Friday, July 31, 2015

7 infographics that promote reading

In this post you’ll see the most convincing infographics that encourage to read, and raise awareness of the importance of reading.

Reading is a privilege, but many people think it’s like nothing more than a duty. Well, even if it’s a duty, it still bring this nice warm feeling of getting smarter and smarter with every page.

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In times of the internet, with its distractions and information overload, it’s harder and harder to find time and attitude to do such an easy thing as opening a book.

Oh, books. They are there, waiting to be enjoyed. Either printed on paper, or downloaded to a tablet. They are the closest of friends. And reading is the nicest of duties.

Hey, go and open the book-reading app on your Galaxy Tab. It’s easy, it’s next to Facebook.

7 great infographics that promote reading

1. Reading is the road to success

The role of reading in digital times doesn’t change. It was, it is, and it will be, the best way to achieve success.

That’s why it is extremely important to “instill in our children a desire to read” and to give them the understanding of the impact it can have on the rest of their lives.

This great infographic from Chronicle Books lists tips for influencing a desire to read, and apps that can be helpful in this process.

2. The benefits of reading

What would be a better way to draw attention to reading than presenting its sheer benefits in a visually pleasant way?

Created by Gosia Zimniak, the infographic puts together most important benefits of the most beautiful activity in the world. It somehow reminds me of the sunny childhood, with wooden bookshelves full of colorful and entertaining books. 

3. The most important benefits of reading

There are benefits of reading everyone knows or can guess. I’m sure you don’t know this: reading for as little as 6 minutes can reduce stress by as much as 60%!

National Reading Campaign, a Toronto-based non-profit organization, has developed together with CBC Books, an infographic that lists main benefits of reading, even these less obvious.

The visual is based on a summary Reading Matters that not only outlines most important advantages, but also cites the research to back it up.

4. A history of reading

Reading is not something teachers push you to do during your school years. Reading on a tablet may be something new for many, but the history of reading is a way longer than that.

Published by TechTalk with Currys and designed by Paragraphics, the infographic is a fun look at how reading evolved – with a focus on evolution of ebook reading devices.

The fact that books now exist in both paper and electronic form is not an excuse (“these ebooks don’t smell”). You should rather consider it as a privilege of choice.

5. Tips to help children refocus on reading

I wrote earlier that in digital times we are all getting distracted. Our children, digital natives, are distracted by default.

The infographic from Chronicle Books, a shopping site with wonderful personalized books, shows how to make the children focus, or to be more precise – refocus – on written word.

You don’t necessarily have to buy paper books and push your kids to read them. If they prefer to stay in a digital environment while turning their attention to a book, just make it happen. And make sure it happens every day.

6. Five ways to get kids excited about reading

More and more parents realize that getting their kids to read becomes a real challenge.

Before your children will watch “Jungle Book” or “Shrek”, make sure you did everything to let them fall in love with the original versions – the books.

Based on an article by Faith Fernandez for Edudemic, the infographic from CNK Digital visualizes the ways parents can facilitate the process of teaching children to read.

7. Avid readers around the world

Are you an avid reader? Do you read each day? How long can you survive without reaching for a book?

To a certain extent, your reading habits are depending on the country you live in.

This beautiful infographic designed by the team from RBTH, presents most avid readers in the world. In India, people spend with a book more than 10 hours a week. In the top five countries there are also Thailand, China, Philippines, Egypt, and Czech Republic.

United States is in the fourth group (marked in yellow color), together with Canada, Germany and Italy. Readers in these countries read between 5 and 6 hours a week.

Thursday, July 30, 2015


Pollsters say reading is in decline. As an author and former publishing executive, the statistics make me wince. But I’m optimistic for another reason.

Why? A readership crisis is really a leadership crisis. And for people who know how to respond, crisis is just another way of saying opportunity.

I’ve been a serious reader for decades: business and personal development, history, the Bible, current events, theology, philosophy, and even some fiction. I’m a content glutton. It’s part of who I am. And it’s also enabled me to become the leader I am.

I’m not alone. I know very few leaders who are uninterested in reading. And some CEOs are famous for their libraries and wide-ranging interests. Steve Jobs was, for one example, obsessed with the poet William Blake.

"A readership crisis is really a leadership crisis." 
                                                                            -MICHAEL HYATT

Readers are likely to be leaders. And with reading in decline, readers possess a comparative advantage in today’s business and political environments. How?

Here are five ways reading can uniquely develop and empower leaders:

1. Reading Makes us Better Thinkers

Reading is one of the most efficient ways to acquire information, and leaders need a lot of general information to keep perspective and seize opportunities. But reading does more than give us a toolbox of ideas. It actually upgrades our analytical tools, especially our judgment and problem-solving abilities.

Research by Anne E. Cunningham compared the general knowledge of readers and television watchers. The readers not only knew more, but they were also better at deciphering misinformation. In other words, reading improved their judgment.

Correctly sizing up a situation—often with incomplete information and limited time—is critical for being an effective leader. I have strong natural intuition, but I’m convinced that my reading has sharpened my edge when it comes to judgment.

These improved analytic tools also help us see patterns and make connections between seemingly random information. We’re not only improving our judgment, we’re also boosting our problem-solving abilities.

I’m always surprised when I’m working on an issue and some out-of-left-field analogy comes to mind from something I’ve read that helps me put all the pieces together. Wesley Hill even recommends what he calls “irrelevant reading,” going outside your field to spark new thoughts and make fresh connections.

2. Reading Improves Our People Skills

Sometimes we think of readers as antisocial introverts with the their nose in a book and ignoring the people around them. But reading can can actually improve a leader’s people skills.

Stories give us an opportunity to walk in other people’s shoes and see the world through their experiences and with their motivations—this is especially true for novels, biographies, and memoirs. When asked about the reading that helps her lead her business, one CEO said the insights about human nature in fiction and poetry has made all the difference in understanding and relating to her people.

And the physical act of reading is actually what makes these lessons stick. Brain scans show that as we relate to characters in stories we make neural connections that linger days after we put the book down on the nightstand.

What this tell us is that the experience of reading has the potential to help us boost our emotional IQ and better identify with people. And empathy is a vital leadership skill for creating alignment, understanding motivation, setting organizational goals, and more.

3. Reading Helps us Master Communication

When we read, especially widely and deeply, we pick up language proficiency that transfers across the board, including speaking and writing.

Reading uniquely expands our vocabulary. According to Cunningham, the books, magazines, and other written texts we read as adults use double and triple the number of rare words we hear on television.

This is important for leaders because an expanded vocabulary means not only greater precision in our communication, but with the improvement in emotional IQ we discussed in Way 2, we’ll also be able to choose words that are more persuasive and motivate the kind of behaviors we want.

We can leverage this across all of our communication. I can personally attest to the fact that this kind of skill transfers to both writing and public speaking. I’ve been doing both for years now, and can’t imagine succeeding without the mastery of language I’ve learned through books and other reading.

4. Reading Helps us Relax

An ongoing challenge every leader faces is managing stress. The great news is that while we’re reading and picking up the benefits of Ways 1, 2, and 3, we can simultaneously lower our stress levels.

One study compared reading to other stress relievers like walking, listening to music, or drinking a cup of tea. Reading was found the most effective, and it worked to lower heart rates and relieve tension in as few as six minutes.

