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Apr 6 / ReadingTub

Reading News & Children’s Literacy Roundup – Mid April 2012

This is the archive edition of the Children’s Literacy and Reading News roundup brought to you by the Family Bookshelf, Jen Robinson’s Book Page and Rasco from RIF. This is a twice monthly collection of news related to children’s literacy and reading. You can see the original at Jen Robinson’s Book Page

Welcome to the mid-April edition of the Children’s Literacy and Reading News Roundup brought to you by Jen Robinson’s Book Page, The Family Bookshelf, and Rasco from RIF. We’re delighted to highlight several children’s literature and literacy-related events on the horizon. We also have some news about literacy and reading programs and research, and a couple of suggestions for growing bookworms. Thanks for tuning in!

Literacy & Reading-Related Events

We love inspiring stories, and this post by Shauna Carey at the Room to Read blog is just wonderful. Shaoliya, a village in India, has been home to a Room to Read school library since 2008. But it wasn’t getting much use until Sita Kimari, a long-time resident with a fifth grade education, started visiting. Sita explains that she kept coming back for the illustrations in the books, and that over time the librarian helped her overcome her fear of reading. Now, she hosts a reading club and discussion group for women each evening.  [Image credit: Room to Read blog post]


¡Grandes noticias! If El Día de los niños/El Día de los libros, Children’s Day/Book Day is coming! April 30, to be exact. From an email we received: “This year marks the 16th anniversary of the family literacy initiative founded by author Pat Mora and now housed at the Association of Library Service to Children, a division of ALA. If you are unfamiliar with Día, here are some resources you’ll find helpful.

Literacy Programs and Research

In a recent issue of The Big Fresh (@ChoiceLiteracy newsletter), Franki Sibberson shared her reflections and ideas for end-of-year literacy gifts in the classroom. As you’ll see in the post, she has experiences for rising Kindergartners through fifth graders.


Suggestions for Growing Bookworms

 With so many activities and commitments competing for time, attracting elementary school-age readers to the library on a regular basis can be a difficult task.

Have you heard that before? Maybe said it yourself? Well, Lisa Taylor (who blogs at Shelf Employed) has an idea that just might help you capture that elusive elementary reader.  Her article for the ALSC Blog shares the challenges and successes of creating The Geronimo Stilton Club, an after school program for elementary students.  She even offers to share all of her materials if you want to replicate the idea for your school!

Or maybe you’ve been preparing for the zombie apocalypse? If you missed the recent “Zombie Do’s and Dont’s” at the at the Bridgeport Public Library, there is still time to attend the other sessions of the zombie preparedness program. This quote will warm the heart of zombie wanna-be’s everywhere:

‘It’s rewarding that adults have voiced they’re interested in attending,’ he says. ‘But we have had to explain, this is just for the teens.’

You can read Lauren Barack’s full article Library Lures Teens with Zombie Survival Training in SLJ’s Extra Helping. Just don’t say we didn’t warn you!

Speaking of Extra Helpings, I was excited to have the opportunity to catch up with YA author Dom Testa. Dom found the Reading Tub in 2005, when he was self-publishing his Galahad science fiction series [now being published by Tor]. What stood out in the interview is Dom’s project The Big Brain Club.  “The Big Brain Club is lots of things — online community, in-school program partner, resource center, agent of change. But most of all, we are the messengers who allow young people to understand that Smart is Cool.”  You can read the full interview at the SLJ website.

Sara Ralph’s post Top 10 Ways to Raise a Member of the Nerdy Book Club is a great place to get you starte don the “Smart is Cool” track, too. I had a hard time picking my favorite among the ten. For the moment I’m going with “model being a reading nerd,” probably because I find it the easiest … how ’bout you?

Unwrapping Literacy

Carol sent me the image of this tub made of books because she thought I’d like it. You bet I did! But what I loved even more was the name of the Tumblr blog where she found it Check it out: [Literature is My Utopia, a quote from Helen Keller!]

Can you imagine how much fun you could have with a tub like this in your school library? Heck, in a public library I bet you’d get adults to pay for some “ahhh” time reading in that tub!

That’s all for today. Carol will be back at the beginning of March with more children’s literacy and reading news. And, of course, we’ll be sharing literacy links on Twitter in the meantime @RascofromRIF, @readingtub, and @JensBookPage. Thanks for reading, and for caring about children’s literacy!

Mar 21 / ReadingTub

Literacy and Reading Tools – Winter 2012

This is the ARCHIVE edition of the Tools for Reading and Literacy Roundup hosted by Terry Doherty at the Family Bookshelf. This is a periodic annex to the Literacy and Reading News Roundup, a collaborative effort Terry shares with Jen Robinson (Jen Robinson’s Book Page) and Carol Rasco (Rasco from RIF). You can see the original here.

It may feel like spring, but we still have a few days until the Spring Equinox and the official change of seasons. Just in the nick of time, we have our Roundup of links to articles, websites, and online tools that facilitate the processes of reading and learning.

Whether the information is recently published or a couple years’ old, it’s new to me and may be new to you. Enjoy!

Resources for Kids

My go-to source of cool literay tools for kids is always my favorite Chook, Susan Stephenson of the Book Chook. How can you not love the idea of LEGO, history, adventure, and comics all rolled into one?!

Would you like to know a little @ trivia? any history of @ all? Well, then Grammar Girl has just what you’re looking for. Of course, after I read the article Where Did the @ Symbol Come From? I ended up spending lots of time exploring other topics … and I bet you will too! Thanks, Carol!

In the midst of doing some Root Word research for a certain 10-year-old in my house, I discovered Now I get regular emails, and recently found this idea to have kids (they recommend middle school … I bet upper elementary would love it too. What is it? Chart 100 Books You’ve Read – in poster form.

Our thanks to School Library Journal’s Extra Helping for the link to PowerKids Earth & Space. SLJ describes it asthe newest online resource in the PowerKids Science Suite specifically designed for learners in grades 3 – 6!”


 Resources for Parents and Educators

personal photo terry dohertyAmy of Delightful Children’s Books has been working on several new resources for families. What I love about her Babies and Toddlers Page is that rather than just throw a list of ideas at you, she talks about her own experiences as a parent trying to read with an infant and toddler.

She’s also careful to parse the list based on the kinds of things babies like (and can comprehend) at certain stages. Her article Introducing Children to Books (Ages 0 to 13 months) is a nice complement to her directory.

Leave it to my friends in the Nerdy Book Club [this time in the person of @MrSchuReads] to find a virtual Book Release Calendar! Want to know when the new Fly Guy comes out? Then you HAVE to have this calendar (March 1, by the way).

My thanks to Carol Rasco for sending along a link to Sherry York’s book Ethnic Book Awards: A Directory of Multicultural Literacy for Young Readers. The book is designed for librarians, but I would bet if you are interested in diversifying your personal library and adding high-quality literature, you’ll find plenty of recommendations. Use to see if your library has a copy. We have added this book to our index for Share a Story this year.

Speaking of book lists … There are several annual resources I look forward to – and count on – every year. One of them is Susan Thomsen’s Super-fantastic List of Lists. She has just posted the 2011 Best Children’s Book: A List of Lists and Awards. There is no shortage of year-end resources, but I always go to Susan’s list at Chicken Spaghetti first!

