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Parents Guide to Gifted and Talented Students Resources

Genius: The Neurobiology of Giftedness [source]

The gifted brain is implicated in having more numerous, more complex, and more active neural connections (2). PET and EEG tests have revealed that the brain organization of exceptionally mathematically-inclined teenagers are atypical to some extent - several areas of the cortex are more differentiated in the gifted teenager's brain, especially the frontal areas (5), than those of his or her peers. In another EEG study where the alpha wave power of mathematically-gifted teenagers were compared to that of SAT-matched college students, results showed that the gifted students had superior alpha wave power, and superior frontal activity (5). The hippocampus of the gifted, a major area involved in memory, was found to be not as compartmentalized as those of lower achieving students (5). In another study, the examination of Albert Einstein's brain yielded findings of a larger-than-normal, un-folded parietal lobe, an area of the brain that is usually folded and that is associated with visuo-spatial and mathematical abilities (6). Although many tests have been undertaken with various results, one may fathom that many factors may be influenced in the brain of a genius, and that no one area of the brain may be responsible for giftedness. Furthermore, the prospect of external environmental factors in influencing the development of the brain has not even been discussed in this paper, although some scientists believe that these factors are extremely influential. It is easy, therefore, to see how complex finding the answer to giftedness may actually be.

WWW Sources

How to Raise a Genius, Recent New York Times article about a five-year-old genius

A Tangled Web, Characteristics are listed that are typical of the gifted, and more information about giftedness

Uncommon Talents: Gifted Children, Prodigies, and Savants, Possessing abilities well beyond their years, gifted children inspire admiration but also suffer ridicule, neglect, and misunderstanding.

His Brain Measured Up, Studies regarding Einstein's brain may or may not indicate the source of genius.

The Gifted Brain, Recent developments are described in cognitive neuroscience and human genetics concerned with human learning, memory, and intellectual developments which have implications in gifted education.

6)Raising Albert: Can studying dead brains ever tell us anything about genius?, Environmental factors may be a source of Einstein's genius.

7)TI: Mental rotation and the right hemisphere, Abstract of research findings regarding enhanced development of the right cerebral hemisphere and its connection to extreme intellectual giftedness.

8) Wetware: The Biological Basis of Intellectual Giftedness, A thorough analysis of the parts of the brain and their related systems in comparison to the intellectually gifted.

The Gifted Children Left Behind

Monday, August 27, 2007; Page A13
With reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind Act high on the agenda as Congress returns from its recess, lawmakers must confront the fact that the law is causing many concerned parents to abandon public schools that are not failing. These parents are fleeing public schools not only because, as documented by a recent University of Chicago study, the act pushes teachers to ignore high-ability students through its exclusive focus on bringing students to minimum proficiency. Worse than this benign neglect, No Child forces a fundamental educational approach so inappropriate for high-ability students that it destroys their interest in learning, as school becomes an endless chain of basic lessons aimed at low-performing students.

Schoolwide Enrichment Model: Investigate the School district's efforts to meet gifted students' needs by offering appropriate challenges, including an analysis of his interests and learning styles, differentiated instruction and accelerated content in advanced instructional groups in both math and reading.

Parents and Schools: Educating Gifted and Talented Children
Frances A. Karnes, M. Ray Karnes
The Elementary School Journal, Vol. 82, No. 3, Special Issue: Gifted Education (Jan., 1982), pp. 236-248

The makings of modern American childhood, a period marked by an increased emphasis on study and structured activity and less on play. Or at least it's that way for upper-middle-class progeny, the ones with parents who have the extra money to buy their kids extra attention and services.
As the rich are getting richer, their children are gaining the opportunity to get smarter. States are gutting funding for gifted education in the public schools even as well-to-do parents fight for appointments with specialized intelligence evaluators who charge a thousand dollars or more per child. What Quart dubs the "Baby Genius Edutainment Complex" has resulted in a world where extra services for kids are increasingly available only to those who can pay for outside tutoring, extracurricular activities or the high tax rates of elite suburban school districts. Call it the privatization of giftedness, where all too many children are being left behind.

IQ testers use these classifications to describe differing levels of giftedness. The following bands apply with a standard deviation of σ = 15 on a standardized IQ test.