“It really doesn’t matter what book you read,” according to the doctor who conducted the study. “By losing yourself in a thoroughly engrossing book you can escape from the worries and stresses of the everyday world.”

But it’s more than escape. Reading is “an active engaging of the imagination as the words on the printed page stimulate your creativity and cause you to enter what is essentially an altered state of consciousness.”

This is especially helpful before sleep and why reading something light is part of my nighttime ritual.

5. Reading Keeps us Young

I recently explained why older people make better entrepreneurs. They typically have advantages in experience, knowledge, and social networks.

It’s the same with leaders—and readers are especially positioned to leverage these advantages because reading has been shown in research by Keith E. Stanovich to keep us mentally sharp as we age. By exercising our brains with books and other reading we might even be able to prevent dementia in later years.

There are a lot of things we can do to position ourselves in the marketplace. Reading is probably not the first thing many will think of, but it’s one of the best in my experience.

In fact, I cannot think of any other single activity that can produce this list of positive effects. And given the decades-long decline in reading, being a serious reader is an increasingly unique way to develop the insights and qualities essential for leadership.

"One of the best ways to become an indispensable leader? Crack open a book."
                                                                                                 -MICHAEL HYATT

If you want to lead, you simply must read. It’s one of the surest ways to develop the qualities that will make you stand out and simultaneously equip you to lead as your influence grows.

How Fortune 500 Leaders Spend Every Minute of the Day (Infographic)

Entrepreneur and CultureIQ are searching for the top high-performing cultures to be featured on our annual list. Think your company has what it takes? Click here to get started.

How do top business leaders spend their time? Being fascinated by this topic, I collaborated with Chris Stowell, vice president of the International Center for Management and Organization Effectiveness in Sandy, Utah, to survey 267 C-level executives (all at the vice president level or higher) at Fortune 500 companies.

The respondents to the email survey, completed over the past two months, came from 163 companies including Adobe, American Express, AT&T, Bank of America, Boeing, BP, Delta, DHL, Federal Express, GE, Google, HP, John Deere, Johnson & Johnson, Kelloggs, Motorola, Rio Tinto and Twitter.

The survey research showed that the typical corporate leader wakes up at about 6:15 a.m., exercises for 45 minutes and commutes 25 minutes each way. Every workday, he or she spends two hours and 25 minutes on email and texting, 25 minutes on strategy and planning, and 30 minutes on personal development. The infographic below, created by Stowell, my friend and a leadership-training consultant, summarizes the findings.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Why Leaders Must Be Readers

If you take only one glance at our professional branding company’s leadership team, you may be surprised by our youthfulness. Our team is young (and looks even younger), but I am confident that the youthfulness of our team is helping our growth. That’s not because I agree with anything stated by Cathryn Sloane in her article that declared that all social media managers should be under the age of 25 – it’s because I believe that our employees’ youthfulness drives their intellectual curiosity. They want to learn, and the most common way they search for new knowledge is by reading articles and books by successful business owners, marketers, and entrepreneurs.

This doesn’t need to apply only to young businesspeople, though. It can be even more important for seasoned employees; leaders must be readers. Reading and learning from peers within, and outside of, your industry enables you to grow as an employee, business owner, and leader in three distinct ways.

Reading Reminds You

I make it a habit to re-read specific books every year because I need constant reminders of the good things they’ve taught me. After my third reading of Gary Vaynerchuk’s The Thank You Economy, I was inspired to work with our team to handwrite every one of our clients a thank-you note. Whether you re-read the same book or article to remind you of concepts, or read content on time management and organization as a constant reminder to work on these things, reading is valuable because it keeps important concepts top of mind.

Reading Challenges You

A female co-worker of mine, whom I respect immensely, recently gave me a book and said, “I disagree with about 80% of this, but you should definitely read it.” I loved that she was sharing a book that challenged her opinions, yet felt it was worthwhile reading for the 20% that was valuable. Reading something you disagree with can have a big impact on your ability to think, both creatively and logically.

Reading Gives You Opportunities to Interact with Others

I have referenced articles and books I’ve read in countless conversations, not to sound intelligent or cool (some of what I read would accomplish the opposite), but to relate to those with whom I’m speaking. Here are a few ways you should be making the most of what you’re reading:

Take notes and share them with your team.

An investor in our company sends me, on average, five articles a day and I always put them in a file that says “To Read.” When I have 10 minutes at the end of the day, I read an article or two, knowing that I can discuss these pieces with him later. It’s a great way for us to share ideas and inspire action in each other.

Spark debates with your team.

I also like using article topics to spark debate amongst our team members about how we should address a subject. I’ve heard of companies creating book clubs, where employees discuss topics in books that relate to their industry during lunch once a month. Sparking debate and sharing ideas is a wonderful way to use written content as a team-bonding tool.

Back up an idea you have or a decision you want to make.

You can use an article/book/speech from a respected person in your field to back up a decision you want to make. I’m not saying you should make decisions based solely on what you read, but it does give you more leverage when you say, “I read in So-and-So’s book that he had success with X, and I thought that we could implement this idea in our company by doing Y.” It’s a little more likely to stick than saying, “Who knows if this has ever worked for anyone in the past? But heck, let’s be the first to see if it can work!”
If you’re one of those people who claim you don’t have time to read, then first, I question why you’re reading my measly little article. Second, I encourage you to make time. Time never “appears” for anything; you have to make it. If nothing else, learn how to multitask. Listen to content while driving or walking to work (I suggest “This American Life” and “Intelligence Squared” on NPR – I’m obsessed with both). If you don’t have time to read an entire book, read short articles online. If you’re dying to read a book but honestly can’t find the time, then pair up with a friend and take turns reading and sharing the ideas through short descriptions, or find excerpts of the book online.

If you are a leader, you should be striving to develop knowledge to improve yourself, your company, and the people who work for you. To do anything less is to shortchange your ability to lead.


Five Clever Ideas to Spark Independent Reading by Kids

There are so many concepts, skills and standards to be covered in any given school day, week or year that it can be easy to forget about one simple activity that promotes autonomy and starts students down a path of lifelong learning — independent reading.

Kids are increasingly immersed in their digital devices, leading some adults to worry that reading for pleasure is in danger of disappearing. But creative school librarians are proving there are plenty of great ways to get kids excited about reading on their own.

“Reading is so social,” said Michelle Luhtala, librarian at New Caanan High School in Connecticut during an edWeb webinar. “The strongest reading programs have rules that you have to talk about what you’re reading.”

Luhtala is implementing plenty of innovative ideas to get kids reading in her school, but she also asked colleagues around the country to weigh in on great ideas to promote independent reading at every grade level.

1. Reading Clubs For Teachers

Book clubs are nothing new, and some especially motivated teachers even participate in these kinds of discussions with Professional Learning Networks to push their practice forward. But many teachers have so much going on that book clubs slide to the back of the priority list, especially if they are expected to read kids books.

Tamara Cox knew time was her hurdle when she launched a book club for Anderson School District One teachers in South Carolina. She lobbied the district to give continuing education units for participation, justifying her argument by linking a new tech tool to every book the group discussed.

With that incentive, a huge number of teachers wanted to participate in the program, so Cox broke them up into groups based on the age group they taught. Every month they read a book from a different genre or theme, casting a wide net with their choices.

“They were really adventurous; they opened it up to everything,” Luhtala said. Students were excited to see their teachers seriously discussing the graphic novels, manga and horror books that they might have chosen for themselves.

