Isnin, 30 September 2013

The Star Online: Lifestyle: Parenting

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The Star Online: Lifestyle: Parenting

How to nurture reading and thinking in kids


Teach Your Child To Read And Think

The ultimate guide to secure your child's academic success
By Hal W. Lanse
Publisher: Advantage Quest Publications

Usually when I see books touting the words "academic success" or "score the highest in exams", I stay far, far away. This book has the former, so it was with a lot of hesitation that I started reading the book.

My aversion to these claims is that they seem to want to give parents a formula for their kids' "success" in school, and this is usually measured in grades and percentages. It's as if parents can combine workbook 1 and workbook 2 and get 100% marks. Education doesn't work that way. Not at all.

What assured me a little was that the author is specialised in literacy. Now, that's something I am comfortable with. Literacy as in understanding stories from words, and not merely ABC's.

A homeschooling mother once told me she doesn't push her kids towards any particular system or stream. Her emphasis is on numeracy and literacy, as these are the building blocks of education. Teach your kid to understand words and numbers in context, and you are already building the basis of lifelong learning. That has stuck with me.

So though my kids go to school, my focus on their after school "education" has always been these two magic areas – literacy and numeracy.

With that in mind, I decided to give the book a chance. Indeed, I was pleasantly surprised. It starts out talking about comprehension skills, and the chapter reads like any good creative writing book you find on the shelves. It guides parents on how to teach a child to read, not just the words, but the meaning behind the words. This is followed by recommended books to read to and with your kids.

The author coaches parents right there on the pages, how to encourage comprehension and literacy from the youngest readers. There's even a chapter on reading for boys, with a guide for parents on books to pick for this special group of readers.

A few chapters are dedicated to idioms, proverbs and such, which I find could have been omitted, with just a list of references in its place. But I suppose it will be handy for parents who themselves are not well versed in the language.

In the chapter called Memory Games, the author uses literary tools to teach. Create fun games for your children through rhyme, rhythm and rap, role-playing and even nursery rhymes. All of these are designed to cultivate a love for the written word in kids.

The chapter on critical thinking is great for older kids, as you will be shown how a simple brochure can be mined for data and subsequently, critiqued. Grab a few travel brochures, get connected online, and have your kid verify information and identify gaps. This can lead to critiques of other commercial reading material. Have them dissect news stories, advertisement billboards, and such. The possibilities are limitless. If you start your kids young in this line of thinking, you'll cultivate a strong reader who's always hungry for knowledge and information.

To make this an all-rounded coverage, the book includes a chapter on writing, as the author states that writing builds better readers. I fully agree. It's not until kids start writing their own stories that their command of a language is complete. Writing tools are introduced in this chapter, and I find them informative and useful.

The final chapter is on learning disabilities, and what parents can do to help their special kids.

If you're thinking of a short cut to help your kid score A's in school, this book isn't it. It's a book for parents who want to cultivate independent readers and thinkers. It is not an easy formula for you to follow for a week and see results.

You will need to spend time discovering the wonders of reading and comprehension with your kids. It's best if your kids are still young, at pre-reading age even. But if you have older children, this book is still useful, for you can coach your kids as per the methods in the book.

Redeem Jacob's book on mums' little secrets


We need all the shortcuts and tips to make our lives easier.

From secrets to keeping the family healthy and household tidy to secrets to looking good and staying active, mothers know best. With this in mind, Jacob's embarked on a nationwide campaign to call upon Malaysians to submit little secrets their mum or they themselves use to keep at the top of things.

As phase 1 of the campaign drew to a conclusion, 150 treasured tips which have been passed on from generation to generation were selected out of the many entries to be included into the first-ever Jacob's Mum's Little Secrets book. This limited edition book was made available for redemption early this month till Sept 30.

Consumers interested in getting a copy of the book have to spend a minimum of RM15 on any Jacob's products in a single receipt, fill in the redemption form bySept 30. Jacob's will then mail you the book in the next two months.

For more details, log on to Jacob's Malaysia Facebook page at

Popular picture book comes to life


POPULAR children's picture book The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler will be brought to life on stage here by the British theatre company Tall Stories.

Join the character Mouse on an adventurous journey through the deep, dark woods. The cheeky Mouse can scare away all the hungry animals he meets with tall stories of the terrifying Gruffalo. But what Mouse doesn't know is, the Gruffalo creature that he has made up, really exists! Find out what happens when he comes face to face with the very creature he imagined!

In a production that has become the toast of London's West End, Tall Stories vividly reinvents this delightful tale through its signature style of bold, multifaceted storytelling. 

For children ages three and up, this musical is sure to bring laughter along with a number of singalong performances. The book has garnered many prestigious awards, with the most recent being the BBC Radio 2 best bedtime story award in Britain.

The crew has toured Britain and the world, and is scheduled to be in Malaysia next month. Catch its performances at The Gardens Theatre at Mid Valley (Kuala Lumpur), PJ Live Arts at Jaya One (Selangor) and the Performing Arts Centre of Penang at Straits Quay (Penang). Let your imagination run wild!

For ticket prices and other details, go to and


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