Tuesday, May 11, 2010

PaLA Best Practices/Early Learning Forum: Part II

A few weeks ago, I posted the awards-snippet from my trip to Harrisburg for the PaLA Best Practices Awards and Early Learning Forum.  But the day includes 3 different elements, the awards, the year's One Book Every Young Child author/illustrator and the Early Learning Forum.  This year the keynote speaker who's asked to shed some light on services to children was Dr. Jill Stamm, author and co-founder of New Directions Institute for Infant Brain Development and the creator of Brain Boxes.  A handful of libraries own her book Bright from the Start: The Simple Science-Backed Way to Nurture Your Child's Developing Mind from Birth to Age 3.  

 Dr. Stamm's presentation on infant brain development was really informative.  The few notes I managed to scribble down while she spoke involved how studies have shown that simply talking to babies is the very best way to affect a child's IQ.  She shared how amazed parents are to hear that too.  I was amazed to hear that myself.  Also, I learned that our DNA changes with experiences.  That we have characteristics that either express or don't express and that can be influenced by experiences.  Crazy!  It was pretty inspiring stuff.

Illustrator, Will Hillenbrand of this year's One Book Every Young Child selection, What a Treasure! was also very inspiring!  While I enjoy hearing the story behind the book when listening to authors, I'm more interested in how the artist/author was born.  Will graciously shared quite a bit about his life while he showed a sweet video of him drawing this little guy.

It reminded me of listening to David Wiesner speak about how he became an artist/illustrator and how much trouble he was having designing a cover for his award-winning book, Flotsam.  He shared the coolest thing then, that he did indeed finally decide upon the book's final jacket design but weeks later, discovered a drawing from his childhood that was nearly a mirror image of that design!  He had no conscious memory of it.  It fascinates me when authors and illustrators make these kinds of connections.  For a couple of reasons, really.  First, it reminded me that the children we see and work with everyday are developing-people.  Their interests and skills are being built and are often influenced by a book a librarian might put in their hands (as we learned was the case with Demetrius Ivory!) But also,  I love hearing examples of how our experiences and choices are all so intertwined. 

Will Hillenbrand will be at Brentwood Library (in their community center down the street) tomorrow, May 12th at 2 PM.  I can't wait to see him again!