  • * Bright: 115+, or 1 in six (84th percentile)
  • * Moderately gifted: 130+, or 1 in 50 (97.9th percentile)
  • * Highly gifted: 145+, or 1 in 1000 (99.9th percentile)
  • * Exceptionally gifted: 160+, or 1 in 30,000 (99.997th percentile)
  • * Profoundly gifted: 175+, or 1 in 3 million (99.99997th percentile)

Unfortunately, most IQ tests do not have the capacity to discriminate accurately at higher IQ levels, capable only of determining whether a student is gifted rather than distinguishing among levels of giftedness. Although the Wechsler tests have a ceiling of about 160, their creator has admitted that they are intended to be used within the average range (between 70 and 130), and are not intended for use at the extreme ends of the population. The Stanford-Binet form L-M, though outdated, is the only test that has a sufficient ceiling to identify the exceptionally and profoundly gifted. The Stanford-Binet form V and the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children—Fourth Revision, both recently released, are currently being evaluated for this population. Mensa has some tests specially designed for gifted people, but they are only for adults.

Intellectual giftedness
Intellectual giftedness is an intellectual ability significantly
higher than average. Giftedness is a trait that starts at birth and continues throughout the life-span. Giftedness is not a marker of success, but rather of aptitude or the inherent ability to learn. This ability is tempered by the fact that experts, including Linda Kreger Silverman and Dr. Fernidad Eide, have estimated that between 20-40% of gifted individuals have a learning disability, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder or some other neurological disorder. Giftedness may have a genetic component; research has shown that first-degree relatives of the intellectually gifted will often have IQs measuring within 10-15 points of each other.

Rationale for gifted programs

Stanford University online High School for Gifted Youth 2006

Tuition is around $12,000. Online students also can come to Stanford for up to eight weeks in the summer as part of a residential program. Offers a full high school curriculum and a diploma to students who complete it. Currently offers online courses to about 4,000 students between the ages of 4 and 18. Stanford's new program will be open to students in grades 10-12 who must apply for admission; demonstrate excellent achievement after they are enrolled.

School Directory - University of Miami and the University of Texas, operate online high schools without a focus on high-performing students.

Children who have I.Q.'s of 160 and above, are often overlooked, the Department of Education has allocated only $11 million for programs aimed at "gifted and talented" students. Nancy Green, executivedirector of the National Association for Gifted Children, stated, "For a nation, I'm not sure why we value equity over excellence. All kids are
entitled to an appropriate education for their ability, not just those we're teaching to a minimum standard."
NEAG Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development

College of William and Mary Center for Gifted Education

Some New Help for the Extremely Gifted By MICHAEL JANOFSKY
<snip> Davidson Academy of Nevada, a newly formed public school at the University of Nevada, Reno for profoundly gifted children, those whose test scores and evaluations place them in the 99.9th percentile. Children liwho have I.Q.'s of 160 and above, constitute only a tiny fraction of the 72 million children who attend the nation's public and private schools. Their needs are often overlooked as federal and state governments concentrate their resources on slower learners to lift test scores in reading and mathematics to a minimum standard. Department of Education has allocated only $11 million for programs aimed at "gifted and talented" students. Asmall but growing number of charter, magnet and early-entrance schools are tailoring their curriculums to prepare students for college. And foundations, like the Institute for Educational Advancement in South Pasadena, Calif., are forming to help gifted children find programs to challenge them. Susan Aspey, a spokeswoman for the Department of Education, said the "vast majority" of federal spending for children in kindergarten through 12th grade was for the neediest children. "We are undercutting the research and development people of this nation," said Joseph S. Renzulli, director of the National Research Center on the Gifted and Talented, at the University of Connecticut. Nancy Green, executive director of the National Association for Gifted Children, said that among 39 states 24 spent as much as $10 million on programs for gifted children but 7 spent less than $1 million and 8 spent nothing. "For a nation, I'm not sure why we value equity over excellence," Ms. Green said. "All kids are entitled to an appropriate education for their ability, not just those we're teaching to a minimum standard." The Davidson Academy serves highly gifted children and, as part of it, a summer scholarship program that enables students aged 12 to 15 to earn up to seven college credits at the University of Nevada, Reno. With plans to accept 30 applicants for the first year and twice that for the second, the academy will be open to any students living in Nevada who can perform at a sixth-grade level or better and can demonstrate exceptional abilities through achievement tests and letters of recommendation. Already, Mr. Davidson said, applications have arrived from students in California and the East Coast whose parents said they would be willing to move to Nevada. The Davidsons said they intended to cover all student costs - a minimum of $10,000 a student each year - except for those courses taken only for college credit.

