Building Bridges with Rich Language

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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.

kissThen they can move along to more personally productive declarations, such as:

  • 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.

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3 Responses to “Building Bridges with Rich Language”

  1. Nini White November 10, 2016 at 1:34 pm #

    Thank you for this post. Basically, we all want the same things: To be happy. To feel safe. To feel respected. To matter. Open discussion, in which listening and speaking one’s mind have equal time, is the most appropriate way for all of us to move forward together. Highly recommend Van Jones’ short videos, in which he does just that. Please check out this link: I found it to be quite inspiring, and it definitely liberated me from the ‘victim’ mentality into which I was sinking.

    Young children who are consistently exposed to open, mutually respectful discussion opportunities are waaaaay ahead of the curve when it comes to managing working well with people as they grow and mature.

    Thanks again!

    • Mark Condon November 10, 2016 at 4:09 pm #

      Thanks for this Nini. Gotta keep our heads up. I love Van Jone’s stuff, too. Thanks for sharing the link.

  2. Yvonne November 17, 2016 at 4:53 pm #

    I was just reading about the origin of this concept of peace in the bible so cool and delightful in todays defensive societies.