Another favorite bookworm’s resource is Zoe Toft’s Worldwide List of Reading and Literacy Charities. The 2012 edition went up in February 2012.

Little Parachutes

You know the saying … “I’d go back to being “[insert age here]” if I knew now what I didn’t know then? Well, if I could go back and pick my teachers, I’d want Mary Lee Hahn for Fourth Grade. In What’s on My Wonderopolis iPad (at A Year of Reading) she shares how she is using “iPads, a couple of iPods and a Kindle in her fourth grade classroom. Check out. You’ll want to go back to Fourth Grade in Dublin, Ohio, too!

Thanks to a Google Alert, I discovered AppStar Pick and the newly launched Fun Educational Apps blogsite.  I don’t have any Apple products, but if you do, and if you have kids, you will want to bookmark the site – and the Directory of 250+ Apps for Kids that are reviewed by independent sites.  The directory is available for free in the iTunes Store. Be sure to check out the Free iPad Apps of the Day category, too.

My thanks to Susan Stephenson for “scooping” Little Parachutes, a website designed to help parents find picture books “to help children with life’s challenges.  Strolling through the Little Parachutes library is a ready-made list of books on key subjects from basic to challenging:  sharing, moving house, potty training, eating healthy, grief, adoption, divorce and serious illness.

It has been a while since I posted a Literacy and Reading Tools roundup, and a number of new (or new to me!) tools have popped up. One of them is I have recently started curating the Family Literacy Topic on My goal there is to offer “tips and ideas to make literacy easy for busy parents.” Hope to see you there! The aforementioned the Book Chook curates the Supporting Children’s Literacy topic. If you’re there, stop by … if you’re talking reading, literacy, books, or literacy-related tools, I’ll follow you anywhere!

Feb 1 / ReadingTub

Reading News & Children’s Literacy Roundup – Mid February 2012

This is the archive edition of the Children’s Literacy and Reading News roundup brought to you by the Family Bookshelf, Jen Robinson’s Book Page and Rasco from RIF. This is a twice monthly collection of news related to children’s literacy and reading. You can see the original at Jen Robinson’s Book Page

Welcome to the mid-February edition of the Children’s Literacy and Reading News Roundup brought to you by Jen Robinson’s Book Page, The Family Bookshelf, and Rasco from RIF. We’re delighted to highlight several children’s literature and literacy-related events on the horizon. We also have some news about literacy and reading programs and research, and a couple of suggestions for growing bookworms. Thanks for tuning in!

Literacy & Reading-Related Events

The big news in the Kidlitosphere, of course, is that the 2011 Cybils winners were announced on Valentine’s Day. Thirteen winners across eleven categories, each book guaranteed to be both well-written and kid-friendly. The 2011 Cybils award process started in October, with 1289 eligible books nominated. From there, teams of Round 1 judges winnowed the books in each category down to shortlists of 5-7 titles. Now, the Round 2 judges have picked winners in each category. The winners are all books that you should consider adding to your To Be Read list. The shortlists remain a wonderful resource, too, with balanced recommendations in each category. A tremendous amount of work goes into the Cybils award process each year – but the results are well worth it!

The Book Chook reports from Australia that February 17th is Random Acts of Kindness Day in the US. The Book Chook says: “Being kind is perhaps something we take for granted. I quite like the idea of a special day like Random Acts of Kindness Day, because it reminds me to take time out and think about being kind. There are so many things to ponder on such a day.” Ponder away, we say! And, of course, giving books is always a nice act of kindness.

Coming up March 2nd we have Read Across America Day, hosted by the NEA. “Read Across America is an annual reading motivation and awareness program that calls for every child in every community to celebrate reading on March 2, the birthday of beloved children’s author Dr. Seuss. ” Reading Rockets has a particularly good collection of Read Across America Day resources. See also, hosted by Random House. This year’s featured book for Read Across America Day is Seuss’ The Lorax.

Following closely on the heels of Read Across America Day is LitWorld’s World Read Aloud Day, on March 7th. “World Read Aloud Day is about taking action to show the world that the right to read and write belongs to all people. World Read Aloud Day motivates children, teens, and adults worldwide to celebrate the power of words, especially those words that are shared from one person to another, and creates a community of readers advocating for every child’s right to a safe education and access to books and technology.” Book Dads is hosting a World Read Aloud Day Caption Contest, and generally promoting this event. Also not to be missed is Donalyn Miller’s post inspired World Read Aloud Day: Make Every Day Read Aloud Day.

In other news, School Library Journal has launched a new blog, Make Some Noise!, dedicated to advocating for school libraries. “Sara Kelly Johns will highlight opportunities, describe techniques, and celebrate great initiatives in school library advocacy.” This new blog is particularly timely, given that President Obama has cut school library funding from the 2013 federal budget. (Both links via SLJ’s Extra Helping newsletter).

Literacy Programs and Research

We Give Books, the digital literacy initiative from the Pearson Foundation and the Penguin Group, just launched a program by which “as many as 150,000 new children’s books will be shared as part of its new online campaign, Read for My School, which allows readers to show their support for local elementary schools and to do their part to highlight the importance of reading… Simply by reading online at anyone can help give a book to one of many literacy-based charities from around the world. Read for My School is the one campaign each year that allows readers to direct donations to their own schools.” See the full press release for more details. Thanks to Jenny Schwartzberg for the link.

Also via Jenny, 69News has a nice feature story about Judith’s Reading Room, a Pennsylvania nonprofit that “has donated nearly 28,000 books worth more than $300,000 to children … in the Lehigh Valley, and to children across the world. “Judith’s Reading Room is our interpretation of spreading the word of freedom through literacy, by delivering custom libraries – free of cost with the goal to enrich lives through the simple act of reading,” said (co-founder) Scott Leiber.”

The Guardian recently published a list of 10 books (most of them series) to entice reluctant boy readers. The list was prepared by Ellen Ainsworth in response to a recently announced UK government initiative to get more kids reading. Although the list was published in the UK, nearly all of the titles mentioned are widely available in the US, too. Link via @tashrow.

Also in the interest of getting kids reading, RIF recently released their 2011-2012 Multicultural Books Collection. From the news release: “RIF has distributed the collection to RIF programs across the country since 2007 as part of its Multicultural Literacy Campaign, a multi-year initiative to promote and support early childhood literacy in African American, Hispanic and American Indian communities. In honor of the organization’s 45th anniversary, this year’s collection features 45 children’s books highlighting the theme “celebration.”" (via @CBCBook)

Suggestions for Growing Bookworms

In a recent Huffington Post Parents column, Dr. Rebecca Palacios strongly recommends that parents share books with their children. She begins: “Open a book with your child and step into another world! When we provide children the gift of books and language, we are providing them with imaginative experiences that are important in building a nation of creative thinkers and innovators.” She proceeds to outline additional benefits to kids that stem from reading to them early and often. A message always worth repeating! (via @ReachOutAndRead)

Stacey Loscalzo recently shared a wonderful Mem Fox quote about reading: “If every parent understood the huge educational benefits and intense happiness brought about by reading aloud to their children, and if every parent- and every adult caring for a child-read aloud a minimum of three stories a day to the children in our lives, we could probably wipe out illiteracy within one generation.”-Mem Fox, (Reading Magic). So, so true!

