bububooks

Helping children develop their American and native cultural identities together.

Archive for March, 2010

Uplifting Women of Our Time

Posted by bububooks on March 26, 2010

In November 2009, we at bububooks had the pleasure of hosting Milka Duno, Indy Car racer, to autograph her book and speak with children and fans during the Miami Book Fair International.  As the Indy season gets underway, we’re excited to watch her progress through this male-dominated sport.  Recently, Milka sat down with a reporter for the New Straits Times while she was in Kuala Lumpur to speak at a conference celebrating International Women’s Day.  You can read that article below.

If you’d like to catch a glimpse at her bilingual children’s book, Go, Milka, Go!/¡Corre, Milka, Corre!, click here.

Scroll down to see Milka Duno’s racing schedule for this season!

New Straits Times
Thursday, March 18, 2010, 01.06 AM

WOMEN: Driving dreams

Milka DunoHispanic beauty Milka Duno shares the ups and downs of being a professional car racer in a male-dominated sport with VIMALA SENEVIRATNE

VENEZUELAN beauty Milka Duno strikes a vampish pose with a mischievous look in her eyes and a white rose tucked behind her right ear.

Showing off her well-toned body to advantage, she’s sexy without being sleazy. “This reminds me of my modelling days while at university,” she says with a smile that can light up a room.

But her Latin American charm has little to do with what she does for a living. Duno is a professional race car driver who loves the challenge of burning tyres at 300kmph, a speed which would land most of us with a ticket.

“I didn’t plan on being a car racer. It was an opportunity that came my way. I tried it and haven’t looked back since,” she says. The former naval engineer and Caracas native was in Kuala Lumpur as one of the speakers at the Women of Independence — The Power of One conference held in conjunction with International Women’s Day recently. She has just finished her presentation and is taking a well-deserved break.

“I haven’t slept well in a long time,” she says while relaxing on a sofa, her right leg comfortably tucked in. “People think that I’m addicted to speed. It heightens your senses, but what I find most thrilling is the challenge. Conquering the challenge is what drives me.

“I thrive on challenges, be it on the race track, in my job or personal life. I compete to win. It’s hard work, but not impossible,” says the thirtysomething who made history last year when she became the first Hispanic woman to compete in the 93 years of the Indy 500 race.

It’s not surprising that her grit and courage have enabled her to take part in just about every major car race in the world — the 24-hour Daytona, Le Mans Series and Indy 500 — while collecting a series of titles such as “first woman to race here”, “win this” and “finish there”. She has eight wins in major sports car races and was recently inducted into the Latin American International Sports Hall of Fame. She now competes in the Indy Car Series. “There are 17 races a year, and next I will be racing in Brazil. I have to be mentally, physically and emotionally prepared.” And how does she do that? “Two hours of workout every day — a combination of weight training, swimming, running and eating healthy meals. Being single also helps as I’m able to concentrate fully on my career,” she says. Duno spends hours practising with her coach. When she gets behind the wheel, her gender takes secondary role. “I’m a driver just like the others in the race. We have only one aim — to win. This is where your co-ordination, skill and experience come into play,” she says.

Duno learnt to drive her mother’s car (without permission) in her teens. She has now set her sights on F1, considered the ultimate car race. “Any serious car racer will tell you that winning takes precise timing, mechanical knowledge, stamina and most of all, unwavering focus. I’m working towards that race.” The second of three children of a sales-manager father and lawyer mother, Duno lives in Miami, Florida.

She once played the role of Kellie “Gearbox”, a race car driver in the Speed Racer movie based on the 1960 classic animated series. “I hadn’t done movies before so it was a good experience. But that’s not where my heart is,” she says.

Duno, who had harboured dreams of becoming a naval engineer, also realised the importance of a good education towards achieving this goal.

“Both my parents, especially my mother, always stressed that a solid education was a stepping stone to achieving one’s dreams. As for my dreams, call it an obsession with the navy,” she says with a giggle. “I used to spend hours at the port watching ships and wondering what kept them afloat.” She enrolled in a naval university and was one of four students from a class of 120 who graduated with a degree. She went on to earn four Masters in Organisational Development, Naval Architecture, Maritime Business and Marine Biology. “I was interested in all those subjects, and I worked as an engineer for a short while,” she explains.

In 1996, she was introduced to car racing when a friend asked her to take part in a Porsche Driving Clinic in Venezuela. She came in second and realised that racing fuelled her passion for challenge and competition. “That did it. I switched careers,” she says. Her parents, she recalls, were aghast. “They wanted me to have a regular job and they feared for my safety. I eventually won them over and now they are my No. 1 fans.” To excel in the sport, she realised that she needed training, knowledge and experience. “That’s how I ended up in Miami, to take up race car driving lessons,” she explains. By 2000, Duno was already in the door of the male-dominated profession.