“What a great way to get your teachers to model reading for their students,” Luhtala said of the program. And, it had the added benefit of giving teachers and students common books to discuss. This might seem like a waste of time, but Cox found the program legitimized the kinds of books students love, introduced teachers to fun literature they might never have made time for, and sparked great conversations between the two groups.

“If you are confused about where to start, pick something that will surprise your teachers and jazzes your kids,” Luhtala recommended.

Along the way, Cox paired tech tools like Tellagami, iMovie, Puppet Pals, Venn Diagram, Trading Cards, Visual Poet and Chatter Pix (everyone’s favorite) with each genre. She encouraged kids to make book trailers for each title on the reading list, which involved students in the project, let them show their excitement about books and helped teachers understand how the various tech tools could be used in the classroom.

Crucially, Cox took a lot of feedback from teachers after the first teacher reading club. She’s working to tailor the experience even more to the needs of the classroom. The whole experience also helped build collaboration between teachers and their school librarian.

2. Genre-fy the Library

When Sherry Gick became the library and instructional technology specialist at Rossville Consolidated Schools in Indiana, she was troubled that ever-younger students would tell her they hated reading. That promoted her big goal: make the district a place where independent reading thrived. After six years as a librarian, even substitute teachers tell her they notice how clear it is that kids love to read.

Gick worked to make the library a more student-centered place by moving the books into genre sections. This could be a librarian’s worst nightmare, but she let the kids help her decide which genres to use and where different books fit, emphasizing there was no right or wrong answer. Gick ended up classifying books into 10 genres: sports, history, realism, fantasy, supernatural, suspense (horror), mystery, classical, adventure and science fiction.

“The fact that she involved the kids in the discussion brings up that culture of reading,” Luhtala said. “They feel like they have ownership of this.” The middle school students did most of the classifying, which had the added benefit of emphasizing some Common Core standards like reading for information, scanning for the big idea and, of course, classifying. Many books fit in multiple genres, but since students got to decide, the library reflects their thinking.

When kids visit the library, Gick doesn’t ask them what they like to read. Instead, she asks them what movies, TV shows or video games they like in order to get them interacting with her in some way.

“Then you can steer them toward one section where they feel comfortable, so they have a space they can go,” Luhtala said. And often authors write books that fit into multiple genres. If a student discovers Rick Riordan through his famous “Percy Jackson and the Olympians” series, she may also read some of Riordan’s mysteries and discover a new genre.

Genre-fying the library meant that Gick had to split the Dewey system of ordering books. Rather than putting autobiographies of sports greats in one section and fiction about sports in another, she combined them. Taking this approach made location the highest priority and meant that she didn’t have to change all the spine labels.

Gick also worked with classroom teachers to bring K-8 classes into the library, where they got to choose their own books and read silently. High school classes did something similar, depending on the teacher. Gick makes sure the kids have lots of choices in terms of content, but also in format. She’s got paper books and ebooks, offers ways for kids to discuss books online and in person, and stays away from book quizzes.

All the librarians emphasized that conversations about books keep reading social, relevant and fun. For many students, personal interactions are becoming less common as life becomes more digitally focused.

“What’s being lost is the skill of conversation,” Luhtala said. “If we can use books to reintroduce that skill into our kids’ lives, that’s super powerful.”

3. Somewhat Virtual Book Clubs

Many librarians or English teachers have tried to start student book clubs to encourage independent reading and have seen them fall flat because of too little interest. Librarians across the country teamed up to make a more robust club that meets in person at individual schools and then online with peers across the country using Google Hangouts. They have a Goodreads page and Twitter hashtag (#SWVBC), calling themselves the Somewhat Virtual Book Club.

“It helps you to know what you believe in and maybe even question your own opinions about what’s happening in the world,” said Rosemary, a rising sophomore at New Caanan High School. She likes connecting with students on the other side of the country and discovering they’ve read the same Tumblr post she has or have really different ideas about a book they both read.

Other librarians and teachers are using the virtual world to connect students to the authors of books. The class will tweet at an author or invite her to Skype into the class for a few minutes. These real-world interactions can help reading feel more exciting for students.

4. Contests

In Parsippany-Troy Hills, New Jersey, Elissa Malespina has found a little friendly competition with a silly reward can go a long way to getting students reading. At the elementary level, she sets a goal for number of books each child should read. And when students reach the goal, a pre-determined silly-something happens: The principal might shave his head, or dye his hair red for a day, or participate in a dunk tank.

Meanwhile, at Sedgwick Middle School in Connecticut, Shannon McNeice has her students participating in Book Trivia Battles at the local public library. Preparing for the battles means reading lots and lots of books. McNeice has found other ways to make reading social, too, launching an Instagram campaign called “What Are You Reading?” that has been fairly successful.

5. Book-A-Day Program

At Sanislo Elementary in Seattle, Washington parent volunteers have started a book-a-day program where each student gets to borrow a new book every night. The books are tracked, and about 90 percent come back each day.

“It starts these conversations in the classroom,” Luhtala said. “Every day they’re having this rich dialogue about the book they got that day.”

All of these ideas get kids excited about reading, talking about what they’ve read, and developing the habit of reading. It’s an easy way to give students choice and broaden their horizons as standards require more specific kinds of reading in class. Many librarians have found that getting kids hooked on a series is a great way to extend reading into the summer, too.

Ultimately, cultivating independent readers must be about helping students find the joy in reading. That requires lots of choice, little judgment, many formats in which to read and lots of online, analog and face-to-face opportunities to share thoughts about the book.


Tuesday, July 28, 2015


My friends that are educators have the best tips for building early literacy skills! I am so excited to share some of their amazing ideas with you all!

To encourage reading (decoding) post words around the house for your child to recognize. Then when you read books at night, try and locate one word throughout the story. This helps build sight word vocabulary.

Encourage your child to make predictions about what will happen next in a story. This can be done just by asking “how do you think this story will end?” or “how will the character feel at the end of the story?”

Have your child retell stories to build reading comprehension by using stickers related to the story. Help your child use the stickers to sequence the events in the story. Use the pictures in the book to support the child in sequencing the events. To take it to a higher level after putting the stickers on, close the book and ask your child to retell the story using just the stickers.

Above tips from Holly, Special Educator, mom, and blogger at: Hart to Your Heart

As your child starts to sing the ABC’s, direct their attention to the fact that letters make sounds. You can help build their ability to associate letters with their sounds by making up silly songs about the sounds letters make to the tune of a familiar nursery rhyme.

Read with your child as often as you can and let them pick out their favorite books. Bedtime is a great time to read, but it’s also great to find other times to read throughout the day. When reading to children use an animated tone of voice and don’t be afraid to use silly voices for characters and to really enjoy the time with your child!

Above tips from Elana Goldblatt, Kindergarten Teacher and mom

Read with your kids from the very beginning. Babies love listening to your voice and looking at the pictures in board books. Instituting nightly stories as part of a bedtime routine is a great way to make reading a daily habit. Older kids love going to the library to pick out books to read. Ask older kids to make predictions and connections to the stories you read to encourage comprehension.

Starting at around age 2, point out letters to your child. Notice letters in signs, books, clothes, etc. Begin to identify print as “letters” so your child starts to notice that print is written language. As your child gets older, you can start identifying the particular letters as a way to encourage letter recognition.