And finally, while this isn’t literacy per se, I was fascinated by this 1 minute, 11 second video posted by Lee Wind. It shows a little girl named Riley, maybe 3 years old, in a toy store, protesting the way that toy companies try to pigeonhole girls into buying pink princess stuff, when they might (some of them) prefer action heroes. Riley rocks! She’ll make anyone think twice about this issue.

That’s all for today. Carol will be back at the beginning of March with more children’s literacy and reading news. And, of course, we’ll be sharing literacy links on Twitter in the meantime @RascofromRIF, @readingtub, and @JensBookPage. Thanks for reading, and for caring about children’s literacy!

Jan 4 / ReadingTub

Roundup of Children’s Literacy and Reading News – December in Review

This is the archive edition of the Children’s Literacy and Reading News roundup brought to you by Jen Robinson’s Book Page and Rasco from RIF. This is a twice monthly collection of news related to literacy and reading. You can see the original at Rasco from RIF.

Welcome to the December Children’s Literacy and Reading News Roundup brought to you by Jen Robinson’s Book Page, The Family Bookshelf and Rasco from RIF. Over the month of December Jen Robinson, Terry Doherty and I have collected content for you about literacy & reading-related events; literacy and reading programs and research; and suggestions for growing bookworms.




And in closing…
Nikki Grimes poem
The old year,
a harvest of memories.
The new?
A fresh field waiting
to be plowed.

Neil’s New Year posts of years past:

Resolve to Read (Donnalyn)

Jan 2 / ReadingTub

Reading News & Children’s Literacy Roundup – Mid January 2012

This is the archive edition of the Children’s Literacy and Reading News roundup brought to you by the Family Bookshelf, Jen Robinson’s Book Page and Rasco from RIF. This is a twice monthly collection of news related to children’s literacy and reading. You can see the original at the Family Bookshelf.

Welcome to the I Have a Dream edition of the Children’s Literacy and Reading News Roundup brought to you by Jen Robinson’s Book Page, The Family Bookshelf, and Rasco from RIF.  It will come of no surprise to any of you that Carol, Jen, and Terry share one dream: that every child have (at least) one book to call their own and to be successful, happy readers.

That is why, each day, we browse the “interwebs” (as our friend Abby the Librarian calls them) to collect content about literacy & reading-related events; literacy and reading programs, studies, and research; and suggestions for growing bookworms. We hope that as you peruse this edition you find inspiration to keep you on track with your reading resolutions!

Literacy & Reading-Related Events

Next week, Florida kicks off its Fourth Annual Celebrate Literacy Week, Florida!  It is an opportunity to “celebrate the successes of Florida’s schools and students,” and it begins on 23 January 2012 with the Million Minute Marathon. To help reach this year’s goal of 20 million minutes, everyone will be reading How Much is a Million? by David M. Schwartz, illustrated by Steven Kellogg.  Terry learned about the program in an article about author and literacy coach Sabrina Carpenter, who is presenting her “Eager Readers, Brighter Writers” at Baldwin Middle Senior High School in Jacksonville, FL.
MrsP.comOn January 16, 2012, our friends at are announcing the winners of her Third Annual National Writing Contest.

  • Sarah Smale (8) won top honors in the 4-to-8 year-old category for The Treasure Decision, an adventure story featuring a mysterious treasure, pirates and an unusual bookstore.
  • Emma Stowe (12) won in the 9-13 age group for Thinking Cap, a compelling and amusing detective story, set in a grade school, following the search for a lost gerbil.

Do you know who Marilyn Nelson is? A poet … yes! But not just any poet! She just received the 2012 Frost Medal, an award presented by the Poetry Society of America to recognize a “distinguished lifetime achievement in poetry.” In talking about how she discovered poetry, Ms. Nelson wrote “It was like soul-kissing, the way the words filled my mouth as Mrs. Purdy read from her desk.” Beautiful!  Read more about the Frost Medal and Marilyn Nelson here.

It seems like it has been a few weeks since we mentioned John Schumacher (aka @MrSchuReads) or Watch. Connect. Read. Leave it to Mr. Schu to feed our reading wish list. He has created a Book Release Calendar for children’s books!  We learned about it via his post for The Nerdy Book Club.

Literacy Programs and Research

Terry was saddened to learn that Read Aloud Virginia, a nonprofit that worked directly with Richmond City Schools has now dissolved. One of their wonderful projects was the Children’s Book Bank, a resource for schools and families with readers-at-risk to get much needed reading material. The good news is that the Children’s Museum of Richmond has now taken over the Children’s Book Bank to ensure that readers-in-need can still get books to call their own.

The title of this BBC News piece is intriguing: Why Didn’t Harry Potter just use Google? It is an extension of Adam Gopnik’s essay/OpEd piece for the New Yorker, entitled How the Internet Gets Inside Us. Both pieces use the juxtaposition of the first Harry Potter book (1997) and Google’s launch (1998) as a way to illustrate how both information processing and reading have changed in the last 15 years. They also illustrate man’s drive to collect, organize, and use information … no matter what the medium!

The mid-December edition of Education Week’s Digital Directions has a thought-provoking piece on the future of online learning. Virtual Schools Booming as States Mull Warnings has an “Associated Press” byline, so we can’t “publish, broadcast, rewrite, or redistribute” the content. Still, we hope you’ll go over and read it, as so many parents (not to mention school districts) are looking at this option for meeting the educational needs of their students.

In a piece for the Huffington Post, Patricia G. Mathes shares her dream: “[that] every child possessed the ability to read, write, and speak in a manner that allowed him or her to succeed in school, pursue dreams, and contribute to society.” A Literate Nation for 2012 has some very stark statistics, some that are very familiar. This one was not: “Currently, there is a 30 year gap between what is known about teaching literacy to all children, and what typically happens in schools.” Learn more at

Nicholas Kristof had an interesting op-ed piece recently in the New York Times about the economic value of good teachers. Here’s a snippet: “a landmark new research paper underscores that the difference between a strong teacher and a weak teacher lasts a lifetime. Having a good fourth-grade teacher makes a student 1.25 percent more likely to go to college, the research suggests, and 1.25 percent less likely to get pregnant as a teenager.”

Yesterday’s Washington Post had a front-page story about the “long waits” for e-book lending in local DC-area libraries. It’s an interesting look at the publisher-reader-library dynamic, and a glimpse at the evolution of public library services. Terry wonders, though, with hold queues of 286, does it mean more people are reading or just playing with their new e-readers?

Suggestions for Growing Bookworms

Aaron Mead, the cool dad behind Children’s Books and Reviews, has just published a FREE eBook. Whether you’re a parent looking for ways to find that just-right book or a teacher who wants to give parents a ready-made guide, this is it. How to Choose Children’s Books: Practical Tips and Philosophical Reflections on Picking Books for Kids is packed with great ideas and plenty of links, including our own Jen Robinson’s Book Page and The Reading Tub website.

