Start reading at birth
A study recently released by the University of Washington (Journal of Pediatrics, September 2007) suggests that infants who are exposed to "smart baby" DVDs and videos to promote early childhood language development actually have a lower vocabulary than children who hear stories and have books read to them. Vocabulary and letter recognition at an early age are essential building blocks for reading. Librarians and early childhood educators have long advocated that infants and toddlers be introduced to books, stories and alphabet games—not on television but in person, in the home or library.
At the Chicago Public Library, we recommend that parents and caregivers start reading to children at birth, and the library provides books, educational tools and lapsit storytimes free of charge to help reinforce that message. Twenty-five percent of a child’s brain is formed at birth and from that moment on, talking, singing and reading aloud to the child develops the remaining 75 percent.Without a foundation in books and letters, children start formal schooling already behind their peers and struggle to catch up.
Read to your child for as little as 20 minutes a day every day, and your child will enter preschool and kindergarten ready to read. Armed with only a library card and the desire to spend a few quiet moments each day with your child and a book, you can ensure that reading will become a lifelong habit and a pleasure for your child and for you. For more tips about early reading and emergent literacy, contact the Chicago Public Library (www.chicagopubliclibrary.org) or your local library or early childhood development center.
Mary A. Dempsey
Chicago Public Library
War at home
I am a full-time mom of a 5- and a 3-year-old. I read your cover story regarding the war that is being fought in the streets of Chicago. I congratulate you on this because I believe this is a subject that is being ignored by so many prominent figures, and it is up to us parents to do the best that we can to go into combat ourselves. I am assisting Writers of the Round Table, a writing company, with a book being published this fall, From the Barrio to the Boardroom (www.fromthebarrio.com). It is the story of Robert Renteria, who was involved with gangs and the gang lifestyle until he decided to change and is now the executive vice president of his own company, WashPro USA. Mr. Renteria is a great role model because he knows what it is like to be able to get away from the violence and make a difference in this world. We are trying to get as many people involved with spreading this message because we know that we have a tough war on our hands. As a mother, I am trying everything possible to get this important message in as many hands of our youth as possible. I thank you for your cover story and hope you can help me spread this message, with the hope that I can at least change one life, which in return hopefully will save at least one child.
I want to do everything possible so that my daughters can live in a violence-free society.
Not all spots are the same
The "On the Spot" article in the August 2007 issue states that cafe-au-lait spots require no treatment. While this is probably true in many cases, it is not true in all. Cafe-au-lait spots may be an indicator of a disease called Neurofibromatosis. If this is the case, then medical attention is important. For more information about NF, visit www.ctf.org.
Leave no parent behind
Thank you for your fantabulous editorial regarding No Child Left Behind (August 2007). I teach in a community that is drastically impacted by the regulations and am a concerned parent as well. I really appreciate you mentioning that the parents need to help and become advocates of the No Child Left Behind guidelines within their own school districts. The August issue of Chicago Parent was the first time I ever read anything that did not put the blame on the teachers over the new standards. Thank you for standing up for the teachers and thank you for such a great publication.
9 million kids lack insurance
Regarding your recent story on children’s health care, it is important for your readers to know that Congress will soon vote to bring health coverage to millions of children in the U.S. The State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) is a successful and popular way for states to make sure that children from low-income families receive regular preventive care and medical treatment. SCHIP has helped to provide more than 6 million children with health coverage.
However, there are 9 million children in the U.S. who still do not have health insurance; nearly 40 percent of them are Latino. Congress can make a difference in these children’s well-being by voting to restore this vital healthcare coverage immediately to low-income children and pregnant women who are legal immigrants. Kids who receive regular health care are more likely to do well in school and become productive members of our nation’s workforce than those who grow up uninsured.
National vice president-Midwest Region, League of United Latin American Citizens
Crown Point, Ind.