Children’s Literacy and Reading News Round-Up: March 1

Literacy Reading News Roundup

Happy Monday! It’s March and spring is getting closer … yeah! 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 at Scrub-a-Dub-Tub, the Reading Tub blog. This week Jen Robinson and I have collected plenty of content for you about literacy & reading-related events; literacy and reading programs and research; 21st century literacies; and grants, sponsorships & donations.

Next Monday, Share a Story-Shape a Future 2010 (aka Share a Story 2010, #sas2010 on Twitter) takes center stage. Jen and I are both heavily involved in the event, so we are taking a 2-week hiatus from the round-up.


Well, we’re getting closer! The National “Read to Kids” campaign finished second in the education category in’s Ideas for Change in America competition. The Final Round opens today (March 1)  and ends Friday, March 11th at 5pm ET. The top 10 rated ideas (out of 60 finalists) will be presented to members of the Obama Administration and media at an event in DC. If you choose, you can help keep the focus on literacy by voting on this Everybody Wins!  Initiative. The voting link is the same as the first round

Each year, we celebrate  Theodor Geisel’s (Dr. Seuss’) birthday with Read Across America day. The National Education Association launched this event on March 2, 1998, now it a national event. From the NEA website: “Read Across America partners  Reading Rockets,SeussvilleRead,Write,, and a to z teachers offer a terrific collection of resources. Think Read Across America is only for elementary students? Think again, offers ideas and plans for high school and middle school.”

As part of the National Read Across America celebration, many schools are planning book and storytelling events as part of “Love to Read week.” As Heidi Eischeid (Fon Du Lac,MI) points out, “to be successful readers and students, children must be frequently exposed to a variety of literature both at home and at school because those experiences help them become well-rounded students.”

The folks at are celebrating Dr. Seuss’ birthday with a reading idea of their own. has worked with iTunes and is offering FREE downloads of the Grand Prize winners of  their first annual, kids’ writing contest! From an email: “We created a fun You-Tube video to acknowledge the “Be a Famous Writer” winners. The titles are bundled together and can be found at the iTunes Kids TV Store under “Mrs. P Presents”. Select “Pretty Princess and Funky Frog/Spattered Mud and Crushed Petals.” They will be available March 2, 2010 on iTunes and March 15th at (where everything is always free). When they are posted at the website, they will be by her chair under a “blue ribbon.”

The Wessel & Lieberman Booksellers blog recently posted about a fun book-related event. “In honor of 30th anniversary of their BILLY bookcase Ikea constructed an outdoor library, consisting of 30 bookcases, on Bondi Beach in Sydney, Australia. The BILLY is the best selling bookcase in history with over 40 million sold and 3 million a year still being produced. The one day event allowed beach goers to swap books or to buy them with the proceeds going to The Australian Literacy & Numeracy Foundation“. Click through to see photos. Thanks to Jenny Schwartzberg for the link.

ALA websiteMarch is here and April isn’t too far behind. So now would be a good time to check out the materials available for National Bookmobile Day, April 14, 2010. You’ll find everything from a fact sheet to bookmark and sticker ideas on the American Library Association (ALA) website. You can become a National Bookmobile Day fan on Facebook.

Literacy Programs & Research

Nancie Atwell’s article The Case for Literature (Education Week online, 8 February 2010), is a must-read for those interested in how the national “core curriculum” is coming along. It is filled with some fascinating data, and this conclusion “The irony—and tragedy—is that book reading, which profits a reader, an author, and a democratic society, is also the single activity that consistently relates to proficiency in reading, according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress.” Definitely worth clicking through to read. If you are an Education Week subscriber, you can also view an article that distills 30 years of studies on early literacy.

Continuing last week’s theme of the struggles of libraries to find books, The Denver Post has a perspective piece by Carol Eron Rizzoli about how schools are finding new ways to bring books to students. The article highlights a brand-new teacher disappointed to learn that her Detroit elementary school had no library, and what she did about the situation. Link via @RascoFromRIF. See also a lament about library cutbacks from The Book Chook.

School library cutbacks are clearly a global issue … In this week’s SLJ Extra Helping, the headline reads “British Government Says School Libraries Not Mandatory.”  The issue is not the value of the services media centers provide, but the need to ensure they are staffed with qualified staff. The government, for its part, does not support dictating that local money must be spent on specific library-related things (staff, books, etc.). Alan Gibbons has created Campaign for the Book, with a petition to PM Gordon Brown signed by more than 5,700 people. Gibbons says that while he agrees that “there has to be the freedom to make local decisions,” the government can set out specific principles and guidance and insist on minimum standards. “If this is not done with sufficient rigor, government is in danger of abdicating its responsibilities.”

Anna Batchelder, a Curriki international consultant, is doing comparative research about teacher use of attitudes toward technology in the classroom. One of the themes that continually arises in her research is the parent-teacher partnership. She talks more about the questions raised in her post at Curriki, and also links to “Parents as Partners” a class sponsored by Open University.

Along a similar line, author Gary Brannigan has openly published Chapter 5 (Evaluation) on his blog, Learning and Reading Disabilities. The chapter comes from Reading Disabilities: Beating the Odds, a book he co-authored with Howard Margolis. The text does a great job of outlining the kinds of questions parents might consider asking, which is helpful not only to parents, but also to help teachers prepare an effective conference. (via @GaryBrannigan)

In a report for BBC News, Sarah Travers looks at the question “withe one child in every five leaves primary school here with poor standards of literacy and numeracy, could modern family lifestyles be partly to blame?” She also talks about Booktrust, a nonprofit that gives out free books and encourages families to read together. As soon as the video goes up, we’ll link it.

