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Why Blog?

Imagine That. . .  imagine that these children we cherish and care for are grown – what world will they inherit and what challenges will they have to tackle? How will we prepare them to take charge, approach problems with creativity and grit, participate actively in their communities, and make good decisions? How can we ensure that they are successful throughout their lives, what foundation do we need to give them and how do we all work together to make that possible?

Imagine That . . . can you imagine that children’s first relationships can impact their lifelong health, including their risks for chronic disease? Or that the sing-song ways we talk to infants actually helps them acquire language and is a universal phenomenon across time and culture? Or that children as young as 18 months understand cause and effect and have the power of imagination? The fields of neuro-science, early childhood, and informal learning are exploding with new understandings and insights that affect how we think about our work, and what we do in the Museum.

Imagine That . . . we are humbled and thrilled by the creativity, ingenuity and curiosity of our audience.  We too experience a WOW moment as we witness a child making a connection for the first time, or taking a risk, collaborating with a stranger, solving a problem.  These moments often surprise, delight, and teach us something important. They fuel our own excitement and commitment to our work.

The Children’s Museum of New Hampshire serves over 93,000 visitors a year and we are dedicated to continuing to be relevant and meaningful to our users.  At the same time we are more than a destination.  In fact, we have a commitment to serving as a critical resource for all New Hampshire families on site, or off.  This blog is a place for us to bridge between the Museum and day-to-day life, and to actively involve you beyond a Museum visit.

We will use this space to ask questions, invite participation, and share ideas.  We imagine that the recipe exchange in the Cafe will take on another life on-line, that book suggestions made on our Books We Love column may become part of our early literacy exhibit, that our soon to launch Science Portfolio project will inspire young inventors to participate in an open engineering design competition, and more.

We will use the blog to explore all of these opportunities to learn from, and with one another. Our goal is to enhance our ability to meet the needs of the families and children, and to hone our own efforts so that they represent the best we can do and maximize our contribution.

We cannot succeed without you: our users, stakeholders, and supporters.  Together we celebrate children’s achievements and honor their growth. With you, we will continue to build the relationships and develop the insights that enable us to support children’s wonder and engagement with their world.

Imagine that . . . 

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Books We Love for Transitions

Museum arts & humanities educator Xanthi Gray introduces a book at a Story Explorers session.

Books We Love is a collection of book titles for adults, independent readers, and for reading aloud with children.  Each column will be organized around a theme and will include recommendations by Museum staff and the Dover Children’s Librarian, Kathleen Thorner.  We invite you to use the comments to contribute your own favorite titles related to that same theme, or to share your experiences reading about, and with, your children.

Why are we writing about books?
Books allow us to reflect on our experience and explore ideas.  They can stand in for a trusted advisor, community leader, friends and family. And their distance from our own pressing concerns can be liberating and helpful.  When we read with our children we share both the love of reading with them, and offer an opportunity to think and learn together.

Whether we read to ourselves or with our children this is a great way to think about books – as opportunities to safely explore new ideas, consider options, and play out our hopes and dreams.

New Beginnings

This collection of titles focuses on transitions – a theme that resonates with the change of seasons and beginning of school.  Titles for adults include helping children make decisions, coping with stressful transitions, and what to expect from typical developmental milestones.  For children the books focus on school as a common experience with change that is often highly anticipated by both children and their adults.  Themes range from first day jitters to coping with cliques, and feature children, teachers and even the class pet.

The Most Recommended Book

All of our education staff, and librarian Kathleen Thorner, each had one book title in common.  That was The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn. 1993.  Its popularity surprised us and we wanted to highlight it.

Books for Parents

Good kids, Tough Choices: how parents can help their children do the right thing by Rushworth M. Kidder.  San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2010.  – Kathleen Thorner

Great kids: helping your baby and child develop the ten essential qualities for a happy, healthy life by Stanley I. Greenspan.  Cambridge, MA: Da Capo Press, 2007.  - Kathleen Thorner

Parenting through Crisis: helping kids in times of loss, grief, and change by Barbara Coloroso.  New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2000. – Kathleen Thorner

The Parents’ Guide to Psychological First aid: helping children and adolescents cope with predictable life crises edited by Gerald P. Koocher and Annette M. La Greca.  New York: Oxford University Press, 2011. – Kathleen Thorner

Touchpoints Three to Six by T. Berry Brazelton.  This series explores predictable developmental milestones and examines the tension children experience as they grow more independent and competent.  A helpful framework for parents whether your child is 2-yrs old or 12-yrs old. – CMNH Staff

Recommendations for younger children (for starting school):