We really liked this post by Stacey Loscalzo about the secret to getting kids reading. Stacey explains: “the secret is surprisingly simple. Read yourself, read to them and let them read anything to themselves that they want.” And then she elaborates a bit. Jen especially liked the idea of having baskets of books everywhere, including the breakfast table.

Speaking of reading to kids, @ReadAloudDad came across a nice piece at Helen Saunders’ blog about the joys of reading aloud to kids even after they can read themselves (and despite the negative comments of people who say “Oh. Can’t he read himself yet?”.

Speaking of dads who like to read to their kids, our friend Chris Singer has decided to make the BookDads blog a more collaborative place. He invites readers to become part of the new Book Dads Community. Anyone can join, though certain rights are going to be reserved for dads (as seems reasonable enough, given the name of the site and all). The idea is to bring together people who have an interest in children’s literacy.

We haven’t had a video in a while, so I thought I’d share this one … can you imagine the fun (and the work) of creating such a neat video? Heck, I’d just be happy to live in a bookstore overnight! Our thanks to Zoe Toft (@PlaybytheBook) who shared the This is Colossal blog post. Want to find out about how many hours it took and how many books? Check out this behind-the-scenes look in Publisher’s Weekly.

Speaking of videos … we have just discovered the Raising Readers YouTube video series. There are 12 videos, each designed to guide parents through the process of reading with their children, and understanding their reading needs as they grow from elementary school into young adults. Our thanks to Michael Mandarino (@MMandarino) for sharing the Reading Today Online article by  Laurie Elish-Piper.


Dec 7 / ReadingTub

Roundup of Children’s Literacy and Reading News – Mid December

This is the archive edition of the Children’s Literacy and Reading News roundup brought to you by The Family Bookshelf, Jen Robinson’s Book Page and Rasco from RIF. This is a twice monthly collection of news related to literacy and reading. You can see the original at Jen Robinson’s Book Page.

Welcome to the mid-December Children’s Literacy and Reading News Roundup brought to you by Jen Robinson’s Book PageThe Family Bookshelf, and Rasco from RIF. Over the month of December so far Carol Rasco, Terry Doherty and I have collected content for you about literacy & reading-related events; literacy and reading programs and research; and suggestions for growing bookworms. Despite the upcoming holidays, there is plenty going on right now in the world of books (with extra thanks to Carol, who found MANY of these links).

Literacy & Reading-Related Events

Though not quite book-related, here’s an appropriate link for parents for the holiday season. is a nonprofit that evaluates children’s toys and products in five areas as they relate to learning disabilities: physical, cognitive, sensory, and communicative. With so many parents and educators seeking “reliable advice” on the best toys for their children, this could be an invaluable resource.

And speaking of the holiday season, advice columnist Ask Amy is promoting the Family Reading Partnership’s Book on Every Bed effort. Here’s the column in which she urges all parents to “Take a book. Wrap it. Place it on a child’s bed so it’s the first thing the child sees on Christmas morning (or whatever holiday you celebrate).” Simple and powerful. This is the second year for this campaign, and I hope it’s a huge success. I know that Terry has her books lined up already! (And speaking of the Family Reading Partnership, Melissa Taylor’s post about A Book on Every Bed reminded me that it’s not too late to order the Family Reading Partnership’s 2012 Read to Me calendar. I’ve got mine all ready to go for January, and I love it.

If you are looking for books to buy to put on that special child’s bed, you might consider mining the Cybils nomination lists (as suggested by Sheila Ruth at the Cybils website). Many wonderful titles have been nominated in categories ranging from fiction picture books to graphic novels to young adult fiction. And if you click through from the lists and make a purchase from Amazon, a small portion of your sale goes to the Cybils organization (where it helps fund things like prizes for the winners). Cybils shortlists will be announced on January 1st.

In honor of the 50th anniversary of The Snowy Day, the Jewish Museum in New York is mounting a retrospective of the work of author/illustrator Ezra Jack Keats. The New York Times, in an article by Laurel Graeber, says “Celebrating the book’s 50th anniversary and traveling to three other museums, the show, “The Snowy Day and the Art of Ezra Jack Keats,” tells the story of how a white Jew — Keats was born Jacob Ezra Katz — created a black character who helped change the face of children’s books.”

2012 is also the 50th anniversary of Margaret L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time, one of my all-time favorite books. I was pleased to read in Publisher’s Weekly (via the Children’s Bookshelf newsletter) about Macmillan’s year-long plan for celebrating this important milestone.  The multiple 50th anniversary editions that Macmillan is publishing will include “new additional content, including an introduction by Katherine Paterson, an afterword by L’Engle’s granddaughter, Charlotte Voiklis, and previously unpublished photos.” There’s also going to be a graphic novel version. I wonder what Meg Murray would have thought about that!

And if you happen to be headed to a museum that has dinosaurs, we suggest that you check out this New York Times feature by Pamela Paul that introduces a picture book for older kids on how those dinosaur fossils make their way to museums. (via @PamelaPaulNYT)

Literacy Programs and Research

Terry ran across what we think is a neat collaborative effort to benefit The National Literacy Trust in the UK and the Children’s Literacy Initiative in the US. It’s a charity anthology of short crime stories, where each of 38 stories is based on a classic song title (Light My Fire, Dock of the Bay, etc.).

As reported in CBCNews, author Margaret Atwood spoke recently about how Twitter and the Internet boost literacy. Here’s a snippet: “Thanks to the rise of the internet and of social media, “I would say that reading, as such, has increased. And reading and writing skills have probably increased because what all this texting and so forth replaced was the telephone conversation,” she continued.” I do hope that all of the online time is helping literacy. An article in The Digital Shift by Debra Lau Whalen reports that “A whopping 95 percent of teens between the ages of 12-17 are now online—and one in five of them say they’ve been bullied in the last year, either in person, online, by text, or by phone, says a new study by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project.” At least the literacy benefits might counterbalance some of the social downsides…

On the other hand, The Chronicle of Higher Education shared a nice op-ed piece by William Pannapacker about how many people are “still in love with print books.” He says: “Contrary to many futuristic projections—even from bibliophiles who, as a group, enjoy melancholy reveries—the recent technological revolution has only deepened the affection that many scholars have for books and libraries, and highlighted the need for the preservation, study, and cherishing of both.” I know I cherish my books in print, even as I download library books onto my iPad for vacations.

Jenny Schwartzberg sent us the link to a neat Washington Post story by Joshua Partlow about a program that uses old folktales (turned into books by a nonprofit publisher)  to help teach Afghan students to read. This story highlights the importance for literacy of having stories available that resonate with the particular audience. The Anne E. Casey Foundation Population Reference Bureau recently reported, in their analysis of 2010 census data, that “Children of mixed race grew at a faster rate than any other group over the past decade; from 1.9 million in 2000 to 2.8 million in 2010 (a 46 percent increase).” Sounds like there’s going to be a need for a lot of copies of Sarah Stevenson’s The Latte Rebellion in a few years…

Suggestions for Growing Bookworms

Stacey Loscalzo recently decided, given the need for reading tutors, to go back to work in this area. In this short post, Stacey shares a poem that inspired her wish to provide her first student with “A Lot of Slow to Grow”. Which pairs quite well, I think, with this post from Read Aloud Dad. RAD asks, how do you want your child to spend time when bored? Watching TV (or worse), or reading books? One key to having your child read whenever they have a passing moment of boredom is to keep lots of books around your home. Let’s see if we can provide all of our children with plenty of “slow to grow”, and even plenty of boredom (with books handy), in the hope that they’ll find time to grow as readers.