She devotes her free time to giving talks to children of all ages on the importance of education through the Milka Way programme she set up six years ago. “I hope to inspire and motivate the children to realise their dreams, just as I did mine,” she says.

“It’s rewarding to get letters from young adults thanking me for encouraging them to continue with their education. Many who had dropped out of school or university and went back to complete their studies, are now holding well-paying jobs.” She has also come up with the bilingual children’s book Go, Milka, Go!, which depicts her as a cartoon character teaching the importance of education to children. “I try to show readers the joy of competing and winning and the importance of team effort and determination as necessary tools to a successful life.” And what about her future plans? “Married with lots of children and living happily ever after,” she says with a laugh.

“I’m aware that there will come a day when I will have to leave professional racing. I will concentrate on my Milka programme and maybe produce more children’s books.”

Indycar logo

DATE                                                            VENUE

March 14                                          Streets of Sao Paulo, Brazil

March 28                                         Streets of St. Petersburg, Florida

April 11                                              Barber Motorsports Park, Alabama

April 18                                             Streets of Long Beach, California

May 1                                                  Kansas Speedway, Kansas

May 30                                              Indianapolis 500, Indiana

June 5                                                Texas Motor Speedway, Texas

June 20                                             Iowa Speedway, Iowa

July 4                                                 Watkins Glen International, New York

July 18                                               Streets of Toronto, Canada

July 25                                               Edmonton City Centre Airport, Canada

August 8                                           Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Ohio

August 22                                        Infineon Raceway, Sonoma, California

August 28                                        Chicagoland Speedway, Illinois

September 4                                   Kentucky Speedway, Kentucky

September 18                                 Twin Ring Motegi, Japan

October 2                                         Homestead-Miami Speedway, Florida

For more information, visit Milka’s official website.

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ReadOn 2010: Open Books’ Read-a-thon for literacy!

Posted by bububooks on March 12, 2010

Open Books is an up and coming non-profit organization in Chicago that is making big strides in promoting literacy amongst children.  They’re hosting a read-a-thon fundraiser during the month of May. Check out the info below.  Be sure to contact us to be one of your pledgers! Email us at: Service@bububooks.com

readon2010

Join the Open Books Associate Board for ReadOn 2010!, our first annual read-a-thon to raise funds for our literacy programming!

By signing up as a Reader and collecting pledges, you’ll help us spread the love of reading and writing to the 3,000+ children we serve, including those in our one-on-one Buddies program in Chicago schools.


WHEN:

May 1-26, 2010


WHO:

Readers of all ages, around Chicago and across the country! Adults (participants 13 and older) will track their progress by pages read and children (participants under age 13) will track books read.


HOW:

Sign up as a Reader, gather pledges, and read your way to your goal! Don’t have time to participate? You can sponsor any participating Reader, or one of our participating Buddies schools.

PRIZES:

All Readers will be entered in a raffle. We have special prizes for top fundraisers and readers, too!

EVENTS:

Read-ins, book discussions, author events, and more!

SIGN UP TODAY!

http://www.open-books.org/events/readon2010


Have questions or want additional information?
Contact Stacy Shafer Peterson,
ssp@open-books.org
312.475.1355 x117

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You Can Lead a Child to Books…

Posted by bububooks on March 6, 2010

Language Magazine’s Editorial in the January 2010 issue focused on the importance of enjoying reading in order to develop literacy skills.  I really liked the editor’s viewpoint and got permission to reprint the article here for you.  If you’d like more information on or to subscribe to Language Magazine: The Journal of Communication and Education, please visit their website, www.languagemagazine.com.

