Today I Will Say A Prayer For Those Women Who Fought For My Freedoms via @PatFurstenberg

Today I Will Say A Prayer For Those Women Who Fought For My Freedoms

Think of one woman that made an impact on your life. Do you see her with your mind’s eye? Do you see her smile, do you feel her warm arms around you? Do you feel her soft hair touching your cheek? Does this memory make you feel at peace with yourself? Do you draw strength out of it?

Now really try to remember this woman. Do you see the wrinkles around her mouth? The fine lines at the corners of her eyes? Perhaps not, because they were often hidden by her smile, whenever she was watching you. Do you remember her hands were worn out by work, with calluses on her palms and burn marks from cooking? Probably not, because they’ve been hugging you and supporting you, being there for you, but out of view. Have you ever noticed her clothes being out of fashion? Of course not, because they were clean and, more than once, they’ve sheltered your body on cold days and nights.

Do you remember her voice encouraging you? But do you ever remember her complaining about her ailing body? The sleepless nights? The long walks she took each day? The times she went hungry so that you can eat?

Have you ever asked yourself what kept her going? What gives her the strength and energy to get out of bed every morning in a cold room and get going? Do it all over again, day after day? The walking and the working and the waiting and the hoping? Wishing for a better life; for her or for you?

Always for you.

Why did 20,000 women march, peacefully, to the Union Buildings in Pretoria in 1956 and petitioned against the country’s pass laws?

They marched so that they can walk about freely and find better jobs, so that you won’t have to carry a pass, when your turn comes. They did it for you.

Wathint’ Abafazi Wathint’ imbokodo! [Now you have touched the women, you have struck a rock!]

Why do you think it is that 20,000 women march in New York in 1909, asking for better working conditions?

So that they can provide a better life for their children so that when their daughters became of age to look for work, they would do so at no disadvantage at all.

“We’d rather starve quick than starve slow,” was their motto, expressing their anger against the conditions under which they worked in the sweatshops’ factories.

Why, you may ask, did the Suffragettes persist in their fight for votes for women for almost 100 years?

What fueled their march, spanning more than one generation, from 1832 when Mary Smith presented the first women’s suffrage petition to Parliament only to have the women’s exclusion from the vote confirmed, going through the Mud March of 1907, the mass rally of 1908 in Hyde Park when 300,000 – 500,000 activists attended? A time where women and men went through hunger strikes, imprisonment, permanent physical injuries and sexual abuse by police… with all of this only coming to an end in 1928 when the Amendment of the Representation of the People Act finally entitled everyone over the age of 21 to vote.

They did it so that their daughters won’t have to fight the same battle; for their daughters to be seen as human beings, with rights equal to those of men.

Why did tens of thousands of Protestants, mainly women, march in St Petersburg in March 1917, asking for an end to Russia’s involvement in WWI and… bread?

“Feed the children of the defenders of the motherland,” they called.

This movement is what sparked the Russian Revolution and the overthrowing of the Tsar. The Government that came to power granted women the right to vote.

This women’s day I’ll think of the teacher that empowered so many generations of girls and boys with her encouraging smile. I’ll think of the teacher who shared her lunch with that one child in her class so that he wouldn’t feel sidelined. This women’s day I’ll think of Mama Thembile who sells food by the side of the road every day from 6 am… Each day waiting for that one little girl passing by on her way to school and for which she has a special sandwich prepared. She doesn’t know the girl, but she knows the hunger in her eyes. This women’s day I’ll think of Mama Maria who, after a day’s work, still finds the strength to stop by at a children’s home to read stories, because she knows it makes a difference to the children.

This women’s day I’ll say a prayer for the women who fought, all around the world, so that I can think and speak and write, freely; and make my own choices and stand by them, without fear. That I may live as well as enjoy life for what it has to offer, to me and my children, happily.

We are stronger together.

