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Black History Month 2021

By Shakisha Downey on Sun, Feb 14, 2021 @ 01:41 PM

February is Black History month in Nova Scotia.

We are so appreciative that our own Shakisha was willing to share her story and some excellent resources on why we need to focus on Black History this month and every month.  

Thank you Shakisha for all you do for Halifax Learning and for sharing.

Shakisha Downey 1

Below are 11 articles and videos that I believe everyone in Nova Scotia should read, reflect on and consider as we start 2021. It is a lot of information BUT if we are to really examine the history of Black Nova Scotians and have meaningful and informed conversations about Black History and the experiences of Black Nova Scotians, this is a good starting point. 

I would encourage you to download and read one of these pieces each week, giving time to reflect on the social context in between. 

I chose these pieces to share because they are very close to home to me. It was not until I began my Social Work program at Dalhousie University that I realized how truly removed and unengaged I was about my own cultural history, even as a Black Nova Scotian from the largest Black community in Canada, North Preston. 

My ancestors were refugees from America and Jamaica who upon arrival to Nova Scotia were provided land in what is known today as the Preston communities. These communities were nearly impossible to build up and support efficient standards of living. Despite an incredibly rich legacy of dedication to the land they built into the communities they are today, residents of Preston still struggle for clear titles from the government to land that has now been in our families for many generations. In this way, structures in society enable the segregation of Black peoples within areas associated with and subject to poverty, crime, waste and pollution. In addition, the media predominantly portrays North Preston, in particular, as dangerous, violent, and puts emphasis on the issues of drugs, guns, and sexualized violence that the community has struggled with. These representations play a huge role in perpetuating the oppression of Black Nova Scotians as well as Indigenous populations in this province- they are strategically demonized into the position of “the others'', as depicted in these pieces.

With increasing awareness and remembering this history through literature and community engagement, I am able to recognize and critically analyze how our Black and Indigenous communities have survived on the basis of resilience, resistance and reclamation for so many years, and take action towards advancing social justice. I aim for this in both my professional and academic career, recognizing a clear connection between the opportunities for success, stability and autonomy available to marginalized communities and literacy skills. The importance of literacy to this cause is that it is essential for social and human development and expression.

Literacy provides us with skills that empower us to comprehend dynamic social justice issues that persist today and in turn transform lives, including our own.

Gbenga Akintokun. (2020, June 2). Once Upon a Black Halifax [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jCFsRcOZT7A&feature=youtu.be&app=desktop

How do we ensure that the historical teachings today and in the future are presented in whats that properly represent Black people in the development of this province and the Country? We must look back and remember, and never allow ourselves to forget.  
 
Once Upon a Black Halifax discusses the history of the Black community in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and the struggles Black communities faced trying to achieve recognition and acceptance in our society. This history of Halifax taught in schools is very much rooted in colonial ideals of community with pockets of information regarding highly publicized Black communities such as Africville and North Preston. Though a look at Black history in Halifax reveals the richness of the Black community in Halifax and the varying achievements of its people despite continued racism and segregation. We need to continue to highlight the accomplishments and contributions of the Black community for generations to come, and not just during Black History Month. 
 
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"If you are White, you belong here, if you are Black, you are just, here." - Shindgai Nyajeka
 
Back in 1992, a number of Black students from a predominantly white high school in Halifax began working to establish a Cultural Awareness Youth Group (CAYG). The CAYG would become a vehicle for endorsing pride and self-esteem among Black students through education and cultural programs aimed at remembering the richness of their heritage and learn new ways to effect change in their communities. In particular, this video highlights the ways in which "whiteness" has historically been and remains the norm in our society including in the education system. The normative "whiteness" is maintained through institutionalized racism which holds Black people and other marginalized peoples including Indigenous communities, away from positions of power, privilege. 
 
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Hamilton, S. (Director). (1992). Speak It! From the Heart of Black Nova Scotia. [Film]. National Film Board of Canada. https://www.nfb.ca/film/speak_it_from_heart_of_black_nova_scotia/

 

From 1992- 2021, has real change been implemented to make room for Black students and Black History in education?  

