Helping Children with Their Language Development

On Wednesday, September 21, 2016, at 2:00 pm (EST), please join Dr. Betty Bardige, renowned expert in language development, as she leads a webinar discussing new research on effective strategies adults can use to help toddlers develop strong language skills. The webinar, sponsored by Nemours Bright Start, is open to everyone.

If you are unable to participate at that time, you can register now to view the webinar at a more opportune time.

Betty Bardige, Ed.D., is a developmental psychologist, educator, and child advocate. She helps to shape early childhood policy at local, state, and national levels. Dr. Bardige is the author of At a Loss for Words; she is also the co-author, with her mother, Dr. Marilyn Segal, of Building Literacy with Love. Dr. Bardige can be reached at

Dr. Bardige has advised Star Bright Books and author Ellen Mayer on the Small Talk Book ® series which encourages adults on how to help children develop strong language skills in the everyday moments of life.

Ellen Mayer is a writer and early literacy home visitor who helps families support their children’s language development through books and play. She has a M.Phil. in Sociology and worked as a researcher at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education, studying family engagement in education.

Small Talk Books ® are playful stories celebrating diversity while featuring young children and their parents talking and having fun together. The books show families how to build young children’s language through conversation, during everyday small moments together. Frequent small talks add up to big learning gains for young children! To learn more, visit: and

Fathers and Books

Yesterday was Father’s Day and that lead me to think about fathers reading to their children. Does it really make a difference which parent reads aloud to the kids at bedtime?

Apparently, yes it does. Mothers and fathers approach reading aloud differently. Both ways are good, but here are the reasons dads should split the fun duty of reading aloud to the kids.

  • Dads read different kinds of books than moms. While we often let the kids choose the books, knowing that Dad is the reader makes it more likely that the book chosen will be non-fiction or a scary tale.
  • Studies show that kids behave better, do better academically and higher verbal scores when both parents read to their kids. If it’s just 15 minutes a day to achieve all of the above benefits, I say read, read, read!
  • Dads encourage abstract thinking when reading books to children. Mothers tend to focus on concrete details like naming colors. Both approaches are good. Combined, the approaches are even better.
  • Memories of the time spent together is invaluable and will last a lifetime.

So dads everywhere: read to your children.

To learn more about why fathers need to read aloud to kids, read:

The Role of Fathers in Their Child’s Literacy Development (Pre-K)

Five reasons why dads should read to their children more

It’s Time for Dad (Not Mom) to Take on Bedtime Stories Duty

Meeting the Editor

Recently, I was at a library book sale (to add to the hundreds of unread books in my home) when a good friend, who works for another publisher, introduced me to volunteer at the sale. This was one of those moments when my friend, desperate to save herself, threw me into the line of fire.

“My husband and I have some ideas for a children’s books.”

Publishing is a marvelous business to be part of; getting pitched book ideas is not considered to be one of its perks.   I understand my good friend’s willingness to pass this woman off to me. Desperate times call for desperate measures.

The following twenty-minute conversation followed the usual pattern in these cases:

  1. Not a word had been written based on these great ideas.
  2. Neither husband nor wife had done any research to see if there were any books similar to the ones they thought would be popular with children.
  3. The books would be educational. (I’ve yet to hear a pitch were someone says the books will be fun to read.)
  4. They needed to find an illustrator as neither draws well.

I murmured my usual phrases of, “That sounds interesting.” along with my standard “Hhhmmms.” and “Uh, huhs.” Words just roll off my tongue, don’t they!

I suggested that they research the ideas, write the manuscripts, avoid being didactic, and leave the finding of an illustrator to the publisher. Then I made my escape.

As for my friend? She thanked me profusely and helped me carry my boxes of newly acquired books to my car.

—Jacquelyn C. Miller

The Myth of the Stolen Idea

Let me set the scene: lunch with good friends at a very pleasant place near the sea, one friend is a lawyer, another a yet-to-be published novelist, and others who work in a variety of fields. I’m in the book business.

My friend who is working on a romance novel-I’ll call her Pat so we’ll still remain friends-has what I think is an interesting plot idea. She also had a very common misunderstanding about the publishing industry. When asked about her writing, Pat poke enthusiastically about her progress, but she did not wish to talk about the plot. Pat was pestered to tell us the plot. (I hear book outlines all week long,, so I preferred to focus on my chicken salad.) As she was among old friends, that day she finally described the plot, but I could sense a reluctance to do so.

When I asked what publishers she was considering submitting her work to, Pat said that she had to get her work copyrighted first. The lawyer in the group and I both now had the same puzzled look on our faces. Pat was afraid that if she sent her novel to a publisher, the idea would be stolen if she did not copyright her manuscript before submitting it to prospective publishers.

The lawyer friend explained that the very act of writing something original copyrights her work. If Pat wanted to add a line of copyright to feel more secure, all she had to do was write: Copyright © 2016 Patricia Smythe. While you can’t copyright an idea, you can copyright the story you created with that idea.

Before you panic, stop and think about how many times the idea of two people who keep misreading each other despite being well-suited for each other gets used as a plot.   William Shakespeare, Jane Austen, and Nora Roberts –as well as a few thousand others-have used that plot line. Yet each telling was different.

It was my turn to add that publishers don’t steal manuscripts. First, there is no guarantee that any book is going to sell well. (We only wish there were.) So why ruin your reputation by stealing something that you can publish? In thirty years in this business, I’ve never heard of a case of a manuscript being stolen. Secondly, give the same idea to ten people and you will receive ten different treatments. Ideas are easy. Sitting down and writing a book is hard work. So when you do find a good manuscript, it is just good business to contact an author and make a contract to publish the book.

So finish your book and submit it. Your story is yours.


—Jacquelyn C. Miller