First published on the Huffington Post SA on 9 August 2017

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Mind-Brain-Education Secrets: Strategies to Benefit Students and Teachers #MBE #mind #brain #education #educhat #knowledge #strategy #students via @PatFurstenberg

Mind-Brain-Education Secrets:  Strategies to Benefit Students and Teachers

1. What is Mind-Brain-Education (MBE)?

MBE is a young science started at Harvard University 25 years ago by uniting the fields of neuroscience, psychology and education. MBE brings together cognitive neuroscience (studying of the mind and its processes), behavioral science (studying the interactions among different organisms in the world) and professionals in the education field. MBE takes the latest discoveries in brain science and applies them in education, revealing new, more appropriate teaching methods lined up with the latest studies and the demands of the 21st century.

2. Why is MBE important to me, a parent, teacher or student?

The human brain, the most complex organ in the human body, is the centre of our nervous system. We need our not only brain to move, make use of our senses or regulate the functions of our body but also to speak, think, learn, and interact with the world around us.

Let’s think of the brain as the engine of a car. By understanding the basic aspects of engineering we can reduce its fuel consumption, saving money and lengthening the life of our car.

Understanding how the brain develops and functions we can learn how to better make use of its massive power.

The development of the human brain follows a natural, biological process yet it constantly changes, developing and adapting to our experiences, be it emotional, physical or educational. So not only does the educator needs to teach content, but he also has to be mindful of the ways in which he teaches and use subject-tailored methods to ensure a better educational outcome.

Understanding why each individual’s brain is unique means that we understand that each one’s brain develops at its own pace and that teaching can and should be tailored to individual needs.

The concept of brain plasticity is vital to grasp as well. The brain’s plasticity means that our brains are permanently remodeling themselves by cutting old, unused neural pathways and strengthening new ones, reinforced through practice. This is a fantastic trait of our brains; understanding its mechanism and how to make the most of it can have positive, long lasting effects on individual’s education and long term life goals.

Understanding how the human brain evolves from birth through childhood, teen years and going on throughout our lives, allow teachers to prioritize and plan the educational curriculum accordingly. This is crucial in aiding students to focus in class and in developing effective, intelligent methods that help them remember more information, easier.

Analogical reasoning, or considering the ways in which two ideas are related, is the way in which our brains make sense of new concepts, by explaining them based on what we already know, connecting and comparing new information to old one. A classic example of analogy reasoning is comparing the structure of an atom with the solar system:

“The nucleus is the sun and electrons are the planets revolving around their sun.”

Relational thinking means finding meaningful patterns in new situations and using this to make a decision, for example a physician correcting his diagnosis by taking into consideration the abnormal symptoms displayed by his patient. The bases and neural pathways for analogical and relational thinking are laid during childhood and until adolescence and they are crucial skills needed by the 21st century work force.

3. How do I use the MBE knowledge?

Understanding how our brains differ from one person to another based on our genes, personal abilities and the context of our upbringing is an important factor to consider in the 21st century educational field.

Although MBE is still a very young science, it is vital to understand that brain science, psychology and education are strongly interrelated and that modern, 21st century education cannot happen without 21st century psychology on one side and 21st century brain science on the other side. MBE shines a spotlight on the uniqueness of each individual’s brain, on how its biological mechanisms influence how we learn and that our past experiences and the environment also affect our brain’s development and learning. MBE helps us understand how powerful our brain is, how much we can actually do with it and how we can better use it to our advantage.

Using the MBE knowledge might not bring a change or show improvement overnight. As with any cognitive skill, it takes time and practice as well as a clear idea of the desired outcome.

The knowledge MBE reveals can be used in:

  • helping to develop the critical cognitive skills needed by Generation Z;
  • understanding the brain-based causes of different learning disabilities such as dyslexia and how to apply the latest research in identifying these children at an early stage and helping them achieve their best in school by providing them with the necessary cognitive and educational support ;
  • understanding that, although we all have genetic predispositions and abilities, these have little to do with our success as a learner. With the right support, stimulation and a suitable learning environment even a modest background can be maximized beyond expectations;
  • preparing graduates in this new work field, with US Universities already offering master’s degrees and a doctoral programme in MBE. There are also short term study alternatives available. In Africa, the First Mind-Brain and Education Seminar already took place.

4. How is MBE different than what we knew about education before?

We know that the best time to learn is when the brain and the nervous system are still maturing during childhood and through the teenage years. MBE shines a light on the importance of the school curriculum as well as the methods of teaching. MBE explains why laying down the physical wiring (neural connections) during the formative years will only benefit the young generation later on when such neural connections, already in place, need only be reinforced. For example in the relational thinking field when the neural pathways and connections formed in the brain are laid out during the formative years, before adolescence.

