5 articles I loved this week. (Weekly Smart Picks #46)

Happy Friday...and almost Pi Day! In honor of the day, I'll remind everyone to check out Talking Math With Your Kids, a fabulous blog for incorporating math into everyday conversations with kids.

Also, yesterday marked the end of SxSW Edu, but you can still catch up on the keynote and a variety of sessions via video and podcast.  

Enjoy this week's articles

Are we nurturing little narcissists?

When our kids do something amazing, we want to tell them as much. But how do we praise them? Consider how you acknowledge your child's accomplishments, from stacking blocks to music recitals. Now, listen to this story and see the kind of impact differences in our language and parenting perspective can make in the long term. 

Photo: NPR via GraphicaArtis/Corbis


The diversity gap in children's book publishing is getting smaller, for now. 

Every year, the Cooperative Children's Book Center (CCBC) releases data about the number of children's books by and about people of color. This year, the numbers look better. I really appreciated this post by publisher and long-time advocate for diversity in kids' books, Lee and Low, that includes an updated infographic and three observations about this year's statistics. Another perspective on this same topic made the rounds last week, about the world of children's books still lacking diversity, despite these positive trends.
Image: Lee and Low Books


7 things every kid should master

A developmental psychologist, Susan Engel, has reviewed hundreds of studies of K-12 tests. While she thinks it is okay to administer tests, she argues that we are not testing for the skills we truly value and want our children to master. She lays out seven things we might consider prioritizing in this article.
Image: Boston Globe, Greg Mably


What are the privacy pitfalls as technology proliferates in our schools?
This is an exciting time in education technology. But as teachers and schools adopt new apps that are often free (to start), this has left, "school district technology directors scrambling to keep track of which companies are collecting students' information-- and how they are using it." This article explores the challenge, which is evolving and complicated, especially because we want to give kids cutting edge technology and opportunities, but also need to protect them. 
Photo: Ilana Panich-Linsman for The New York Times


Manipulating everyday objects can spark creativity and help us focus.
This article addresses adults, and explains new research about how playing with objects at our desks can help clear our minds. This is part of a field of study about how "physical movement and environment may shape cognitive functioning." I see this as relevant for our kids, too. Do you find yourself frustrated when your child fidgets with objects as you read to him/her? Find yourself annoyed when your child keeps clicking the retractable pen over and over? There are so many instances when this data might change the way we view our children's actions and may also help us give them more tools to break through restlessness or inability to focus. 
Photo: Natalie Peeples for Wall Street Journal