Make sure your child sees you reading. One of the most effective ways to encourage literacy is to model reading. Talk about books that you read for fun as well as reading you do to gain information (following a recipe, reading a newspaper, etc.). Prepare your child for reading success by encouraging excitement about reading!


Monday, July 27, 2015

Want To Build Your Child's Literacy Skills? Try Reading To Them More

This piece comes to us courtesy of EdSource, where it was originally published.

In “The Pout-Pout Fish” children’s picture book, the author weaves words like “aghast” and “grimace” into a story about a fish who thought he was destined to “spread the dreary-wearies all over the place” until…well, no need to spoil the ending.

Finding such rich language in a picture book is not unusual, and reading those stories aloud will introduce children to an extensive vocabulary, according to new research conducted by Dominic Massaro, a professor emeritus in psychology at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He said although parents can build their children’s vocabularies by talking to them, reading to them is more effective.

Reading aloud is the best way to help children develop word mastery and grammatical understanding, which form the basis for learning how to read, said Massaro, who studies language acquisition and literacy. He found that picture books are two to three times as likely as parent-child conversations to include a word that isn’t among the 5,000 most common English words.

Picture books even include more uncommon words than conversations among adults, he said.

“We talk with a lazy tongue,” Massaro said. “We tend to point at something or use a pronoun and the context tells you what it is. We talk at a basic level.”

Massaro said the limited vocabulary in ordinary, informal speech means what has been dubbed “the talking cure” –- encouraging parents to talk more to their children to increase their vocabularies -– has its drawbacks. Reading picture books to children would not only expose them to more words, he said, but it also would have a leveling effect for families with less education and a more limited vocabulary.

“Given the fact that word mastery in adulthood is correlated with early acquisition of words, shared picture book reading offers a potentially powerful strategy to prepare children for competent literacy skills,” Massaro said in the study.

The emphasis on talking more to children to increase their vocabularies is based on research by Betty Hart and Todd Risley at the University of Kansas. They found that parents on welfare spoke about 620 words to their children in an average hour compared with 2,150 words an hour spoken by parents with professional jobs. By age 3, the children with professional parents had heard 30 million more words than the children whose parents were on welfare. Hart and Risley concluded that the more parents talked to their children, the faster the children’s vocabularies grew and the higher the children’s I.Q. test scores were at age 3 and later. Since their research was published, there has been a push to encourage low-income parents to talk more to their children as a way to improve literacy.

But more picture book reading would be beneficial to children from every social class, Massaro said. What limits the tongue of even well-educated adults are “certain rules of discourse,” such as responding quickly, he said. That reduces word choices to those acquired early and used more frequently. In conversation, people also repeat words that have been recently spoken, further restricting the variety of words used.

Writing, on the other hand, is more formal, Massaro said, even in children’s books.

“Reading takes you beyond the easy way to communicate,” he said. “It takes you to another world and challenges you.”

Reading picture books to babies and toddlers is important, he said, because the earlier children acquire language, the more likely they are to master it.

“You are stretching them in vocabulary and grammar at an early age,” Massaro said. “You are preparing them to be expert language users, and indirectly you are going to facilitate their learning to read.”

Massaro said encouraging older children to sound out words and explaining what a word means if it isn’t clear in the context of the story will help build children’s vocabularies. Allowing children to pick the books they are interested in and turn the pages themselves keeps them active and engaged in learning, he said.

Reading to children also teaches them to listen, and “good listeners are going to be good readers,” Massaro said.

Massaro said that 95 percent of the time when adults are reading to children, the children are looking at the pictures, partly because picture books tend to have small or fancy fonts that are hard to read. If picture book publishers would use larger and simpler fonts, then children would be more likely to also focus on the words, helping them to become independent readers, he said.

In the study, Massaro compared the words in 112 popular picture books to adult-to-child conversations and adult-to-adult conversations. The picture books, which were recommended by librarians and chosen by him, included such favorites as “Goodnight Moon” and “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie.”

Most of the books Massaro used were fiction, but children’s picture books can also be nonfiction and discuss topics such as earthquakes or ocean life that would likely include a larger number of uncommon words, he said, giving them an even greater advantage over conversation.

To analyze the conversations, Massaro used two databases of words. One database involved 64 conversations with 32 mothers. The mothers had one conversation with their baby, age 2 to 5 months, while interacting with toys, and another “casual conversation” with an adult experimenter. The second database consisted of more than 2.5 million words spoken by parents, caregivers and experimenters in the presence of children with a mean age of 36 months.

In his comparison, Massaro identified the number of uncommon words, and he determined that the picture books he analyzed contained more of them than the language used in conversation.

Massaro’s study has been accepted for publication in The Journal of Literacy Research.


Sunday, July 26, 2015

6 Simple Ideas to Get Kids to Read

Loving reading, loving books, being a reader, and finding your own books to share are central goals in our 7th grade English classroom.  And I spend every waking moment at times it seems trying to find ways for students to find that special book that will make them feel like they are a reader.  I spend hours planning, prepping, buying books, and yes, reading them to make sure that I am the best teacher possible for all of my many students.  Yet, sometimes we do not need a lot of time, nor a lot of work to inspire a love of reading.  So behold, these are my 6 simplest ideas for getting students to fall (a little bit more) in love with reading.

Public Display of Book Affection

I believe in public displays of book affection every single day and on every surface allowable.  When students enter into our team area (Go sharks!), they are greeted this year with our giant poster wondering how many picture books we can read in a year (Thanks Jillian Heise for the idea).  They can also see what I am reading, as well as what my team is reading.  In our room, there are books everywhere.  Many are faced out and the displays change depending on our mood.  Books are everywhere.  Book love is everywhere.  I take great pride and care in showing that books are central to our world.  There is no willy-nilly displays allowed.

The 1 Minute Book Talk

I will start most classes with a 1 minute book talk highlighting the book I just finished, a book I cannot wait to read, or a book that I purchased for the classroom.  As the year progresses I hope to hand this over to students.  But think about it?  180 days equals 180 books talks.  That’s a lot of exposure.  since I have 5 English classes, there will be 5 different book talks every day.  Once done, they go on the whiteboard ledge for anyone to grab.

The Repeated Question

I always ask students, current and former, what they are reading.  Even when we are not in class.  That constant focus on literacy coupled with the innate expectation that they are reading means that students start to think of their answer before they see me.  And those that don’t read?  Well, this question opens up to a discussion of why not and I can usually sneak them a book recommendation or two as we talk.

The Pushy Book Handler

I am always handing books to students (and colleagues too).  Books do not get read by sitting on your shelf.  Books do not get discovered by being in a bin.  They get discovered and read by someone picking them up, flipping through them, and perhaps reading a few words.  So we have to physically hand books to students if we want them to get excited.  We do monthly (or sometimes weekly) book shopping in our classroom where piles of great books await the students.  With their “To Be Read” list in hand, they take five minutes to browse the piles and find new books to read.

The Getting Out of the Way Trick

Easy access and check out to books is a must.  Donalyn Miller and Teri Lesesne told us at ILA that if books are across the hallway they are too far away.  We need classroom libraries  in every room, not just the English classroom.  We needs books at the fingertips of our students so that at any moment they can be inspired to reach out and find a new text.  Books are not a distraction, they are a necessity in our classrooms and should be treated as such.  This is also why I don’t have a check out system really.  To see more about how I organize my classroom library, see this post.

