Children’s Literacy and Reading News – 8 June

I have been assured that the blog “is here” so I am forging ahead …

This week’s children’s literacy and reading news round-up, brought to you by Jen Robinson’s Book Page and Scrub-a-Dub-Tub, a Reading Tub blog, is now available here. This week Jen Robinson and I have collected plenty of content for you about literacy & reading-related events; raising readers; literacy and reading programs and research; 21st century literacies; grants, sponsorships & donations; and other new resources.

Congratulations to the 106 (!) lucky ducks who spent the weekend reading as part of MotherReader’s 48 Hour Book Challenge. The rest of us ducks were excited to cheer you on and follow along. Y’all rock! What a collection of reviews! My TBR has grown exponentially. Wrap-up posts will be coming in throughout the day so it’s not too late to check in. Special props to those who were reading for a cause, including Jen Robinson and Pam Coughlan, who raised money for Bridget Zinn.


The Brooke Jackman Foundation was created in October 2001 to honor Brooke Jackman, age 23, who was killed in the September 11 attacks. Brooke loved to read and had a profound interest in children. The Foundation honors Brooke by “building a legacy of literacy and learning for children in need.” In May, the Foundation launched $10 & Change, a fundraising effort to distribute books to kids in need to keep them reading this summer. The goal is to use $10 donations to give out 5,000 books in 50 days. Donations will be accepted until 4 July 2009. Visit the website to learn more about the fundraising campaign and the Foundation’s success in opening its fourth library at the Family Justice Center in Brooklyn, NY.

Jen wrote about this at Booklights last week, but we wanted to mention it here, too. Jill who blogs at The Well-Read Child has started a new weekly feature: What My Children Are Reading. The idea is for parents to discuss (on their own blogs) what books their kids are enjoying. Jill is collecting the posts with a Mr. Linky. Worth noting: parents who don’t have blogs are more than welcome to share their contributions in the comments. Here is this week’s entry and round-up post from Jill. This should be a great ongoing source of recommendations.

Over at Readergirlz (a fave stop for both Jen and me), Melissa Walker tells us about two ways you can help get books to kids in need.

  • Alternatives for Girls, an organization which helps homeless and high-risk girls avoid violence, teen pregnancy and exploitation in favor of positive choices, has a wish list at Powell’s of new books for their library. The organization is particularly interested in “new releases in children’s and YA literature, graphic novels, comics and biographies.”
  • Color Online is a community committed to “promotion, empowerment, and political awakening” for young women. The organization’s Summer Book Drive is underway, and they are seeking of new or gently used books by July 1.They also have a wishlist at Powell’s Books. You can get more details about both events in the Summer Book Drives post at Color Online.
  • You’ll also want to check out the cool summer poster, too.

Raising Readers In Terrific Toons, author-illustrator Mark G. Mitchell talks about graphic novels for young readers. He prefaces his interview with Françoise Mouly of Toon Books by talking about his own experiences with Classics Illustrated comics and how visuals help emerging readers. “Searching words, pictures and panels for clues to events big and small in a story is a more active experience than watching video on a screen. “Over at Moms Inspire Learning, Dawn Morris posted part 3 of her series Top 10 Ways to Raise an Avid Reader. She talks about connecting books with a real-world activity, and has one of my all-time favorites as the book cover.

Times-Picayune Book Editor Susan Larson offers some ideas on ways adults can engage kids in reading this summer. Her article goes beyond talking about the (loved/hated) summer reading list to encourage adults to ask kids what they’re reading, what they think about books … and not to hesitate to do it on their Facebook page! Check out Getting Young Readers through the Summer Reading List and Beyond for a little bit of book talk, a little bit of cheerleading.

At Literacy, Families, and Learning, Trevor Cairney writes about the benefits of repeated reading of literature. He talks in particular about benefits for developing readers from re-reading the same book, and reading series books. He adds: “There is also great benefit in extensive experience with varied authors and genres, but there is a downside if children move too quickly in their reading experiences. A balance between variety, and the benefits of re-reading and the increased certainty of the book series, seems to be beneficial for most children.”

