Reading in Infancy Boosts Literacy – Study

If you are still looking for a sign to start reading books to your child, this is it.

According to Carolyn Cates, PhD, lead author of the study that involved 250 pairs of mothers and their babies, findings suggest that reading to children as early as infancy gives a boost on their language, literacy and early reading skills.

“What they’re learning when you read with them as infants,” Cates said, “still has an effect four years later when they’re about to begin elementary school.”

This is the finding of “Early Reading Matters: Longterm Impacts of Shared Bookreading with Infants and Toddlers on Language and Literacy Outcomes,” which was presented at the Moscone West Convention Center in San Francisco last May 8.

This is indeed exciting news for us reading advocates slash new moms. My 10-month-old has just recently started to be interested in actually flipping pages (not just drooling on them). I have already bought a few books for our personal collection, and I have more in the school library. This gives me further motivation to try and engage her in reading, even if she just wants to tear off the paper for now.

How about you, mom? Do your kids love reading? How did you make them love to read? Share it in the comments below!

Happy National Children’s Book Month!


Thanks to Natasha Hall @ideanaire for making this photo available freely on Unsplash 🎁 https://unsplash.com/photos/9rBmRhysF9Y

Are Adarna’s Books on Martial Law “Radicalizing” Children Against the Government?

“Not good.”

I am not the type to pay attention to foreigners making content about the Philippines. (You: Oooohhh… a “I’m not like other girls” type.) But when Neil Gaiman captioned his retweet of Rappler’s news on the red-tagging of Adarna House’s sale of its books on Martial Law by sitting government officials, I was alarmed.

Adarna House was accused by Alex Paul Monteagudo of the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency, of “subtly” radicalizing children against the government. Lorraine Badoy of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict called the publishing company “demonyo” for allegedly “planting hate and lies” in the hearts of its young readers.

I promised my husband that I will refrain from writing about Philippine politics in this blog. But as a librarian and a reading advocate, whose love for books was influenced by Adarna House, I take offense.

The bundle consists of five illustrated storybooks that tell about Martial Law in the Philippines. Here are brief summaries of the books:

ITO ANG DIKTADURA

Idea at titik: Equipo Plantel; Guhit: Mikel Casal

A translation from Spanish, “Ito ang Diktadura” is a non-fiction illustrated book written during the times when many countries in the world are under dictatorship. It describes the general environment under these autocratic regimes and shows Ferdinand E. Marcos among other dictators.

SI JHUN-JHUN, NOONG BAGO IDEKLARA ANG BATAS MILITAR

Kuwento ni Augie Rivera; Guhit ni Brian Vallesteros

“Si Jhun-Jhun” is one of the five books that tell about different important periods in Philippine history, created in collaboration with UNICEF. It is a coming-of-age story of a boy whose family was torn apart by human rights violations.

EDSA

Kuwento ni Russell Molina; Guhit ni Sergio Bumatay III

How can a counting book ever radicalize its reader against the government? Because this just a picture book with a few words. The words are terms and phrases popularized by the People Power Revolution of 1986.

THE MAGIC ARROW

Story by Bolet Banal; Illustrations by Korinna Banal

“The Magic Arrow” is a beautifully illustrated magical story of a king who repressed his kingdom and got defeated by one man’s bravery.

ISANG HARDING PAPEL

Kuwento ni Augie Rivera; Guhit ni Rommel Joson

A personal favorite, “Isang Harding Papel” is a story of a child whose mother is a political detainee. It shows how a mother’s love can grow hope and happiness in the midst of darkness.

I am adding this short comic book although not included in the original bundle:

12:01

Russell Molina and Kajo Baldisimo

“12:01” is the story of a local band who experienced the horrors of Martial Law on a night they accidentally violated the curfew.


How are these books radicalizing children against the government? Is the Philippines:

  • in a dictatorship
  • in an abusive dictatorship
  • going to be in an abusive dictatorship

again? If not, why should the government be offended? Why should the government be afraid?

Perhaps NICA and NTF-ELCAC should listen to Imelda Marcos:

Perception is real; the truth is not.

xXx

Buttttt I digress. Instead, let us read this beautiful poem by Alberto Ríos in 2017:

DON’T GO INTO THE LIBRARY

The library is dangerous—
Don’t go in. If you do

You know what will happen.
It’s like a pet store or a bakery—

Every single time you’ll come out of there
Holding something in your arms.

Those novels with their big eyes.
And those no-nonsense, all muscle

Greyhounds and Dobermans,
All non-fiction and business,

Cuddly when they’re young,
But then the first page is turned.

The doughnut scent of it all, knowledge,
The aroma of coffee being made

In all those books, something for everyone,
The deli offerings of civilization itself.

The library is the book of books,
Its concrete and wood and glass covers

Keeping within them the very big,
Very long story of everything.