The Guest Book Shopper

If you have that one child that will not read.  If you have that one child that keeps reading that one book and not because they love it so much.  If you have that one kid that never likes anything you have to offer, this is a great way to spark an interest in them.  Simply hand them a book catalog.  Get them on Amazon.  Take them to a book store if you can and ask them to select a few books.  Before the books arrive get them excited about their impending arrival.  And then when they get make it a priority to get them to the student that day.  It is a matter of urgency now that the books are here, so they should find their home right away.


Friday, July 24, 2015

How to Improve Reading Comprehension in Early Readers

I hear it a lot from parents "Jane is reading chapter books." Yet I know the reality is something different. Jane reads well.  She has great fluency.  She reads with expression, pauses at each comma, and raises her voice when she sees a question mark at the end of a sentence.  However, Jane has trouble recalling with detail the sequence of the story.

I remember when I was growing up we read our Dick and Jane basal reader, answered a few questions and that was about the extent of it.  Today, kids need to be able to talk in detail about the text.  They need to make predictions, inferences, and draw conclusions. We are expecting our students to "dig deeper" and pull meaning from what they read. Students are expected to create written responses based on the content of what they read. Students are expected to comprehend a story well in order to perform these higher level thinking skills. This can be a difficult concept, especially for early readers.
I explain to my students that good readers turn the story into a "movie in their mind" as they read. In order for students to do this they need a lot of practice and modeling.

 The story Stuck by Oliver Jeffers is one of my favorite books to begin introducing visualization.  When students can visualize and "make a movie in their mind" the story takes on life. It helps students make connections, form characters in their mind, infer information, and pay closer attention to detail.
 When Floyd's kite gets stuck in a tree he throws his shoe up to the tree to try and get it down. Needless to say, he isn't very successful and by the end of the story a LOT more than a kite is stuck in the tree.

I read the story once through and we have a "turn and talk" about the sequence of the story.  Next, I re-read the story but this time....students lay down, or put their heads down on their desks.  They get comfortable and close their eyes.  I shut the lights off and re-read the story and instruct them to "make a movie in their mind as I read."
 Next, students draw what items they remember from the story that got stuck in the tree.  They label their drawings.  Here are some of their results:

This method can work for any story. Read some. Stop.  Draw what you heard.  Repeat. I like using clipboards and having the students sit with them on the rug while I read. They can make predictions, show the problem in the story, make an inference, etc.  Whatever skill you are working, mental imagery is a great tool.

Poetry provides young students with excellent examples of imagery and visualization. This book is absolutely fabulous for teaching imagery:

For example:
Red reminds me of fire.
Red smells like apples and a furious fire.
Red tastes like lollipops and cherries in the summer.

 Sticky notes are by far the greatest invention ever (next to ice cream).  We love them, kids love them. They rock!  When my district began a shift towards balanced literacy, I began having my students use sticky notes to annotate text. However, I have a confession. I am a major neat nick.  I couldn't stand books being plastered with sticky notes.  So I made some planning pages for my students to add sticky notes to in order for them to show their understanding of text that they are reading.  It felt like the heavens opened up.  For real!  Now my students record the title of the text they are working on, on their planning page and pass it in and their connections, predictions, inferences, etc. are all in one place.

We use sticky notes in my classroom during guided reading groups, as mini-lessons, and during silent reading time. I try to conference with students as they are working but if my guided reading group runs over a bit too long and I don't have time that day, the kiddos just leave their planning pages with their sticky notes intact in a basket near my desk and we either conference about it later in the day or I look it over and file it as evidence.  You can find Make it Stick!


5 Books Every Aspiring Writer Should Read

When it comes to giving aspiring writers advice, famous authors have suggested everything from imagining you’re dying (Anne Enright) to abstaining from alcohol, sex, and drugs (Colm Tóibín). The one pointer that nearly every personality seems to agree on, though, is that anyone dreaming of penning the next great novel should read, read, read.
And while the rule seems to be the more books the merrier, here are a few top recommendations for those counting on being the next F. Scott Fitzgerald, Maya Angelou, or Bret Easton Ellis.

Becoming a Writer by Dorothea Brande
Recommended by some of the best in the biz, including Man Booker Prize–winning author Hilary Mantel, Dorothea Brande’s 1930s meditation on the process of creative writing delves into what it takes to become a writer from the inside out. Neither a technical manual nor a reference book, Becoming a Writer is more aptly a friendly but blunt guide, alongside which beginners can explore the art of authorship, the discipline necessary to achieve a finished work, and the false belief that writers are born and not made.

Edgar Allan Poe: Complete Tales & Poems by Edgar Allan Poe
Though widely lauded as the inventor of the modern detective story, Edgar Allan Poe is also credited as being the first great American literary critic. This long-celebrated anthology offers up evidence of both, presenting aspiring writers with the opportunity to dissect the master craftsman’s essays on good writing and the “unity of effect” before devouring the very tales that brought his theories to life and bricked in (“Cask of Amontillado” anyone?) his place in literary history forever.

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King
If you’re an aspiring writer looking for an inspiring success story, some sort of experiential solidarity with one of the most bestselling authors of all time, and a handy textbook full of useful advice, Stephen King’s part-master-class, part- memoir is it. Readers not only get insight into how the famous storyteller became a writer and hurdled massive life challenges; they get a handy collection of tried-and-tested tips, from philosophical musings (The magic is in you) to grammatical lessons (Don’t use passive voice) to plot pointers (Leave out the boring parts and kill your darlings).

As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
One of the most important things to keep in mind as an aspiring writer is that, in fact, there’s no right way to write a story. A point that’s wonderfully illustrated by the great William Faulkner and his seminal work, As I Lay Dying . The celebrated novelist broke with convention to tell the tale of a poor Southern family’s quest to bury their matriarch, Addie Bundren, in the town of Jefferson through not one, not two, but fifteen different narrators. Faulkner brazenly pairs this technique with what was at the time a seldom-used narrative device called stream of consciousness writing. The result was a risky, out-on-a-limb work that, along with his other publications, would eventually earn him the Nobel Prize in Literature.

Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
As one character so wisely tells another in Japanese sensation Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84, “When you introduce things that most readers have never seen before into a piece of fiction, you have to describe them with as much precision and in as much detail as possible. What you can eliminate from fiction is the description of things that most readers have seen.” Nowhere is this more vital than in speculative or science fiction, and arguably, few do it consistently better than Canadian author Margaret Atwood. While her Man Booker Prize–winning The Blind Assassin and Arthur C. Clarke Award–winning The Handmaid’s Tale are classics as much as primers in the art of constructing convincing settings, aspiring writers will find a formidable and incredibly inventive blueprint in the post-apocalyptic world of Oryx and Crake.

What The College Kids Are Reading

I can remember the weeks before starting school at Skidmore College, furiously trying to finish Gregory Howard Williams' memoir, Life on the Color Line. The book had been assigned as our freshman reading assignment — part of the First-Year Experience at the liberal arts school in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.

Four years later, Williams spoke at our graduation.

Lots of colleges have these reading programs; some are just for freshmen, and for others, the entire campus or local community joins in. The idea is that books will stir discussion — and unite a class or campus around a topic. Some schools even have the author speak on campus, or weave the book's content into the year's curriculum.

Last year, these programs made the news — over controversy around defunding them.