At, Ginny Kochis tackles the question: what benefits does reading aloud offer to very young children. The article explains: “Reading aloud to infants, then, is not a fruitless or passive endeavor. The act of sharing a book with a baby strengthens parent-child bonds and provides positive sensory stimulation necessary for proper development.” Kochis concludes by sharing some read-aloud tips from RIF.

Our attention was caught by this blurb from the latest issue of the Reading Rockets Newsletter (an excellent free resource): “Literacy Adventures: With summer here, many families are planning fun family adventures. The Pierce County Library System developed fun literacy adventure resources that help develop early literacy skills. Each resource includes fun ways to incorporate reading and writing and a booklist too. Sample topics include the airport, bus rides, dining out and neighborhood walks.” Here’s the link (scroll down a bit to see the adventure links).
As Jen mentioned in the last roundup, she is gathering some of the more parent-focused literacy items in Literacy Lights, a new feature at Booklights. That’s where you’ll find links to articles about encouraging dad to read and using games as a literacy tool. Thanks to Abby (the) Librarian for the link to Children’s Authors and Illustrators Tell All, a School Library Journal (SLJ) post about their reading lists. She got the link via Mo Willems Doodles.Nashville just moved up on my “cool places” scale. Have you read about Sodium? It’s a local initiative to create a family-friendly space part coffee house, part library, part arts center, part playground. Amy at Literacy Launchpad is looking for your expertise to help with the literacy.

There is an interesting trio of posts about reading with older kids.

  • At Moms Inspire Learning, Dawn Morris has collected a series of articles about reading aloud with kids that she found through Twitter. They have inspired her to re-establish that evening ritual or reading with her older kids (ages 11 and 14).
  • In First Day of School, Donalynn reminds us that summer is really the beginning of school. Summer is the time we have to about the (still) unanswered questions of the past year. Her questions are thoughtful and some hit home: like my own quest to change the perception of nonfiction as “homework.” You’ll want to read about former students wanting to borrow classroom library books for the summer, too.
  • In Reading Beyond the Snuggle and Cuddle Stage, Cathy Puett Miller offers tips on reading with kids third grade through high school. Cathy is Donalynn Miller does a great complementary post at The Book Whisperer. This morning at 11 AM (PDT) Cathy is a guest on Answers For the Family. She will be talking with host Allan Cardoza about making reading with older kids valuable and how to navigate the world of the pre-teen, tween and teen years and have your child come out at the other end a reader. You can listen live at or listen to a podcast version later at
In this week’s The Big Fresh (Choice Literacy newsletter – free edition), Brenda Power links us to a list of summer reading lists. Elizabeth Kennedy has posted the Top Ten Summer Reading Lists for Kids and Teens – 2009. You’ll recognize the ALA Notables List, but she also has the Summer Reading List for Boys (Grades 1 to 8)compiled by the Town School for Boys (San Francisco), the 2009 Middle School Reading List from the Parkway (Missouri) School District, and several others. Scroll down to the bottom to find links to suggested reading, other related resources, guide picks, and related articles. Lots of information in just one stop
!In the opening of his post about online learning comprehension strategies, Keith Schoch sets out questions he’s gotten from readers: “Which [reading skills] are most important? How do you teach skills that students will actually recall and use independently? Where can I access a list or description of reading skills?” He then moves on to talk about Into the Book, a website that helps not only teachers, but students, too. What caught my attention was that it has the narrative, descriptions as well as videos that demonstrate the skill in action. Check out this tool that gives you ideas for designing your classroom’s literacy area.

Speaking of school … Abby (the) Librarian offers a list of the ways public librarians can help teachers. It’s a cross between an idea sheet and a checklist. At the Reading Zone, Sarah Mulhern has been answering reader questions about her classroom practices. It is a fascinating series that covers everything from organization and planning to summer reading.

