This week on Facebook I ran into another instance of someone asserting that overpopulation is a problem:

And I disagree wholeheartedly with the author’s belief that overpopulation is not a problem. The numbers are clear. If every family had 5 children (like the author) This planet would run out of space to house all of these people in only a few generations.

(In a response to this article.

Seriously? People still believe that?

Collecting some links here so I can find them next time I get into one of those discussions.

America’s Baby Bust

Forget Overcrowding. The World Population Could Start Declining

World population chart from the Census Bureau

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  • Meg gave lots of good advice …. Reading fluency comes at such variable ages: my three were all **very** different.

    When my eldest was your Bella’s age he was asking/begging me to teach him to read. He was close but needed help over the hump. I sat his down at bedtime every evening with the Dr Suess ABC book and he would go through, one page per night. By the end, reading had “clicked” for him. I think it was his self-motivation that did it for him, more than anything else.

    With my youngest (now almost 11) …. I just asked the kids, because I honestly couldn’t recall ‘how’, exactly, he learnt to read! He himself stared at me blankly and it was his older sister who called from the other room: “By reading Jack and Annie [Magic Tree House series] and TinTin to himself.” Ahh! Then I remembered. This particular child was determined to read those books, and also wanted to work it through on his own.

    For a long time the only reading my daughter would do was alone in her room (books on birds, aged 8), or picture books to her younger brother when I was out of the room — he’d tell me about it later, and narrate the books! Very funny. Anyhow, for her, fluent reading of sophisticated material came at age 10, when we began studying Latin.

    For each of my kids, allowing reading-readiness to arrive on it’s own, meant that when reading “clicked” it did so rapidly, with little stress. But if I’d ever push …. Watch out! (Which is funny, in a way, because no other academic subject produces such a knee-jerk reaction, but then, that’s one of the ways in which literacy is unique, and very different from, ‘academia’.).

  • About that bridge I’m jumping off…

    smile smile smile

    Three sewing at once! I’m impressed—not sure I have the fortitude. smile

    If you have felt you could duplicate the Winky Cherry projects yourself. Cut out two matching shapes, simple ones like the bird in the Rilla photo. Big hearts might be nice, this week… Pin them together, one on top of the other. Take a black pen or marker and make small dots all the way around the edge of the top shape, about a quarter inch from the edge, quarter inch apart—the stitch guide. She has them start with overstitch, coming up from the bottom through the stitch dot. (First stitch comes from between the two layers to hide the knot.) Up from the bottom, pull thread through, bring needle around to the bottom again. Leave an opening near the end for stuffing, then finish it up and hide the knot between the layers. Oh, right! To secure the final knot she has you come up through the same hole three times.

    I thought coming up through the hole (on the top layer) from beneath might be too hard for Rilla, but she did pretty well. I wonder if you could reverse it for the younger kids—have them poke through the hole from the top and go down.

  • Hi Melanie,
    I’m a long time reader and first time commenter.  I just wanted to mention the book Stairstep Farm (Anna Rose’s Story) by Anne Pellowski.  It is the third book in a series.  Reading “clicks” for the little girl when she is organizing the spices at home (sounding out cinnamon).  She is really excited but then there is a death in the family (a grandpa if I remember right) so she doesn’t get a chance to show her mom that she can read right away.  My daughter is 5 and she enjoyed all of the books in the series that we were able to get our hands on.  My daughter really resists any “lessons” too, and frankly I think she thought the Bob books were just too boring. 
    I really enjoy your blog and congratulations on the new baby!

  • Bella is probably old enough to start printed kits.  Cross stitch would be good, if she wants to do real embroidery.

    I got a really boring counted cross stitch ornament kit from my mom a couple of Christmases ago – its the sort of thing I would have done at 12 and not especially interesting now – and David begs to learn whenever he finds it in the rubble.  I need to find him a latch hook kit or something.

    Okay, reading heroines.  …  All I’ve got is Mairelon the Magician, and I think that’s both too YA and probably not to her taste – too much fantasy.  And Kim learning to read is only a side note, it’s not essential to the story.

  • Eep!  Note on kits for Bella, printed cross stitch, not counted!

    Having a project with instructions may also help tip her over the edge into reading, now that I think about it.

  • More reading thoughts: comics? Tintin was what tipped Beanie over the edge. She pored over them for ages. Maybe Zita the Spacegirl, Bird & Squirrel, Calvin and Hobbes?

  • What about Little Women? She’s too young for parts, I’m sure, but maybe certain parts. The cozy sister moments around reading and writing stories might be attractive to her.

  • Off topic—Bella is a beauty!

    Would Bella be interested in creating flash cards of the alphabet for Sophie?  Each with a letter and her own drawing of an object beginning with the letter—then she could “teach” Sophie and/or Ben and arrange them into simple words, etc.  She would be directing the show and reinforcing her own learning.

  • Given the overall tone of your homeschooling effort, I would not worry about reading per se.  Bella knows what it is and how it works.  Some kids “click” later than others, and the whole thrust of at least one “brand” of educational thinking (Waldorf) is that kids should learn to read much later than they currently do.  I think Waldorf schools won’t teach reading until children are nine or so.

    I suspect that having Mom read to her – special time with Mom – may also be something Bella doesn’t want to give up.  In a largish family, kids find ways to get the attention they need.  Bella is a dramatic kid who needs a lot of attention, so why would she be willing to give up being read to?

    It may be that she will learn to read only when Sophie does.  Positive peer pressure can accomplish a lot!

    The other suggestion I have is that you find a way to drop a book at the exciting point, frequently, to do something in the house:  cook dinner, move the wash along, cleaning, whatever.

