Children’s Literacy and Reading News Roundup – 18 January

Literacy Reading News RoundupWelcome one and all to the weekly roundup of events, news, analysis, and ideas for raising readers. This week’s children’s literacy and reading news round-up, brought to you by Jen Robinson’s Book Page and the Reading Tub, is now available here.  For those of you who are just finding us through the comment challenge, I’d like to let you know that Jen and I have created an archive where you can find all of the 2010 Roundups in one place.

Before we jump into the weekly collection of reading and literacy tidbits, we’d like to point you to some folks who offer some ideas for learning about Haiti, or what you can do to help.

  • The amazing Mitali Perkins had a list of children’s books and Young Adult books set in Haiti at Mitali’s Fire Escape.
  • At the Reading Zone, Sarah Mulhern offers some suggestions on how to use life’s events and classroom tools to create teachable moments. “We need to grab teachable moments and broaden our students’s world views. We need to teach them to be global citizens.”
  • TeacherNinja has an eloquent post about CARE and the work they have been doing – and will continue to do in this earthquake-ravaged country.
  • Rosemary Marotta recommends some books that “that parents or other adults might use to explain this tragedy to their children. Some children might not even be aware of where Haiti is or why it is so poor. I thought it would be a good time to explain Earthquakes too.” See her list at Rosemary’s Reading Circle.
  • Via Susan Thomsen at Chicken Spaghetti, we have a link to this Rumpus post filled with links on ways to help Haiti. Brian keeps the info current, and has five parts to his More on Haiti series.


Eleven UMass Lowell basketball players recently visited a Lowell school to talk with kids about the importance of reading. The River Hawks website reports: “Members of the men’s and women’s squads took a trip to the local elementary school to share their experiences with reading to the students as part of Read for 2010/Community Reader Day. They visited classrooms of students from kindergarten through fourth grade to discuss their favorite books, how reading helped them get into college and why being a good reader helps in many aspects of life.” Via tweet from @UMassLowell.

Apparently, the above visit was connected to a larger national initiative. We read in Rocklin & Roseville Today that “William Jessup University’s Men’s Basketball team took part earlier today in The National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) Reading Program when the 16 member team visited Coyote Ridge Elementary School in Roseville. As part of the annual national literacy program sponsored by the NABC, players and coaches from the NCAA, NAIA and junior college ranks visited selected elementary schools in their area to promote the importance of reading and education to elementary aged children. ” See also a brief story about a school visit by the University of Vermont men’s basketball team.

A new issue of Notes from the Horn Book is now available (subscribe here). This free e-Newsletter from the editors of Horn Book magazine is always engaging reading. This month’s edition includes a wonderful interview with new National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature Katherine Paterson. Ms. Paterson says: “I woke up one morning and realized that what I wanted to say to everyone — children, young people, adults — was: Read for your Life. We book people are always preaching about reading aloud to children, but unless you do, you can’t realize how it enriches family life. ”

Planning a birthday party this year? Then you don’t want to miss Rebecca’s ideas for book parties at Nurturing Narratives. I know a certain 8-year-old who would LOVE the Move to the Beat of the Book party. All of Rebecca’s ideas are fun enough to make me think about having a themed party for my 29th *cough* 47th birthday!

You know that we love it when celebrities advocate for literacy. The Charleston Daily Mail reports that actress Jennifer Garner recently spoke up on favor of children’s literacy at the West Virginia governor’s State of the State address. “She called for President Barack Obama and Congress to provide $2 billion in additional funding for early childhood education programs. Garner read to children in a Head Start program in Washington, D.C. before heading to Capitol Hill to meet with several national leaders on the matter. ‘Literacy is the most important thing you can give a child. If you can teach them to read, they can do anything,’ Garner said.”

If you’re in Charleston, Illinois, and you love picture books, head to the Tarble Arts Center at Eastern Illinois University! The Center currently has an exhibit of 30 children’s book illustrations “spanning the last half century.” The illustrations are from the collection of Mariann Dana Younger, an Eastern Alumnus and teacher. The exhibit is open until 21 February 2010.

For the snow enthusiasts among us … the 2010 Snowmobile Ride for Literacy is set for 30 January 2010 in Orillia, Ontario, Canada. Last year’s effort netted more than $1,250 in pledges. The organizers are hoping that with a new year and new decade, they can beat that mark. Thanks to Literacy 911 for the link!

Literacy Programs & Research

silhoutte map of californiaAt California Progress Report, Dan Aiello recently wrote: “the results of a national report on literacy – conducted annually by Central Connecticut State University – were announced, offering some disturbing news to Californians about the state’s declining literacy levels last year, while presenting a measurable symptom of more than eight years of cuts to the state’s education budgets.” California is no longer the home of any of the top 10 most literate cities in the country, despite having the most cities included. (Image source: Microsoft Clipart)

Speaking of literacy levels, Education Week has published its annual Quality Counts report, with state-by-state report cards, as well as interactive tools. EW has an open house, and the full site is available until January 21. The link is worth exploring, as there are some interesting tools, like the grading calculator, which lets you manipulate a state’s grade by using different weighting systems. Ah, sadistics statistics: set a conclusion and get them to match it.

In last week’s Roundup, Jen pointed out Donalyn Miller’s letter to parents at The Book Whisperer. This week, in a post about the home-school connection on the Literacy Solutions blog, I found this article about why “poor” literacy texts (sometimes called reading junk food) can be just what kids need to keep reading.