21st century jobs require novel skills. We work less with our hands and more with our brains while being required to learn and remember more and more information. MBE can help us better accumulate this information, integrating it and manage its volume, filtering and remembering it. Here is where we understand why good analogical and relational thinking skills play such an important role, more than ever before in the history of human education.

5. How can MBE help you acquire a 21st century job?

We all agree that in order to succeed in the 21st century student’s knowledge must now go beyond the “three Rs” (“reading, writing, and ‘rithmetic”.and basic computer literacy. No student in the history of education has ever needed to cover such a multifaceted array of topics.

Chances are that in your family or at your office there are at least four generations present, working side-by-side. But different generations of employees will have different motivations and would have required different skills when they first entered the workforce.

Mind brain education - Comparison of qualities, values, qualifications of different generations, Patricia Furstenberg
Mind brain education – Comparison of qualities, values, qualifications of different generations, Patricia Furstenberg

According to Global Digital Citizen and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, OECD, the most important 21st-century skills students will need are:

  • Problem Solving
  • Creativity / Innovation
  • Analytic Thinking
  • Collaboration / Team work
  • Oral and Written Communication
  • Ethics, Action, and Accountability
  • Diversity (global thinking and global citizens)
  • Information Technology Application
  • Leadership
  • Lifelong learning / Self Direction
  • Social Responsibility

Only innovation in the classroom will help students gain these 21st century skills and MBE can provide educators, parents and students with the knowledge and the tools on how to acquire them. There is still a huge gap between the skills required by 21st century companies and the skills taught in schools. This gap exists because technology evolves in leaps, becoming challenging to keep up with while incorporating it in the school curriculum. This is why teaching students how to learn, how to accumulate information in a proficient way and how to make the most of the power that the human brain has will equip them with the basics needed to face the challenges of a 21st century work field.

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Education is the building brick for a better lifestyle

What do a pianist and a London taxi driver have in common?

Brain Science studies on the plasticity of the brain discovered that, in both cases, an area of the subject’s brain was enlarged. The area of the somatosensory cortex representing the fingers is more enlarged in pianists than in non-musicians. London Taxi drivers (that need to learn how to navigate the twists and turns of the city’s streets) showed an enlarged hippocampus (an area of the brain responsible for special navigation) – the degree of enlargement reflects the amount of time spent as a taxi driver.

In both cases, an area of the brain become enlarged as a result of mastering a certain skill, as this sustained activity produces new neuronal connections that in time were strengthened. Over time this accounted for an enlarged cortex area.

Perhaps the most extraordinary case study is that of a student who had half of his brain removed during preschool due to severe epilepsy and it revealed the incredible plasticity of the human brain (Immordino-Yang 2008, A Tale of Two Cases). The student received extensive educational support, tailored to his needs, while his abilities were reinforced. During time, the remaining brain hemisphere developed to compensate for the missing one to a significant degree. Now in high school, this student is cognitively normal, performs above average, has a normal social life and is an aspiring artist.

These Brain Science observations are proof to the human brain’s plasticity and its ability to constantly develop.

Good to know as the Anthropocene era has high expectations of its students. The youth today needs to acquire, apart from foundational knowledge, computational thinking and a community and global level ethic of care. They have to develop the six C’s considered the core skills of the 21st century:  critical thinking, creativity, communication, collaboration, citizenship and character.

Can teaching alone prepare our youth for the 21st century’s requirements?

21st century genetics has researched how the environment affects our hereditary structure.

Something as abstract as the learning process is re-analyzed using innovative cognitive methods as neuroscientists have been able to study the brain in action, with brain imaging tools.

This is a PET (Positron-emission tomography) scan of a child listening to a story read from a book.
This is a PET (Positron-emission tomography) scan of a child listening to a story read from a book.

The top two images show parts of his brain lighting up when he hears and sees the words. The bottom two images show how his brain reacts when he talks and processes the information from the book.

