2019 marks the 20th Anniversary of Bluestocking Books (stay tuned for our official May birthday) and we L O V E being your local, go-to neighborhood bookshop, wherever you are and any time of day or night. And speaking of L O V E, our February specials are a celebration of Healthy Love in all its myriad forms, reflecting the awesome goal of loving & respecting oneself. Additionally, loving someone else is like the icing on a gorgeous cake. Have as much as you want!
1st in a 12 part series of: My 20th Year at Bluestocking Books, San Diego and What Makes it Magical by Kris Nelson, owner/mngr, Bluestocking Books
Reading Grows Brains!
What I have learned from our Annual Baby Book Drive
Bluestocking Books does an annual book drive collecting books for Reach Out and Read so that more & more kids will be familiar with books & learning before they get to pre-school. We work with ROAR, a wonderful national program that hooked us up with a branch of UCSD so we accumulate 100-200 books each year for babies and toddlers in need of reading for healthy brain development. I started doing this simply because it was important for the bookshop to be charitable in some way. Because our books go to the UCSD High Risk Infant Follow-Up Program (via ROAR) during doctor visits, I fully trust our donation is utilized well. As the years have passed and I have learned more about the program, and baby brains, I have come to adore being a part of it so much more.
I grew up the 4th kid with a boatload of old books and toys from my sister and brothers so it’s hard for me to imagine a house without books, but I know reading is not everybody’s thing. I noticed the ROAR information says that books are “needed” so I kept reading, wondering what happens if people are having the babies and not sitting & reading to them? Is reading any different for babies than it is for adults who can fill their time & minds in other ways? Why, yes. Yes x 1000 = YES! And this is not just bookshop propaganda! There’s a boatload of social science backing this up and it’s fascinating.
The first few years of a person’s life basically set the stage for the rest of the play – how the brain develops during that 1-5 year period affects the rest of a child’s life. Baby is learning to see and to feel and to interact – to leave wherever the heck we come from and head into this big, amazing world. Being held close and hearing a loving voice is something every baby loves. One of the best ways to engage young children is through looking at books together. Simply by spending time reading, babes will not only learn to recognize sounds and letters, they will begin to understand a wider range of vocabulary along with the tones of different sounds and emotions. Babes will see how to handle books, and soon follow how stories work, as well as develop the ability to listen.
When our clients ask advice for buying baby books, I fall back on what I have learned from Reach Out & Read because let’s face it – all the kiddie books are adorable so what’s the difference? “Well,” sez I,”… if it’s a really new baby, one can enjoy picking out something with simple shapes or ABCs with chunky pages. At 1-2 years come the rhyming and silly books like Dr. Seuss, as baby starts mimicking sounds and learning to talk. For a little somebody 2-5 years old, perhaps a storybook with a little plot involved so kiddo’s catching on that it’s more than just words, it’s a story! Now might also be time to introduce a book with regular paper pages to help learn how to handle books. ”
This snuggly, reading time spent with baby’s primary angel parents is exactly what kiddo needs to succeed in school! Studies show that in the US, one-third of young children (and one-half of children living in poverty) begin kindergarten without these basic skills. THIS AFFECTS EVERYTHING. Reading Foundation.org estimates that the approx. 40% of students that enter kindergarten with below grade level reading skills have a higher (up to 50%!!) chance of dropping out before completing high school. It’s not hard to imagine how - if one starts out behind everyone else, and every year that goes by means it all gets more complicated, it gets overwhelming! Only about 1/3 of the kids that start out at a disadvantage ever catch up! L
Reach Out and Read provides books and advice to parents during doctor visits, and since more than 91% of children under the age of six attend routine pediatric visits at least once a year it’s a very effective way to help kids that aren’t showing the development a doctor considers healthy. The health care professional will talk with parents about how important it is to read aloud and engage with their young children & demonstrate how best to look at books and talk about the stories with their cutie-pies. They will encourage them to cuddle up and read together at home and to build routines around books & then give a new book to the child to take home and keep. At the end of the program, every child has a home-library of books, each given with the advice to parents that they are their child's first and most important teacher. Reach Out and Read started up in 1989 at Boston City Hospital and gave out 1,000 books to kids during doctor check-ups. By 2001 their model was working in all 50 states. Today, Reach Out and Read partners with more than 5,800 program sites and distributes 6.9 million books per year! MILLIONS! (**I tear up. Seriously. How fricking cool is that!??)
We take books for the program all year long. We can always accept books for ages 1-5, in new condition for this program. The books can come from anywhere – they don’t have to be purchased here. To all clients and my personal friends who have donated books or funding for this program in 2018 or past years (and we see that some of you do every year!) THANK YOU!!! To those who gave Bluestocking Books the funds to purchase the books or bought the books from us – XTRA SPECIAL THANK YOU!!!
I see it in the bookshop and experience it myself so I can tell you truly: freely giving something to somebody who really needs it creates good feelings inside the people who give as well as the receiver of the gift – not just in stories, it’s for real! By helping some youngsters acquire this foundation for success, I am hoping Bluestocking Books helps folks grow into more engaged human beings: as both parents & children. I feel such happiness handing over the books each year knowing more new little humans and their loved ones will enjoy the giving and receiving of reading, and be cuddled up with each other.
Thanks for reading this. I hope to expand on other aspects of this rewarding, lovely bookshop & personal odyssey as the months of year 20 roll forward - kn