    If I think of a learn-to-read character, I’ll let you know.  Laura Ingalls is NOT the one:  she is school-resistant because she is shy.  Then again, she ends up as a schoolteacher.  So maybe those stories will help, if you discuss how Laura’s attitude toward school is different from her attitude toward learning.

    Maybe a good kid’s biography of Abraham Lincoln (I’m thinking of the D’Aulaire book here) would help.

  • Melanie, I love the TinTin books — have since I was a,little girl — but I don’t read them aloud either!! When I mentioned my middle child learning to read with them, I meant literally just that: he taught himself, using (in part) those books (along with the Jack and Annies). With TinTin, you can tell whats’ going on in the story without reading the words,and then, as literacy comes, the child gains another layer of the story, via words. So, it’s just an idea, something to have lying about the house.

    I’ll read my kids anything — seed catalogues, you name it grin but not graphic novels. I don’t read those aloud. I’m the grown-up, I get to say no grin I encourage them to read all sorts of things, it’s reading central around here, and there are graphic novels we all love, but I don’t love reading them aloud: so both before and after literacy comes, my kids read them on their own.

  • One more thought on reading.  My third child learned to read because she became interested in the license plates of different states.  When we moved to Maine briefly, she was six and about to enter first grade.  Our supermarket parking lot in the summer was filled with tourists from all over the country – very encouraging!  Reading “hard” names taught her a lot about phonetics, and that was that.

    I’m not suggesting license plates – you don’t live in Salem any more, where that solution might have worked.  However, if there is something she is interested in, whether it’s sewing instructions or recipes, it might help.  I wouldn’t worry about the “level” of the words, because she’ll learn the phonics word-by-word as she needs.  In fact, something like a list of ingredients could make reading seem less challenging than a whole page of words, however easy they are.

    Bella is younger, but I’m also remembering my second grade projects… by then, I asked my kids to read me E.B. White’s three books.  That was their “graduation” to reading to themselves.  At the same time, I read each of my five children (homeschooled or not) the Narnia books in 2nd grade.  I never did get to finish “The Last Battle” with any of them, although I usually did get to read the other six books, because even if they read ahead they wanted the Mom time.

  • We were just reading Heidi and she doesn’t think she can learn to read because her friend Peter can’t read. Once she realizes she is able to learn, she learns quickly. Then, later on, she teaches Peter to read so he can read hymns to his grandmother when Heidi can’t get there.

    And—totally off topic—I think Lucia is just beautiful. smile

  • Oh so many good comments. Thank you, everyone.

    Scotch meg,

    Yes, I’m trying not to be pushy and I think it will click eventually. But something tells me Bella will do better with a little encouragement to learn her letters and try to put sounds together. Otherwise she’s all too comfortable to be read to. Of course I don’t plan to stop reading to her once she can read, but even when I reassure her about that, I can see why she would be reluctant to give it up.

    My sister was a reluctant reader, actually very much like Bella in many ways. Even after she had learned how to read, she didn’t read books on her own. And I got her to read in exactly that way. I began to read novels to her and would drop them at an exciting point once she was well hooked. I’d suddenly become too busy and eventually she’d pick them up and start reading herself to find out what happened next. She still credits me for her love of reading. Bella’s not there yet, but I’m very acquainted with the technique.


    Very reassuring. I know it will click when she’s ready, but I also feel the need to keep testing the waters, gently, to see if I can give her a bit of timely help.


    I think that xkcd strip was in the back of my mind when I wrote that. smile

    I had the fortitude for about ten minutes of the three sewing at once. Then I declared that sewing time was over, grabbed the baby who needed to nurse and retreated to my room ignoring the wailing and gnashing of teeth. But I did learn that Bella is more than ready to sew. A huge difference from the last time I handed her needle and thread. I guess sewing, unlike reading, has clicked.

    A good idea for a DIY project. I’ll try to find time and materials.

    I’m ambivalent on the comics suggestion. I think it might well work for her, but I have this bizarre antipathy to reading comics out loud (I don’t understand it, but oh anything but that!) and I know that if I get them I’ll be pressed into that service. So… I’ll think about it.

    Jessica, Welcome and thank you for the recommendation.

    Geek Lady, a good idea for a birthday present. I remember loving a cross stitch kit I got when I was her age.

    Oh and a Facebook friend suggested Starfall today and I downloaded the app to the iPad. A huge, huge success. The kids spent a couple of hours playing with it this afternoon and Bella definitely was reading much harder sentences and had a much, much, much longer attention span for sounding out words. And by the end was chanting about how when two vowels go walking the first does the talking. And she even understood what it meant, I think.

    Mary, I think I want to hold off on Little Women a bit until I can read the whole thing, but oh I do love it and can’t wait to share it. One of my lifelong favorites.

    Margaret, that’s an idea. Though I’m not sure when I’ll find time to supervise that kind of project.


    Someone else mentioned Heidi too on my Facebook post. I haven’t read it in decades.

    And I can’t agree more about Lucia. I’m in love. She weighed in at ten pounds today too, can you believe it?

  • Starfall taught Nat his letters and beginning phonics. Definitely not me. We love Starfall and I’m just waiting until Thomas is a little better at talking before I let him use it. If you pay for the full version it goes all the way through some poetry and some fairly advanced math, including geometry.

    I got Nat a dollar store sewing kit for Christmas and he loves it, but I only rarely have enough patience to get him set up with a sewing project. Good for you for doing it. I had two kids fingerpainting this afternoon and I nearly died of stress.