Children’s Literacy and Reading News Roundup – 22 June

readingtubGIFThis 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.


fathersdayIn honor of Father’s Day, the First Book blog shares some resources from Reading Rockets to “celebrate dads and encourage reading with their kids.” See also Jon Scieszka’s tribute to dad at Reading Rockets.

During the lead-up to Father’s Day, there were a few-more-than-usual articles about dads and books, but this article in the Canadian Press really set itself apart. For one hour each week, you’ll find (and hear) dads and their kids participating the Man in the Moon, an early literacy program is open to fathers and other male caregivers to attend with young children. I liked this part: “While the 49-year-old admits he was initially a bit self-conscious, by the third session he felt ‘completely comfortable….I just actually started telling everybody I knew about this because it was like a whole new sort of world had opened up.'” Yeah Dads!

Today marks the beginning of United We Serve, a summer service effort to engage all of us in everyday citizenship to strengthen our communities. The National Conference on Volunteering and Service run the program which starts 22 June and will end on September 11, the new National Day of Service and Remembrance on September 11. In his video address last week, President Obama emphasized how this community service initiative offers everyone an opportunity to DO something to help their community. As Carol Rasco (CEO for Reading is Fundamental) points out, “reading with children is part of this initiative due to the serious loss in reading skills experienced by many children over the summer months.” In his closing remarks, President Obama says “America’s new foundation will be built one community at a time, and it starts with you.” We feel the same way about raising readers! We hope you’ll have the opportunity to share a book (or two or three) with a child.

If you’re on Facebook, consider joining Reading is Revolutionary. To join, you must pledge to read one book to a child on July 25, 2009. Anthony Pischke, the organizer, also promises to try to get a book to a child who has none. Here’s the tagline “Indeed it is fun to read.”

Raising Readers

There are still more articles about summer reading than we could possibly link to. But we did like this one, by Ana Veciana-Suarez at The author interviewed a variety of experts about why summer reading is important, and how parents can keep it fun. For example: “’Everything in balance,’ said Debbie Mandel, a New York-based talk-show host and author who often writes about stress. ‘Children need to have fun over the summer and relax because they are overscheduled and face a great deal of academic, social and extracurricular pressure.’” And also this one, by Erin Richards of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, headlined: “Allow children ‘light’ reading to maintain learning over summer, experts say.” This article says: “The challenge of getting kids to read in the summer is nothing new. But for older students especially, more educators – and librarians are bypassing “recommended lists” of classic novels and instead suggesting graphic novels, magazines, Web sites, comic books – anything to get them reading.” We approve!!

With her usual flair, but low-key style, Jen has raised and is moderating a great discussion about reading levels and summer reading It started at Jen Robinson’s Book Page week before last, and then last week at Booklights. This Washington Post article offers some of the tips you’ll find scrolling through the comments: let the kids pick their books, and don’t limit them to just books. Think magazines, graphic novels, and comics, too. The Post quoted an expert at the University of Tennessee who said “parents should bag the list of books they want children to read.” Go Vols! (via @LinksToLiteracy on Twitter)

From CBS New York, “Susannah Goya-Pack says books and the library summer reading program saved her. At 8 years old, she and her parents became homeless and often spent the night in the subway. She didn’t attend school regularly for the next four years, so the New York Public Library became her unofficial classroom.” (via @RascofromRIF)

At the Mother Daughter Book Club, Cindy Hudson offers some reasons why you should sign up for your library’s summer reading program, even if you already read a lot. “First, you’ll be encouraged to visit your library more often so your kids can claim the prizes they are earning. And that could have you choosing books out of your normal pattern.” She also links to research on summer reading programs. If you’ve never visited the Mother Daughter Book Club, you need to check out Cindy’s lists of good books for boys and her Mother Daughter Book Club list.

KatieD has a nice post at Creative Literacy about how pretending can inspire reading, with a specific example about a boy from her neighborhood. She says: “Dramatic play is such an essential  part of child development and its implications are huge when we can weave in literature… Finding books kids want to read is half (maybe more) the battle for reluctant readers.”

