February 19th 2014

A child, a book, a hug

Today is a good time for snuggling with your little one to read a favorite book together. According to research at Medical University of Vienna, this will promote your “love hormone.” Hugs have been found to ease fear and anxiety, lower blood pressure, and boost memory. Now that’s an idea worth embracing.

Award winning books

The major award winners in children’s literature have been announced.  The John Newbery Medal for the most outstanding contribution to children’s literature goes to “Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures,” written by Kate DiCamillo , published by Candlewick Press. The Randolph Caldecott Medal for the most distinguished American picture book for children is “Locomotive,” illustrated by Brian Floca. The book was written by Brian Floca and published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing.

Las Cruces Reads

This column recognizes achievements in promoting a culture of literacy for our own community. Please share your efforts with me for future columns. Today we salute a non-profit child care provider and a medical office for their efforts to promote literacy.

The City of Las Cruces Recreation Section’s After School and summer Out of School Programs feature life skills in their approach to childcare. Located in seven sites around the city, the program, directed by Marcel Nicolitz, serves 269 children in kindergarten through fifth grade. Reading, tutoring, physical activity and nutrition are special features of the curriculum. According to Stephanie Vargas, Recreation Service Leader, “The children are able to take books home with them so they can continue reading with their families. In our summer Recreation Camps we emphasize group reading.”

Current sites for the City After School program include Monte Vista, Highland, Hermosa, Valley View, Alameda, Fairacres schools and Frank O’Brien Papen Community Center. Registration is required and there is a monthly fee.

The Allergy and Asthma Clinic of Southern NM offers a reading rich environment. Drs. Gaines, Rupp, and Funkhauser’s busy doctors’ office on Lohman Avenue provides a cell phone-free zone that encourages parents and children to read together in its two waiting rooms. Children’s magazines include Ranger Rick, Highlights, National Geographic Kids and Boy’s Life. Nurse Cindy Talley provides monthly contests and activities for her young patients.

Autism Conference

The Tri-Unity Conference is February 28 at NMSU in Corbett Center. The topic is Teaching reading and beyond: Addressing the needs of children with autism spectrum disorders. National speaker, Sylvia Diehl will address issues supporting the development of literacy skills. For more information contact Felicia Olivas at 575 526 6682 or email folivas@aitkids.com

“Family Place” at Branigan library

Branigan Library is now a designated “Family Place” library. “Family Place” is a national program that promotes good health, early learning, parental involvement and supportive communities to encourage growth and development in early childhood. Catherine Christmann, Director of Children’s Services, announces that parent-child workshops will begin in March and are funded by a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

The program includes five week sessions of Parent-Child Workshops presented several times a year. Each Monday at 10:00 a.m. there will be opportunity for parents to play with their child, make friends, and talk one-on-one with specialists in early literacy; speech, hearing and language development; child development; nutrition; and music, play and health. There will be different play stations around the room: gross motor skills, creative play, blocks, transportation and an art project. More information is available at Thomas Branigan Memorial Library.