Everyone wants to help their kids get a head start on learning to read, and that’s just what the new Smart Start series seeks to do. The Smart Start series is based on the idea that vocabulary development, even before children start preschool, is absolutely essential to their development as readers. These books, created by three leading child development experts, give parents the tools to have engaging and productive conversations with their kids that foster higher levels of thinking and early literacy.
The three books I had a chance to review were Around My House, Let's Play, and Let's Go to the Market. They were fun and made it easy to have a dialogue with my kids about these three situations. They're common things that kids can relate to, and provide a great way to get some foundational vocabulary - not just while you're reading the books, but then as they see similar things throughout their day. Although my kids are a little older than the target market, it was fun for us to talk about daily experiences in a kid-friendly way.
Nancy Hertzog, PhD, is a professor in the area of educational psychology at the University of Washington and the director of the Halbert and Nancy Robinson Center for Young Scholars. From 1995–2010, she held a faculty position in the Department of Special Education and directed University Primary School, an inclusive early childhood setting that serves children from preschool through first grade at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her primary area of interest relates to ways that teachers engage and challenge all students.
Ellen Honeck, PhD, is the dean of Gifted and Talented Academy for Laurel Springs School. She has been in the field of gifted education for more than eighteen years, serving in a variety of roles. Her experience ranges from classroom teacher (preschool through eighth grade), school administrator, adjunct professor, facilitator for professional development opportunities, presenter at conferences (local, national, and international), and as a consultant for gifted education.
Barbara Dullaghan, MEd, is currently the elementary gifted and talented coordinator for Bloomington Public Schools in Minnesota. Her experience ranges from classroom teacher, educational consultant, facilitator of professional development, published author, and conference presenter. Dullaghan cocreated a school-within-a-school for highly gifted children for grades 2–8 that now services over three hundred students. She is also a National Board Certified Teacher.