But the programs are still prevalent around the country, for schools big and small. Last year, the National Association of Scholars looked at 341 colleges and universities and the 231 books they assigned.

The books are often selected by the campus — by professors, current students and the incoming class, or a combination. They tend to be contemporary reads: NAS's 2014 report found that more than half of the books assigned were published after 2010.

In recent years, schools have featured books like Rebecca Skloot's The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, Malcom Gladwell's The Tipping Point and Khaled Hosseini's A Thousand Splendid Suns.

This year's selections cover a range of topics; many are nonfiction, and several focus on race, sex and other social issues.

From a community college in Kentucky to a liberal arts campus in Wisconsin, here are a few of the reading assignments for this year's freshmen.

The Emerald Mile
The Epic Story of the Fastest Ride in History Though the Heart of the Grand Canyon
by Kevin Fedarko•Paperback, 417 pages

Utah State University has a class for freshmen designed to prepare them for the Aggie college experience. This year, students in that class are required to read The Emerald Mile by Kevin Fedarko.
The nonfiction work follows the story of three men who ventured down the rapids of the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon.
Their 1983 journey in a small wooden boat was the fastest descent of the river ever recorded.
Fedarko will speak at the campus in Logan, Utah, at the end of August.

White Girls
by Hilton Als•Paperback, 340 pages
Wentworth Institute of Technology in Boston chose the collection of essays titled White Girls by Hilton Als.

The essays about white girls throughout time provide a cultural analysis of art, music, literature and history. Als is a staff writer for The New Yorker.
"Our focus this year is on creating a conversation around national issues pertaining to gender, race and social class," said professor Gloria Monaghan, who coordinates the program.

Native Guard
by Natasha Trethewey•Paperback, 51 pages

Students entering Lawrence University's freshman class will read Natasha Trethewey's Native Guard as the first work of Freshman Studies, the Wisconsin school's yearlong course for first-year students.
The 2007 book is a collection of Trethewey's Pulitzer Prize-winning poetry.

A Long Way Gone
Memoirs of a Boy Soldier
by Ishmael Beah•Paperback, 229 pages

Appalachian State University in Boone, N.C., selected A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah. The autobiography follows Beah's life as a boy soldier fighting in a civil war in Sierra Leone in the 1990s.
Beah will deliver the school's convocation in September.

Einstein's Dreams
by Alan Lightman•Paperback, 140 pages

Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., chose Einstein's Dreams by Alan Lightman. The fictional work is a collection of short stories based on Albert Einstein's dreams. The narratives deal with different concepts of time — and Einstein's thoughts around his theory of relativity. Lightman, a professor at MIT, plans to speak to Skidmore's freshman class in September.

A Deadly Wandering
A Mystery, a Landmark Investigation, and the Astonishing Science of Attention in the Digital Age
by Matt Richtel•Paperback, 403 pages

Incoming students at Boise State University in Idaho will receive copies of A Deadly Wandering during summer orientation.
The book tells the story of Utah college student Reggie Shaw, who killed two scientists while texting and driving. The narrative of the accident and its aftermath is paired with the science of distracted driving.

A Companion for Owls
Being the Commonplace Book of D. Boone, Long Hunter, Back Woodsman, &c.
by Maurice Manning•Hardcover, 128 pages

Students at Owensboro Community and Technical College in Owensboro, Ky., will be reading A Companion for Owls: Being the Commonplace Book of D. Boone Long Hunter, Back Woodsman &c. by Kentucky poet Maurice Manning. The poetry collection tells the story of American pioneer Daniel Boone, one of the first to explore the land that is now the state of Kentucky.
The school often chooses regional writers in order to celebrate and tell Kentucky's history. The author is a Pulitzer Prize finalist and will be at the school in late October.

Purple Hibiscus
by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie•Paperback, 336 pages

The College of Wooster in Wooster, Ohio, has a first-year seminar for all freshmen. This summer, they'll be reading Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.
The novel, set in the mid 1990s, tells the story of a teenage girl growing up in Nigeria.
The book is tied to a broader lecture series offering global perspectives on Africa and the African diaspora.


13 Habits of Exceptionally Likeable People


Too many people succumb to the mistaken belief that being likeable comes from natural, unteachable traits that belong only to a lucky few -- the good looking, the fiercely social, and the incredibly talented. It's easy to fall prey to this misconception. In reality, being likeable is under your control, and it's a matter of emotional intelligence (EQ).


In a study conducted at UCLA, subjects rated over 500 adjectives based on their perceived significance to likeability. The top-rated adjectives had nothing to do with being gregarious, intelligent, or attractive (innate characteristics). Instead, the top adjectives were sincerity, transparency, and capacity for understanding (another person).

These adjectives, and others like them, describe people who are skilled in the social side of emotional intelligence. TalentSmart research data from more than a million people shows that people who possess these skills aren't just highly likeable, they outperform those who don't by a large margin.

We did some digging to uncover the key behaviors that emotionally intelligent people engage in that make them so likeable. Here are 13 of the best:

1. They Ask Questions

The biggest mistake people make when it comes to listening is they're so focused on what they're going to say next or how what the other person is saying is going to affect them that they fail to hear what's being said. The words come through loud and clear, but the meaning is lost.

A simple way to avoid this is to ask a lot of questions. People like to know you're listening, and something as simple as a clarification question shows that not only are you listening, you also care about what they're saying. You'll be surprised how much respect and appreciation you gain just by asking questions.

2. They Put Away Their Phones

Nothing will turn someone off to you like a mid-conversation text message or even a quick glance at your phone. When you commit to a conversation, focus all of your energy on the conversation. You will find that conversations are more enjoyable and effective when you immerse yourself in them.

3. They Are Genuine

Being genuine and honest is essential to being likeable. No one likes a fake. People gravitate toward those who are genuine because they know they can trust them. It is difficult to like someone when you don't know who they really are and how they really feel.

Likeable people know who they are. They are confident enough to be comfortable in their own skin. By concentrating on what drives you and makes you happy as an individual, you become a much more interesting person than if you attempt to win people over by making choices that you think will make them like you.

4. They Don't Pass Judgment

If you want to be likeable you must be open-minded. Being open-minded makes you approachable and interesting to others. No one wants to have a conversation with someone who has already formed an opinion and is not willing to listen.

Having an open mind is crucial in the workplace where approachability means access to new ideas and help. To eliminate preconceived notions and judgment, you need to see the world through other people's eyes. This doesn't require you believe what they believe or condone their behavior, it simply means you quit passing judgment long enough to truly understand what makes them tick. Only then can you let them be who they are.

5. They Don't Seek Attention

People are averse to those who are desperate for attention. You don't need to develop a big, extroverted personality to be likeable. Simply being friendly and considerate is all you need to win people over. When you speak in a friendly, confident, and concise manner, you will notice that people are much more attentive and persuadable than if you try to show them you're important. People catch on to your attitude quickly and are more attracted to the right attitude than what -- or how many people -- you know.

When you're being given attention, such as when you're being recognized for an accomplishment, shift the focus to all the people who worked hard to help you get there. This may sound cliché, but if it's genuine, the fact that you pay attention to others and appreciate their help will show that you're appreciative and humble -- two adjectives that are closely tied to likeability.

