Put Those Devices Down: Children’s Lit Professor Advises Gifting Interactive Books to Build Children’s Socio-Emotional Skills

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In Age of Technology, National Louis University Expert Provides Holiday Gift List of 30 Books to Foster Kids’ Interpersonal Skills

A children’s book expert and professor at National Louis University says there’s nothing wrong with children using devices, but recommends balancing them with interactive books that build social skills. She suggests gift-givers consider this selection of 30 interactive books for the children on their holiday lists.

Children interact individually with their devices, which leads some to fear they aren’t developing social skills. However, the interactive books are designed to foster social skills and emotional intelligence. Their fold-out pages, hands-on activities and shared reading encourage children to learn and laugh with the adults in their lives.

Toby Rajput, assistant professor and children’s literature librarian at National Louis University in Chicago, Illinois, has curated this holiday gift list of 30 books. In addition to nurturing emotional intelligence, they also build children’s reading skills.

The recommendations include scrapbooks bursting with maps that fold out, mini-books with real pages and an envelope with a letter inside to take out and read. Other recommended books are bursting with drawings of animals, are whimsically illustrated, or are filled with funny rhyming lines for adults and children to take turns reading out loud, and then laugh together.

Children who would like a book of fairy tales or witty adventures will find them on the list. It also includes books with themed recipes, like Runaway Pancake or Hansel and Gretel’s gingerbread. Children also will enjoy reading “The Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly,” where they actually take the fly, the spider who swallowed the fly, the bird who swallowed the spider, etc., out of the mouth of the cloth doll that accompanies each book.

"While technology certainly has an important place in children’s learning, parents need to create a healthy sense of balance," says Rajput. "Adults should deliberately introduce face-to-face interaction with children to build their people skills."

Rajput also gives a few “teacher tips” to help parents increase children’s learning and sense of wonder.

View the holiday gift list at http://www.nl.edu/holidaybooks2016.

Toby Rajput, who teaches classes for students planning to become educators in the elementary grades, appears in a video where she displays and describes some of the recommended books. Rajput also is available for interviews.

About National Louis University
Founded in 1886, National Louis is a nonprofit, non-denominational University offering bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in fields of education, management, human services, counseling, public policy, and others concerned with human and community development. From its inception, National Louis has provided educational access to adult, immigrant and minority populations – a mission it sustains today. National Louis is well-known for an exceptional history in teacher preparation, and continues to be a leader in educating future teachers and community leaders to succeed in urban environments. For more information, visit http://www.nl.edu.

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Kellie Kennedy

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