In Appreciation: 5 Books in the Area of Mindfulness & Empathy

Reflections of a Year in Reading

Reading up on mindfulness and empathy is a powerful way to understand and reflect on our own mindfulness practice and our how to work within our current divisive paradigms.

As those who know me well can attest, I love to read. Like the house could be burning down but please just let me finish this chapter first love to read. With 2016 at a close and much confusion and uncertainty in the current morass, I have been reflecting on some of the best books I read last year on the practice of mindfulness and empathy, especially those that I am still pulling lessons from now to help me in my daily practice and daily existence.

Below are five of my favorite books that I read in 2016 on the areas of mindfulness and empathy.

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In Appreciation: Reading as a Tool Towards Empathy

This is Your Brain on Books

Summer reading is a wonderful chance to engage your children with a love of reading, and recent research suggests that reading fiction is also powerful tool for strengthening our empathy muscles.

Summer is one of my favorite seasons, but not just for beaches and iced coffees, though those are both really good reasons. With summer comes one of my favorite pastimes—summer reading. Okay, to be fair, I love fall, winter, and spring reading too, but now that my oldest daughter is learning to read herself, summer reading has taken on a new meaning as we take part in our local library’s summer reading challenge, with prizes of more books for reading books, which is sort of my idea of the perfect circle.

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Classics Come On Line To Thrill Audio Book Lovers

Audio Books Find a Voice Through LibriVox

Audio book lovers rejoice! LibriVox is an online resource offering thousands of recordings of a wide variety of written works. Including everything from Shakespeare to Hans Christian Andersen, LibriVox’s titles are all available through the public domain and read by volunteers, meaning that users can download recordings completely for free! Perfect for a snug winter day indoors.

For many people, fond memories of childhood include being read to by someone. During the winter months, snuggling in a cozy spot with a book and a reader is a perfect way to pass the time (and to warm up if you sit close enough together!). However, sometimes busy households don’t always have readers available, and other times, the readers would perhaps like to enjoy some listening time themselves. While local libraries offer endless titles in audio form and storyhours for kids, snow days, holidays and colds & flus can keep families away – so what’s a story-loving family to do when it’s time for a story? Read the rest of this entry »

Time to Talk: Sounding out the New Year for Kids’ Development

New Year’s Resolutions: Articulation and Early Reading

Making New Year’s Resolutions? How about resolving to create a culture of reading in your family, supporting language development while connecting with your kids.

It’s hard to believe that yet another year is over and that a New Year is beginning. It’s time to make some resolutions for the future. My resolution is to spread clear and helpful information to parents. What are you resolved to do in the future?

Here’s some helpful information. As I’ve written in the past, young children mispronounce words in the cutest ways. At what point is it a problem that needs a speech-language pathologist? It usually becomes a problem for grandparents. They begin to admit that they need a parent’s interpretation to understand their grandkids. Then you may notice that their peers don’t understand. The child may start being aware that peers are reacting to their speech and begin to think that speaking is hard. If a child shows any frustration around communication, it’s time to seek help. Read the rest of this entry »

Under the Hat: Let Your Imagination Fly Through That old Art of Reading

Love to Read

Over the last few years, we’ve spent a lot of time touring around the US and Latin America. No matter where we go, we see kids playing video games and watching lots of television. Whatever happened to reading?! It’s not just kids, of course. All of us are spending more time in front of screens than we used to.

The songs I wrote for my new Mister G album, The Bossy E, are meant to reconnect kids with their innate love of learning and being creative. All of us love being transported by a great story. When I was a kid I used to stay up past bedtime reading under the covers with a flashlight. Does that happen these days? I certainly hope so.

Maybe I’m old-fashioned, but I think it’s a fundamentally different experience to read a book (and use your imagination to envision the characters), versus watching a movie (where everything is explained for you). Read the rest of this entry »

What to Play? Summer is Time to Absorb the World

What to Play? by Carrie St. John

Stories and Reading and Writing and Drawing

The flood of articles is out for the end of the school year. Summer reading. The percentage of material lost over the school vacation. Summer classes. Summer learning activities. Educational trips. I ask, “Is there a play solution to all these things we, as parents, are told to worry about during July and August?” Absolutely.