It Pays to Have a Smart Child, but It Can Cost, Too Spending By JULIE BICK
WHEN Reed Molbak was 7 years old and living in Kansas City, Mo., his parents took him to hear a visiting Columbia physics professor lecture about string theory. Reed listened with interest. If space is like fabric, he wondered, can it tear? Even in preschool, he was the one doing the tearing - through books on how things worked - and now, at 13, he enjoys theoretical physics. Along the way, his family has spent more than $100,000 on testing, counseling, science experiments and software - and on enrolling him in a variety of schools and learning programs.
"Intellectually gifted" may have a variety of definitions. But assuming that people scoring in the top 10 percent of intelligence tests meet the criteria, the country has millions of gifted children - and many opportunities for them, especially if parents are willing to pay the bill.
At the Robinson Center for Young Scholars at the University of Washington, psychologists meet with parents about educational goals and test a child's intelligence for fees of up to $756. Students in 5th through 10th grade who score in the top 3 percent on standardized tests may, for $700, attend a challenging summer course with their intellectual peers. At Stanford, the Education Program for Gifted Youth offers classes via computer; students work at home, communicating with a tutor, for $350 to $700 a course each quarter. Children in these kinds of specialized programs sometimes become excited about learning "at a level their parents have never seen before," said Ray Ravaglia, the program's deputy director. <snip>
Dr. Deborah L. Ruf, author of "Losing Our Minds: Gifted Children Left Behind," found that the first expense for some families of gifted children may be for an assessment to discover what is "wrong" with a child who, teachers complain, has been disruptive or not focused in class. "The parents often find out the child isn't paying attention," she said, "because they already know everything that is being taught." The students may take a combination of achievement tests, measuring what they know, and aptitude tests, measuring verbal and numerical ability. The bill for such tests generally goes to the parents. "There's lots of funding for kids who aren't keeping up in school," Dr. Ruf said, "but if you have a bright child you just get a pat on the head." She said she had seen "families at all economic levels prioritize their budgets to pay for testing, enrichment and learning opportunities."
Charles Beckman, director of communications for the Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth, has noted an uptick in applications to its programs in the last few years, as well as an increase in the number of colleges and for-profit institutions that offer course work for gifted children. "The No Child Left Behind Act has forced many states to redirect money from gifted education to bringing other kids up to a minimally acceptable skill level," he said. "Cutting the education dollars of tomorrow's leaders, thinkers and doers means more families are looking for ways to have their kids' intellectual needs met outside of school."
Some 77,000 children in grades 2 through 7 last year paid a $25 to $35 application fee and $29 to $75 to take a test that would qualify them for the Hopkins programs. Ultimately, more than 10,000 of them attended a Hopkins summer course, offered at 23 sites around the country.
A typical sleepaway program for a seventh grader costs $2,900 for three weeks, including room and board. Students choose programs that range from genomics to etymology to music theory.
Eric Viola, a high school freshman in Basking Ridge, N.J., whose family sacrificed other vacation opportunities to finance his Hopkins educational travel program to Montana, said, "You get to see how stuff actually works instead of reading about it - like how the physics of water pressure and heat create the geysers at Yellowstone." Some parents also pay air fare, hotel and entry fees to attend conferences (without their children) like the one organized by the California Association for the Gifted. It expects nearly 3,000 at its event in March in Palm Springs; participants will share strategies for gifted education and join a supportive network.
Reed's mother, Heidi Molbak, tried home schooling her little string theorist one year, and once enrolled him in language-immersion school to keep him occupied. In fourth grade, he took an online course in expository writing through the Stanford program, which taught concepts typical of a ninth-grade writing course. Reed sent his work electronically to his tutor, who held seminars once a week via headphones and the Internet. "Distance learning," Dr. Ruf said, "is a great option for kids who are self-motivated and want to go at their own speed." Reed has completed his computerized tutoring and now attends a private school.
Parents of gifted children manage their budgets in different ways. Barbara Poyneer of Renton, Wash., realized that her daughters were gifted when they started playing around with fractions before entering kindergarten. She and her husband chose travel abroad over private school, "because they could soak up so much," she said. Today one daughter, who is 32, holds a B.A. in physics from Johns Hopkins, and the other, 30, a Rhodes scholar who attended Oxford and M.I.T., is earning her Ph.D. TO be sure, some in the education field say they believe that private programs for gifted children are unnecessary. Nancy Siegel, head guidance counselor at Millburn High School in Millburn, N.J., advises parents to resist overprogramming children. If a high school does not offer many advanced-placement classes, "the student can look for a great internship or writing contest or independent project to show their stuff," she said. "There is no need to enroll in expensive programs hoping it will get your child into a top college."
Others go so far as to doubt that gifted programs are beneficial for children. "It's important to give kids normal experiences that are typical for children of that age," said Prof. Perry Prestholdt, who taught psychology at Louisiana State University before retiring last month. "Unique and expensive opportunities can imbue these kids with a false sense of privilege." According to Dr. Ruf, gifted programs may make a child feel advantaged, but they also offer the challenge and competition of the real world, so that youngsters "realize they aren't always going to be the smartest one in the room." And parents of gifted children can find some resources that won't take a big bite out of a retirement plan. American Mensa, a nonprofit organization of adults scoring in the top 2 percent of standardized intelligence tests, is seeking to attract "Young Mensans." If a family lives near an active chapter, a $30 application fee and yearly dues of $52 will provide it with national and local newsletters that list events.
Adult Mensans are often eager to help younger ones, said Laura Loos, children's program coordinator for the greater New York chapter, whose members helped to plan free backstage trips to theaters and to a zoo to see how displays are created. "We want to expand the horizons of gifted children because schools aren't doing it for them anymore," she said. "Our country is going to fall behind because we are ignoring our future scientists, entrepreneurs and leaders."
Other free resources include Web sites like, for the Hoagies' Gifted Education Page; it offers connections to mailing lists, message boards and Web logs as well as other information for parents, educators and children.
Whatever resources they use, Ms. Molbak encourages parents to make a serious commitment. "We try to have as normal a life as possible," she said, "but at the same time, it's important to take charge of your child's education." She added that "if the schools can't challenge your child, you need to figure out how to do it."