Language and literacy are the tools with which knowledge is built.  Without their acquisition, no child has the chance to become an astronaut, a scientist, a doctor, a movie star, or even a musician.  Without aspirations, children cannot flourish and life loses some of its magic.  Yet, we continue to deny so many of our children the opportunity to develop their own language and literacy skills by refusing them access to books that are suitable for them and might even excite them.
According to a newly released study (see News, p. 10 by the American Association of School Librarians (AASL), in more than 90 percent of school libraries, books in languages other than English account for less than five percent of the collection and, in nearly 60 percent of school libraries, they account for less than one percent. While nearly 14 percent of responding schools reported that at least 25 percent of their students were English Language Learners (ELLs) and a quarter of all respondents rated free-choice reading as the most effective ELL initiative.
Now, I can already hear the English-only brigade proclaiming that all books in school libraries in America should be in English because that’s the language spoken here, but even the most hardened English-only advocate must appreciate that children will never become literate in any language if they don’t enjoy reading. And reading in a second language is hard work at first —imagine being obliged to pick up War and Peace every night for your bedtime read.
Librarians consider “school-wide reading initiatives that encourage free choice reading” to be the most effective teaching strategy for ELLs. Many teachers and experts agree (see Opinion, p.26). Restocking our school and public libraries with books that will interest today’s kids is a relatively low cost policy with no drawbacks and an enormous upside. Not only is it a long term investment which will serve children for many years to come, but, for those who are counting, nearly all the money will end up with American publishers (yes, there are many American publishers of books in languages other than English) so the investment will satisfy stimulus package requirements.
Britain’s Cambridge University recently released the results of a three-year study (see News p.11) into elementary education, which warns “that prescribed pedagogy combined with high stakes testing and the national curriculum amounted to a ‘state theory of learning.’ Prepackaged, government approved lessons are not good for a democracy, nor for children’s education…Pupils do not learn to think for themselves if their teachers are expected to do as they are told.” This completely contradicts the blindly accepted notion that more standards and testing make better schools —the basis for the federal education funding.
Another $250 million was allocated to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) teaching earlier this month. About the same amount of funding would buy an appropriate library book for every child in public school across the nation. Instead of pinning all its hopes of school reform success on standards, assessment, and incentive schemes, the government, like all wise investors, should spread its bets.

Daniel Ward, Editor

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Repost of an excellent article on bilingual children, the benefits for children, challenges for parents and tips for success

Posted by bububooks on March 2, 2010

We’ve already shared this article on Facebook and Twitter, but we love it so much we decided to post it here too!  You can find the original article at: www.northjersey.com

Raising multilingual children
Monday, March 1, 2010
BY KATHRYN DAVIS
THE PARENT PAPER

We live in a multilingual world. It is not uncommon to walk down the street in any U.S. city and hear several different languages being spoken. Around the world, children are learning English as a second language at a very young age, enabling them to develop the skills necessary to interact with people all over the globe. There is no doubt about the benefits of being able to communicate in more than one language. Such ability offers the opportunity for independence, whether for business, education, leisure or travel.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, about 10 million children between the ages of 5 and 17, or about 20 percent of children over 5, already speak a language other than English at home. Experts are citing more and more evidence of the benefits of multilingual development from an early age. While there has been some suggestion that learning a second language can delay speech acquisition and language development, research demonstrates otherwise.

More and more parents are seeking to provide their children with the advantages that bilingualism offers. That goal leads to some basic questions. When does language acquisition start? When and how should children begin learning a second language?

The basics

The young mind, particularly in infancy, is malleable. In the first few months, crying, whimpering and cooing are the primary forms of communication. Soon a baby starts to distinguish individual sounds and will begin to mimic those sounds or syllables. He will learn to distinguish between “ma” and “da” and will start to babble.

Vocalization is a baby’s way of entertaining himself, but it is also how he discovers ways to use his mouth, his tongue and vocal chords to make sounds. At one point, his speech may sound almost as though he is making sense. This is because his tones and patterns are based on the language he hears around him. Eventually, these babblings will develop into individual words that will facilitate true communication. The individual phonemes, or words sounds, that develop are primarily based on the language spoken in the home. Young children who hear more than one language develop additional sounds and, eventually, additional words that represent concepts, objects or people.

Programs that teach infants sign language have claimed to help babies as young as 10 months to communicate, before they are able to articulate with words. Experts say learning to communicate through a second language, even sign language, can be beneficial to cognitive development. However, raising a bilingual child requires a commitment of consistency in the long-term.

In her article, “Two or More Languages in Early Childhood: Some General Points and Practical Recommendations,” Annick De Houwer of the University of Antwerp and Science Foundation in Flanders, Belgium says, “A prevailing idea is that it is very easy for children to learn a new language and that hardly any effort is involved. However, learning language, even one, is a process that takes many years.”

While it is true that language acquisition is easier when it is done at a young age, it is the opportunities to hear and use a language consistently over time that brings success. De Houwer points out, “Languages are very complex. To learn all their complexities, one needs a lot of life experience…The environment plays an important role in learning to speak. Children learn to speak only when they hear people talk to them in many different circumstances.”

Pros and cons

Is there a downside to bilingualism? Not so many years ago, the prevailing wisdom was that children who learn to speak two languages tended to confuse the two, interchanging words from both languages in their speech, even within the same sentence. However, studies have shown otherwise.

