One of the benefits of wide and frequent reading and the conversation that springs from it is the durable expansion of a strong reading, writing and speaking vocabulary. Children whose writing is simple and inexpressive, or who struggle to verbally share their thoughts, feelings and needs often suffer from a lack of essential language skills. Unaddressed, this communicative awkwardness can grow into a chronic language weakness and become an impediment to success in school and life.
Conversation with loving family members and friends who surround them, and eventually with those they know less well, about any of life’s triumphs, discoveries or disappointments can help shore up, deepen and enlarge kids’ comfort with articulating what’s inside of them.
The U.S. election earlier this week gives families that are committed to a more fully united U.S.A. a lot of conversation topics. Prior to any election they could initiate talk around issues related to such sayings and bromides as:
- Prepare for the worst and hope for the best
- Work it out
- Seeking middle-ground
- Find the win-win.
Depending on which side of the election decision the family’s chosen candidate lands on, they might expand that to:
- Ignore the rearview mirror
- Make a fresh start
- Water over the dam
- Welcome all comers.
- Bury the hatchet
- Kiss and make up
- Shake hands and be friends
- Forgive and forget
- Let bygones be bygones
- Take a deep breath and move on.
More globally, conversation topics can expand to sentiments like:
- Make peace
- Extend the olive branch
- Hammer your swords into plowshares.
Language like that found here doesn’t appear in day-to-day interchanges around most homes, unless parents and older siblings step up to ensure children are exposed to the rich language in books that address such things.
Naturally, a local children’s librarian will have books that address all of these subtly powerful issues of peace-making and reconciliation. If families have access to the Internet at home, they also might wish to visit sites like: The Peace Education Project where books for all ages are recommended. Similarly, PBS Parents has a web page dedicated to Children’s Books about Peace. The Gateway to Peace, associated with the St. Louis Gateway Arch also provides a range of titles for a range of ages.
Families that work together to enable full communication provide a proving ground for communities that can come together to build a future in which everyone can enjoy fulfilling participation in democracy at every level and do so with their hearts opened to each other through the magic of peaceful self-expression.