The TES Connect article Reluctant Readers are Pure Fiction is not about dormant readers. It is about a groups of students who are shadowing the judging process for the Carnegie Medal. The Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP) runs the program, now in its fifteenth year! Since April 2009, when the shortlist was announced, 3,600 groups have registered for the program. The kids read, review, and debate the seven titles on the shortlist using the same criteria as the Carnegie judges (all librarians). In the article, Sarah Osborne, manager for the National Reading Campaign talks about how the kids can post reviews, listen to the authors talk about their books, and collaborate on their own shadowing site.

Literacy & Reading Programs & Research

The Toledo Blade has an article by Mark Zaborney about the Read for Literacy program. In an effort to help children from “low literacy households”, Read for Literacy will “embark on a three-year demonstration project, “Creating Young Readers,” its first effort to include children. Preschoolers will be paired with individual volunteers, who will read to them much as the adults in their lives would if they could… Whether the project demonstrates success – and whether it ought to expand – will be measured by the preschoolers’ performance on readiness test they take when they enter kindergarten.”

And here’s an inventive program. “Parents who want to encourage their kids to read and also get some fresh air this summer can achieve both goals at Endicott Park. Two Danvers High School students, Amanda Shea and Mirtula Papa, have constructed a project called Story Walk. A trail follows 19 stakes around the playground; each stake has two pages of the kids’ book “What’s It Like to Be a Fish?” by Wendy Pfeffer.” From Justin Jervinis in The Salem News (MA).

There’s also an article by Linda Lemond in the Post-Tribune. It first caught Jen’s eye because it’s about a sleepover party that an elementary school had to celebrate reading. Sounds fun! But here’s the part that gave us pause: “‘The one problem with the AR program,’ first-grade teacher Deb Walters said, ‘was not with our reluctant readers, but with the good readers. Some would complete their monthly goals by the end of the first week. They’d stop reading and taking tests because the points wouldn’t carry over to the next month. So, we came up with the idea of stars as an incentive to keep these kids reading.'” Of course it’s great to have seen a problem, and come up with a solution. But doesn’t this point to the larger underlying problem with AR programs? Sigh!

US_mapThe US Department of Education just released its The 50-state analysis, a report that looks at reading and math trends since No Child Left Behind (NCLB) went into effect in 2002. The report seems to put to rest the concern that proficient-to-advanced students were, in fact, being left behind. “Test scores for both “advanced” and “basic” students rose in nearly three-quarters of assessments studied across states and grade levels, a level of progress only slightly lower than that of students reaching proficiency.” You can read more highlights in Sean Cavanagh’s article NCLB Found to Raise Scores Across Spectrum in this week’s Education Week.

In her quest to help raise life-long readers, Amy from Literacy Launchpad is thinking about what she can do to have more of an impact on the reading future of her preschool-aged students. She proposes some potential changes in our school systems that she thinks would help with raising future readers, and asks: “Are there ways you’re working for a change? Ways you’re helping children stay readers for life? Or maybe you just have some ideas of things we can all do to help make a change.” Do head on over and share your thoughts!

In New Jersey, the Orange Board of Education, Orange Public Library, YWCA, and ReRead, have joined together to create a Book Pantry. It is a place families can pick up a few books for their own pleasure. The goal is to encourage reading as an important parenting activity. Syreeta Stringer, who wrote the article for, is also an early childhood educator. “I often tell my parents, that reading and writing does not always have to be a sit down with paper and pencil activity.  As with everything involving young children, be creative.  Keep it fun, that is when the best learning happens.  Try to stay away from drill and kill, it will have an adverse effect on their interest in writing.  Finally, remember to stay involved.  Read to your child, write with your child, and talk with your child. The benefits can be tremendous!” (via @culturattikids)

In the Leaf Chronicle (Clarksville, TN) Ann Wallace wrote this article, which also talks about the link between parental involvement and parenting skills. She has this quote from Kindergarten teacher Corinne Davis: “If parents act like reading is wonderful to them then the child will think it’s wonderful.” (via @everybodywins)

This week’s Big Fresh (Choice Literacy Newsletter) has some great links in the Free for All section. First, is a link to 30 Ideas for Teaching Writing by the National Writing Project. Then it’s off to the Reading Lady for her collection of free reader’s theater scripts. There are dozens there, from The Three Little Pigs to Jack Prelutsky poems. Last but not least, link to Franki Siberson’s post about Nonfiction in the 21st Century, part of her Beyond Gadgets series. Her list about the ways we gather information in 2009 is amazing! Janet Hamilton’s article What Makes a Good Science Book (The Horn Book, May/June 2009) is a great complement to Franki’s research.