I believe summer vacation is vacation. A break from the routine of school. Time to be a kid. Time to explore your favorite things.

I have an avid reader. Books are the favorite free time activity at our house. The trick is to keep up with her. Library visits. Bookstore finds. Recommendations from friends.  Read the rest of this entry »

Western MA Library Issues Town a 100,000-Page Challenge!

Hatfield Public Library Host Town-Wide Reading Challenge

Families can participate in this town wide challenge by reading to their children and recording the pages share together!

Cheri Hardy, Children’s Librarian at the Hatfield Public Library writes:

Starting January 3rd, 2012, the town of Hatfield is being issued a challenge by the Hatfield Public Library: 100,000 pages to be read in 5 months. Citizens of the town, as well as school-choice families, start reading January 3rd and finish May 31st. Participants read as much or as little as they are able, logging the page counts as they go on a custom bookmark. Those “reading” by audio book are given minute-to-page conversions on their bookmark logs.

Every time a participant enters the library, he or she may approach a staff member with bookmark in hand. He or she receives one dot sticker per 100 pages read to add to the page-gauge. If the page-gauge is filled on or before May 31st, the Omulu Guanabara Capoeira group of Northampton has pledged a subsidized performance at the Summer Reading Program Kick-Off Party on June 30.

Children who read over 1000 pages and adults who read over 5000 pages will also have their picture taken and displayed in the library and on the library website (no child’s photograph may be used without parent permission).

Some library events throughout the Winter and Spring of 2012 will provide opportunities to earn extra pages, such as the Thursday Preschool Story Time and the Story Maze in April. For more details about the 100,000-Page Challenge or other programs at the Hatfield Public Library, visit the library website: or the children’s website:

[Photo credit: (ccl) marysia]

Q&A: Would You Give Your Child the Gift of an E-Book Reader?


Nancy Blake Webb writes, "I'm thinking my kids can get one for college if they can download textbooks so they don't have so many to carry around."

Would you ever give your children an e-book reader as a gift?

  • Amanda Saklad writes, “If I had the extra $150 plus to spend, sure! A trip to the library would be little more affordable, though. My 11yo wants one for Christmas.”
  • Karen Bayne writes, “If I had one, and I had the money, I would. I can’t quite wrap my head around giving such a cool thing to my kid before I get my hands on one myself! Same rule applies for the often sighed over imaginary iPod Touch that I would lend them….”
  • Emily Gonzalezoh writes, “Yes…but what Amanda said.”
  • Jenni Haley writes, “My step-daughter’s much older sister is giving her one for Christmas. She is 11, but we would not have thought of it, but she will love it. I’d much rather she had an e-reader than an iPhone, iPod Touch, whatever. It’s so single purpose – better reading than texting or gaming!”
  • Vickie Riggs Selleck writes, “If, if they would read more by using it (and you could afford and they were responsible enough to own it).”
  • Aime DeGrenier writes, “I don’t think so, especially only days after my kids put the iPod Touch in the tub–ahem, the full tub, and although I had told them NEVER to bring the Touch into the bathroom, I really had never told them not to put it in the tub…”
  • Diane Hinze Kanzler writes, “”No. Mine can read books the traditional way. If it was good enough for me, it’s good enough for her.”
  • Dawn Kim writes, “Absolutely, I love my Nook. But my kids are only 7 and 4 so they’ll have to wait a while. Maybe a hand-me-down nook when mom is ready for a new reader?”
  • Nancy Blake Webb writes, “I’m thinking my kids can get one for college if they can download textbooks so they don’t have so many to carry around.”
  • Julie Gouldman Russell writes, “I like the college idea. No need to get all of those heavy, over-priced college text books – that always seem to be outdated by the next semester so you can’t resell them to anyone. However, it is a few years off for us, so who knows what type of technology will be out by then.”

[Photo credit: (ccl) Sean Kelly]

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