For a favourable learning experience we want many different parts of the brain to light up. This can be achieved through active teaching, when different techniques encompassing hearing, seeing, speaking, thinking, both auditory and visually, are used. Teaching, as well as learning (a rigorous discipline in itself) need to be fun, engaging, stimulating.

A collaboration between Brain Science and education is paramount. For this inter-disciplinary partnership to become viable and productive educators need to understand how the brain works and scientists need to learn what tools a 21st century educator needs in his classroom.

Mind, Brain, Education (MBE) can help 21st century educators.

“It takes a village to raise a child.”

MBE studies discovered that children absorb information in different ways, depending on the subject at hand. Therefor educators need to adjust their teaching style to suit each subject. Furthermore, MBE studies show that multiple factors influence the continuous development of the human brain. These factors are: our DNA, life experiences, formal learning, work experiences, informal learning (comprised of extra murals, community experiences, the cyberspace, etc) – How the Brain Works.

Our emotions also play a vital role in moulding the human brain as our emotions filter the formal learning acquired through study, a positive situation motivating us to achieve. Humans tend to gravitate towards such positive situations. The academic content is not the sole purpose of education anymore. Due to the brain’s plasticity and the factors influencing it, the learning experience is equally important in aiding students through their learning process.

Today, MBE can help educators comprehend how people with reading disabilities such as dyslexia actually use their brain when reading so that educators can understand how to adjust their teaching methods to better suit each student.

MBE research suggests that, while active content is important, students learn best through active learning experiences, in a flexible educational environment. This is where, by the use of technology, the instruction can be differentiated, thus offering varied and comprehensive content that will benefit a wider audience. This approach is beneficial as each pupil is different, has different needs and requires a different teaching technique – and therefor a flexible teaching method.

Education is the building brick for a better lifestyle
Education is the building brick for a better lifestyle

MBE advocates a student-centred approach to learning. This approach will prove beneficial in underprivileged communities where pupils have less educational support at home and therefore can thrive when various teaching techniques are used in the classroom.

Education is the building brick for a better lifestyle,

a better job, better health care and a better future for one’s children, thus a prosperous community and nation. Education is also the much needed tool to improve the life of women, to reduce pregnancy rate and infant mortality, to empower women and afford them equal rights to men. An empowered woman is a positive force in her community. She will contribute towards improving the lives of her children, of her community and of her nation.

https://www.it.si/
https://www.it.si/

The first MBE seminar in Africa is organised by ITSI.

ITSI is the MBE pioneer in South Africa. It aims at providing educators with the knowledge needed to use the Brain-Science discoveries in their classrooms. The seminar is facilitate by Glenn Whitman and Dr. Ian Kelleher, leaders of The Center for Transformative Teaching & Learning, the only Mind, Brain, and Education science research centre located in a pre-collegiate school in the United States and co-authors of “Neuroteach: Brain Science and the Future of Education”.

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ITSI and the First Mind-Brain and Education Seminar in Africa #MBE #MBEafrica18 @ITSI_SA via @PatFurstenberg

Factors influencing the continuous development of the human brain. Patricia Furstenberg

Mind-Brain and Education (MBE) uses emerging research in cognitive and behavioral sciences to better understand how the human brain works and to uncover new methods needed by a 21st century active-style teaching. The student of the Anthropocene era (current geological age) must acquire, apart from foundational knowledge, computational thinking and a community and global level ethic of care. In a technology-driven future educators need to extend their professional skills further, beyond what the industrial era called for. The time is now for MBE to step in and step up in transforming the educational process. South Africa takes the lead in implementing the principles of MBE in its educational system via ITSI and hosts the first seminar in Africa on MBE.

How the Brain Works

Imagine walking through a field of grass. You’ve reached its middle and glimpse behind. You can hardly see where you came from; to make a path that lasts you have to walk the same route many times. And then you would have formed only one path.

The same happens in the human brain when we learn.

Neurons are the specific cells forming the nervous system. What makes them unique is their ability to transmit chemical and electrical information through the body. But unlike other types of cells, neurons stop reproducing after birth. The good news is that neurons are capable of forming new connections, thus new pathways, any time in life and can maintain them as long as we use them.

