Book Time for Kids to Read this Summer

Laura Grunwerg

Laura Grunwerg

Laura Grunwerg, director of youth and young adult services at the River Edge Public Library, is one of ten librarians nationwide to win a 2009 I Love My Librarian Award (sponsored by the American Library Association, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, and the New York Times). “I’ve been a book lover all my life,” she says, and credits her father for making her so. “He read to me from the moment I was born. He really cemented a love of books in me.” Here are her suggestions for how to do the same with your own children.

Start ’em off young. “Hold your infants and read to them—and it doesn’t matter what you are reading: the racing results or Shakespeare. They will respond to a soothing or animated tone and associate the act of reading with a parent’s love and attention.”

(Green Eggs and) Ham it up. “Find picture books with clever rhyme schemes. Make up silly melodies as you sing the words. Chant if you can’t carry a tune. The rhythm helps with retention and makes it fun.” Special-needs children particularly like books that are rhythmic, such as Bubble Gum, Bubble Gum by Lisa Wheeler. Use puppets and other visuals.

Tap and talk. Do your kids have a particular interest that can be tapped? No matter how offbeat, there’s probably a book on the subject. Once you suggest it, ask whether your child enjoyed it. “It’s a dialogue that continues,” says Grunwerg.

Have Fido sit in. “A popular program invites therapy dogs and their handlers into libraries and schools to act as an audience for young readers who receive an animal’s nonjudgmental devotion,” explains Grunwerg. Encouraging children to read to one another or to the family pet can be particularly effective with older or struggling readers who need a confidence boost.

Look beyond the book.
That includes road signs, menus, package wrappers. Grunwerg reads license plates and makes up words beginning with each letter. “For example,” she says, “LFD-230 could stand for Long Dog Foundation, a dachshund support group. It’s a great way to pass the time on a road trip.”

Bring out the Byron in them. “Read poetry for the imagery and word flow. Get those magnetic poetry words and stick them on your refrigerator. Encourage your children to make up sentences and poems, and to memorize poems to strengthen their powers of retention.

Leave books lying around. Grunwerg recalls discovering Agatha Christie during childhood summers when her aunt used to leave behind novels at her parents’ Bradley Beach bungalow. She estimates there are 15,000 books in her Hillsdale home.

Five Ways to Find Meaning in Your Life Every Day

“The meaning of life is right under most people’s noses, and they don’t even know it,” says Laura Fortgang Berman, a Montclair-based life coach, minister, and author of The Little Book On Meaning, which will be released in paperback on May 27. Fortgang specializes in helping people cut through mental gridlock to accomplish their goals.

“Meaning comes from finding a connection—a piece of jewelry is just a piece of jewelry until you say, ‘My grandmother gave this to me,’” says Berman.

Here are a few of Berman’s tips for finding meaning in your everyday life:
• Mystery Embrace moments of not knowing. “Don’t zone out; stay aware and connected with yourself.”

• Minister “The word minister often freaks people out. Think of it as a verb,” says Berman, “not a noun. When we minister to each other, it means we’re “there” for one another, we connect with no judgment.”

• Magnificence “When you recognize the magnificence of something you connect to it,” she says, “you become inspired by it.” To you, a fly may be just a nuisance; to a child, it can be a delight. Shift perspective to find the good.

• Mind “This is the biggest obstacle for most people. Make a more conscious connection with your mind, and don’t believe everything you think,” Berman says. You can direct your thoughts instead of allowing it to be the other way around.

• Mystic “A mystic is someone who understands the interconnectedness of everything. The mystic is in all of us. Tapping it is about acknowledging that we are more than our five senses.”

Join Berman for a series of career-oriented wellness seminars at the Bangz Salon in Montclair on May 17 and June 14. For more information, visit —Deborah Carter

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