Matt Ferraguto from Reach Out and Read emailed us this announcement, which we were happy to share. “Reach Out and Read’s National Medical Director Dr. Perri Klass was just named one of Woman’s Day Magazine’s 50 Women Who Are Changing the World. Klass was joined on the list by Oprah, Wendy Kopp (Founder of Teach for America), Hillary Clinton, Michelle Obama, and Marian Wright Edelman… Klass is a graduate of Harvard Medical School and completed her training at Boston Children’s Hospital and Boston Medical Center. She was President of the Reach Out and Read National Center in Boston from 1993 to 2006 and continues to serve as the National Medical Director for the program.” You can find more details in this Woman’s Day article.

Somehow this slipped by us … In September 2009, the Education Resources Information Center (US Department of Education) published a report Building Preschool Children’s Language and Literacy One Storybook at a Time. According to the abstract, the report focuses on the IRA’s Innovative Configuration tool, which is designed to help preschool educators maximize the benefit of shared story time. What I liked in visiting the site, though, is that the descriptors are linked to other material, so it is find more info about reading aloud to others, emergent literacy, story reading, children’s literature, and more.

The Vancouver Sun reports, in an article by Darah Hansen, that”The neighbourhoods where young children live predict their reading skills several years later, according to a University of B.C. study released this week. The study found that children who live in wealthier neighbourhoods while in kindergarten did significantly better on standardized tests in Grade 7 than children from less affluent areas, regardless of where they lived when they wrote the same tests as teenagers.”

The New York Times recently published a feature story by Jessica Reaves about Chicago’s Open Books literacy organization. The article specifically focuses on Open Books Volunteer Coordinator Ava Zeligson, and her efforts to make volunteering for Open Books a positive and fun experience. For example: “Open Books clearly benefits from its savvy approach to volunteerism: respond quickly to offers of help; make volunteers feel their efforts, no matter how small, are worthwhile; and make the experience fun for everyone involved.”

The Heritage Foundation reported this week that “the Obama administration released the long-overdue first grade evaluation of the federal Head Start program. As expected, the results show that the $7 billion per year program provides little benefit to children – and great expense to taxpayers. The evaluation, which was mandated by Congress during the 1998 reauthorization of the program, found little impact on student well-being.”

21st Century Literacies

At Applied Youth Ministry, Chris Kidd poses an interesting question about teen literacy. After reading Aislinn Laing’s article that asserts teenagers use only 800 different words a day (UK Telegraph), Kidd offers this: “I find this kind of research really bizarre, because at the same time as someone says our children’s literacy is decreasing we also have those who say twitter and other social networking sites make no effect on young peoples language, or even improve their skills. So what do you think – is language ability decreasing, increasing, does it matter.” Stop by and + UR 2c.

Reading makes the above-the-fold front page of a newspaper … with picture of kids reading! That’s a headline unto itself. “Kindling an Interest in Reading” by Rachana Dixit is a Charlottesville Daily Progress article about Deanna Isley, a third-grade teacher at Burnley-Moran Elementary. Isley secured a $5,221 grant from the city to purchase 19 Kindles and $300 in books. She uses the kindles as a tool to complement her other work with the students. “They are primarily used during workshops a few times a week, when students independently do a number of tasks, reading being one of them. At the end of the week, Isley leads discussions resembling book clubs in which her third-graders critically converse about what they read.” She won me over with this …

But at Burnley-Moran, the Kindles are not designed to replace the crates and crates of books that can already be found in Isley’s classroom, she said.
While there is a novelty, Isley said, “I look at it as another tool, or another bin of books.” She added, “It’s still not the same.”

Grants and Donations

SCNow reports, in a story by Jamie Rogers, that “A new Florence County Library System incentive program is enticing children to spend more time reading books from their local libraries this spring. The Read to Ride contest is set to begin Feb. 1 and is open to children ages 3 to 17, said Paula Childers, manager of children’s services for the library system. Children can enter the contest for a chance to win new bicycles, she said. The contest is sponsored by Toys for Tots, the Marine Corps League and the Friends of the Florence County Library”.

MyWestTexasNews reports that “The George W. Bush Childhood Home will kick off its Laura Bush Literacy Program in the coming weeks in hopes of instilling the former first lady’s passion for reading in area children. “We’ll read books with them and just really help them to enjoy the reading process,” said the home’s Executive Director Paul St. Hilaire. The program has been in the works for about a year, St. Hilaire said, and has been fueled both by local donations of books and a recent grant from the Permian Basin Area Foundation.”

Wrapping Up …

Wendie O is hosting this week’s Nonfiction Monday roundup at Wendie’s Wanderings. The roundup is underway, with several books already listed … and Wendie’s Hurrah! for Almost Astronauts: 13 Women Who Dared to Dream! by Tanya Lee Stone, which won the Robert F. Sibert Informatinal Book medal.

Later this week, Liz will host Poetry Friday at Liz in Ink.

28 responses to “Children’s Literacy and Reading News Roundup – 18 January

  1. Thank you for the excellent HAITI roundup of information. And I am so thrilled and excited for my friend Perri Klass, the award recognition is so deserving!

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  4. This looks great, Terry! I’m so glad that you added that section on the Haiti resources. I’ll be posting and tweeting about the roundup soon… Got a bit caught up in the ALA award announcements this morning.

  5. Great roundup. I can’t help but wonder how much the literacy issues in California are due to the cuts in school librarians and the services they provide in promoting literacy in schools. I know California has one of the worst (if not the worst) budget situations in the country, but it’s a shame that it’s the children who have to pay for it.

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