don’t like it.

It’s no different for children, and as adults, we must be sensitive to the child’s need to communicate with us, tell us their stories, and ask their questions. Despite the hectic pace of the day, a child has as much of a need to be heard and acknowledged as you do and to be heard without being put down or mocked.

Talk with your child, not to them. Listen to their stories. Try to answer their questions, and if you don’t know the answers, try to find them, together. This kind of consistent behavior develops trust – the very root of good communication skills. Being able to successfully communicate with children (or anyone, for that matter) doesn’t just happen because you think it should. It happens because of the effort you make.

Books to Borrow

The following book is available at many public libraries.

“When I Was Young in the Mountains” by Cynthia Rylant, illustrated in color by Diane Goode, Dutton, 26 pages

Read aloud: age 3-4 and older. Read yourself: age 7-8 and older.

“When I Was Young in the Mountains” is a warm and loving story based on the experiences of the author growing up in Appalachia. Making do with each other and what they could find in the mountains provided Rylant with all she needed: a sense of belonging, great security, and an abundance of love.

The swimming hole, Crawford’s store, fresh cornbread and hot cocoa – in these and other windowpanes the reader learns a richness of life uncluttered by material things.

Written for younger children, this story teaches us that home is a good place, not because of what you have, but because of those who live there.

Librarian’s Choice

Library: Carson City Library, 900 North Roop St.

Library Director: Sally Edwards

Youth Services Librarian: Cory King

Choices this week: “Goodnight Moon” by Margaret Wise Brown; “Saint George and the Dragon” retold by Margaret Hodges; “The Well” by Mildred D. Taylor

Books to Buy

The following books are available at favorite bookstores.

“Sky Boys: How They Built the Empire State Building” by Deborah Hopkinson & James E. Ransome, Schwartz & Wade/Random House, 2006, 48 pages, $16.95 hardcover

Read aloud: age 4-9. Read yourself: age 7-8 and older.

A boy and his father watch as the world’s tallest skyscraper, the Empire State Building, is constructed during the dark days of the early 1930s. The building will be bold and beautiful and a symbol of hope when many have little to hope for.

More than 200 massive steel columns arrive on trucks that weave their way through “the concrete canyons of Manhattan … Then it’s the sky boys’ show. Derrick men hoisting, swinging, easing each beam into place. High overhead they crawl like spiders on steel, spinning their giant web in the sky.” Over one year later, the work of more than 3,000 men comes to completion. But the best is yet to come when the boy and his father join the opening events, riding the elevator to the top observation deck on the 86h floor.

Beautifully written and illustrated, this extraordinary story excels in many, many ways.

“Loon Chase” by Jean Heilprin Diehl, illustrated by Kathryn Freeman, Sylvan Dell, 2006, 32 pages, $15.95 hardcover

Read aloud: age 5-6 and older. Read yourself: age 8 and older.

A young boy and his mother set out in their canoe early one summer morning. They are paddling to Big Island to pick blueberries, and their dog, Miles, leaps off the dock to swim along with them. In the distance, the boy and his mother see a loon and two loon chicks swimming. They hope that Miles, a bird dog, won’t see the loons. If he does, his instinct will be to chase them down.

The three reach the island, away from the loons, but while the boy and his mother pick berries, Miles tires of exploring the island. Suddenly, he swims off, heading directly for the loons.

The boy and his mother chase after him, hoping to reach Miles in time and save the loons. Just when they think they will fail, something amazing happens.

An exciting fictional story steeped in fact, this selection provides loads of information about animal instincts. As an added bonus, the publisher provides a five-page educational supplement, “For Creative Minds,” to further creativity and understanding.

• Nationally syndicated, Kendal Rautzhan writes and lectures on children’s literature. She can be e-mailed at kendal@sunlink.net