Children’s Literacy and Reading News Roundup – 12 October

Literacy Reading News RoundupWelcome to  Monday! 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, is here. Even with all of the chatter about the new Federal Trade Commission guidelines (PDF link) filling the airwaves,  Jen and I found plenty of literacy and reading-related events; information on literacy and reading programs and research; and discussions about 21st century literacies. There was no nes on grants, sponsorships, or donations.

breast-cancer-ribbonBefore we jump into the news,  Jen and I would like to extend our best wishes to Mark Blevis and Andrea Ross, the dynamic duo of Just One More Book. In an announcement last Wednesday, Mark explained that JOMB is going on hiatus, in part, because they will be devoting all of their energies to Andrea’s treatment and FULL recovery from breast cancer.  I spent this past weekend volunteering for a Community Group that raises funds for women’s health. Andrea, you were never far from my mind.

This coming weekend, the Kidlitosphere is holding its fourth annual conference in Washington, DC.  While we will miss their infectious spirit and the opportunity to share stories and talk books, they will be with us in our hearts … We’ll be waiting for the happy ending for podcasters at the end of this book. [You had to see/hear Mark’s presentation at last year’s conference to understand the reference.]

It is hard to believe that it’s been almost a month since the National Day of Service. First Book had a nice article about the event in Philadelphia, where more than 85 nonprofits came together to offer information for interested citizens. Volunteers from some of these organizations helped distribute 5,680 children’s books and bookmarks with the new PhillyServes logo.

Speaking of Philadelphia, Philly native Bill Cosby has been doing Public Service Announcementsand talking with teens about the benefits of libraries. Lauren Barack interviews Mr. Cosby about this in School Library Journal’s Extra Helping. Here’s a snippet: “I said that there’s a building, usually one in particular and it sits downtown somewhere, and it’s called the public library. And when you go in there, this place can be as exciting as any football stadium, basketball stadium, hockey arena, baseball stadium. Packed to the gills.”

28 Days Later - Brown Bookshelf

The Brown Bookshelf is now accepting submissions for the 3rd Annual 28 Days Later. During the twenty-eight days of Black History Month, The Brown Bookshelf will profile a different children’s or young adult author and children’s illustrator. On March 1, 2010 they will announce the winner of the grand prize: a gift basket featuring every book profiled during the month, donated to a library in need. Nominations are being accepted until November 1, 2009. [via Teresa Wells at the ALSC blog and Greg Pincus at Gottabook] You can also follow @brownbookshelf on Twitter. Note: We haven’t seen whether/not there is going to be a hashtag for the event.

On 10/6/2009, a statue of Helen Keller at the water pump was unveiled at the US Capitol. Any of us who saw Patty Duke as Helen Keller or know Ms. Keller’s story, know just how seminal that moment was. In her post at the Passionate Librarian, Babette Reeves nailed it: “that’s what literacy is about–unlocking the meaning in the abstract representations, whether they be hand movements or squiggles on a page.” Babette has a link to the CNN video on the event in her post.

Joyce Grant from Getting Kids Reading brought a contest to our attention that we think will be of interest to our Canadian readers. Joyce said: “I’ll start with the best part – the winner gets a home visit from Robert Munsch! How exciting is that? (Extremely.) To enter, simply write a short story with your family and submit it here.” The winning story will also be read aloud by Mr. Munsch, and “published in a newspaper or magazine and posted on the ABC Canada Literacy Foundation’s website.” The story has to be jointly written by a child and an adult family member. Joyce has more details.

NCFLThe National Center for Family Literacy (NCFL) reports that November 1, 2009 is National Family Literacy Day. Two weeks away! To help you prepare, the NCFL shares a variety of family reading tips. For example: “Poems are another great way to motivate. They are short and give the child a sense of accomplishment when read.”

Speaking of the NCFL, Book Dads reported that the NCFL was featured this week on CBS Sunday Morning (via @everybodywins).

Literacy & Reading Programs & Research
In August 2009, Marion County (OR) placed nearly 200 kits with local child care providers for its “Reading for All: Born Learning Lending Library.” In her article for the Statesman Journal, Tamra Goettsch talks about the program and also encourages parents to read with their kids. Look what’s in EACH kit: 50 books for young readers, tote bags for young readers to borrow books overnight; a video to help parents understand the importance of reading; resources to aid child care providers in fostering emergent reading skills among infants, toddlers and preschoolers; and resources for them to use to encourage families to actively participate in their child’s literacy development.

We’ve linked to teacher Sarah Mulhern many times in these roundups (Sarah blogs at The Reading Zone). Today, we’d like to share a true must-read post from Sarah about turning kids into life-long readers. Sarah’s post was inspired by an NCTE article written by Penny Kittle, and you’ll want to read that one, too. But here’s a snippet from Sarah’s post: “YES! We can turn our students into lifelong readers when we show them the power of choice. Empowering students to choose their own books, their own genres, their own authors opens up new doors. How do I know? It happens in my classroom.” She talks open about the struggle, but also gives clear and heartfelt evidence for why it’s important to help kids learn to love books, and how to do it in the classroom. Sarah also shared an interesting post recently about the value of the “family reading interview.”

