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About the Author

Author Info

Talmage M. Steele wrote and illustrated, The Gift of Words: How Do Children Learn to Talk? based on up-to-date research and her experiences as mother of two, and grandmother of three.  She has an M.Ed. from National Louis University in Early Childhood Education and is currently retired after fifteen years of experience working as an educator/consultant under a variety of grants with Chicago Public Schools.  She has worked as a facilitator and mentor in many early childhood day care centers, as well as for arts-integrated curriculum projects


Current research shows that many parents do not realize the importance of giving even very young children the words for what they are doing, seeing and feeling. The Gift of Words: How Do Children Learn to Talk? offers simple ways which support parents in their role as their children’s first language teacher.

The book has a dozen conversation starters for parents of children 0-4 years of age.  Parents at Educare in Chicago and Home Visitors at Clyde Childcare Center in Cicero contributed their advice to the book through focus groups conducted prior to the books final publication.


Amazon wants your opinion and comments on The Gift of Words: How Do Children Learn to Talk?  To order the book contact or a search on for “Talmage Steele” or “ISBN 978-1-54393-560-8”


Cicero Home Visitors Advise Author


Talmage Steele, author of The Gift of Words: How Do Children Learn to Talk? admitted it: she was stuck the first time she visited the home visitors at Clyde Child Care Center in Cicero, IL. As a first-time children’s book author, it wasn’t going well. Steele asked Clyde’s home visitors to take the book to their parents and to report how it went. Among other helpful suggestions, they said, “You cannot name the word bird George. In children’s literature, Curious George is a monkey.” So the word bird became Wallace Quentin Wordsworthy, Jr.


Two years later, on September 14, Clyde Center home visitors embraced mothers in the park surrounding the building. It was the second week of school and women watched over the babies in their arms, crawling across a mat or toddling through the grass while also chatting with each other. Clyde’s home visitor program had just begun its school year.


Steele had returned to Clyde Childcare Center to thank the moms and home visitors and to promote the newly published book. Ana Perez talked about how she used ideas from the book’s 12 Conversation Starters, “       I just say what I see. When I’m getting dressed, I tell my baby what I’m doing. I am putting on my shoes, my earrings, my whatever. It doesn’t take more time; it takes more words.” Michele Reyes agreed, “I am talking more with my third child, than with my middle child. It is important to give our children a big vocabulary so they can understand what they read later.“


Recent research has determined that the babies’ brains are ready for mamas’ baby talk from the moment they are born. The baby’s brain provides the synapses, but an adult must provide the vocabulary. The more languages a child hears, the better. Mamas really are a child’s first, most important teacher.

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September 27, 2018


Family Treatment Center Moms Give The Gift of Words


After dinner, twenty moms gathered with their babies to practice their most important role as first teacher of language. Knowing that a child’s brain is 80% developed by age three, they prepared to add literally millions of words to their children’s daily routines. Adding words to a child’s day doesn’t take more time; it takes more words.


What does a mom say to a toddler who cannot talk yet? It is as simple as “Say what you see.” Talk about what you are doing, what your child is doing, wearing, eating, touching, smelling.  There are 12 Conversation Starters in Talmage Steele’s new book, The Gift of Words: How Do Children Learn to Talk? and moms were talking through some of them Thursday night.

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