CM January 26, 
1996. Vol. 2, Number 15

image You Make the Difference:
In Helping Your Child Learn.

Ayala Manolson with Barb Ward, and Nancy Doddington. Illustrated by Robin Baird Lewis. Cartoons by Lee Rapp.
Toronto: The Hanen Centre, 1995. 90pp, paper, $15.00.
ISBN 0-921145-06-3.

Subject Headings:
Parent and child.
Child rearing.

Review by Maryleah Otto.


You know your child best and care about him the most. You want to help him grow up to be the best he can be. It's important to remember that

HOW you connect with your young child affects:

-- how he feels about himself
-- his chances to learn

You Make the Difference evolved from the Hanen Centre's three-year project to help language-delayed children in economically disadvantaged areas. The ideas are a simplified version of those presented earlier in It Takes Two to Talk. This book is directed towards parents with low literacy skills, or those for whom English is a second language. So the presentation relies on a minimum of words and the lavish use of simple coloured illustrations, highlighted captions, cartoons, and catchphrases.

The first section emphasizes the necessity of being a "tuned in" parent. That is, one who observes, waits, and listens to their child and then "allows" them to take the lead in parent-child interactions. Next are many examples illustrating the importance of "adapting" to share the moment with the child. Finally, You Make the Difference shows parents how to "add" new words to any experience, thus enriching and expanding the child's vocabulary and comprehension. These three key words -- allow, adapt, add -- form the "3a way" of interacting with children to maximize the development of their language skills.

The second section outlines the application of this theory. Ways to use games, music, crafts, and books are examined in detail. A final chapter deals with alternative discipline or, "how to connect with your child when he's giving you a hard time."

The author's knowledge of child psychology and her personal experience with the programs makes her highly qualified to present the theories in this book. The colourful, playful illustrations (which reflect a multi-racial population) will easily capture the interest of the intended audience. I'd like to have seen some specific examples of games and crafts (there's a recipe for play-clay, but nothing else), and a bibliography of appropriate pre-school picture books. Physically, the book is sturdy, with quality paper and a clear layout.

Public libraries will find this book a worthwhile addition to their collections, as will educators, social-service agencies, public health units, and new parents.


Maryleah Otto is a former children's librarian with the Etobicoke (Toronto) and London, Ontario, Public Libraries, the author of four published books for children, and a member of CONSCRIPT. She has reviewed books regularly for the Ontario Library Association and the Canadian Library Association. She resides in St. Thomas, Ontario where she continues to write for children and adults.

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Copyright © 1996 the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.

Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364

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