How Does The Brain Work?

There are two email lists that discuss G/T issues. and

Hoagies' Gifted Education Page
Most teachers of gifted students, whether in the regular classroom, a gifted pull-out program, or a special gifted program, need resources. Internet Investigations is a list of full curriculum units, usually from introduction to activities to test, on subjects that often interest gifted students. Here you might find units on music, art, math (but from a different perspective: pizza math, M&M math), science, and lots more. The kids will love these! Note, the grade levels specified are for the traditional student; for gifted children, you might want to go up a couple grades to get something more at their level.

Organizations for and about gifted children:

Resources (primarily for elementary levels):

Sources for Gifted Education Materials

KidsSource Online
Information Center on Disabilities and Gifted Education

Linda Silverman's Gifted Education Resources

The `No Child' Law's Biggest Victims? An Answer That May Surprise
There is overwhelming evidence that gifted students simply do not succeed on their own. June 23, 2004 By Margaret DeLacy Vol. 23, Issue 41, Page 40
Since education is high on the national agenda, here's a pop quiz that every American should take.There is overwhelming evidence that gifted students simply do not succeed on their own.
Question: What group of students makes the lowest achievement gains in school?
Answer: The brightest students.
In a pioneering study of the effects of teachers and schools on student learning, William Sanders and his staff at the Tennessee. Value-Added Assessment System put in this way: "Student achievement level was the second most important predictor of student learning. The higher the achievement level, the less growth a student was likely to have."
Mr. Sanders found this problem in schools throughout the state, and with different levels of poverty and of minority enrollments. He speculated that the problem was due to a "lack of opportunity for high-scoring students to proceed at their own pace, lack of challenging materials, lack of accelerated course offerings, and concentration of instruction on the average or below-average student."
While less effective teachers produced gains for lower-achieving students, Mr. Sanders found, only the top one-fifth of teachers were effective with high-achieving students. These problems have been confirmed in other states. There is overwhelming evidence that gifted students simply do not succeed on their own.
Question: What group of students has been harmed most by the No Child Left Behind Act?
Answer: Our brightest students.
The federal law seeks to ensure that all students meet minimum standards. Most districts, in their desperate rush to improve the performance of struggling students, have forgotten or ignored their obligations to students who exceed standards. These students spend their days reviewing material for proficiency tests they mastered years before, instead of learning something new. This is a profoundly alienating experience.
Question: How well is the United States preparing able students to compete in the world economy?
Answer: Very poorly.
Of all students obtaining doctorates in engineering in American universities, just 39 percent are Americans. According to the Third International Mathematics and Science Study, "The performance of U.S. physics and advanced math students was among the lowest of the 16 countries that administered the ... assessments."