The library is dangerous, full
Of answers. If you go inside,

You may not come out
The same person who went in.

9 Ways Quitting Facebook Made Me a Better Mom

Hi, friend! Welcome and welcome back to the blog.

I deactivated on Facebook in mid-May. This was neither a quasi-experiment on how I will fare without something that has been a part of my life since 2009 nor a social media “fast”. This was simply an attempt to limit my exposure to triggering events.

You would think losing a platform that holds 13 years worth of memories and connections is going to be hard, but I have been deactivating my account every so often for an array of reasons. Deactivating and deleting are easy. The hard part is finally seeing how much control Facebook has on me… and that I allowed it.

That Facebook is harmful is not a novel idea. Numerous studies have demonstrated how the platform – and most social media with a similar design – is affecting its users wellbeing. Granted, some people can use social media in a healthy and productive matter. I am not one of them. I have a ton of mental health issues that are caused, influenced, and exacerbated by an addiction to social media.

Being a new mom is already difficult, and social media was not helping. With consistent exposure to people I compare myself to and to people who bring out the worst me, I became increasingly angry, discontented, and generally unhappy. I am not the mom that my child deserves.

So I quit Facebook for good. These are what I noticed happened:

I hate my body less.

I am one of the women whose body got destroyed by pregnancy. At ten months postpartum, I am ten kilograms above my pre-pregnancy weight. I found I got jealous of other moms who easily bounced back, moms who glowed, and moms who had time to take care of themselves. I also compared myself to my own pictures from my size 2 days that kept popping on my memories. I already have had body dysmorphia for many years now, and passively getting exposed to familiar people who were able to get fit increased my self-loathing.

Leaving Facebook did not magically make me lose weight or cure my body image issues. I am still 10 kilograms above the weight I’m comfortable in. But not getting exposed to people that I can compare myself to, I found that I am starting to get bothered less about my weight. I am still casually trying to shed some pounds, but I am not on a race with anyone anymore.

I became at peace with my milk supply.

Breastfeeding and pumping groups are a treasure trove for first time moms. But they can also be an abyss for those with insecurities, as you are consistently exposed to other moms’ “successes”. These groups are filled with inspiration and valuable information on galactogogues and silicone inserts, but also plagued by messages like “true low supply is a myth” and “just add one more pump”, making you feel as if you are not doing enough.

With my tendency to compare myself to other people, I just became more and more stressed and anxious. Possibly, my milk supply suffered because of it.

These groups never meant harm. They only wanted to be a community. But most of the time, I felt like a failure compared to other mothers whose breastfed babies are fat, whose freezer stashes overflowed, who never even have to think about supplementing. I felt judged and shamed for even thinking of feeding formula that I refused to give formula to Sprout… and now, at ten months, she’s just 8.4 kilograms. We’re now mixed feeding and so far we’re okay.

I stopped comparing my child to other babies.

My Sprout failed her hearing tests during the newborn screening, and when she turned four months and did not laugh yet, I cried and cried, thinking for sure she was deaf. After all, my Facebook friends’ babies around her age were already giggling a lot. Other babies were hitting their milestones in advance. They were also more plump. All of them also have teeth.

In reality, my ten-month-old is hitting her milestones just in time. We are yet to have her hearing checked at Philippine General Hospital, but as far as we know she can hear us. She laughs a lot, turns when we call her, jumps when she hears loud noise, knows her caregivers and cousins by name, imitates sounds, and dances when she hears music. She can even hum the Aaah part of “Yellow Brick Road”. She doesn’t gave teeth yet, but I now know I still have 8 months before I have to be concerned.

Without other babies to compare her to, I give my baby some slack.

I realize what we have is what we need.

We are not rich, but by no means are we poor. But when I was active on social media, I got jealous of younger people who earn twice, thrice, four times my salary. I got jealous of families who regularly go on vacations. I got jealous of parents who can buy their babies high end stuff. I got jealous of parents stay at home and homeschool their kids. And I got jealous of new moms who can afford therapy and pilates. The grass is always greener on the other side.

But once I cannot see the other side, I have realized that our baby has everything she needs. She is surrounded by people who love her. Some we bought ourselves, but most were given. She has a crib, a stroller, a rocker, a booster seat, a car seat, toys, and lots of clothes. We never missed her pediatric check-ups and vaccines. Her grandparents’ farm gives her fruits and vegetables. We can buy her lactose-free formula. We were also able to get her admitted to a private hospital when she got sick. We have a car to take her places when we want. We are actually doing well.

I have become more attentive to my child.

With my 8 to 5 office job, I only have about 4 to 5 hours to spend with Sprout on weekdays. When I was always on my phone, that was even less. Now that I’m only playing listenable YouTube videos, checking email, and typing ideas, I have so much free time. Whenever I’m with her when she is awake, I can give her my full attention instead of fighting the need to check my phone.