When we use our brain, be it to study or listen to the news, new pathways of neurons are formed and older pathways brought back to life – one neuron can connect itself with several others. Over time, the active connections become more prevalent while non-used ones weaken or are eliminated.

Neural pathways for in the brain and old ones are strengthened during reading. Patricia Furstenberg for ITSI #MBEafrica18
Neural pathways for in the brain and old ones are strengthened during reading. Patricia Furstenberg for ITSI, #MBEafrica18

When a web of neural pathways is formed, that information is stored in our long-term memory. For this to happen learning must be active: to stimulate visually and auditory, not only cognitive (passive study). Brain-Science shows that an active learning process involves a wider area of brain, new neural connections are made, old ones are strengthened, as opposed to the passive study where few cortical changes register.

Mind-Brain and Education – Why the Time for South Africa is Now

South Africa’s Educational System faces a reading crisis, with 78% of grade 4 pupils failing to read for meaning, while private schools are under pressure to produce critical and computational thinkers. Moreover, learning became a social activity and the Anthropocene students are expected to master skills needed in a global tech-driven future.

Brain-Science speaks of the plasticity of the human brain, its ability to adapt, especially when it involves learning new skills. Their studies show that children learn along specific pathways, defined by the content they focus on (different for mathematics than history). Due to the brain’s plasticity the learning experience is equally important in aiding students through their learning process.

Factors influencing the continuous development of the human brain. Patricia Furstenberg for ITSI #MBEafrica18
Factors influencing the continuous development of the human brain. Patricia Furstenberg for ITSI #MBEafrica18

MBE takes into consideration all components of education. MBE transforms the learning process into an enhanced experience, while simplifying it and adapting it to the needs of each student and the requirements of each subject. Pupils can reach the standard of a basic level of education while empowered to be responsible for their own learning and still receive guidance from a classroom teacher. MBE can give the educational system the much needed boost and support, regardless of the social and educational background of its learners.

Who is ITSI and its South African Platform

ISTI is the first-mover in the South African market working with over 200 educational institutions and 80 000 users. 2018 will add over 25 institutions and 20 000 learners. ITSI breached into the rest of Africa by opening ITSI Solution in Namibia and has offices in the UK and the Middle East.

ITSI’s platform is accessible “anytime, anywhere”. Their e-books combine foundational learning with computational thinking. ITSI makes available digital lessons that follow the CAPS curriculum, enhancing the learning experience. As an added value, educators can personalise their teaching by adding resources and adapting the app to suit individual needs.

MBE Seminar, ITSI and Educator’s Skills

A vital part of MBE success is the teacher’s involvement and their level of knowledge on how the human brain works, as well as their extensive professional skills supported by a solid platform.

The first MBE seminar in Africa aims to provide educators with the knowledge needed to use the Brain-Science discoveries in their classrooms. The seminar is facilitate by Glenn Whitman and Dr. Ian Kelleher, leaders of The Center for Transformative Teaching & Learning, the only Mind, Brain, and Education science research centre located in a pre-collegiate school in the United States and co-authors of “Neuroteach: Brain Science and the Future of Education”.

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How To Raise A Child With A High IQ by @PatFurstenberg

Raising a child is the most difficult job in the world. The decisions made by parents will model and impact upon the child’s emotional and intellectual well-being.

Parenting is a full-time job on its own, without the added pressure of medical literature, in-law advice or trying to keep up with that perfect family always posting on Facebook.

“Once upon a time I was a perfect parent. Then I had children. The End.”

In his book “Brain Rules For Baby“, developmental molecular biologist and dad Dr John Medina, bridges the gap between what scientists know and what parents practise.

  1. Baby’s IQ during the 1st trimester of pregnancy

An adult human brain contains about 100-billion neurons formed before we are born. The embryo’s brain produces approximately 250,000 cells per minute, most generated as early as week three and during the first four months of gestation.

Take an BMI Certified IQ test here.

All throughout your pregnancy, stay away from potentially harmful substances like smoking, drinking alcohol and taking drugs – even over-the-counter drugs. Always ask your doctor or pharmacist.

Scientists studying human evolution attest that morning sickness kicked in as an ancestral mechanism forcing the mother to stay away from toxic, potentially spoiled or exotic foods that might harm the embryo. One of the hormones inducing morning sickness is also a stimulant for the development of neurons in the embryo’s brain.

