Tag Archives: literacy

Wise Parents Have their Kids Put Down the Screens and Pick Up the Books (Pedcast)

This episode of DocSmo.com stresses the importance of promoting literacy in your children by reading to them frequently and making sure they have regular enjoyable visits to the library. Every child should have and use a library card frequently!

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*By listening to this pedcast, you are agreeing to Doc Smo’s terms and conditions.

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Bedtime Bliss for Everyone (Pedcast)

Here we go with another portable, practical, episode of DocSmo.com, the pediatric blog designed to empower parents. I’m Dr. Paul Smolen, your host. Thank you for tuning in today. Topics around the subject of sleep are always important to parents since many often get so little shut-eye. Long time listeners probably remember my pedcast called “Straight talk about sleep in infancy,” where we discussed sleep training for infants. If you have a infant in your house, you don’t want to miss that one. You may also remember the talk titled “Sleep beyond the crib,” which was designed to help parents with older children who resist sleep. In that episode, I laid out a strategy to gently help children become independent in the going-to-sleep process. Well, today I am going to give you some tips on how to make sleep resistance by older children easier on everyone and at the same time improve your child’s chances of school success. Sounds like a tall order, but actually it’s easy, as you will see in a moment. Let’s get started, shall we?

It seems like all children fight sleep. I know I did. I didn’t want to miss the action, and I always felt like I was being punished by being sent to bed. You may have some children in your family that feel the same way; we certainly did. So, this is how we dealt with their resistance to go to bed. First, you need to establish a bedtime routine for your older children that is fairly consistent.  Try to repeat the exact same steps every night so that your children know exactly what to expect; for instance, it’s dinner and cleanup, then an after-dinner activity like being read to or a game, next it’s bed preparation of pajamas and teeth care, and then time to get into the bed. So far so good, but now comes the trouble… the natural resistance to separation. Here comes the “I have to go to the bathroom,” and the “I need a drink of water,” and of course the “I am scared, you need to stay with me” talk. I recommend that you only put up with this very briefly and then you make it clear to your child that the excuses are over. Nada mas.  No more!

After all this fussing, your child is probably anything but tired and can’t understand why you are making them go to bed… think about it from their perspective: not tired but being forced to go to bed? What’s with this? To help your child and yourself, I recommend, at this point, that you give your child some control of their fate and tell them that they don’t have to go to sleep; you will leave some light on for them, and they can READ in their bed as long as they wish. Call their bluff and tell them they can have what they want, no set bedtime! Make sure to provide them with plenty of reading material they may like.  Weekly trips to the library can really help here. If this strategy works like it did in my family, bedtime arguments will gradually fade away, your children will become addicted to reading, their language skills will go off the scale, and their academic achievement will skyrocket… all because you stopped fighting with them about going to bed. Not bad, huh?! Try it and see for yourself. Your children may end up staying up later than their parents, but over time they will adjust their actual sleep time to get enough sleep to be alert during the day, I promise.

Portable, practical pediatrics is what I promised you and what I try and deliver in each pedcast. I hope I succeeded today. I welcome your stories and comments at www.docsmo.com or at my site on iTunes. This is DocSmo, recording from studio 1E,  hoping that bedtimes in your house are as quiet as a church mouse. Until next time.

Read Aloud Handbook (Book Review Pedcast)

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Jim Trelease’s Read-Aloud Handbook: Eighth Edition
Read Aloud Handbook

By, Jim Trelease

Penguin Books


Today I am going to bring you another in my book review series. The title of todays book, The Read Aloud Handbook: sounds really dull doesn’t it? But I am here to assure you that this book is anything by dull. It was written back in the 70’s and yet it is still survives and thrives, now in its 6th edition.  The content is as relevant today as it was the day it was written.


I actually started my journey to Jim Trelease’s Handbook by accident. His was not the original book that I set out to review. I was scanning around on Amazon for interesting titles, the way I usually find new books, and I found a book called Book Love by Melissa Taylor. It sounded interesting and I thought it might be helpful for parents sooo, I took the plunge and downloaded it for a book review.  Well, I would say plunge is an appropriate description.  The book is more like notes from an elementary school education class than a book.  I expected a convincing description about how important reading is to the intellectual development of our children, instead I got a skeleton outline of ideas to increase a child’s interest in reading along with lists of warning symptoms that a child may have a vision problem, ADHD, or Learning Disabilities.  I found it difficult to read because of its lack of description and insight.  I gave this book a 1/5 Doc Smo stars.  I don’t think it would be very useful for parents and I found it very dull to read.

Then I remembered a book that I had seen back when I first went into practice back in 1982.  In fact, I owned the book and it was buried in my wife’s extensive book collection.  Somewhere in my subliminal brain I remembered this book as important because not only did I remember that it existed, but I remembered the author’s name, a very unusual thing for me.  So once again, I hit Amazon for the latest edition and boy am I glad I did.  I can see why it’s in its 6th edition. A Classic: interesting, extremely informative, inspiring and dare I say, life changing.  Every parent needs to read this book.  Let me repeat that… every parent to be and parent needs to read this book.

In his handbook, Mr. Trelease, a journalist by trade, makes a incredibly strong argument that reading to your children even before birth and into their teens, is one of the truly great gifts you can give them…and yourself. The author spends the first half of the book giving his readers an understanding of how important reading is to developing language skills for children by sighting key research in child development and child literacy.  I found these studies fascinating to hear about and they seemed to reinforce what I have seen during my life… literate adults tend to raise literate children who, more often than not, succeed in life. He sites studies that starkly point out how children who are read to regularly hear richer and more diverse language during their childhood than those children who are not read to regularly.  Good language and reading skills sets the stage for academic and subsequent financial success in life.  It’s that simple.

In the second half of the book, Mr. Trelease lays out, age-by-age the mechanics of how to make books a vibrant part of your children’s lives.  He even goes so far as to include a list of his favorite titles to consider reading aloud to your children, age by age.

In my opinion, the Read Aloud handbook is a CLASSIC discussion of language, learning, and reading in your child’s life. I gladly give it my highest rating, 5 DocSmo stars on a scale of 1-5.  I encourage everyone listening to give it a read: I am certain you will be glad you did.

As always, I welcome your comments and insights on my blog, www.docsmo.com or post a review on iTunes or Facebook.

This is your pedcast host, Dr. Paul Smolen, who feels it would be a crime, for you not to read to your kids all the time.

Until next time.



Starting Young Children towards a Life of Literacy (Pedcast)

This episode of DocSmo.com stresses the importance of promoting literacy in your children by reading aloud frequently and making sure they have regular visits to the library. Every child should have a library card!

Subscribe on iTunes!
Subscribe on iTunes!

*By listening to this pedcast, you are agreeing to Doc Smo’s terms and conditions.

All Rights Reserved.