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Family valued 9.8.04 

The soul of reading

Many books have fed me over the years. The books I knew and loved as a child took root in my soul, where they've lived for a lifetime. And now, when I see these books, it's like finding a lost love, or reconnecting with a soul I knew in another life. I want to crawl inside these books and soak up all that they offer. From my earlier years, it's been the illustrations that have elicited this response.

Anytime I see a Little House book on the library shelf, and glimpse the Garth Williams illustrations, I catch my breath. They are so simple and rich and dear. They immediately transport me back to the days I spent lost in Laura Ingalls's world.

I always enjoy the artwork of Maurice Sendak, yet the illustrations in the Little Bear series, by Else Holmelund Minarik, are especially exquisite.

I happily lost myself in the world of Betsy-Tacy-Tib in the series by Maud Hart Lovelace. The illustrations by Lois Lenski (who also illustrated her own lovely books) simply and sweetly show childhood in times gone by.

And last, possibly my favorite of all, showing the absolute joy and simplicity of children and trees, is A Tree is Nice by Janice May Udry. The text is lovely, but the illustrations by Marc Simont take my breath away. They draw me in so that I ache to crawl into those pages and join the children climbing trees.

What books are feeding your children? Perhaps, if they are lucky, there are some that will feed them forever.

--- Lynn Malooly

This week for families:

Interfaith Forum Essay Contest Deadline: Oct 29. Theme: Building community, bridging our differences, grades 9-12. Info:

RMSC Strasenburgh Planetarium 657 East Ave. Pink Floyd Laser: Sat 9 p.m.; A Trip to Saturn and Pluto: Sat 1 p.m.; Pulse: A Stomp Odyssey: Wed-Fri 4 p.m.; Sat 2, 3, 4, 8 p.m.; Sun 1, 2, 3, 4 p.m.; I See the Sky: Sat 9:30 a.m.; The Sky Tonight: Sat 10:30 a.m.; Tix: $4-$7. 271-1880

Rochester Museum and Science Center 657 East Ave. 60 Second Science Saturday, Sat, Sept 11, 1-3 p.m. Free. | GetCharged Family Fun Day, Sun, Sept 12, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. | Surprise! It's Science, through May 2005. | Rochester's Frederick Douglass, through January 2006. | Live Science! demos and theater, Wed-Fri 3:30 p.m.; Sat 2, 3, 4 p.m.; Sun 1:30, 2:30, 3:30 p.m. Sat 3 p.m. show sign-interpreted. | Ongoing exhibits include: AdventureZone, Carlson Inquiry Room, At the Western Door. | Hours: Mon-Sat 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Sun 12-5 p.m. Tix: $5-$7. 271-1880,

Seneca Park Zoo 2222 St Paul St. Tonia Loran-Galban, Sat, Sept 11, Native American stories, 11:15 a.m.-12 p.m. Hours: daily 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tix: $5, $4 seniors, $2 kids. 467-9453,

Slip and Slide Night Fri, Sept 10. Swimming, water slides, and ice skating, Genesee Valley Park Complex, 131 Elmwood Ave, 9 p.m.-12 a.m. $4, $2 kids. 428-7888

Strong Museum 1 Manhattan Square. Grandparent's Weekend, Sat-Sun, Sept 11-12, Sat 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Sun 12-5 p.m. | Long-term exhibits include National Toy Hall of Fame, Can You Tell Me How To Get To Sesame Street? and Super Kids Market. Hours: Mon-Thurs 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Fri 10 a.m.-8 p.m.; Sat 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Sun 12-5 p.m. Tix: $7; $6 seniors, students; $5 children. 263-2700

Sign with your baby

"Mommy? I want a cracker and a banana. Thank you!"

That's what my 15-month-old daughter told me when we went into the kitchen this morning. Except she didn't speak it, she signed it.

I learned about Baby Signs before my daughter was born, and I knew that most babies would be able to use sign language before learning to speak. During her first year, I learned several signs and used them with her regularly. While I saw her noticing them, I wasn't sure she'd catch on.

Then one day, after a rousing game of patty-cake, she made the "again" sign. We were hooked!

My daughter is rapidly becoming verbal, but that isn't rendering her signing obsolete. Rather, she's had the opportunity to double or triple her vocabulary. She can communicate concepts and ideas to me that would otherwise be beyond her ability, and that cuts down on tantrums, whining, and frustration for both of us. She can also communicate with other caregivers, which makes babysitting easier on everyone. She's become very creative in expressing herself, devising new signs as needed.

We learned through the website, which has videos demonstrating ASL signs, and the Baby Signs board books. Sign language has greatly demystified my toddler's little proto-brain; I highly recommend it.

--- Dawn Straight (

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