Researchers at the University of British Columbia and Ottawa studied infants to find out whether the demand of acquiring more sounds and words leads to differences in language development. The experiment involved repeatedly presenting two different objects labeled as “bih” and “dih.” In every group tested, the bilingual infants noticed the change in the object’s name at a later age (20 months vs. 17 months) than the monolingual babies. While this may seem like the monolingual infants were more successful, the researchers theorized that the bilingual infants were focusing more on making a connection between objects and words, rather than just attending to details of sound.

Another study of 40 7-month-old babies by The Language, Cognition, and Development Lab at the International School for Advanced Studies in Trieste, Italy also suggests exposure to more than one language at an early age has benefits. Half of the babies in this study came from homes where two different languages were spoken. The experiment involved using a computer where characters were displayed on one of two screens just after word-like sounds were played. Researchers tested the babies’ ability to anticipate upon which screen a character would appear based on various sounds. Only the babies from the bilingual homes were able to use the newly learned sounds to predict where the cartoon would appear. The author of the study, Jacques Mehler, points out that this skill can apply to more than just the ability to switch between languages.

Experts say babies raised in a bilingual environment may exhibit some slight delays in speech development, but that delay is only temporary. Overall, the benefits can be far-reaching.

According to Carey Myles, author of Raising Bilingual Children, “Bilingual language skills have also been correlated with improved cognitive performance in children. According to the Center for Applied Linguistics in Washington, D.C., bilinguals take a more creative approach to problem-solving, read earlier on average than their monolingual peers, and score higher on standardized tests like the SAT.”

Beyond the obvious benefits of a second language, Myles points out, “…language is a powerful factor in shaping a child’s identity. When children in bilingual families understand the culture of each parent, family bonds are strengthened.”

Giving children fluency in more than one language is possible, but it is not simple. Parents should have realistic expectations about the process and results of raising a bilingual child. “Even parents able to spend every summer in the ‘home country’ or to enroll their children in language immersion programs at school may find that their children’s language proficiency is not exactly the same in each language,” Myles notes. “The good news is that this is completely normal and what most adult bilinguals typically experience, too.”

Methods of instruction

Families wishing to promote their child’s second language acquisition have options. One parent, one language, (OPOL) is one method in which each parent speaks only one language. In this way, the child learns to distinguish between the two languages. Another method is the “home language approach.” Here the family speaks one language inside the home, while the child acquires the community’s language outside the home. A third option is immersion, often done through a formal program.

“I think there are probably as many ways as there are families,” says Myles. “Parents should consider their situation and what resources they have to support their minority language. I don’t think one can say a certain method is better than others; although I don’t think artificial schedules, like French at dinnertime, really work.”

There are drawbacks to any method. Myles points out that when only one parent is providing exposure to a second language, “it can be hard on that parent. With limited exposure to the minority language, children are naturally stronger in the majority language. It is not uncommon for a parent in that situation to give up using the minority language exclusively with the children, in favor of better communication.”

Some parents turn to immersion programs through formal education at schools like the French Academy of Bergen County. “At 2 years old, 90 percent of the curriculum is taught in French,” explains Executive Director Anne-Sophie Gueguen. “As the children get older, the number of hours taught in English slowly increases.”

By the time children are in fourth grade, Gueguen says they receive equal teaching in both French and English. “The ultimate goal at FABC is to raise children equally in both languages.”

Gueguen understands the advantages of speaking two languages, citing skills many do not usually associate with language. “The intellectual stimulation involved in learning two languages, knowing two words for one meaning, reinforces abstraction and problem solving skills. The benefits of this stimulation are remarkable in math.”

Another way children often “pick up” a second language is referred to as “receptive bilingualism.” In this case, children understand the minority language spoken at home, but do not speak it. “This kind of bilingualism is more common than people realize in the United States,” says Myles. There are ways in which parents can encourage children to speak their second language. Sometimes parents tell their children that the grandparents do not understand English. “Some parents simply don’t respond until rebellious older children use the appropriate language,” Myles explains.

No matter which method parents use, reading books is an excellent means of supporting language acquisition. Early language development depends on vocabulary development. Parents can take advantage of this time spent reading with their children to encourage vocabulary growth in both languages. In fact, any time parents read with their children, the benefits are extensive and it is never too soon to begin this practice.

Though most children who grow up with two languages do so because they live in bilingual homes, there are an increasing number of parents who make the choice of bilingualism for their children. The advantages of a second language are clear, and that’s the same in any language.

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