Category Archives: Shared reading

Stories as Sanctuary During Times of Stress

Plus: How Reading to Your Child Literally Builds an Internal Infrastructure in the Brain that Becomes the Foundation for All Learning

Part Two of My Interview with Author Don Winn

We discuss how stories can be a sanctuary for your child and you, particularly during difficult times…and what it means to build your child’s “invisible toolbox.”

If you prefer to watch instead of read, scroll down to the full interview, “The Power of Stories During Difficult Times,” posted December 2020.

Connection. Escape. Imagination. Calm.

Part One of “The Power of Stories During Difficult Times:” My Conversation with Author Don Winn

Last month author Don Winn hosted a chat with me about the comfort reading can bring to children (and the rest of us) particularly during hard times. 2020 may be in the rearview mirror, but our challenges don’t seem to be letting up just yet. A daily dive into a good book with your child can be just the thing to bring you both comfort—and pay longterm dividends.

Here’s the video interview you can watch again or, if you prefer, read.

The Power of Stories During Difficult Times

A Zoom Interview

Author Don Winn invited me to join him for a discussion recently. Have a watch to learn about…

  • the power of literature to comfort and connect us
  • the brain science behind what we experience when we read
  • how to encourage your child to become a lifelong reader
  • what the phrase “The Invisible Toolbox” actually means
  • why I was inspired to write the book

Hope you enjoy!

Buy The Invisible Toolbox: The Power of Reading to Your Child from Birth to Adolescence now:

Escape through Reading

As the stressors of 2020 continue to increase—COVID-19, distance learning, an election, and a brutal fire season—filling our children’s and our own need for a daily space of respite is vital…

It’s more important than ever for (our children) to spend a part of their day lost in the pages of a good book.

LA Parent Magazine, November 2020

I had no idea, when I wrote “Escape through Reading” for the current issue of LA Parent Magazine last month, how deeply the truth of it would resonate this past week.

As my homeroom checked in via Zoom during morning meeting last week, fires were raging nearby and the tension and anxiety my fifth graders were feeling was palpable. One student and her family had evacuated their home at dawn, and so she joined our class from a hotel. Other students’ families were packing essentials and awaiting possible evacuation orders.

Fortunately, this is a group that feels safe with one another, so they could talk about what was happening and express their feelings fairly openly.

I don’t think I ever felt so grateful for the subject I teach as I did that day. The plan that morning was to finish reading a chapter together from the John D. Fitzgerald novel The Great Brain in which Tom, the novel’s title bearer, hatches a plot to get the harsh new teacher fired by framing him as a secret drinker. Talk about a great escape.

It was a relief for all of us, I think, to disappear into small town Utah of the 1890s to find out whether Tom could pull off his outrageous caper. He always seems to show the adults what’s what, which, of course, the kids love.

Diving into the story we learned that life wasn’t necessarily easy for kids back in the 19th century either. You’d have attended a one-room schoolhouse with kids of all ages and, if you got into trouble the teacher would paddle you—right in front of everybody! And so we rooted for this audacious and brilliant ten-year old hero who never fails to entertain and astonish us.

For a brief time we were transported far from our own troubling reality and enjoyed a respite from the fires, the virus, and even the distance that separates us.

What I’ve been reminded of again and again during this season of remote learning is that shared literature has the power to bring comfort and bridge the gap. It not only provides a welcome oasis from our current difficulties, but it also makes possible a sense of connection among us, even through Zoom.

Check out the November issue of LAParent Magazine on page 12 for my article “Escape through Reading”…5 tips for creating a shared reading experience in your family that will provide a powerful buffer through these challenging days.