 
I challenge educators to expand their own understandings of history to include the unwritten and previously seldom taught legacy of Nova Scotia's Black communities and the achievements of our people. These stories are still being written, and it is not too late to encourage our students to write their own stories in bold so they will never be forgotten. 
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Side note to educators- Something to think about
 
With Covid 19, how has access to quality education differed within the Black and Indigenous communities of Nova Scotia in comparison to the predominantly white communities and schools? 
How as an educator can you reduce the gap in equal opportunities for progress and literacy amongst all your students to ensure no one is left behind? 
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I came across this article featuring a classmate of mine from High school who is finishing up his MSW. He highlights the importance of making space for Black learnings and teachers within the education system.

Acting for Change.

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https://blackspan.com/include/african-descent-education-reports.htm -

Links to a number of works on educational barriers for Black Nova Scotians from 1994- 2019.

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More states, from the government "How Are We Doing? Baseline Data on African Nova Scotian Learners"

https://dbdli.ca/wp-content/uploads/Baseline-Data-on-African-Nova-Scotian-Learners.pdf

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The Nova Scotia Brotherhood Fund expands Black Nova Scotian's Mental Health Supports (for Black men) 

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Africentric Mind, Body and Breath- A Mental health Partnership of the Black Wellness Cooperative and the Heather Association of African Canadians Funded by the Canadian Red Cross, based on yoga, breathe and mindfulness practice to open and relax the body, release tension build spiritual awareness and reduce stress.

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And of course (our continued support for)  L.O.V. E NS- HRM youth inspiration and goal achievement in academics and social skills. 

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Also, this article highlights Black Nova Scotian writer and their work and they situate themselves and their identities within our society, which is built on white colonialist agendas and frameworks.

https://roommagazine.com/7-black-nova-scotian-writers-you-should-be-reading/

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 Article on the need for Africentric counselling in Nova Scotia

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Professional Development: Local Conferences and Online Training in HRM

By Megan Brooks on Sun, Sep 16, 2018 @ 12:57 PM

halifax learning spellread professional development conference local hrm

 

Below is a list of 5 upcoming conferences and online resources for professional development offered in Halifax, Nova Scotia or online. Halifax Learning is pleased to participate in each of these events and proud of our province for investing and promoting awareness that celebrates learning and professional development. 

 

1. Centre for ADHD Awareness, Canada

"CADDAC is a national, not-for-profit, organization providing leadership and support in awareness, education and advocacy for ADHD organizations and individuals across Canada."

On October 27-28, CADDAC is hosting the 10th Annual ADHD Conference at Saint Mary's University in Halifax, NS. 

If you are unable to attend the conference CADDAC offers an extensive list of resources and webinars for continued learning and support.

 

2. Canadian Parents for French

"CPF was founded in 1977 by parents who wanted to ensure that children would have the opportunity to become bilingual in the Canadian school system. Originally a small group of concerned parents who met in Ottawa, CPF has evolved into a proactive national network with 10 Branch offices and some 150 Chapters in communities nationwide."

On October 18-21, CPF will be hosting the CPF Network Conference at the Westin in Halifax, NS. 

You can also subscribe to their free magazine here for tips and resources. 

 

3. Atlantic Abilities Conference

"AAC is the premier Atlantic conference featuring international, national and local speakers sharing the latest information on research, products, services and resources available to improve the lives of youth and adults with disabilities and those searching for improved mental and physical wellness. AAC speaking sessions will concentrate on three pillars: Mental and Physical Wellness and Learning Abilities."

On September 27, the AAC will be held at the Halifax Marriott Harbourfront Hotel.

 

4. Teach Mental Health

"Enhance your mental health literacy in the classroom with Teach Mental Health -- a free, online, self-paced course developed in partnership with UBC."

Register here.