I also just read (with thanks to Carol) a piece that Patrick Carman wrote last month for The Digital Shift about transmedia and the way it has changed the very notion of books and reading. Carman’s view is that “What many ultra-wired kids needed was a pathway back to books. They needed someone to take two steps toward them before they could take one step in the direction of reading.” As a result, he’s been experimenting with stories that cross over between books and video, offline and online. I think this ties in well with a November NY Times Education piece that captures and categorizes various links about “the future of reading.”

For those families headed out on long trips for the holidays, PBS Kids is offering a video app for the iPad through which you can have free streaming access to more than 2000 PBS Kids television episodes. New videos are added every week. (Of course books are still our top choice for travel, especially for children under 2, but there’s certainly an appeal of having some educational video content available, to add variety to the mix.) School Library Journal actually reported, back in November, that iPads are expected to outpace computers in schools by 2016.

Speaking of the iPad, and other app platforms, Cybils app category organizer Mary Ann Scheuer was interviewed last week on NPR’s Here & Now show. Mary Ann did a great job of discussing the benefits of apps to help encourage reading, and she also managed to put in a good word for the Cybils. Excellent work!

If you live near New York, you might try visiting the Queens Library’s new Children’s Library Discovery Center. According to this ABC News story (you can check out the video), “Interactive components create an environment where children can learn about science, engineering and math. There are, of course, books related to each experience.” Sounds pretty cool!

Finally, for some more concrete Growing Bookworms tips, Amy at Delightful Children’s Books has just launched a new three-part series on introducing children to books. In the first installment, Amy focuses on introducing books to babies. She includes some general ideas for reading to babies, as well as a lovely list of recommended titles for “discoverers and communicators”, age 0 – 13 months. I wish I’d had this post when Baby Bookworm was in this age range.

Thanks for reading, and for caring about children’s literacy. We wish you all a joyful holiday season, and a book-filled 2012! Carol will be back at the beginning of January with the next roundup.

Dec 7 / ReadingTub

Roundup of Children’s Literacy and Reading News – November in Review

This is the archive edition of the Children’s Literacy and Reading News roundup brought to you by Jen Robinson’s Book Page and Rasco from RIF. This is a twice monthly collection of news related to literacy and reading. You can see the original at Rasco from RIF.

Welcome to the November Children’s Literacy and Reading News Roundup brought to you by Jen Robinson’s Book Page and    Rasco from RIF. Over the month of November Jen Robinson and I have collected content for you about literacy & reading-related events; literacy and reading programs and research; and suggestions for growing bookworms.

After a grand and glorious Thanksgiving weekend including reading about (but not getting caught in!) Black Friday, Small Business Day, Cyber Monday, Plaid Friday (a new one to me, means to Shop Locally), people shopping out of town (and those always spend more according to many owners) when attending ballgames and family gatherings along with weather variances, it was a weekend according to PW that was much like “the opening of Dicken’s Tale of Two Cities: It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”  I hope you had a GOOD TIME regardless of where you were, whether you were shopping or not!  And speaking of shopping, don’t forget MotherReader’s wonderful 150 Ways to Give a Book. When you visit MotherReader for these ideas she has the books linked to ordering sites as well as links for the accompanying items. Hurray, shopping made easy! Thank you, Pam!

Literacy & Reading-Related Events

Two special shout outs, trumpets playing and showering of gold stars to:
Laurie Halse Anderson for being honored by
Donalyn Miller “The Book Whisperer” for being named the Texas….

Literacy Programs and Research

Wordless books.

Suggestions for Growing Bookworms

Thomas Friedman had a powerful statement about the role of parents in children’s education (Title) in the New York Times recently. It’s a piece I now have in the notebook I carry daily to remind me always of the role I play in my grandchildren’s lives as well as to share with parents woh frequently ask me if what they can do is really that helpful when it comes to education…oh, me, they are probably sorry they ask that one of me!

Have you and your children read Dan Yaccarino’s All the Way to America: The Story of a Big Italian Family and a Little Shovel yet? This story receiving starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and School Library Journal is now the title of a blog where you and your family can post YOUR story! …… post from Betsy Bird to start your creative juices flowing. You can even opt for a video posting or like Betsy post a photo to accompany your story. Sounds like a good winter’s day activity to me!

Nov 7 / ReadingTub

Roundup of Children’s Literacy and Reading News – Mid November

This is the archive edition of the Children’s Literacy and Reading News roundup brought to you by Jen Robinson’s Book Page and Rasco from RIF. This is a twice monthly collection of news related to literacy and reading. You can see the original at The Family Bookshelf.

Welcome to the mid-November Children’s Literacy and Reading News Roundup brought to you by Jen Robinson’s Book Page and Rasco from RIF. Over the month of November so far Jen Robinson and I have collected content for you about literacy & reading-related events; literacy and reading programs and research; and suggestions for growing bookworms.

Jen and I wish to honor the memory of our colleague Terry Doherty’s father who was “called Home” over the weekend.  Clearly he was among many things a man of literacy who instilled in his daughter and those he taught within a classroom a love of words, books, and story.  Terry has paid tribute to him in a lovely, personal posting.  Our thoughts are with the family as they mourn his loss and celebrate all that he brought to their lives. Indeed, we are thinking about you and all your family, Terry.

Literacy & Reading-Related Events

BIG day tomorrow, November 15: Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Cabin Fever released!
First run? 
6 million copies!

It’s a “wimpy wonderland” with The Rolling Blizzard indeed “ready to roll and create some snow”! Check out the east coast tour map.

There was an interesting post last week in anticipation of this book 6 in the Wimpy Kid series; the post is written by child psychiatrist Dr. Harold Koplewicz:  “Wimpy Kid: Why ‘The Ugly Truth’ Is So Appealing”.  I particularly liked what Dr. Koplewicz reported a librarian writing about the first WIMPY book on her blog; she said ”No one in their right mind would ever want to return to the days of Middle School, but if Jeff Kinney keeps churning out books like this one, I’ll follow him there any day of the week.” And Dr. Koplewicz goes on to note “For those who have no choice but to be there — our children — Kinney’s humor offers more balm in this developmentally rich but precarious time than any platitudes we might offer.”

“>Picture Book Month is a wonderful way to start each day, the postings by individuals are inspiring and bring back memories for me as well as provoke thought on these wonderful books. A great synopsis of many contributors to date is a video produced by Carter Higgans.

And don’t forget to continue to check in daily at PiBoIdMo where there are also posts that fascinate and intrigue!  I particularly enjoyed author/illustrator Elisa Kleven’s discussion and illustrations of “Inspiration.”

