Tag Archives: parenting

Time to step up your baby talk game

kidThe literature investigating developmental differences between children from affluence and from poverty is both large and controversial. Many studies present evidence that children from impoverished homes have weaker language skills and delays in reading that cause them to lag behind their peers in school. This topic has always been fraught with controversy because it lies at the intersection of child development, racial politics, and demographic discrimination.

A recently published study examined language skills in VERY young children, 18-24 months old, from different socio-economic backgrounds. The differences they found were surprising and raise questions about how we raise our children. Continue reading

The Gruffalo, a spoken word performance

Last night I was requested to do independent readings of the British children’s classic The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson & Axel Scheffler.

For Punkface MacGruder, my younger child, I performed Donaldson’s rhymes as a really bad beat poet (apologies to all beat poets that still exist).

My older child, The Frogger, requested that I do voices*.

Here are my Gruffalo voice inspirations:

Narrator – Me
Mouse – Cary Elwes
Fox – Greg Proops doing Jeremy Irons
Owl – Greg Proops doing Merv Griffin**
Snake – Peter Lorre
Gruffalo – Ted Levine as Buffalo Bill in The Silence of the Lambs

*There is also a BBC Animated Short based on The Gruffalo. They made somewhat different casting choices.

**It is really based on what I remembered it sounding like. I relistened to that chunk of The Smartest Man in the World and it sounds nothing like what I remembered. Stupid primate neurology.

Dewey Decimal Easter Egg?

“Super Why!” Logo (Fair Use)

My kids force me to watch a number of shows I would never have watched on my own that I actually find quite enjoyable, like My Little Pony and Scooby-Doo: Mystery Incorporated. Others, like, Super Why!, well, not so much. It is fine. I just happen to not be an illiterate four year-old, putting me outside their target demographic. Continue reading


Human population structure is such that it would require either (or both) a strong selection pressure or a big increase in fitness for natural selection to dominate the evolutionary dynamics. I submit as evidence that humans were not subject to intense selection pressure from predation one word: crying, specifically the crying of small children.

The idea that a primitive band of reproductively successful humans could remain hidden from things like leopards boggles the mind of this father. And, I have thought this for a long time, before I had children. It is in no way related to the fundamental conflicts generated by bed time and potty training in the mind of a two year old child. Nothing at all.

The Layers of “The Unfeathered Bird”

The Unfeathered Bird by Katrina van Grouw

My copy of Katrina van Grouw‘s The Unfeathered Bird demanded to be placed on my coffee table. In the same way that everything about a cheetah says fast, everything about The Unfeathered Bird says coffee table book. There are 385 illustrations of 200 bird species. It is 287 pages long and weighs a couple of kilograms. When a book like that asks space on your coffee table, you ask “how much space?”. Fortunately, I have a sturdy coffee table.

I also have two small children (hence the sturdy coffee table). As a result, my first encounter with the content between the covers was not the orderly perusal with wine I had been planning for that night. Instead, it started with my 4-year-old, The Frogger, opening The Unfeathered Bird and asking, while staring at an immaculate illustration of a skinned bird foot, “Daddy, what is this book about?”

“It’s a book about birds. It shows you the insides of birds so we can learn how they work.” Continue reading