I rediscovered things I love doing.

Since quitting social media, I have been able to read novels and think of stories again. These are things I have been passionate about long before I first logged into Facebook in 2009. Admittedly, thirteen years is a long time and many things have changed. But there are things that are always there, just buried. I was too busy chasing the latest and coolest interests, hobbies, and lifestyles that I abandoned by “boring” passions.

I hate people less.

In this video, Verity Ritchie discussed the way social media is used to radicalize and fuel hate among unsuspecting users. This definitely happened to us in the recent years leading to the highly polarizing Philippine elections. The more I read my Facebook friends’ thoughts, the more I became annoyed and irritated at many of them, even if they had been nice to me all these years. Familiarity indeed breeds contempt.

To be honest, this is the strongest reason I quit. I hoped to stop being angry, and as long I read people’s thoughts, it’s impossible. You know what? It worked.

I only see things I actively seek.

I will never really understand the algorithm of Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and Twitter but I know they expose me to posts I would not actively seek. Quitting social media gave me back the power to see only – sometimes, mostly – things I want.

Yes, this could be dangerous. I could be confining myself in a small bubble and becoming apathetic to everything else that is happening to the world. But I cannot handle so many things all at once. I have to protect my peace.

I realized I don’t need Facebook.

Of my two thousand Facebook friends, only one noticed that I am gone, and I have been gone for a month and a half before it was noticed. Truth is, I will not lose friends because I quit. I have always known that most of my “friends” on social media are not really friends – just connections. I am still friends with my real life friends even if I leave Facebook for good.

There was nothing worth not missing out on, too. There was almost nothing I needed to know, nothing that has to do with me that I cannot find outside of Facebook. I began thinking, maybe that infamous Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) is an illusion, manufactured by Facebook so it would be hard to leave.


I had not logged in since I deactivated. The only reason I have not fully deleted my account is Messenger. I made another account for work-related stuff but I have zero friends there. My Instagram, TikTok and Twitter accounts are also permanently gone, and the only social media I have are this blog and YouTube. And I am better.

I am not saying I am better than other moms. I am not better because I am not on Facebook. I am simply better than that version of me who was addicted to social media. I have become a better mom for my child because I am a happier mom.

The only thing I regret is not doing it sooner.

-End-

Photo cover from: https://unsplash.com/photos/OwvRB-M3GwE?utm_source=unsplash&utm_medium=referral&utm_content=creditShareLink

7 Filipino Children’s Books I Want for My Child’s Library

What are your favorite children’s books?

Hi, friend! Welcome and welcome back to the blog.

From stories of kapres, engkantos, and nuno sa punso to make us unruly Pinoy kids behave, to fables that instill lifelong values, to short stories, novels, and film scripts that help us face or escape our daily realities, no one can deny the power of stories and storytelling in shaping the minds and lives of people. Societies, too, grow from stories, passed on from generation to generation, and these stories shape myths and legends that define us as a people, as a nation.

I am a staunch believer in the power of stories.

In this blog, I share some of the storybooks that I want to read to my child when she is at the right age and can understand and appreciate them.


AKO AY MAY KIKI (I Have a Vagina) written by Glenda Otis and illustrated by Beth Parrocha, is a two-part children’s book that tackle genital cleanliness and body autonomy. Filipinos do not openly talk about private parts, at least with a straight face; we love to make jokes instead. Who would expect that these will appear in fiction, let alone illustrated children’s books?


AKO AY MAY TITI (I Have a Penis) (Lampara), written by Genaro Gojo-Cruz and illustrated by Beth Parrocha, came before Ako ay May Kiki and presents genital care for boys.

As a feminist parent, I feel quite capable of talking about these to my daughter without malice. But as a school librarian, I know the power books hold on children. Once they see something on print, they will know that it is important.


PAPA’S HOUSE, MAMA’S HOUSE (Adarna House) by Jean Lee C. Patindol (writer) and Mark Salvatus (illustrator) tells the story of a broken family, and how being in a broken family does not always mean children are loved less.

My husband and I have been married for only two years, and as Roman Catholics do not see ourselves separating anytime soon. (Who knows what will happen in the future? Haha.) But once our little one grows and gets exposed in the real world, she will find family set ups that are different from ours, and she will know that she has to understand and respect that.


ISANG HARDING PAPEL (Adarna), written by Augie Rivera and illustrated by Rommel Joson, tells the story of a child whose mother was a political detainee during the years of dictatorship. The book is filled with flowers and play it is actually gut-wretching. Isang Harding Papel is part of the #NeverAgain bundle put on sale by the publishing house that ended up in red-tagging by sitting government officials last May.

My husband and I were not born yet during the Martial Law years and did not experience the documented horrors and atrocities of the period. But we know that it does not mean none of those happened. We want our child to develop empathy for people who suffered from human rights violations.