There are some stories that simply make me feel good, this is one of them: The Issaquah Press, a weekly newspaper in Issaquah, Washington reported last week on Betty Gering, 76, who has been reading to second-graders in the Briarwood Elementary School library for 15 years.  She continues this volunteer experience despite moving away from Issaquah to a retirement community and says she plans to continue as long as she can.  Her own mother was a second-grade teacher and Betty feels she is in part honoring the memory of her mother…plus Betty loves the children and reading with them.  Don’t we wish all children had a ”Betty the Reading Buddy” in their lives?

I don’t know about you, but I feel like I missed THE event of the year by not being in New York City recently when the debut 90-Second Newbery Film Festival was held there in the auditorium of the main branch library.  Betsy Bird in reporting made me feel I was there laughing and crowding in (despite fire marshal rules she was supposed to enforce) if I ran the least bit late!  You really must read about it for yourself, the pictures and videos are priceless! Pictured here are James Kennedy and Jon Scieszka as they prepared for their duties as co-emcees…oh, my.  The festival is also making appearances in Chicago and Portland.

Literacy Programs and Research

On NPR’s food blog The Salt I recently saw a title that intrigued me: Reading, Writing and Roasting: Schools Bring Cooking Back Into The Classroom where Allison Aubrey has shared a program Cooking with Kids in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Several years ago I visited one of the elementary schools using this program, and the excitement students showed for learning in the kitchen was energizing to me. A new study is cited with the author, Leslie Cunningham-Sabo, noting “Teachers and principals are seeing how the classroom cooking experience helps support critical thinking, collaboration, and problem-solving skills.” Fourth graders enjoying Ethiopian-style lentils, accompanied by injere bread, couscous and cucumber salad is impressive.  The school I visited was also planting a community garden.  Aubrey has also outlined other organizations’ food preparation courses for young students.

Jenny Schwartzberg sent us the link to a San Jose Mercury News article by Kristen Marschall about a Los Altos woman whose “nonprofit Hoopoe Books has printed and distributed about 800,000 children’s books in the war-torn country (of Afghanistan) and is aiming to circulate more than 2.5 million in the next year.”

The American Academy of Pediatricians has released updated recommendations on media use by children younger than two.  The new statement “reaffirms the 1999 statement with respect to media use in infants and children younger than 2 years (which discouraged any media use for these children) and provides updated research findings to support it. This statement addresses (1) the lack of evidence supporting educational or developmental benefits for media use by children younger than 2 years, (2) the potential adverse health and developmental effects of media use by children younger than 2 years, and (3) adverse effects of parental media use (background media) on children younger than 2 years. Pediatrics 2011;128:000″ (Via @ReadingRockets)

A recent study reported in the Journal of Child Development (and summarized in a newswire piece) found that “Preschool children with relatively poor language skills improve more if they are placed in classrooms with high-achieving students… Researchers found that children with relatively poor language skills either didn’t improve over the course of one academic year, or actually lost ground in development of language skills, when they were placed with other low-achieving students.” (via @TrevorHCairney)

The New Republic December 1 issue has a piece by Jonathan Cohn (@CitizenCohnThe Two Year Window: The new science of babies and brains-and how it could revolutionize the fight against poverty.  Very likely if you do not have a subscription you will be unable to read the full article, but you will want to check by a library or elsewhere to read the full article…it is full of solid talking points for those of us who are the broken records (and children need a broken record on the topic) on the benefits of investing early in the lives of our children, particularly those in poverty and those who are abused and/or neglected, suffering other trauma in those early months and years.

DC Public Schools have implemented the Tools of the Mind curriculum this fall in 28 schools with 157 preschool, pre-K and kindergarten classes targeting disadvantaged students.  According to the Washington Post article “the program uses carefully guided play to stimulate what neuroscientists call ‘executive function’: a combination of memory, impulse control, persistence and flexibility that researchers say may be an even more powerful determinant of educational success than IQ.”

Suggestions for Growing Bookworms

It’s not directly a suggestion for growing bookworms, but Jen really enjoyed Mo Willems’ Zena Sutherland lecture, as reformatted for the most recent issue of Horn Book Magazine. It’s about (in a bit of a roundabout way) why Willems thinks that in this day of apps and ebooks, we still need plain old printed books. Well worth a read by anyone who cares about kids and books. (Via the print magazine, link shared by @ImaginationSoup on Twitter). Also do check out Roger Sutton’s editorial about the Picture Book Proclamation that was included in the recent Horn Book issue. Food for thought for everyone who cares about children’s literature there, too.

I was delighted to be reminded of this invaluable tool for teachers and parents and appreciate the update by @Larryferlazzo to his post “The Best Listening Sites For English Language Learners”.  (Thank you @AndresHenriquez!)  KIDS COUNT‘s latest report informs us that in 2010, 22 percent (11.8 million) of children in the United States spoke a language other than English at home; this rate has grown from 18 percent in 2000.

Susan of The Book Chook has sent an “Oh, my word, yes!” posting from Silly Eagle Books that will more than likely bring back a few memories to you of children you have known as they get into stories and characters! Thanks for the memories, Susan.

As we move to a holiday season for many families with gifts for children a part of many of the celebratory holidays, this piece (sent by Carol’s friend Susan Smith) is applicable to all children whether Santa is part of your holiday tradition or not…libraries in public settings and personal home libraries even if they are very small are both key components in our children’s literacy development. We hope you appreciate this visual! We are reminded as well of the endangered nature of many libraries; have you reviewed the map lately regarding school libraries? (via Laurel Snyder)

(image by Rogers of Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

My “assignment” for the family Thanksgiving feast this year is pies…yummy.  We always have apple, cherry, pumpkin, pecan and lemon…and sometimes a few more. Lemon, you say? Oh, yes, always lemon.  One of those traditions built over time you know.  So with pies on my mind I found a posting at The Children’s Book Review recalling Harold, his purple crayon and nine pies;  some of these “pie” books I have read and love, others are new to me.  Do you know of other “pie” books to add to this list?  I sense a new Rasco bookshelf collection coming…(via @book_mommy)

Don’t forget The National Book Awards are announced this Wednesday, November 16 in a program starting at 8 p.m. (ET).  For the first time the program will be webcast live from New York City, go to WWW.NATIONALBOOK.ORG where you can also learn more about all the finalists and festivities prior to the awards evening.

Thanks for reading, and for caring about children’s literacy. We will be back at the end of November at with the next roundup!


Oct 7 / ReadingTub

Roundup of Children’s Literacy and Reading News – Early/Mid October

This is the archive edition of the Children’s Literacy and Reading News roundup brought to you by Jen Robinson’s Book PageFamily Bookshelf, and Rasco from RIF. This is a twice monthly collection of news related to literacy and reading. You can see the original at Jen Robinson’s Book Page.

Welcome to the mid-October Children’s Literacy and Reading News Roundup brought to you by Jen Robinson’s Book Page, The Family Bookshelf, and Rasco from RIF. Over the month of October so far, Terry Doherty, Carol Rasco, and I have collected content for you about literacy & reading-related events; literacy and reading programs and research; and suggestions for growing bookworms.