Question: What group of special-needs students receives the least funding?
Answer: Our brightest students.

And it's getting worse. For example, Illinois, New York, and Oregon recently cut all state funding for gifted programs.
Given these facts, why has a board commissioned by the National Research Council proposed to make things much worse? The board's report, ironically entitled "Engaging Schools: Fostering High School Students' Motivation to Learn," contains recommendations that amount to a recipe for completely alienating our most capable children. Based on old, discredited, and sloppy research, the committee, which did not include any experts on gifted education, recommended the elimination of all "formal or informal" tracking--even if participation was voluntary--in favor of mixed-ability classrooms.
Does tracking really harm students? Jeannie Oakes claimed that it did in a popular but, to my mind, poorly researched book called Keeping Track published nearly 20 years ago. However, a 1998 review of the evidence on tracking over the past two decades, done by Tom Loveless, the director of the Brookings Institution's Brown Center on Education Policy, found no consensus that tracking is harmful or creates unequal opportunities for academic achievement. This review was ignored in the NRC panel's 40 pages of research citations.
Also missing was any reference to a 1993 report from the U.S. Department of Education, "National Excellence," in which then-Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley noted a "quiet crisis" in the education of top students, pointing out that "these students have special needs that are seldom met," and warning that "our neglect of these students makes it impossible for Americans to compete in a global economy demanding their skills."
Although research on schoolwide tracking cuts both ways, research pointing to the importance of advanced classes and grouping for gifted students is overwhelming.

A research review by Karen B. Rogers found that grouping gifted students produces big gains--sometimes exceeding half a year's additional achievement per year in school when curriculum is modified appropriately. On the other hand, she found that cooperative learning within mixed-ability groups produces no gains.

In her 2002 book Re-Forming Gifted Education (also ignored by the NRC panel), Ms. Rogers noted that under the mixed-ability-group instruction recommended by the NRC, "few students, except those with exceptionally low ability, will benefit." Gifted students are truly our forgotten children. Neglected in our schools and ignored by our policymakers, they spend their days dozing through classes in which they aren't learning.
A statistical analysis published in 1992 by James A. Kulik demonstrated that the benefits from advanced classes for talented students were "positive, large, and important" and said that [de-tracking] could greatly damage American education." Student achievement would suffer, Mr. Kulik maintained, and the damage would be greatest if schools "eliminated enriched and accelerated classes for their brightest learners. The achievement level of such students falls dramatically." He also found that students of all ability levels benefit from grouping that adjusts the curriculum to their aptitude levels.
Even the National Research Council board acknowledged that teachers would require a lot of specialized training to carry out its recommendations in "Engaging Minds." Differentiation is hard to do well. Teachers must know how to assess students who are years above grade level and then be able to rewrite the whole curriculum to address their assessed learning needs. Although the board members must know that this training has not been provided and is not going to happen, they went ahead and recklessly recommended a policy that will harm many capable, hard-working students in the hope that it might help some struggling students.
They seem to be unaware of the daily realities affecting American schools. Studies by the National Research Center on the Gifted and Talented have repeatedly found that teachers do not make significant modifications to their instruction to accommodate gifted students.
This past November, Seattle teachers issued a resolution protesting a directive requiring advanced instruction for highly capable students in their classrooms because they had neither the time, training, and class size, nor the resources necessary to carry it out. Ability grouping is significantly more cost-effective, requires less training, and is more effective in this regard than heterogeneous classes. Do we have education dollars to waste?
Gifted students are truly our forgotten children. Neglected in our schools and ignored by our policymakers, they spend their days dozing through classes in which they aren't learning. Many suffer from depression. It is time to take them out of their holding pens and give them a chance to stretch and to grow.