Literacy & Reading Programs & Research

It will be interesting to follow the developments Just Read, the UK’s newest literacy initiative. The effort brings together children’s publishers, authors, booksellers, librarians, and reading groups in an “unprecedented showing of solidarity … [to] explore how the industry can support schools in encouraging children to read more in both volume and variety.” As you  may remember, earlier this spring, as part of a BBC4 television series,  Children’s Laureate (UK) Michael Rosen hosted a program that demonstrated “20 key activities” as ways to promote reading. Just Read is pointing to the program as the catalyst for its own effort. You can read more at Beattie’s Book Blog or the original post, Rosen Heads Literacy Campaign, by Carolyn Horn at

Thanks to Max Elliott Anderson (Books for Boys) for sharing this post about Prison Literacy & Books for Boys. In his latest report about literacy in prison, Kenneth W. Mentor, PHD, offers striking statistics not only about the literacy levels in prison populations, but the numbers of prisoners who have learning disabilities. “Data collected from the National Adult Literacy Survey (NALS) show that literacy levels among inmates is considerably lower than for the general population…[According to NALS data} 70% of inmates scored at the lowest two levels of literacy (below 4th grade). Other research suggests that 75% of inmates are illiterate (at the 12th grade level) and 19% are completely illiterate…A related concern is that prisoners have a higher proportion of learning disabilities than the general population. Estimates of learning disability are as high as 75-90% for juvenile offenders.”

Scientific Reasoning: No Child’s Play an Education Week article by Sean Cavanagh explores how 22 Detroit Schools incorporated BioKIDS into their curriculum and professional-development programs. The program is designed to “build students’ skill in complex scientific reasoning [by allowing them to do]  the work that actual scientists do.

A federal study of four programs found that three made no impact and one actually had negative impact on reading achievement. The researchers conducted a large-scale randomized controlled study. Participants from 89 schools included 6,350 students, who were all 5th graders and 268 teachers in 10 urban districts with large numbers of disadvantaged students. The schools in the study were randomly assigned either to use one of the reading curricula being reviewed or to a control group. Mary Ann Zehr has an excellent summary of the study protocol and findings in  Supplemental Reading Programs Found Ineffective (Education Week).

The Southern Regional Education Board believes that adolescent reading is one of the highest priorities for public middle grades and high schools. In an interview, SREB President David S. Spence said, “We’re saying this needs to be the top priority, even if something else has to give.” The remarks stem from A Critical Mission: Making Adolescent Reading an Immediate Priority in SREB States, a recent study on adolescent literacy. (Mary Ann Zehr for Education Week)

In RIF and GLW Reach Out to at-Risk Youth congratulates Guys Lit Wire on its recent bookdrive to collect  books for imprisoned boys, and describes the Books for Ownership program in juvenile facilities in 11 states. Carol closes with an invitation to contact her if you’d like to create a similar program in your community.  PS – Did you see the cool spot Carol was reading for the 48 Hour Book Challenge? I want one of those for my office!

21st Century Literacies

We haven’t had much new in a while … but Franki does. Thanks to a district grant, her school will have 25 new iPod Touches this fall. This summer, she is going to try out and learn 50 new iPhone apps. She is looking for “good, authentic applications …  I figure that the more applications I find that are useful for me, the more possibilities I will have for students.” She is accepting recommendations over at A Year of Reading. I wonder if my husband would buy the “educational value” of an iPhone as a birthday gift?! Hmmm…

Grants and Donations

The Early Ed Watch blog has been publishing a series of articles/posts about the early literacy initiatives in President Obama’s Budget. Topics have included Title I Early Childhood Grants and the Early Learning Challenge Fund. Last week, Sara Mead took a closer look at Early Literacy Grants in this post. According to the summary, the administration proposal “not only allows but encourage school districts to use Early Literacy Funds to support effective literacy strategies in pre-k, as well as in kindergarten through 3rd grade.” (a change from Reading First). It also “maintains a commitment to the National Reading Panel’s five components of effective reading instruction.”