Keeping with great advice fromteachers … Amy at Literacy Launchpad has a short, sweet, and very useful list of tips for reading with preschoolers. Aren’t teachers great? They can synthesize four years of classroom experience and make it easier for us as parents! I think I’m going to go with #2 today … 2. A good story can turn a bad day around instantly. It’s not a bad day, but I could use a really funny book to get going this morning!

In the last two weeks there have been a couple of events that promote reading that have that “timeless” quality about them that moves beyond the event into suggestions on  ways to connect adults, kids, and books. Here are two:

  • The October 1 Literacy Night at Oak Park District 97 elementary school included parents, teachers, the librarian, and the kids! This is the third year for the school’s event, but the first time they have expanded literacy information beyond Kindergarten and first grade readers.  Staff members sent invitations to students whom they believed would particularly benefit from the event. About 65 of the 85 invitees – and their parents – came. In addition to workstations for the parents, there was time for parents and kids to read together. Kids attending the event got to take home a free book.  (via Chuck Feldman for
  • Last week, 24 local celebrities visited second-grade classrooms in Newark (NJ) city schools as part of Celebrity Reading Week. Each guest read I Know I Can, a book that follows four young students looking at the importance of graduating from high school and going to college. Because the concept is timeless, I thought I’d included it our ideas section (rather than events). Essentially professionals from all walks of life visited the schools to read with the kids and talk about reading in the context of going to college and their careers. The program was just launched, and, ulitmately, students in grades two, four, six and eight will have specific college- and career-based activities throughout the year. (via Seth Roy for

Cathy Puett Miller must have been reading my mind. I was in the process of jotting down notes for Jen Robinson’s Panel Building Community, Literacy and the Reading Message at KidLitCon09 … and  voila! I had the quote: “Can you be an inspiration to someone who doesn’t read with their children? Absolutely, you can!” So now you have a sneak preview about what I’m going to talk about. In the meantime, Jen and I highly recommend reading Words of Wisdom About Reading with Your Child.

In yesterday’s Parade magazine, the Parade Picks(r) column focused on the power of a good story.  Sharon Male’s column highlighted several personal stories from Everything I Needed to Know I Learned from a Children’s Book, Anita Silvey’s latest collection of essays by 100 Americans who attribute their success as athletes, businessman, artists, actors, and more, to the inspiration that came from a book.  What a great companion piece to First Book’s What Book Got You Hooked campaign.

This week’s collection of feature articles in the Big Fresh were particularly valuable to me. As the parent of an autistic child, I am ALWAYS on the lookout for “tips and tricks” that can help her maximize her talents and minimize the biological interference.  Both of these articles articles complement each other, but they are also valuable in their own distinct ways. They are also just as useful at home (think: dinner table, homework time) as they are in the classroom. Thank you Brenda Power!

21st Century Literacies
information literacy logoLisa Guernsey is a mom and educator. In Literacy 2.0: The Potential and the Pitfalls, she recounts a story about how her 5-year-old daughter wanted to play the games and explore a popular site (identified in the post), but was stymied: “’What did it say?!’ the girl screams. Her face is in a panic. “I couldn’t read it!”She couldn’t read it. Why? Two reasons. 1) the little girl is not yet a fluent reader. 2) the digital media did absolutely nothing to help.” Lisa’s example really illustrates the disconnect between children’s literacy and the digital media targeted at them. has posted a review of EA FLIPS, a new “educational” product for the ubiquitous Nintendo DS.  Several well-known children’s authors are working with the company to produce “what are essentially extended director’s cuts of their works to the Nintendo DS.  Children will be able to read books  Cathy Cassidy, Eoin Colfer, and Enid Blyton, with quizzes and reference links built right in to help encourage getting to the end of each chapter.” I have mixed feelings about the idea. (UK) recently released the results of a survey about Internet use among teens.  The focus of the study was to identify how much 12- to 15-year-olds understood search engine rankings, sponsorship, and organic results.  “while 95 per cent of 12-15-year-olds had experience of using websites like Google or Bing, 32 per cent thought listings were ranked on how truthful websites were.”

Trevor Cairney’s Literacy, Families and Learning blog is another of our regular stops each week. His ideas about connecting kids to reading through the real world and vice versa are not only “do-able,” their fun. This week he’s taken a page from fellow Aussie Susan Stephenson (Book Chook) to talk about nurturing creativity in children.  “Children have a natural tendency towards novelty, experimentation and exploration of their world in new ways right from birth. While genes have something to do with creativity and it varies from one person to another, all humans have the potential to be creative and creativity can be fostered or discouraged.” Trevor offers an example of playing with his grand-daughters, explains what creativity is and does, and then offers ideas on ways to keep it alive in preschoolers and school-aged children.

Milijenko Williams also talks about the importance of a child’s creativity at the 21st Century Fix blog. He links back to Sir Ken Robinson’s presentation (video here) about how creativity helps prepare kids for “an uncertain future.”

Grants, Sponsorships, and Donations

According to a recent news release, “As part of its Innovation in Education program, the Cox Kids Foundation has awarded more than $58,000 in grants to 14 middle schools throughout San Diego County to fund innovative classroom projects.” One of the projects, for example, is “”Going Graphic at Guajome,” a project that uses graphic novels to motivate students to read.”

Facts First! Nonficton MondayLori Calabrese is hosting this week’s Nonfiction Monday roundup at Lori Calabrese Writes! I wonder if she’ll have some sports books? Gotta go over to check it out!

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