  1. Baby’s IQ throughout the pregnancy

A mother’s weight gain during pregnancy is vital to the well-being of her unborn baby. A study shows that a foetus’ IQ grows in proportion to its weight gain while inside the mother’s womb. A pregnant woman with healthy weight gain, good nutrition and a healthy lifestyle will influence the weight of her newborn positively.

A pregnancy vitamin supplement rich in folic acid and omega 3 is indicated.

And food cravings?

Studies have proved that food cravings are stress related, not pointing towards a vitamin deficiency. An anxious woman used to giving in to chocolate during stressful times will most probably go on craving chocolate whenever she hits a stressful time during pregnancy.

  1. A stressful pregnancy and baby’s IQ

If a pregnant woman is stressed, anxious or depressed, this can affect how the baby’s brain will develop. Research shows that the child will be at greater risk of slow learning or behavioural problems such as ADHD.

Severe stress suffered by mothers during pregnancy can have the following consequences for the baby:

  • Change the foetus’ body temperature, making the baby more irritable in the womb;
  • Reduce the baby’s IQ (by up to eight points);
  • Affect the baby’s motor skills, attention span and concentration – visible from six years of age;
  • Affect the baby’s own response to stressful situations; and
  • Even reduce the baby’s brain size.

“Researchers at Douglas Mental Health University Institute and McGill University followed more than 150 families after a severe storm, and found specific markers on the DNA of children whose mothers were pregnant or became pregnant soon after the disaster, providing rare evidence of how maternal hardships can have long-term genetic consequences.”

A good solution to reduce stress is being active.

Staying active during pregnancy

Women who have an active lifestyle and engage in regular physical activities during pregnancy have an easier birthing experience – shorter and less painful.

Pregnant women are advised to stay active and do mild exercise, without pushing it too hard.

During the third trimester, the best sport for a pregnant woman is swimming. It is a low-impact sport and keeps the pregnant woman’s body temperature constant, so her uterus does not overheat.

Attention!

  • Intense physical activity will reduce the blood supply to the uterus, which will decrease the oxygen supply to the foetus.
  • If the pregnant woman’s body temperature is raised by more than two degrees Celsius, this can negatively affect the cerebral and visual development of the foetus during the third trimester of pregnancy.

Family relationships during pregnancy

Dr John Medina points out that during the first year of the baby’s life, the number of hostile interactions between the new parents is often on the rise. Specialists believe that this can be harmful to the baby, which is very sensitive to external factors at the beginning of its life.

A prolonged exposure to hostility can have a negative impact on the baby, lowering its IQ and its ability to manage stress later in life.

During the first year of life, a baby’s main cognitive focus is on survival. Once the baby forms an attachment with its main caregiver, its brain can develop normally, resulting in a happy, sociable baby able to manage stressful situations.

If the baby cannot feel this trust and safety, then the genetic code tells its brain to develop in a different way – with a negative impact on its social, emotional and educational prospects.

The ingredients that contribute towards the making of a clever child:

  • Breastfeeding can raise a baby’s IQ by up to eight points;
  • Talking to a baby and a child about various topics will expose the child to a wider vocabulary;
  • Playing games with your child will stimulate the child’s mind;
  • As will engaging your child in music and sports.

Raising a child is the most difficult job in the world. The decisions made by parents will model and impact upon the child’s emotional and intellectual well-being, the character of the future adult. Yet it is good to acknowledge that these decisions are unique to each family, and each parent can adjust their parenting skills at any time throughout this roller-coaster journey.

* The information in this article is NOT intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified healthcare professional and is not intended as medical advice.

This article was written for Huffington Post SA.

Huffington Post SA
HuffPostSA

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We Need A Multicultural Children’s Book Day In South Africa

Image courtesy Unsplash

We Need A Multicultural Children’s Book Day In South Africa – Reading expands children’s levels of empathy and broadens their minds.

U.S. readers of all ages will celebrate Multicultural Children’s Book Day on Saturday, January 27.