6. They Are Consistent

Few things make you more unlikeable than when you're all over the place. When people approach you, they like to know whom they're dealing with and what sort of response they can expect. To be consistent you must be reliable, and you must ensure that even when your mood goes up and down it doesn't affect how you treat other people.

7. They Use Positive Body Language

Becoming cognizant of your gestures, expressions, and tone of voice (and making certain they're positive) will draw people to you like ants to a picnic. Using an enthusiastic tone, uncrossing your arms, maintaining eye contact, and leaning towards the person who's speaking are all forms of positive body language that high-EQ people use to draw others in. Positive body language can make all the difference in a conversation.

It's true that how you say something can be more important than what you say.

8. They Leave a Strong First Impression

Research shows most people decide whether or not they like you within the first seven seconds of meeting you. They then spend the rest of the conversation internally justifying their initial reaction. This may sound terrifying, but by knowing this you can take advantage of it to make huge gains in your likeability. First impressions are tied intimately to positive body language. Strong posture, a firm handshake, smiling, and opening your shoulders to the person you are talking to will help ensure that your first impression is a good one.

9. They Greet People by Name

Your name is an essential part of your identity, and it feels terrific when people use it. Likeable people make certain they use others' names every time they see them. You shouldn't use someone's name only when you greet him. Research shows that people feel validated when the person they're speaking with refers to them by name during a conversation.

If you're great with faces but have trouble with names, have some fun with it and make remembering people's names a brain exercise. When you meet someone, don't be afraid to ask her name a second time if you forget it right after you hear it. You'll need to keep her name handy if you're going to remember it the next time you see her.

10. They Smile

People naturally (and unconsciously) mirror the body language of the person they're talking to. If you want people to like you, smile at them during a conversation and they will unconsciously return the favor and feel good as a result.

11. They Know When To Open Up

Be careful to avoid sharing personal problems and confessions too quickly, as this will get you labeled a complainer. Likeable people let the other person guide when it's the right time for them to open up.

12. They Know Who To Touch (and They Touch Them)

When you touch someone during a conversation, you release oxytocin in their brain, a neurotransmitter that makes their brain associate you with trust and a slew of other positive feelings. A simple touch on the shoulder, a hug, or a friendly handshake is all it takes to release oxytocin. Of course, you have to touch the right person in the right way to release oxytocin, as unwanted or inappropriate touching has the opposite effect. Just remember, relationships are built not just from words, but also from general feelings about each other. Touching someone appropriately is a great way to show you care.

13. They Balance Passion and Fun

People gravitate toward those who are passionate. That said, it's easy for passionate people to come across as too serious or uninterested because they tend to get absorbed in their work. Likeable people balance their passion with the ability to have fun. At work they are serious, yet friendly. They still get things done because they are socially effective in short amounts of time and they capitalize on valuable social moments. They minimize small talk and gossip and instead focus on having meaningful interactions with their coworkers. They remember what you said to them yesterday or last week, which shows that you're just as important to them as their work.

14. Bringing It All Together

Likeable people are invaluable and unique. They network with ease, promote harmony in the workplace, bring out the best in everyone around them, and generally seem to have the most fun. Add these skills to your repertoire and watch your likeability soar!


Thursday, July 23, 2015

Why Reading to Learn Is Seldom Taught

A retired public elementary school principal recently told me that the rule in education used to be that grades 1-3 were about learning to read. After that, it was reading to learn. But that's not happening today with the current emphasis on ELA skills through the Common Core State Standards. The emphasis is on skills. There is nothing about content. Content matters. You can't teach critical thinking without thinking about something. Nonfiction literature gives readers something to think about. Let me show you a picture worth thousands of words:


If you, an educated adult, read this sampling of children's nonfiction literature, you'd learn a great deal. Each book is extensively researched and vetted for accuracy and beautifully designed and illustrated. If it is a narrative, the story is told in a compelling, page-turning manner. If it is a how-to book, directions are clear and motivation is embedded in the exposition. History, geography, sports, science, nature, art and music are all represented in this small library. Yet, for the most part, these engaging books never make it to the classroom. Instead, children read flat, dry, "informational" material that comes with work sheets and lesson plans. Teachers do not know that these books exist, that they cover the same topics that are in their curriculum, and even if they do know about them, they are not sure of how to use them in the classroom.

You know who does know about these books? The standardized testing companies. They excerpt passages (paying licensing fees) for the test questions. So if this writing is good enough for the tests, don't you think kids should read them in the classroom?

Without experience in reading high-quality nonfiction, children are not building a foundation of knowledge, not learning to think in a disciplinary way, and are not preparing to be informed decision makers. The main difference between these books and those written on these subject for adults, is that children's authors assume that their readers have little to no prior knowledge. Concepts are carefully introduced and reinforced so that the content is not overwhelming to the reader. Authors honor their readers and assume they are writing for intelligent human beings who may be uninitiated in the subject matter. The authors' voices, their humor, wit, passions, inform the books. As an author of science books for children, I have often said that if one of my books is the first book on a subject a child reads, I have failed if it is the last.

Interestingly, most independent, private schools that have a long tradition of teaching "literature-based" content through trade books. Yet, the obstacles for public school use appear to be overwhelming:

  • There is little or no correlation between trade books and the curriculum. The mindset is to use the textbook and the prescribed lesson plans. Teachers are afraid to stray from the top-down mandate for the use of textbooks and approved materials. They are required to "cover" the material often in ways that discourage real learning. Fear of not meeting standards is assuaged through the use of scripted lessons, while authentic learning suffers. Educators may know this but conform to keep their jobs. Teaching well takes more time than is allowed by pacing calendars.
  • Teachers have little or no familiarity with children's trade nonfiction and have almost no time in their busy schedules to start reading them. They also often don't have the autonomy or the skills needed to create their own lesson plans based on real books. A licensed school librarian can help.
  • There is little or no funding for classrooms sets of these books so that the learning and reading can be both an individual and shared experience by the students. Some school districts have purchased classroom sets that can be borrowed by teachers when they're needed. But they are the exceptions.
The Common Core State Standards mandate that kids read widely and read closely. The vast array of high quality children's nonfiction literature is waiting on the shelves of libraries everywhere to do just that. Research on the web is great if you know what you don't know. These books open doors to topics they didn't know they didn't know. It can be the basis for an upgrade in education and learning everywhere.

5 Traits of Emotionally Wealthy People

You might not realize it, but having mental strength—or an acute awareness of the power behind your emotions and how best to use them and act on them—is much more worthwhile than having a cushy bank account.

Don't believe it? Here are five characteristics of emotionally wealthy people that might just make you re-evaluate your idea of the good life:

1. They are positive.
To be wealthy in something, whatever surrounds it has to be healthy first. Just as someone might have healthy investments that are growing as a healthy living thing should, so should you be nourishing your emotional self.
What does this really mean? Are you feeding yourself with positive things, focusing on the good thoughts that lead to growth? Or are you focusing on the negatives and anxieties of life that give no emotional nutrition and can hinder growth?
It’s been said a joyful heart is good medicine. In what areas do you need to medicate your emotional self?

2. They are investors.
Looking for that ever-elusive dollar tree you can plant? Bad news, it doesn't exist. But emotionally prosperous people can help grow their own wealth. How? By being willing to invest in other people's emotional growth funds.
By intentionally planting and investing your own emotional wealth in others and trying to grow it, you’ll also grow, seeing the fruit of your investment. More people than you know would benefit by a little purposeful investment by you.