At the Educational Options’ blog, Deborah Ruf had a fascinating post about How Gifted Kids Learn to Read. She points to studies and raises some interesting questions. She also adds some new information, and points to University of Connecticut research that shows gifted children learn more over the summer than during the school year. “Although some interpret this as proof bright children come from stimulating rather than impoverished homes, I propose it is more often due to these smart children finally being freed to read and learn what they are ready to learn—at their own pace and in their own time.” Sounds like a good formula for creating lifelong readers, too!

21st Century Literacies

From Teacher Magazine Web Watch: “In California, teachers may not be bound to use printed textbooks much longer. By the fall of 2010, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger plans to provide free, open-source digital textbooks for California high school math and science classes, according to ABC News. Schwarzenegger says the measure will save the state $350 million. Critics, however, doubt that digital textbooks would in fact save money, saying that they would require investing in new technology and teacher training.”

More from Franki about iPhone apps at A Year of Reading. She says: “I think for these technologies to make a difference, we have to think hard about students creating and communicating in new ways.  Students owning the creations. Expanding our definitions of literacy to include podcasts, public service announcements, etc.” See also a post from Monica Edinger at Educating Alice about the use of high-tech tools in the classroom.

Thanks to @mitaliperkins for the tweet about Google Wave for education. Mitali pointed us to an article on that explores the educational potential of the soon-to-be-released Google Wave, an online collaborative tool that “runs in a web browser and combines elements of eMail, instant messaging, wikis, and photo sharing in an attempt to make online communication more dynamic.”

Grants and Donations

The Salvation Army literacy center in Portland, KY “recently received a $25,000 grant from Target for its Kids Kingdom Family Literacy Program. The grant, one of only 40 awarded nationally, will be used to help expand program offerings, renovate the center and update computers… Because of the grant and aid from an anonymous donor, 40 elementary school students will be able to participate in a free summer reading program that features one-one-one tutoring, recreational activities and group outings.” More details in this Courier-Journal article by Jaz Gray.

Baylor Camp Success
, an annual summer literacy program sponsored by Baylor University, is off to a great start. Thanks to a generous donation from Waco’s Scottish Rite, Baylor’s Camp Success will receive an $85,000 grant to provide the camp with books, supplies and faculty salaries. (via Nincy Mathew’s article on the news page of the Baylor University website)

New Resources

Read Today! is a website offering free, printable reading, writing and counting activities for parents. “If every parent teaches letters, numbers, colors, and shapes to their children before they enter Kindergarten, we will see an immediate impact on the world.” What made this site stand out is that all of the activities are available in four languages: English, French, German, and Spanish.

In her Recycle and Read post, Susan Stephenson (Book Chook) has rounded up yet another wonderful collection of engaging websites. This time it’s Toys from Trash, a site where you’ll find tons of projects that let kids to “practise reading, and follow directions to create all sorts of toys. At the same time, they recycle junk and learn about science.” Susan’s evaluations are always thorough, so you can read not only what she found, but whether or not the site lived up to its billing.

If you like storytelling, folklore is the perfect genre. The May/June 2009 Monthly Special can help you find some great books. Folklore Around the World offers a list of recommended books, with grade level included. Thanks to Elaine Magliaro for the link.

Tina Nichols Coury is hosting this week’s Nonfiction Monday at Tales from the Rushmore Kid.

Photo credits: – Ben McLeod,; US map – Rficek,

11 responses to “Children’s Literacy and Reading News Roundup – 22 June

  1. Thanks, Jen. It’s a combination if sneaking in over the weekend, the Big Fresh, and retooling some of my alerts. The CLIP just sounds so cool. I know individual libraries have Mock awards for some US awards, but I don’t think I”ve seen anything as dynamic as the shadow website.

  2. Great stuff, Terry! I don’t even know where to start. Seems like a bunch of new things came up even over the weekend. I did especially like Amy’s post at Literacy Launchpad. But there’s a lot of food for thought here.

  3. Thanks for the mention. The event is actually Literacy is Revolutionary but it was cool you mentioned it. Have a wonderful weekend.

  4. I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don’t know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


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