This is your kid’s brain on books

Taking away screens and reading to our children during the formative years of birth to age 5 boosts brain development. We all know that’s true, but now science can convince us with startling images.

This is the brain of a preschooler who is often read to by a caregiver.

The red areas in this scan show a growth in organized white matter in the language and literacy areas of the child’s brain, areas that will support learning in school.

This is the brain of a preschooler who likely spends an average of two hours a day playing on screens.

The blue in this image shows massive underdevelopment and disorganization of white matter in the same areas needed to support learning in school.

‘Nuff said?

Recently, I mentioned – not for the first time – my mother’s practice of walking my sister and me to the neighborhood public library for our week’s worth of books every Saturday morning. A 3-mile round trip. I should also mention she taught each of us to read before we entered public school. Age 4.

Region by region, switch to renewable energy continues

Tri-State Generation and Transmission, the power supplier for Southwest Colorado, announced Wednesday it plans to build solar arrays in the region as part of a larger plan to replace coal-fired power plants in Colorado and New Mexico.

Tri-State announced last week it plans to close the Escalante Station near Prewitt, New Mexico, by the end of 2020 and the Craig Station and Colowyo Mine in northwest Colorado by 2030. The move will eliminate Tri-State’s coal emissions in both states.

To help replace the power produced by those plants, Tri-State plans to build eight new solar and wind projects by 2024, enough to power more than 800,000 homes, Tri-State CEO Duane Highley said. The projects will increase the percentage of renewable power consumed by Tri-State customers from about 33% to 50% by 2024.

The transition is expected to drive lower rates for customers because the price of renewable power has fallen by 85% in 10 years and is cheaper than any form of fossil fuel, he said. He described the savings as a “green-energy dividend” that will also allow Tri-State to pay off its coal-power plants on an accelerated timetable…

Way too much good sense at play here for the clown show in Congress and the White House. Can you imagine for-real leadership away from polluting 19th Century technology and into renewable energy sources coming from either of the two old parties?

And so it begins…

Under the parental oversight of public libraries bill, which has been proposed by Missouri Republican Ben Baker, panels of parents would be elected to evaluate whether books are appropriate for children. Public hearings would then be held by the boards to ask for suggestions of potentially inappropriate books, with public libraries that allow minors access to such titles to have their funding stripped. Librarians who refuse to comply could be fined and imprisoned for up to one year.

Titles including Sherman Alexie’s award-winning The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five and Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak, a young adult novel about the rape of a teenager, have all come under fire in Missouri over the last decade.

PEN America’s deputy director of free expression research and policy, James Tager, called Baker’s bill a “shockingly transparent attempt to legalise book banning in the state of Missouri”…

No one’s trying to keep parents from interacting with librarians, right now, over guiding children through the public library system. And that’s properly a two-way street.

When I was 8, I’d read everything of interest to me in the children’s section of our public library branch. When the head librarian questioned my request for an adult card, it took my mother interceding to get permission. No extra burden on her – since she’d started the reading habit in both me and my kid sister by walking us to the library and back every Saturday morning to pick out books for the week.

Best habit she ever gave me.