3. They are risk takers.
The people who have successful careers or thriving relationships didn’t get there by playing it safe—they knew they had to take risks. Emotional wealth is no different. Emotionally wealthy people invest and give their wealth to others, and realizing the liability involved, they never give so much away that if they were to lose it, they’d become unhealthy themselves.
The key is not giving away more than you can handle losing and, before giving it, accepting the fact that it might never come back to you. But it’s not all scary, because the upside to a little risk is a great reward—like a booming business or a happily-ever-after marriage. How can you take a calculated emotional risk today?

4. They are secure.
Robbing a bank isn’t easy in real life like it is in the movies, and there's good reason for that. If it was easy to steal money from people’s accounts, why would anyone keep it there in the first place?
The same is true for your emotional wealth—only people you want taking your emotional goods should be able to withdraw them. And people you don’t? They should quickly see you're secure enough that they can’t get anywhere near the valuables.
While you might be investing and taking risks in some people, only a few trusted individuals need to have your pin number. This isn't to say you should lock people out or never give out small loans, but that you limit who gets full access to your emotional account. Who should you relegate to restricted access?

5. They are givers.
Giving might seem similar to investing, but they are actually quite different. When you invest, you expect something in return, like to form a friendship. But when you give, you should expect nothing in return—to give for the sole reason that it feels good to do good.
Like the old proverb says, "It is better to give than receive," the same is true with emotional wealth. When you can give love, grace, mercy or patience to someone with no thought of return, it's 1) very safe for you and 2) can return your personal investment in your own emotional wealth better than any interest rate. You might feel like you’ve really given nothing, but you’ll gain much more than you gave if you do it for the right reasons.

Now, are you ready to fill up your emotional bank?


Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Off-Grid ‘Kitchen Cures’ When Antibiotics Won’t Work

honey,garlic and lemon

If you’re wary of using conventional antibiotics to treat common infections, there are numerous alternative remedies you could consider.  I discovered the power of naturopathy when I treated my family’s recent staph and viral infections using healing foods right out of my kitchen.
My 12-year-old son contracted a skin infection from a playmate, developing a boil on his leg the size of a small pea. It was pink, inflamed and had pus in the center, which is characteristic of a staph infection. First we treated it with iodine, thinking it was minor and would go away in a few days. But when one became two, then three, and multiplying up to eight, I was petrified! I tried calendula and colloidal silver, to no avail.

Eventually, I picked it up, too. And so did my 10-year-old daughter, who has eczema on her legs.  Because her skin was already compromised, she became more ill than the rest of us. She developed a fever and on the third day she had distinctive pustules filled with yellowish-white pus. (I wish I could show you photographs, but you wouldn’t want to see them – they’re horrifying and difficult to view). Although I’m a stickler for natural treatments, I caved in and rushed her to a doctor. As expected, the dermatologist prescribed a round of oral antibiotics, combined with topical steroids. For my son and me, she prescribed an anti-bacterial cream.

Within a few days of medical treatment, we recovered. But after her oral dose ended, my daughter’s infection came back. That’s when I suspected the bug was methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus or MRSA, which is a strain of bacteria that’s developed resistance to common antibiotics. Either that or the strain that attacked us just mutated after a round of Augmentin (amoxicillin) and developed into a stronger form.

I was afraid that if I took my child back to the doctor, she would just be given another round of antibiotics, possibly a stronger one. And knowing that pharmaceutical antibiotics kill both bad and good bacteria in the gut, causing microbial imbalance – a problem most eczema sufferers are known to have – I resolved not to take her back. I searched instead for more effective natural treatments and that was when I discovered the potency of garlic, honey and high doses of vitamin C.

Though my research yielded a variety of natural alternatives for treating MRSA, the ones I used were garlic, honey and lime — simply because I had plenty of them at home.  A clove or about a teaspoon of chopped raw garlic with wild honey, every five to six hours, didn’t elicit protests from my daughter. Especially if it was downed with freshly made lime-o-nade, with the same raw honey to sweeten it. (I used calamondins, our local variety; but I’m sure you can use lemons).  I also gave her 250mg of ascorbic acid twice a day, to augment the vitamin C in the lime. To finish the job, I applied garlic oil – crushed raw garlic steeped in virgin coconut oil – twice daily on the boils. I used a dropper and a cotton ball to spread it. Within four days, all traces of the recurring staph were gone. For good. No additional trip to the doctor was made, no extra dollar spent and no worries about toxic
side effects.

Image source: healthandhealthylivingDOTcom

Garlic is a proven, plant-based antibiotic with the ability to combat a broad spectrum of bacteria, viruses, fungi, protozoa, yeasts, molds and various parasites. People around the world have been using it for centuries to treat all types of infections, from cancer to tuberculosis. For a comprehensive list of illnesses it is used for, click here.
Unlike synthetic antibiotics, which are simple in their chemical composition, garlic is highly complex. It has over 27 known active ingredients and dozens more that work in yet undiscovered ways. This makes it difficult for bacteria to contend with and overcome. In fact, European scientists who studied and proved garlic’s potency against 10 different microbes found a “complete absence of development resistance” in garlic. According to, the potency of garlic is such that one milligram is equivalent to 15 Oxford units of penicillin.
To make ingesting garlic easier, especially for children, coat it in honey – which also happens to be a potent antibiotic.  (I’m sure chocolate syrup would work, but honey is far more beneficial.)  You’ll have to use fresh garlic, though. Allicin, the most potent chemical that’s released once a clove is sliced or crushed, oxidizes easily so try to take it within 15 minutes of chopping.

And like conventional antibiotics and anti-virals, you’ll have to take garlic for a minimum of one week or you’ll run the risk of having a relapse. I made that mistake when I used the same treatment for a viral infection. I was so convinced of the power of my garlic-honey-lime remedy that I used it to treat the swollen, painful lymph nodes that my kids developed.  Because they also were running a high fever, indicative of a full-blown infection, I increased the dose to one clove/tsp. every three hours. Each time, I also smothered garlic oil on their necks below the ears where the nodes were sore, and on the soles of their feet twice a day as a trans-dermal therapy.  The treatment was effective, but once the symptoms improved, I brought the dose down immediately to three times per day or every eight hours. The kids suffered a rebound. For a systemic, high-grade infection like that, I would recommend administering a dose six to eight times a day. Increase the time between doses by an hour as soon as symptoms improve – most likely on the third or fourth day – until you’re down to just three times a day.

Please be aware that I have no medical background whatsoever. I’m only recommending this as an alternative for those who, like me, want to avoid pharmaceutical antibiotics and their known side effects.

The minimum number of days I’d advise anyone to take garlic, for medicinal purposes, is seven days. Extend up to 10 if you want to be guaranteed of zero relapse. My family continues to take it twice a day to boost our immune systems and take care of possible candida overgrowth in our guts that may have developed from previous doses of antibiotics.

One important reminder, too. Garlic is known to be an anti-coagulant, so don’t do this treatment if you’re already taking blood thinners or are recovering from surgery. Take care against possible allergic reactions, or slight irritation in the mouth or the stomach lining. If your tummy gets easily upset, don’t ingest raw garlic on an empty stomach. There have been reports of bloating, gas and slight nausea in people who can’t tolerate it easily. But other than those, the only other unpleasant side effect most healthy people can expect from eating this amazing allium is bad breath and body odor.