In 2014, teachers and educators from Jump Into A Book and PragmaticMom presented their very first January 27 Multicultural Children’s Book Day as a way of celebrating diversity in children’s books.

The result was overwhelming, as authors, publishers, parents, teachers, bloggers and librarians joined forces to present an online event designed to shine the spotlight on diversity in children’s literature.

Our mission is to not only raise awareness for the kid’s books that celebrate diversity, but to get more of these of books into classrooms and libraries.

Thanks to their sponsors, book review bloggers and thousands of readers, Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2014 achieved its goal of highlighting all of the amazing multicultural children’s books available to young readers, teachers, librarians and parents worldwide.

What is a multicultural book?

Multicultural children’s books are:

  • Books that contain characters of colour, as well as characters that represent a minority point of view;
  • Books that share ideas, stories, and information about cultures, race, religion, language, and traditions;
  • Books that embrace our world and offer children new ways to connect to a diverse and richer world.

Our total social media shares for three days of our 2017 event (on the day before, day of and day after Multicultural Children’s Book Day) were an astounding 3.6-billion!

Watch for the #ReadYourWorld hashtag on social media.

“It is time for parents to teach young people early on that in diversity there is beauty and there is strength.” Maya Angelou.

Reading puts us in touch with our humanity

Reading and access to diverse books offer children a safe door towards real life; towards what life is or how it could be; towards the lives of people from different nations and cultures. Towards different kinds of struggles, emotions and ideals; how and why are they like or unlike our own.

Reading expands children’s levels of empathy and broadens their minds.

Diversity and its meaning today in the book industry

The fact that different kinds of people – poor or rich, men and women, white and black – can write books is often a revelation for many young readers. “If they can do it, so can I!”

The book monopoly is a thing of the past. Today access to books and their creative journeys belongs to the young as well, and to women equally. The knowledge of this variety is undoubtedly empowering for many young minds.

Why diversity in children’s books is a win-win situation

The more children are exposed to different cultures and emotions through books, the more empowered they feel, as these books reflect their own race or inter-race, religion, sex or physical health, and home upbringing (including divorced families, immigrants, and single-parent families). Children feel good about themselves when they read about characters like them.

You can find free diversity book lists and activities here for teachers and parents.

The more we are exposed to different cultures, the more we gain in variety and humanity. By telling the same story in different languages, each time it becomes a new narration with a new lesson to pass on.

We live in a world that’s confronted, more than ever, with a wide variety of issues that impact directly on our lives and those of our children: global warming and social migration, terrorism and out-of-control political spectacles.

Access to diverse books offer our children the best tools to comprehend and deal with the worldwide chaos they have to live in. A diversity of books will hopefully empower our children and grant them the wisdom to understand themselves and their world . It will help them discover the power needed to stand on their own two feet and lead a life of humanity and empathy.

10 diverse books to enjoy (or find your own at your local library):

Who Was Nelson Mandela – As a child, he dreamed of changing South Africa; as a man, he changed the world.

Malala’s Magic Pencil – As a child in Pakistan, Malala made a wish for a magic pencil that she could use to redraw reality.

The Cheetah And The Dog – Inspired by the true story of Kasi, the orphaned male cheetah, and Mtani, the female labrador, who struck up a remarkable friendship and remained lifelong friends.

They All Saw A Cat – The many lives of one cat – and how perspective shapes what we see. When you see a cat, what do you see?

A Long Walk To Water, Based On A True Story – The New York Times bestsellerbegins as two stories, told in alternating sections, about two 11-year-olds in Sudan: a girl in 2008 and a boy in 1985.

Home Of The Brave – Kek comes from Africa, where he lived with his mother, father and brother.

Little Suns – “There are many suns,” he said. “Each day has its own. Some are small, some are big. I’m named after the small ones.”

Giant Steps – Elephants have long been targeted by humans: not only are they killed for their ivory, but their extraordinary strength, intelligence and charisma have seen some of them captured, chained and effectively jailed for life.

We’re All Wonders – The unforgettable story of August Pullman, an ordinary boy with an extraordinary face.

Wishtree – Trees can’t tell jokes, but they can certainly tell stories…

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This article was initially published on the Huffington Post SA on 26 January 2018, here.