21st Century Literacies

At the Huffington Post, Ed Hamilton has an article you’ll love for its title: Revenge of the Literate: How Books Will Outlast TV. Hamilton goes beyond the “internet more popular than TV” argument to talk about how kids read differently than we did. “Though I was a reader as a teen, it was always a solitary pursuit. The idea of getting a group of my friends together to hang out in the bookstore would have struck me as wildly improbable, to say the least.” (via @FionaRobyn)

Yalsa Teen Tech WeekThis year’s Teen Tech Week (March 7 to 13), a national event sponsored by the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA), focuses not on teaching teens how to use computers, laptops, and cell phones, but how to use them SAFELY. Students between the ages of 11 and 14 increase their media exposure to 11 hours and 53 minutes a day, versus 7 hours and 51 minutes for 8- to 10-year olds, according to YALSA. Lots of teens (64%) are creating online content, and 47 percent are posting images in shared spaces. “Understanding what that can mean later in their lives is key, especially as colleges occasionally do Google searches on their applicants, and employers can check out a party on Facebook.” Public and school libraries will hold workshops, online discussions, and other activities to bring more attention to teens and their digital knowledge. (via Laura Barack for SLJ’s Extra Helping)

Grants and Donations

The winner of the first Better World Books Readers’ Choice Literacy Grant is an innovative  program that uses therapy dogs to help improve kids reading, the Intermountain Therapy Animals (ITA) R.E.A.D. program. “The reading-challenged kids in the program often suffer from low self-esteem and view reading as a chore. But dogs don’t judge, so reading to them removes inhibitions and helps a child focus. It makes reading fun and creates a positive, memorable experience that stays with kids for a long time.” (via @BetterWorldBooks and @circlereader)

First Book partnerAs we mentioned early last month, Target sponsored a Facebook campaign to help five charities would receive a portion of a $1 million donation to fund educational program. After more than 26,000 votes, the United Through Reading(r) Military Program garnered 22% of the vote and will receive $220,000. United Through Reading will use the money to help deployed parents stay connected with their families by creating DVDs of themselves reading a book.  The United Way, which works with literacy nonprofit First Book in 75 communities, “won” a grant of $90,000.  The United Way will use the money to help children enter school ready to learn, read proficiently by 4th grade, and graduate on time. There is a nice summary of the event and the winners on the First Book blog.

Our thanks to Jenny S for pointing us to the Capstone Publishers Press Release about a donation of  more than 3,400 bilingual books to Doctors for Orphans, a nonprofit that delivers aid to orphaned children in Latin America. The organization offers health, education, and literacy services.

Hope does, indeed, spring eternal for the New Hope Library in Northumberland, Ontario, Canada. An anonymous donor came forward to donate $500 and has challenged nine other library supporters (individuals, companies, neighborhoods, families) to match that donation. They’re calling it the Library Lovers Challenge, and it has energized the community. One library lover has donated $1,000! Read more in the Northumberland News (online).

This is our kind of event. In Boston (Jen’s old stomping ground), The Commonwealth Hotel hosted an event for ReadBoston, a nonprofit that promotes reading in the Boston area. About 65 kids ages 3 to 9 wore their pajamas for an evening of singing and reading with ReadBoston storytellers. The hotel matched the $10 suggested donation from each family. All proceeds were donated to ReadBoston’s Storymobile Program. The mission of ReadBoston is to ensure that every child in Boston can read at grade level by the end of the third grade. Programs reach children, from birth through age 8, in school, after school, during summer vacation and before they’re old enough to attend school. Boston is one of the first cities in the U.S. to launch a citywide endeavor to help children learn to read. (via

Wrapping Up …

The February Carnival of Children’s Literature is now available at Whispers of Dawn, author Sally Apokedak’s blog. My word, she has raised the bar quite high!

Nonfiction Monday

Today’s Nonfiction Monday round-up is at Simply Science. Shirley Smith Duke has the event already started with a review of Life-Size Zoo, a finalist for the 2009-2010 Cybils (Nonfiction picture book category). Last week, Jone  Rush MacCullough hosted the Poetry Friday Roundup at Check it Out! This week, Danika is hosting at Teaching Books.   Thanks for your interest in children’s literacy!

16 responses to “Children’s Literacy and Reading News Round-Up: March 1

  1. Thank you for the great links! Nancie Atwell’s article got me so fired up that I tweeted it, and forgot to mention that I found it through this post. I corrected it shortly thereafter. Sorry!

    It’s unbelievable that the the use of literature in the classroom is even being questioned at all. I was so angry while reading that article, but even more so when I read some of the comments! I wish I could send a copy of Jim Trelease’s Read-Aloud Handbook to each of those naysayers. The research is all there.

    More people have to speak up before it’s too late.

  2. Is Read Across America really so recent as 1998? I remember doing a similar event in my elementary school (which was early 90s). The 5th-graders came in and read to the kindergarteners… I got to be a part of it as both a listener and a reader. Maybe it was just a similar tradition before it became official in 98. Anyway, thanks for the great links!

  3. Great stuff this week, Terry. I especially liked the Library Lovers program in Northumberland. And of course the ReadBoston program.

    The Parents as Partners stuff is interesting, too. I think, if you look at the message right, it’s empowering. That is, you don’t have to rely on the schools for everything to do with your kids’ educations – you can make a difference, too.

    I’ll try to get a post up about the roundup soon. It’s been one of those mornings.

  4. Hi Terry,
    Thanks for the mention of NEA’s Read Across America and for your appreciation of the importance of reading to children. NEA’s Vice President Lily Eskelsen recently wrote a very inspirational blog post that really drives home the point.

    I hope you get the chance to check it out:

    Thanks again,
    Kevin Hart, NEA

  5. Thanks so much for sharing our post on “Engaging Parents as School Partners”. Your round-ups are SO useful. I will share this post with the @Curriki and @Bon_Education communities.


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