Literacy & Reading-Related Events

First up and most time-sensitive, Cybils nominations close tomorrow (October 15th)!  Don’t miss your chance to nominate your favorite children’s and young adult books, in categories ranging from picture books to early readers to poetry and graphic novels. Anyone can nominate titles (one per person per category). The resulting nominations will be judged by teams of bloggers in various categories, winnowing through the hundreds of nominated titles to generate high-quality shortlists. So, if there’s a book that you thought was well-written AND kid-friendly, and it hasn’t been nominated yet, nominate it here. More information is available at the Cybils blog, where you can find eligibility rules, category descriptions, and links to lists of great, not-yet-nominated titles.

October 6th was Jumpstart’s Read for the Record day, as millions of people joined Jumpstart in reading Llama, Llama Red Pajamas aloud to kids. The Huffington Post’s Michael Yarborough published a nice, short piece about the event, and about Jumpstart’s larger goals (“working toward the day every child in America enters school prepared to succeed”).

The finalists for the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature were announced this week. I was especially happy to see Gary Schmidt’s Okay for Now on the list, since I declared it award-worthy a couple of months. Link via @PWKidsBookshelf.

Literacy Programs and Research

In an open letter to Sixth graders, Jim Vanides encourages students to think about their learning in the context of a global society. He calls it global fluency. Although his focus is technology (this is a post on the HP blog), his points really help codify the communication needs of our children.

And now for an uplifting tidbit of international literacy news, I was pleased to see this AP article by Kirsten Grieshaber about how “take a book, leave a book” public bookshelves are spreading across Germany. “In these free-for-all libraries, people can grab whatever they want to read, and leave behind anything they want for others. There’s no need to register, no due date, and you can take or give as many as you want.” Link via @IrisBlasi.

The OC Register had a lovely feel-good story a couple of weeks ago about a 13-year-old who has collected more than 17,000 children’s books and delivered them to needy children, schools, and hospitals. Here’s a snippet: “Megan (Mettler) got the idea last year while volunteering in the soup kitchen at the temple her family attends in Santa Ana. There, her eyes wandered to two homeless children. “I thought, ‘They need books,’” Megan recalled. “I love books. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t have a book in my hand.”" And so she took action. An inspiration to us all! Link via Jenny Schwartzberg.

The Washington Post recently shared an article by Valerie Strauss about the ways in which early childhood education is currently in the spotlight, and some of the issues being debated regarding how to improve it. Link via @ReachOutAndRead. Personally, I’m becoming a bit concerned about the second issue discussed: “Is there too much focus on academics in early childhood education today?” (at the expense of play). But I certainly agree that “quality early childhood education is vital to the academic success of most children — especially those who live in poverty”. I know that Carol and Terry do, too.

Speaking of Reach Out and Read, they just shared this tidbit with me: “Reach Out and Read was featured on NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams! On October 11, our Military Initiative was highlighted as part of the network’s “Making A Difference on the Homefront” series, “an effort to shine a light on veterans, military families and the issues affecting them across the country.” The segment was filmed last month at Scott Air Force Base in Illinois. Watch the clip here!”

In Detroit, the Free Press and several other organizations have launched a new adult literacy program called Reading Works. The Press’ Stephen Henderson talks about how this program will directly lead to improved children’s literacy in the future, saying: “Adult literacy is inextricably tied to child literacy. Parents who can’t read don’t read to their children, don’t fill their houses with books, and can’t be that all-important first teacher who not only builds young literacy skills but submerges kids in a world of words and sentences, bindings and pages.”

Carol found a fascinating piece by Dr. Perri Klass in the New York Times Health section about the way that babies, particularly bilingual babies, process language. What I found especially interesting was this bit: “Dr. (Patricia) Kuhl calls bilingual babies “more cognitively flexible” than monolingual infants…Previous research by her group showed that exposing English-language infants in Seattle to someone speaking to them in Mandarin helped those babies preserve the ability to discriminate Chinese language sounds, but when the same “dose” of Mandarin was delivered by a television program or an audiotape, the babies learned nothing.”

Suggestions for Growing Bookworms

The Book Chook shares suggestions for developing children’s literacy with fingerplays, in a post aimed at parents and caregivers of babies and toddlers. She says “Not only will you find that a little one loves to have your undivided, loving attention, but you’ll know that you’re laying a foundation for reading, writing and communication skills when he’s older.”

And speaking of literacy-based play, I received an email this week from the developers of Little Librarian, “the first personal library kit made just for kids!” Here’s the product description for this library-based game: “Little Librarian provides book lovers with everything they need to transform their book collection into a library. Kids can practice the important skills of organizing, sharing, borrowing, and returning. Book pockets, check out cards, library cards, and bookmarks are just like the ones from the real library. Little Librarians will issue overdue notices and awards. Favorite books can be stored in the reading journal and shared with friends.” We haven’t actually seen this game, but “Disney Family Fun Magazine selected Little Librarian as a finalist for the Toy of the Year Awards for 2010″. If the idea of playing home library with your child sparks your enthusiasm, this game is probably worth a look.

This list is a couple of years old, but it’s the first time I’ve seen it. Maya Frost at Converge shares, from a teacher’s perspective, 10 Wishes for Student Success. The wishes are things that she wishes parents would do for/with their kids at different ages, to help ensure success in school. I, of course, liked #1: “I wish that parents of preschoolers would cancel one of those weekly must-do activities (swimming, gymnastics, soccer) and take their kids to the local library instead.” Link via @AnIowaTeacher.

Terry recently came across this list of Teachers’ Top 100 Books for Children at the NEA website. The list was compiled from an online survey in 2007, and, while heavy on the classics, does include relatively recent titles like Inkheart and Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus. The list mixes picture books and middle grade, but it’s still a nice reference for parents looking for read-aloud or gift ideas.

Speaking of useful lists, ALSC just released a Children’s Graphic Novels Core Collection, organized by age range. ALA News explains: “In recognition of the importance of these books for children, the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) directed its Quicklists Consulting Committee to create a list of titles for public librarians serving elementary school-age children (kindergarten through 8th grade). The result is the Children’s Graphic Novel Core Collection from ALSC.” Carol found this link.

While looking at io9′s list of 10 Amazing Science Books that Reveal the Wonders of the Universe, Terry found a fun list of Geeky Gifts for Kids. I especially liked this: “Mad Scientist alphabet blocks. Mwah-ha-ha! (io9 takes no responsibility for your child growing up to be an evil overlord.)” (Via StumbleUpon)

I found this column by KJ Dellantonia at the NY Times Motherlode blog thought-provoking: Putting Down the iPad So My Kids Can See Me Read. The author explains that although she loved her iPad Kindle app, her kids didn’t perceive her as reading when she was reading on the iPad. In the interest of having her kids unquestionably see her reading books, she dropped the app, and made a trip to the bricks and mortar bookstore. Kinda made me want to reassess my use of iPad and smartphone when in the presence of Baby Bookworm. Link via @PWKidsBookshelf.

Myra Garces Bacsal shared a related story with me in response to the above (which I had posted on Google+). A father living in Paris took a video of a toddler who “seems totally flummoxed at how to manipulate the paper page” of a magazine, wanting it to work like an iPad. Now, if you ask me that’s a toddler who hasn’t been read to enough, rather than a sign that “the future of print media is in trouble.” But there is certainly no doubt that kids find touchscreens very, very intuitive.