This year, 11 organizations will share $31,000 in grants awarded by the Community Foundation of Southeastern Connecticut’s Let’s Read Fund. The fund offers awards meant to improve children’s reading and writing skills, and recipients include literacy-related initiatives for families, in school, and through after-school programs. The ideas go beyond traditional efforts, and include getting involved in theater work, as well. See the full list of grant recipients here.

Continuing last week’s mini-theme about interesting benefits to raise money for literacy, Jen found a wine tasting event to raise money for family literacy. Details in an article by Elizabeth LaFond in the Holyoke (MA) Republican. ” The wine tasting will have five stations for tasting from three wine distributors… When guests arrive, they will receive a wine glass and get to mingle, taste wine, eat, bid in the silent auction, enjoy raffles and socialize. All the money raised goes toward purchasing literacy backpacks”. Pretty cool!

… Then there’s the donkey basketball fundraiser for literacy in Columbia, MO.

Books for Asia, the largest program within the Asia Foundation, is active across the Asia-Pacific and is particularly focused on assisting students and teachers in areas experiencing turbulence. The organization has identified Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Thailand as their “priority areas” for 2009. Books for Asia is asking publishers and donors to help support its effort to donate and deliver 1 million books this year. Read more in Brian Scott’s articleAsia Requests English Language Books, for Literacy and Reading News.

New Resources

The ALSC blog (Association for Library Service to Children) recently published an annotated list by Meagan Albright & Sharon Haupt of the ALA’s 2009 Great Websites for Kids. We were pleased to note a number of reading-related sites on the list, including DogEared (an online book club from National Geographic), Giggle Poetry, Mrs. P, and Read Kiddo Read, among many other intriguing sites.

In her never-ending quest for cool sites, Susan Stephenson (the Book Chook) has once again found another treasure. She tells us about some of the wonderful online tools/resources offered by the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. Her favorite is My Story Maker,which offers an interface where kids as young as five can create their own stories. We’ll second Susan’s thanks to the Carnegie Library “for your generosity and encouragement of literacy.” Susan also links us to a design a postage stamp competition being hosted by Australian author Christine Harris.

Charlotte is hosting this week’s Nonfiction Monday at Charlotte’s Library. Have you seen her wrap-up post for the 48 Hour Book Challenge? 3,706 pages. Bravo!!

9 responses to “Children’s Literacy and Reading News – 8 June

  1. Thanks y’all. It is pretty amazing and so energizing, too.

    Jen – It was fun to cheer for everyone this weekend. Visited a bunch of new blogs, too. Everyone participating was just amazing. I haven’t finished cataloging the BEA books and I’m already seeing reviews. I’m thinking we should make 21st Century Literacies Frank & Mary Lee’s column. They have such great stuff!

  2. Once again, you’ve put together so many unbelievable resources! It’s great to know how many people are out there working to promote literacy.

    I can’t thank you enough for mentioning me along with so many other tireless advocates of this cause. Together we are changing lives, one child at a time.

    Keep up the fantastic work, everyone!

  3. This is an amazing wealth of information, Terry. (In fact, I almost hope things slow down a bit over the summer – ok, not really]. Thanks for talking about the 48 hour book challenge. I just wanted to say that the people along the sidelines cheering really helped this year – I had so many encouraging comments along the way. This helped make something that could have been isolating (sitting at home reading) a shared experience.

    I love the Alternatives for Girls program, too. I had somehow missed that one. Thanks!

  4. Terry, tell your husband that Apple today dropped the 8GB iphone 3G down to $99. But the new 3GS will actually have video, so you might want to wait for that? It’s coming soon. I am sooooo tempted.

  5. This is a wonderful compilation of reading resources – thank you!
    I’d like to invite people to check out my blog, Getting Kids Reading, as well.
    We have simple tips, ideas and games, toy and book reviews and research about how to help children become avid readers.
    It’s at

    Joyce Grant

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