Ability Grouping:
Grouping students by need, interest, or ability for a particular leaning activity. Groups can be formed and reformed to meet various instructional needs.

Allowing student to move through the material at a pace faster than age-mates and at a relate commensurate with their abilities.

A.C.T. and S.A.T.:
American College Testing Program and Scholastic Aptitude Test, both standardized tests traditionally taken by high school student and used by colleges in determining admission and placement. Now also given to middle school gifted students for selection and placement in talent searcher, summer institute, and other academic programs.

Authentic Assessment:
Process of evaluation student leaning using student products or performance rather than traditional standardized tests.

Cluster Grouping:
The assignment of a small group of students with similar interest, abilities, or needs to the same classroom.

Compacting the Curriculum:
Reducing the amount of curriculum material used allowing the student to show mastery of the content.

Making modifications in the curriculum, either in content or pace, to accommodate the abilities of the individual learner.

Learning activities not found in the core curriculum that are more in depth or form an additional discipline used to supplement the gifted student¹s educational experience.

Heterogeneous/Homogeneous Grouping:
Students placed together for learning based on chronological age or grade level are grouped heterogeneously. Homogeneous grouping places students with other like themselves based on criteria such as academic ability; special needs, or interests.

Leaning Styles:
The mode of learning or preferred style of relating to life. Some learning s are visual, other auditory; some relate in a concrete-sequential manner, other in an abstract- random way.

Pull-Out Program:
An educational plan in which students of similar needs and ability are ³ pulled out² of the regular classroom at certain time throughout the week to meet in another location with a specialized teacher.

Specific Academic Aptitude:
Ability to do exceptionally well in a particular subject area such as mathematics or science.

Discrepancy between a child¹s school performance and some index of his or her actual ability.

A person with expertise who relates in a one-to-one relationship with a student or adult to share knowledge, encourage , and give emotional support.

Taken from Parenting for High Potential March 1998 What Sophistical Reading Is All About by Sandra Kaplan
The fury about students who cannot read seems to have obliterated concern for student who can read and read well. Also, the attention that is paid to good reader is often limited to the long lists of quality literary works available to parents and teachers. However simply reading selection from lists of recognized literature does not provide gifted readers with all types of reading experiences necessary for sophisticated reading. Some of the habits of sophisticated readers are unconventional and even contrary to the method supported by reading practices in the classroom. There are some common reading practices to which good readers could be exposed that would improve both the readers¹ skills and enjoyment. It is important that these practices are sanctioned by parents and teachers if they are to be taken seriously by gifted readers. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Suggest that your child read several books simultaneously. The old age concept that an individual has to read a book form beginning to end prior to reading another book does not correlate to what real readers do. Simultaneous reading or having several books in progress is one way to read more and read more pleasurably.
  • Suggest that your child read a collection of book written by a single author. Many sophisticated readers hunt the bookstores waiting for the newest release of their favorite author because they pride themselves in reading the series rather than a single selection of an author. We need to encourage children to do the same, to ³ read the shelf.²
  • Suggest that your child read chronologically or read to create a time line. After a child selects a fiction or nonfiction literary work from a particular era, the child can select one book that precedes and another that follows the section just completed. The challenge of locating literature to form a literary time line can be as much of a learning experience as the reading the material once it is found.
  • Suggest that your child do readiness reading prior to the reading the literary work that has been selected. For example, prior to reading a work of fiction your child might become acquainted with the setting and time period by doing some investigative research.
  • Suggest that your child explore various genres to read about a single topic. If your child is a budding entomologist,m for example try Children of Summer: Henri Fabr¹s Insects by Margaret Anderson ( Ages 8-12).

Extending the abilities of gifted readers demands attention to some of the habits and techniques of sophisticated readers. Let¹s help our good readers become sophisticated readers. These habits and techniques are most easily incorporated into a gifted student¹s reading habits when he or she has had the opportunity to discuss reading sills and practices with adults who are significant in their lives. Excursions to the bookstore with adult family members or friend or talking with classroom teacher or school librarian could be the most natural setting for these conversations. Let¹s help our good readers become sophisticated readers!