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Here’s How To Get Boys To Read In 5 Easy Steps

Joyful Trouble, Amazon Bestseller myBook.to/JoyfulTrouble

Between job requirements, commuting to work and school, extra murals, the latest Minecraft or Spinners, how does one win the battle of raising an all-rounder child? Inevitably, something will fall between the cracks. Don’t let it be your child’s love of books. Raising a boy who finds joy in reading sounds easier said than done, but, in the long run, it’s a battle worth fighting. Your mission is finding your way through the maze of everyday activities and temptations towards a half-an-hour bedtime reading.

Often disregarded, yet effective, reading equips children with much-needed life skills. Reading has educational, neurological and psychological benefits stimulating children’s developing minds and improving their emphatic skills, helping them socialise at school and thrive in life. To better understand this let’s see how reading happens.

As you read this article, there are four different activities taking place in your brain:

1. Phonics: Associating a speech sound to each letter.

2. Sight: Some English words must first be recognised as a whole, then sounded (“the”). English vocabulary has 26 letters, yet when reading we use 44 speech sounds, 20 vowel sounds and 24 consonant sounds. Thinking skills are therefore involved.

3. Contextual analysis: Prediction of what will happen next.

4. Structural analysis: Understanding what a word means by looking at its root or figuring out its meaning from the context.

Here are the five steps on how to get your son to read – and loving it.

1. Visit the local library together, find books that interest him.

Image courtesy Unsplash
Image courtesy Unsplash

Let your son wander around the library, pick a book and sit down to page through it. Find books geared at your child’s age group and interests.

Read aloud to your son from as early in infancy as possible. Research shows that children who were read to as infants have higher chances to grow up with a love for books.

If your son can read, take turns reading aloud every day. Let your child read to you and don’t worry if he is mispronouncing some words. Rather allow him the pleasure of having finished that page.

2. Leave reading material around the house, reading means more than books.

Be it a picture book, a magazine, a joke collection, or even a comic book, you want your son to pick it up and enjoy a page or two at a time. How-to books on sport or another interest might be a great place to start getting a boy interested in reading.

Never make reading a chore. Rather surround your child with books than forcing reading on him. Place a bookshelf in his room and allow him to choose a few books he’s really interested in.

3. Read yourself… and make sure you get caught reading.

Children often mimic what they see, not what they hear and we, as parents, are our children’s mirrors. Waiting for your son to come out from school? Read; keep a book in the car just for this reason. Going to the Home Affairs for your son’s passport renewal? Take a book with you and allow your son to see you reading in public. There’s nothing to be ashamed of when we’re reading.

Modern day technology allows you to download eBooks on your phone. It is a casual way to get boys comfortable about reading in public.

4. Get dad, an uncle or a grandfather involved.

Get Dad to read too if your son struggles with reading. Try a father-son book club and perhaps get involved with other dads and their sons. Make it casual, have a BBQ-Book Club or a campfire. Pair books with an activity, away from technology might also help.

Remember, having positive role models helps both boys and girls stay interested in reading.

5. Start a reading list and have a rating system – think about it like a sport.

Write down what your son reads and what he would like to read next. Allow him to rate the books, group them in categories. This way you can both see where his interests lay and he can feel more in control over his reading.

Explain to him that reading is like a sport, it takes practice to get better at it.

Being a good reader will make learning during school years and tertiary education a lot easier. Reading entails an understanding of what is being said behind the literary meaning of the story, connecting that information to what we already know, relating to it and drawing knowledge from it.

Reading is the capacity of focusing on a task for a certain amount of time. And these skills, like the pieces of a puzzle, are what later help children experience a successful schooling career. For this is what reading entails, being able to focus for a prolonged time. Or at least until Mum or Dad come to switch off your light and forcefully remove the book from your hand because… tomorrow is school.

He is reading Joyful Trouble myBook.to/JoyfulTrouble
He is reading Joyful Trouble myBook.to/JoyfulTrouble – universal link

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Joyful Trouble, a book that reads like a movie”, an Amazon Bestseller.

This post was initially written and posted on the Huffington Post SA on 21st June 2017

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As Good As Gold is also available in Large Print, a dyslexia friendly edition: Amazon UK, Amazon US 

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