 

5. Train in SpellRead. Train in Science. Train for Results!

Halifax Learning has an extensive resume in training, support and coaching new SpellRead teachers. We currently work closely with teachers at The Cole Harbour Foundation and Bridgeway Academy.

As a result of 20 years of success and expertise, Halifax Learning literally wrote the training manual for SpellRead. If your organization is interested in offering the SpellRead program, contact us for  our training package. 

 SpellRead Training

 

The Best Investment  

"We learned from the psychologist that our daughter was going into grade 8 at a grade 4/5 level for reading comprehension and phonetic learning. We needed to get that addressed and the psychologist suggested Halifax Learning. We had an initial assessment with Halifax Learning and it lined up with what the therapist had told us. We enrolled in the program and could see improvements along the way. 

It was the best investment we could make in our daughter to help her future."

- Parent of a SpellRead Graduate 

Click below to download our 2017-2018 student results or contact us today to book a free, no-obligation literacy skills assessment

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What is Morphology?

By Kendall Kolne on Thu, May 10, 2018 @ 04:46 PM

In February 2018 we were fortunate to meet Kendall Kolne, a PhD student in the school of Communication Sciences and Disorders at McGill University. Her research interests include language and literacy development, specifically the factors which contribute to literacy deficits in children. We asked Kendal to write a guest blog and answer a few questions about morphology.

halifax learning spellread morphology reading program reading support tutor tutoring read write spell education evidence-based literacy

This blog discusses:

  1. What is morphology?
  2. What is morphology important?
  3. What is the role of morphology in literacy development?
  4. How can you use morphology to help your children?
  5. What’s the bottom line?

Ask us how SpellRead includes morphology and all 5 of the essential skills in reading development. Downloading our free guide to "All Children Reading Well"

As a researcher who studies the role of morphology in reading development, I begin nearly every discussion of my work by addressing the question: what is morphology? This term is widely unknown to those outside of the field of linguistics, and many people hear it for the first time as I describe my work. Even though the term morphology may be unfamiliar, the concept of it is quite simple, and many people have a general understanding of what morphology is without knowing it.  

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In a general sense, morphology refers to “the study of forms of things”. In the context of language, it is the study of the forms of words. Think of the process of forming words as building with blocks. Words are made up of blocks put together in a systematic way.

In linguistics, these blocks are called morphemes, which are the smallest units of language that carry meaning. For example, consider the word cats, which is made of 2 morphemes:

  1. the root word cat, a noun referring to a fluffy, four-legged creature.
  2. the plural suffix -s, indicating more than one of these fluffy, four-legged creatures.

Thus, “morphology” describes what most people know as root words, stems, and suffixes, and how these parts combine to make words.

halifax learning spellread morphology reading program reading support tutor tutoring read write spell education evidence-based literacy

There are only a few key things you need to know to have a good understanding of what morphology is:

  1. There are two types of morphemes:

    • Free morphemes can stand on their own, and do not require other morphemes, more commonly known as root words (e.g., cat, horse, run).
    • Bound morphemes must be attached to free morphemes for meaning, more commonly known as prefixes and suffixes (e.g., -ing in running, re- in redo).

  2. Bound morphemes are identified by their purpose in a word.

    • Inflectional morphemes add grammatical information to a word, for example the plural suffix -s in cats, or the past tense suffix -ed, in walked.
    • Derivational morphemes change the core meaning of a word and are used to form new words. For example, the suffix -er, as in teacher, changes a word from the verb to teach, to a noun describing the person who does the teaching.

  3. Words can be simple or complex.

    • Simple words contain only one, free morpheme that can’t be split into smaller parts (e.g., horse, run).
    • Complex words contain two or more morphemes (e.g., running, root word: run, and suffix: -ing).

  4. A piece of a word must have meaning to be a morpheme.

    • Many words may look like they have more than one morpheme, but the individual parts have no meaning.
      For example, consider father, which appears to contain a root word and suffix, but in fact fath is not a word, and -er is not a suffix in this word.