Thanks for reading, and for caring about children’s literacy. Carol will be back at the end of October at Rasco from RIF with the next roundup, but I’m sure that Terry will have tidbits for you in the meantime at The Family Bookshelf. You can also find us all talking literacy on Twitter and Google+. Have a great weekend!

Sep 19 / ReadingTub

Roundup of Children’s Literacy and Reading News – Mid-September

This is the archive edition of the Children’s Literacy and Reading News roundup brought to you by Jen Robinson’s Book PageFamily Bookshelf, and Rasco from RIF. This is a twice monthly collection of news related to literacy and reading. You can see the original at the Family Bookshelf.

Welcome to the mid-September Children’s Literacy and Reading News Roundup brought to you by Jen Robinson’s Book Page, The Family Bookshelf, and Rasco from RIF. Over the month of September so far, Jen Robinson, Carol Rasco, and I have collected content for you about literacy & reading-related events; literacy and reading programs and research; and suggestions for growing bookworms (with special thanks to Susan Stephenson, The Book Chook, for sending us several links). There is a ton of great stuff going on out there.

Literacy & Reading-Related Events

This is more a phenomenon than an event. In her 3 September House Watch column (Washington Post Real Estate Section), Katherine Salant focused on how homeowners overlook exterior upkeep for their homes. So what does that have to do with literacy? Well, listen to these remarks by J.D. Grewell, a Silver Spring-based private home inspector for nearly 40 years.

Grewell also lamented a decline in shop classes in high school, which once exposed all the boys and some of the girls to the basics of working with tools and doing maintenance. “This has robbed an entire generation of the skills needed to make simple home repairs correctly,” he said. “If a light switch stops working, they plug in more lamps, run a lot of extension cords or feel their way around in the dark.”

Literacy includes “life skills” of all types. We’re not teaching kids these skills … and worse yet, if they don’t know how to read, they can’t teach themselves! I can see the headlines now about a house burning down because of a lamp plugged into a series of extension cords to “solve” a problem.

Lauren Barack just wrote in School Library Journal’s Tech Trends about the deluge of support that Kate Messner garnered for an Adirondack library that lost it’s entire children’s collection due to Hurricane Irene. Jen’s favorite part of the story is this quote from Kate: ” The community of people who make children’s books and love children’s books is a pretty amazing one, and they’re rallying around this tiny library in a way I couldn’t have dreamed.” Of course it’s also nice to see that these networks that we’re building through Twitter and blogging can have a real, positive impact.

Teachers, the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation minigrant applications are now online. The deadline isn’t until March 15th, but we can’t imagine that there is any harm in being early. Betsy has more details at A Fuse #8 Production.

The Edinburgh International Book Festival was the latest recipient of an anonymous “book sculpture” in a series being left periodically for various literacy related groups there in Edinburgh. The posting will lead you to photos of all left thus far, what incredible detail!

BookDads and Lit World report that September 22nd is International Day of the Girl. Here’s the main point: “Two thirds of all the world’s illiterate people are women. On September 22, we will stand up for girls and their right to go to school and to learn to read and write. Let us join together to launch a campaign to advocate for a transformative new era in girls’ education.”

In the earliest days of lighthouses along the coastal areas, what did the “keepers” and their families do for reading materials? Read in Library History Buff Blog about traveling lighthouse libraries started in 1876! It would be interesting to have a child or a classroom determine what each family represented would choose today to have in the first wooden cabinet to arrive. Thank you to American Libraries Direct for this interesting feature.

Literacy Programs and Research

Digital Directions often offers articles that not only talk about Literacy 2.0, but offer thought-provoking ideas. E-Learning Expands for Special Needs Students is just the newest.  Some students with physical and learning disabilities have the opportunity to attend school from home via virtual classrooms. At issue is NOT the quality of the content, but access. “Not all online classes are welcoming to students with disabilities. The courses may not be accessible to them, or the students may never be offered the courses in the first place.”

More and more we read about QR codes; Kelly of iLearn Technology has posted about a teacher using QR codes for a scavenger hunt to help students learn about their new school facility on the first day of school. Reading the article promotes all manner of ideas about how such a “hunt” might be crafted with suggestions given in the closing paragraph for art, literature and math.

In Australia, popular author Andy Griffiths found that he connected better with indigenous students when he asked them to tell the stories. His school visit project turned into a book of silly stories, edited by Griffiths, but written and illustrated by some of the kids he met as ambassador for the Indigenous Literacy Project. See details in this article by Elisabeth Tarica in the Age, via Jenny Schwartzberg.

Suggestions for Growing Bookworms

Just in case Jen is homesick for Bah-st-en, here is something she’ll love from the Boston Mamas blog: Raising Avid Readers! Yes, it is from 2009, but the worries and recommendations are timeless. (via @SchoolFamily)

In a recent post at Teach Mama, Amy Mascott let us in on a secret: “Every time [my kids] don their aprons in the kitchen with me, they’re secretly working on their reading, math, science, and so many more important skills while they’re looking at recipes, measuring ingredients, and watching their creation come to life.”  She even gave me an idea for what to do with some very stale candy canes!

If you’re going to grow bookworms, one of the best ways to do that, of course, is to read aloud to them, and to continue to read aloud to them even after they are old enough to read themselves. That’s why we were so thrilled to see this amazing list of “Readalouds for a “snarky-smart precocious almost-12-year-old” girl” at Bookshelves of Doom. Leila compiled recommendations from various commenters to come up with a wonderful list of titles. Do check it out!

And speaking of reading books with older kids (whether aloud or not), Jen enjoyed this guest post by Stephanie Wilkes at Cheryl Rainfield’s blog. Stephanie, a young adult librarian, proposes that ” while doing the daily duties of a young adult librarian brings teens closer to books, maybe I should change focus for a short time and target the PARENTS.” She’s looking at YA book clubs with parents (with or without teens present), to help ” 1) facilitate discussion amongst teens and adults; 2) allow adults to indulge and learn more about young adult fiction; and 3) open the door for adults to embrace this new generation and to understand their dilemmas.” These sound like good things to me (Jen).

Two interesting posts out recently about boys and reading. First, Trevor Cairney at Literacy, Families and Learning shares excellent, detailed tips on Making Reading Exciting for Boys. He says: ” For too many boys, encounters with books speak of boredom, inadequacy and separation from fun. This feeds a sense of failure, frustration and lack of interest in reading. Our job as parents and teachers is to break this cycle.” Then he discusses various ways to do that. On a lighter note, middle school librarian Ms. Yingling recently “flung the gauntlet” at publishers regarding the publication of more boy-friendly books. She notes: “This is what we need: A web site that says “Hey, girl librarians recommending books to boys are busy! Let us help! Look, focus groups of actual boys like THESE books.”" What do you all think?

On WGN9 (CW in Chicago), J Richard Gentry talks about his book Raising Confident Readers in a Focus on the Family segment.


Thanks for reading, and for caring about children’s literacy. Carol will be back at the end of September at Rasco from RIF with the next roundup, but I’m sure that Jen  will have tidbits for you in the meantime at Jen Robinson’s Book Page. You can also find us talking literacy on Twitter and Google+.