DALAWA ANG DADDY NI BILLY (Billy has Two Daddies) (Tahanan) by Michael P. De Guzman (writer) and Daniel Palma Tayona (illustrator) took a decade to be published. It shows a boy with gay fathers and the ostratization their family experiences from the people who they expected to be respectful.

Homosexuality is normal, and families that are not composed of a mother, a father, and a child are normal. I want Sprout to know that we are not judging others’ sexuality. More importantly, if someday it turns out one of us has a different sexual orientation, we as family will support them.


KUNG DALAWA KAMI (If There were Two of Us) (Adarna) by Lamberto Antonio (writer) and Salvador Gernale (illustrator) is exactly the book that made me a “bad” Catholic for supporting the many different facets of reproductive health. It is about a first-born child who remnisces the more affluent time before their parents had so many children.

I know that there will be people who will ask Sprout why she is an only child, and I want her to understand the answer from my perspective.


ANG BONGGANG-BONGGANG BATANG BEKI (The Fierce and Fabulous Boy in Pink) is a story by Rhandee Garlitos and illustrated by Tokwa Salazar. It could be the first children’s story to introduce an effeminate character, and questions why we have to assign roles and characteristics in terms of gender instead of allowing people to be who they want.

I want our child to know that in our home, she is free to be who she is and enjoy the things she wants.

My Sprout is 10 months old, and she is only interested on books to chew on. I’m definitely excited for her to be at an age when we can read these stories together, but for now, I will start building a home library that will help me raise a feminist.

13 Quotes for Working Moms

One place suits one person, another place suits another person.

(Beatrix Potter, 1918)

Hi, friend! Welcome and welcome back to the blog.

I really love how The Tale of Johnny Town-Mouse, Beatrix Potter’s adaptation of Aesop’s The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse, ended. Instead of judging that one way to live is the better choice, the characters realize that they simply have different tastes, and their tastes are equally valid.

The same goes for moms. Whether someone is a stay-at-home mom or a working mom does not make one a better or worse parent. Neither has it easier, especially in a society that will judge you no matter your choice. In the end, we have reasons for choosing how we live, and we have to stop comparing ourselves to other moms.

In this first blog, I have compiled 13 of the most beautiful and inspiring quotes about, by, and for working moms. You can pick the one that resonates most with you and make that your personal reminder that, dear working mom, you are doing a great job.


CATHERINE REITMAN

“We should go after our dreams and not be apologetic about it, but it’s scary. Whether you want to work or not, you have to do what makes you a fuller person. You have to love yourself.”


SHONDA RHIMES

“If I’m pursuing my goals, my kids are seeing me at my best. I am filled up, I am happy, I am not feeling empty, depleted, and therefore resentful about the fact that I’m missing out. I don’t want them to feel like I’ve sacrificed, I don’t want them to feel that burden. I always remember that a happy working woman is a happy mother.”


CANDANCE ALNAJI

“You are not a bad mom because you go to work each day. Similarly, you are not a failure because you left your career altogether. Choices regarding work and family are personal – there is no one-size fits all method. Anyone who tells you otherwise is wrong.”


SHARON MEERS AND JOANNA STROBER

“A happy mother is a good mother, and if work makes you hum, your whole family sings along.”


SERENA WILLIAMS

“Knowing I’ve got this beautiful baby to go home to makes me feel like I don’t have to play another match. I don’t need the money or the titles or the prestige. I want them, but I don’t need them. That’s a different feeling for me.”


KATIE COURIC

“Get rid of the guilt….When you’re at one place, don’t feel bad that you’re not at work; when you’re at work, don’t feel bad that you’re not at home.”


MICHELLE OBAMA

“For me, being a mother made me a better professional, because coming home every night to my girls reminded me what I was working for. And being a professional made me a better mother, because by pursuing my dreams, I was modeling for my girls how to pursue their dreams.”


HODA KOTB

“I want her to know something that I feel is important. I love work. I love her and I love work, and I want her to know work’s a good thing. It’s not something you’re dragged off to.”


TORY BURCH

“As a working mother, I know that women can be both professionally ambitious and deeply committed to their families.”


ALLISON PEARSON

“It’s not wrong to be passionate about your career. When you love what you do, you bring that stimulation back to your family.”


MARY MCCORMACK

“I think it’s good for moms to work. I have three daughters, so I like them to see me working and doing something I’m passionate about.”


ANNABEL CRABB

“The obligation for working mothers is a very precise one: the feeling that one ought to work as if one did not have children, while raising one’s children as if one did not have a job.”


KERRI WALSH JENNINGS

“The balancing act of motherhood and a career, and being a wife, is something that I don’t think I’ll ever perfect, but I love the challenge of it.”

xXx

One place suits one person, another place suits another person. For my part, I prefer to stay at home. But we will not survive on my husband’s current income, and so I am a working mom.

-End-