Why is morphology important?

As the building blocks of language, morphology allows us to construct words, add grammatical information to our words, and invent new words. Morphology helps us to tell the difference between someone who walked, and someone who is walking. It gives us the power to generate and understand new words.

Just think about the last time you Googled something or took a selfie. It is likely that you were never you taught what these words mean, but your ability to process morphology, and recognize parts of words helped you to use and understand these words accurately.  


Morphology’s Role in Literacy Development

Morphology is also a useful tool when it comes to reading and writing. The ability to break a word down into small parts can help with:

  • Word reading
    • Think about the difference in pronunciation of the ea in reach vs. react. In one case, there is only one morpheme and the ea is one sound, but in the second case the word divides into two morphemes, with a boundary between the ea.
  • Reading comprehension
    • Knowing the meaning of word parts can help to interpret the meaning of longer, more complex words (determining the meaning of nongovernmental is made easier by thinking of the meaning of each of its parts).
  • Spelling
    • It is easier to spell longer, complex words when you break the word up into smaller, meaningful parts (e.g., nongovernmental becomes less challenging to spell by dividing it into its individual parts non-govern-ment-al).

In fact, research has shown that teaching children about morphology, and orienting them to the building blocks of words helps them to better read words, comprehend text, and spell. Additionally, teaching morphology to children improves their vocabulary and gives them better knowledge and awareness of morphology1.

halifax learning spellread morphology reading program reading support tutor tutoring read write spell education evidence-based literacy

How can you use this knowledge of morphology to help your children?

Teaching of reading and writing should include a discussion of morphology. Currently, researchers like myself are studying the best ways to teach morphology, and how exactly to incorporate it into literacy education. In the meantime, here are a few suggestions for how to get your kids talking about morphology:

  • Encourage them to break words into morphemes
    “Can you find the smaller word in artist?”

  • Practice using prefixes or suffixes to make words.
    “What do you call a person who drink milk?” - A milk drinker.

  • Talk about words that have the same ending.
    “What do the words careful, helpful, and painful have in common?”
    “What is the difference between helpful and unhelpful?”

When should you start talking about morphology?

The question of when to include morphology into literacy education is a subject of debate in the research. However, research seems to suggest teaching morphology early in development leads to reading3 and spelling improvements4. If you do start to talk about morphology with your children, keep in mind that they may struggle if they have not yet developed a strong understanding of morphology. Research shows that kids can start spontaneously using morphology as young as 2-years old5, but they may not start gaining proficiency until between grades 3 and 56. You can certainly encourage your child to use morphology before they are proficient, but do not get frustrated if they have difficulty.

Finally, recognize that there is a period of development, generally around the ages of 3 and 4, where children who have started to gain some morphology skill will overgeneralize, and use it when is not appropriate (e.g., saying goed instead of went or teeths instead of teeth). Contrary to common belief, this does not mean that your child’s language is regressing, rather it is a sign that they are starting to learn morphology but are still figuring out the rules and exceptions.

What’s bottom line?

Morphology is an important component of language development, and a helpful tool for learning to read and spell. Practice it with your kids early and often. 

If you'd like to learn more about reading development, download our free guide "All Children Reading Well" to learn more about the 5 essential skills in reading development.

halifax learning morphology reading program reading support literacy tutor tutoring read write spell education evidence-based

 

For more information on morphology:

If you’d like to know more about morphology or the current research being done, feel free to contact me at: kendall.kolne@mail.mcgill.ca

You can read about my research here: The Role of Morphology in Spelling 
and here: Improving Children's Spelling Ability with a Morphology-based Intervention

Also, check out the morphology research being done in Halifax by Hélène Deacon here: Language and Literacy Lab

Finally, for more information on morphology, its role in literacy development, and ideas for teaching strategies, check out these resources:


