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There is no better feeling than that of spending time happily engaged with a child. And we know from emerging research into brain development that children get more out of the time and attention adults spend on them than previously believed.

You may have heard the phrase “parents are a child’s first teacher.” This idea that the primary adults in a child’s life are their most important influence is true not simply about learning language or how to hold a spoon, but also in establishing lifelong values. When an adult includes a child in activities they enjoy – whether music, drawing, reading, building, or anything else – the child associates that experience with the shared good feeling.

Intrigued? Museum staff and Dover Public Library‘s Children’s Librarian Kathleen Thorner have compiled this reading list to help you make the most of family learning experiences.

These books peek inside the developing brain to help us better understand just what babies know, when they know it, and how they learn:

Einstein Never Used Flashcards: How Our Children Really Learn – And Why They Need to Play More and Memorize Less by Kathy Hirsch-Pasek and Roberta Michnick Golinkoff with Diane Eyer. 2003

The Scientist in the Crib: What Early Learning Tells Us About the Mind by Allison Gopnick, Andrew Meltzoff and Patricia K. Kuhl. 1999

Eager to Learn: Educating our Preschoolers, the National Research Council, National Academy Press. 2000.

Here are some resources to help you plan outdoor adventures with your family:

Best Hikes with Kids. Vermont, New Hampshire & Maine by Cynthia Copeland, Thomas Lewis & Emily Kerr. 2007

New Hampshire Off the Beaten Path 8th: a guide to unique places by Barbara Radcliffe Rogers. 2009

These books are packed with ideas for how to feed the imagination and spirit of the children who share your home:

Winnie the Pooh’s Rainy Day Activities by Sharon Harper. 2002

Kitchen Science by Peter Pentland. 2003

I’m a Scientist: Kitchen by Lisa Burke. 2010

I’m a Scientist: Backyard by Lisa Burke. 2010

Festivals, Family & Food by Diana Carey. 1996

The Nature Corner by M.V. Leeuwen. 1990

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