First Day Jitters by Julie Danneberg, 2000.  Sarah is afraid to start at a new school, but both she and the reader are in for a surprise when she gets to her class. - Kathleen Thorner

Froggy Goes to School by Jonathan London, 1996.  Froggy is nervous about his first day of school, but, even though it’s hard to sit still, he has a wonderful time. – Kathleen Thorner

I Am Too Absolutely Small for Schoolby Lauren Child, 2004.  When Lola is worried about starting school, her older brother Charlie reassures her. - Kathleen Thorner

I Don’t Want to Go to School by Stephanie Blake, 2009.  Simon the rabbit does not want to go to his first day of school, but by the time his mother comes to take him home, he is having such a good time that he does not want to leave. – Kathleen Thorner

Maisy Goes to Preschool by Lucy Cousins.  A great introduction to what happens at daycare and preschool for young children – CMNH Staff

Will You Come Back For Me? by Ann Tompert. To help ease the fears of separation for children going to daycare or preschool for the first time – CMNH Staff

Mama Don’t Go by Rosemary Wells, 2001.  Yoko loves kindergarten, but she doesn’t want her mother to leave–until her new friend helps her realize that “mothers always come back.” – Kathleen Thorner

Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten by Ahley Wolff, 1996.
Introduces the letters of the alphabet as Miss Bindergarten and her students get ready for kindergarten. – Kathleen Thorner

Mrs. Spitzer’s Garden by Edith Pattou. – CMNH Staff

Who Will Go to School (Kindergarten)Today? by Karl Ruhmann. – CMNH Staff

My Preschool by Anne Rockwell, 2008.  Follows a little boy during his day at preschool, from cheerful hellos in circle time, to painting colorful pictures and playing at the water table, to passing out paper cups for snack. – Kathleen Thorner

Sumi’s First Day of School by Soyung Pak, 2003.  Sumi is nervous about going to school because she doesn’t speak English. However, by the time she finishes her first day there, she decides that school is not as lonely, scary, or mean as she had thought. – Kathleen Thorner

Wemberly Worried by Kevin Henkes, 2000.  A mouse named Wemberly, who worries about everything, finds that she has a whole list of things to worry about when she faces the first day of nursery school. – Kathleen Thorner

Good books for Older Readers (school experiences):

Ellie McDoodle: new kid in school by Ruth Barshaw, 2008.
Ellie writes and doodles in a journal of her family’s move to a new home and her struggle to make friends, which gets a lot easier as she leads a nonviolent protest about long lunch lines at school. – Kathleen Thorner

Fabled Fourth Graders of Aesop Elementary School by Candace Fleming, 2010.
An unlikely teacher takes over the disorderly fourth-grade class of Aesop Elementary School with surprising results. – Kathleen Thorner

How I Spent My Summer Vacation.  By Mark Teague.  Start the school year off with a laugh when your teacher asks YOU – how did you spend YOUR summer vacation? – CMNH Staff

How to be Cool in the Third Grade by Betsy Duffey, 1993.  When Robbie York is marked as a target by a bully at school, he decides that the only way to survive the third grade is by being cool. – Kathleen Thorner

Justin Case: school, drool, and other daily disasters by Rachel Vail, 2010.  Through his journal entries, Justin relates his daily worries as he goes through third grade. – Kathleen Thorner

Nikki and Deja by Karen English, 2007.  When an arrogant new girl comes to school, third-graders and best friends Nikki and Deja decide to form a club that would exclude her but find the results not what they expected. – Kathleen Thorner

School Days According to Humphrey by Betty Birney, 2011.  Humphrey the hamster is puzzled when unfamiliar students fill Mrs. Brisbane’s classroom at summer’s end, but he soon learns that his friends from last year are fine and that the new class needs his special help. – Kathleen Thorner

School!: adventures at the Harvey N. Trouble Elementary School by Kate McMullan, 2010.  Each morning, student Ron Faster hurries to Harvey N. Trouble School, where he encounters such staff members as science teacher Ms. Roxanne Pebbles, music instructor Mrs. Doremi Fasollatido, and the resigning janitor Mr. Iquit. – Kathleen Thorner

Stuart’s Cape and Stuart Goes To School by Sara Pennypacker.  Bored because there is nothing to do in the house to which his family has just moved and worried about starting third grade in a new school, Stuart makes a magical cape out of his uncle’s ties and has a series of adventures. – Kathleen Thorner and CMNH Staff

The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger, 2010.  Sixth-grader Tommy and his friends describe their interactions with an advice giving paper finger puppet of Yoda, worn by their weird classmate Dwight, as they try to figure out whether or not the puppet can really predict the future.  – Kathleen Thorner

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