References

  1. Bowers, P. N., Kirby, J. R., & Deacon, S. H. (2010). The effects of morphological instruction on literacy skills: A systematic review of the literature. Review of educational research80(2), 144-179.
  2. Wagner, R. K., & Torgesen, J. K. (1987). The nature of phonological processing and its causal role in the acquisition of reading skills. Psychological bulletin101(2), 192.
  3. Carlisle, J. F., & Stone, C. (2005). Exploring the role of morphemes in word reading. Reading research quarterly40(4), 428-449.
  4. Deacon, S. H., & Bryant, P. (2005). What young children do and do not know about the spelling of inflections and derivations. Developmental Science8(6), 583-594.
  5. Clark, E. V. (1995). The lexicon in acquisition (Vol. 65): Cambridge University Press.
  6. Mahony, D., Singson, M., & Mann, V. (2000). Reading ability and sensitivity to morphological relations. Reading and writing, 12(3), 191-218
Topics: Education
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Social Skills, Can they be taught?

By Halifax Learning on Thu, May 03, 2018 @ 04:11 PM

#throwbackthursday

On Thursday, April 19th we had the privilege to sit down with Angela Rudderham, Director of Bridgeway Academy and creator of Bridgeway's Social Skills program. Using evidence-driven outcomes, Angela has been studying, developing and improving her Social Skills program for the past 12 years.

Why are social skills so important?

"Social deficits are often viewed as insensitive and willful behavior."

bridgeway-academy-2

 

So what are social skills, how do people learn them and can they be taught?

I think most people would answer yes to the final question, but Angela Rudderham has taken this question to the next level. Effective social skills are a learned behavior and predictor of future success and personal fulfillment. Can the efficacy of a social skills program be measured?

annie-spratt-332776-unsplash

 

Angela has invested in research and development of Bridgeway's Social Skills Program for 12 years. Each year she studies student progress and refuses to accept a ceiling and demands growth and development of herself, her staff and her program. She does this by being on the front lines of program delivery.

Bridgeway's Social Skills Program is divided into 8 Units:

  1. Self Awareness
  2. Awareness of Others
  3. Perspective Taking
  4. Self Regulation
  5. Problem Solving
  6. Relationships
  7. Communication
  8. Life Skills

And follows 7 Steps:

  1. Connect
  2. Investigate
  3. Identify
  4. Plan
  5. Teach
  6. Practice
  7. Transfer
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What did we learn?

When discussing highly structured, measurable programs based on evidence, there are a lot of parallel themes. Here were my top three take aways.

1. Rewards and consequences do not teach the expected behavior. It lowers motivation, creates anxiety and stress and negatively impacts relationships.

2. Mistakes are teachable moments.

3. The social behaviors of our children don't always line up with our expectations as parents, this doesn't always mean our children are lacking

Thank you Angela and Bridgeway Academy for your knowledge, inclusive, and effective education.

Visit their website for more information on Bridgeway's Course Overview. Notice SpellRead on that list? We're proud to partner with Bridgeway and provide on-going training and support to their SpellRead teachers. Halifax Learning has developed an extensive training model based on 20 years of experience, research and development, that can be replicated in a variety of delivery models. If you work with youth in need of literacy intervention, Halifax Learning can support your staff to reach an infinite number of struggling readers.

Help us, help you, help kids!

Topics: Education
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Reading Opportunities Are Everywhere! Do you know where to find them?

By Halifax Learning on Mon, Jan 22, 2018 @ 11:40 PM

 

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I’ve always been drawn to words.  When I was a child, I would read everything in sight.  At least, that’s how it feels when I look back.  I would read a random and eclectic assortment of objects inside and outside my home.  If it had words, I was interested.

I’ve tried to remember as many of the odd and unexpected places I used to find words to demonstrate how important reading is and how easy it is to practice almost anywhere.

Here are some classics you might remember from your childhood and a few that might surprise you. 

Cereal Boxes

It goes without saying that the companies making children’s cereal plaster the box with entertaining content.  This includes word searches, trivia, puzzles, and other activities on almost every side.

