TRAVERSE CITY -- A decade ago, funding for the gifted was assured. Then came No Child Left Behind.
In its wake, funding for gifted students has shrunk and teachers are struggling to meet basic requirements. That leaves them little time to cater to the needs of bright readers, who "wilt on the vine if they're not reading something that's a challenge," said Judith Halsted.
Halsted is author of "Some of My Best Friends Are Books," created to help parents, teachers and librarians bring books and gifted kids together. Now in its third edition, the book was first published in 1988 as "Guiding Gifted Readers" and is still a top seller for publisher Great Potential Press, said Director of Marketing Kristina Grant-Reid. The 2009 edition won an iparenting Media Award and a National Best Books Award in the parenting/family category from USA Book News.
In the new edition, Halsted suggests more than 300 books for readers of all ages, selected to promote intellectual and emotional development. The book also includes information on how to encourage reading, how to organize book discussions and how to use books to address issues and characteristics common to gifted readers such as identity, aloneness, differentness, creativity, perfectionism and the drive to understand.
"There's been a lot more research on social and emotional needs of children," said Halsted, a librarian-turned-gifted educator-turned-certified educational planner. "Now there's more awareness that everybody needs to be recognized as the individual they are." Instead of "squelching themselves to fit in, which puts them in a box and curtails what they're able to accomplish," gifted children should be encouraged to accept and celebrate who they are, she added.
"I think a lot of it depends on how adults respond. If an adult can welcome a child who may know more than they do and encourage that, the child is in a healthy atmosphere," she said.