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But many cereal boxes, including the ones most kids won’t eat, also have a lot of reading material.  “Family size”, “daily value of” and “source of 7 essential nutrients” can all be found on most boxes.  The same goes for the ingredient lists and the nutritional info. 

Take the opportunity to talk to your child about the ingredients or explain why the various nutrients are important.  It will help them retain more of the new words they’re exposed to.

Recipes

Similarly, I used to read recipes a lot.  My mother had a few tried and true cookbooks and I would often invade her kitchen and begin scrolling down that night’s recipe.

As I grew I began helping her prepare meals, and she knew I’d have no problem with the steps.  Pretty clever now that I think about it…

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Recruit your child to help you prepare meals once a week.  Not only will they be exposed to a brand new vocabulary, they’ll also learn about healthy diets and meal preparation.  This will be invaluable for their health and your peace of mind as they grow.

Instructions

I’m a man and I’m not embarrassed to admit it - I read the instructions.  I have for as long as I remember*.  Often it was a board game or a puzzle.  I would read every rule and make sure they were clear before we started.  Pretty insufferable, eh? 

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But like cereal boxes, board games and puzzles are a rich source of language.  The instructions may be a little dull, but reading them rather than hearing them creates a direct connection between the written word and it’s meaning.  This improves comprehension.  The descriptions and random information on the box is also ripe to be read. 

Printed Material

I don’t mean the books that I read – I mean all of the books, magazines and newspapers my parents had in our home.  Sometimes it was actually hard to avoid printed words. 

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There’s wisdom in that.  Words were around me all the time so I began reading them.  Book spines, newspaper headlines, magazine covers.  I even read the tabloid fodder in the checkout line at the grocery store.  All that yellow lettering really grabbed my attention as a kid.

Lots of studies have shown that homes with many books produce more literate kids.  Increased access and exposure to reading material has a real and substantial impact on future reading skills.

Song Lyrics**

I expect most people can recall the lyrics to a few songs from their childhood.  I can even remember bits and pieces of the dinosaur cassette my parents played for me in the car when I was a toddler.  The words I memorized nearly 30 years ago, and the accompanying melody, are still clear in my mind.

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Adding music to words makes them stickier.  If you aren’t tired of your child’s favourite songs yet, help them learn the lyrics properly.  Maybe put on a lip sync showcase or write down the lyrics and change them to goofier ones.  Karaoke is tons of fun - you'll be reading lyrics the whole time and you’ll improve your child’s word recognition while you're at it.

The Great Outdoors

This category is an outrageous one to distill into a few short paragraphs, so here’s a list of ten things you can read outside:

Street names, billboards, movie posters, traffic signs, the posters on buses (inside and out), the names of businesses, memorial plaques in parks, writing on the sides of cars, educational info at landmarks, and the map you need to get everywhere. 

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Next time you’re out with your kids, ask them to read everything in sight.  Play I Spy but search for words.  If your kids have short names, try and find them on license plates.  There are almost infinite possibilities.

Odds ‘n’ Ends

This is literally anything else you might have lying around your home. 

Old Christmas cards stored in a drawer?  Perfect for seeing different writing and communication styles.  Going on a trip?  Passports and itineraries have lots of information.  Been to a concert?  Ticket stubs are quick and easy.  Too busy running errands to read to your kids?  Have them read aloud to you between stops.  Better yet, take a page out of my mom’s book and recruit your child to help with your to-do list.

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Reading opportunities truly are all around us. For more reading opportunities, here is a list of books that feature siblings!  We'd love to hear your thoughts or any other readable, everyday objects you can think of.  
Connect with us on Twitter or Facebook.


*I want to mention that storytelling offers a number of language skills.  The teller creates a narrative and then captivates their audience with their tone, emotion and creativity.  It may not be your cup of tea, but it’s a fun creative outlet that has no real downside. 
**It might have something to do with my deep-seated urge to understand everything around me.  I still struggle to filter the huge influx of information I’ve had access to over the last decade into consumable chunks.  There are way too many tabs open in my web browser.

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