Children’s Literacy and Reading News Roundup – 23 March

Welcome to this week’s edition of 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.

I don’t stray off message, but every once in a while, there’s something that’s too important to ignore. Tomorrow is American Diabetes Alert Day. Diabetes is a “silent killer” that robs children and adults of the chance to fulfill their dreams. More than 23.6 million children and adults have diabetes – and 56 million Americans have pre-diabetes symptoms. One in five Americans is at risk for developing Type 2 diabetes, so odds are, you are touched – or will be touched by diabetes. For many, the diagnosis comes seven to nine years after the onset of the disease. Early diagnosis is critical to successful treatment and delaying or preventing some of its complications such as heart disease, blindness, kidney disease, stroke, amputation and death. Diabetes is so treatable. I watched diabetes chop away (literally) at my grandfather’s life. If another family doesn’t have to go through what ours did, then that is a very good thing.

The National Book Foundation wants to know about your reading habits. In its March 2009 eNewsletter the foundation put up “Wanted for Questioning: Adults Reading Young Adults Books. The Foundation would like to know the title or titles of the young adult books you have read or are reading and what drew you to the book. This edition of the newsletter is not yet up on the Foundation website, but you can send a short email to (via Child_Lit Listserv post)

Over at Bildungsroman, Little Willow has the full press release for Operation T.B.D. (Teen Book Drop). This is the third year for this event, which supports Teen Lit Day on April 16. Thanks to the tireless work of readergirlz , Guys Lit Wire , and the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) , teen patients in pediatric hospitals across the United Stateswill receive 8,000 young-adult novels, audiobooks, and graphic novels.

Christmas in March – You may know Toys for Tots, but did you know they have a literacy program? To celebrate its first anniversary, the Toys for Tots Literacy Program has partnered with the UPS Store and Mail Boxes Etc. to promote literacy. For the entire month of March, UPS Store and Mail Boxes Etc. locations are selling $1 donation cards. For every dollar donated, a book will be placed into the hands of a less fortunate child in the local community. Donation centers will continue additional fundraising activities throughout the year. National Center for Family Literacy (NCFL) President Sharon Darling is the official spokesperson for the 2009 campaign. In an email to Jen, we learned that the Toys for Tots Literacy Program just celebrated its first anniversary, and there is plenty to celebrate: since its launch, the program has raised more than $630,000 to purchase new books for less fortunate children around the country. There is also a wonderful story on about a 71-year-old “first grader” who got involved in his community to help readers in need.  [Via Meg Ivey’s post on Literacy Now!, the NCFL blog and the note to Jen about TFTLP’s anniverary. ]

I’m not much of a WWE gal, myself, but I do want to let WWE fans know that the Wrestlemania Reading Challenge Finals will take place at the Houston Public Library on April 4, 2009. From the WWE Press Release: “We’re always looking for ways to spread the word that reading is fun and the best habit you can have, and this challenge is one more way to do that,” said Sarah Cornish Debraski, YALSA president. “The incentive – to participate in the WrestleMania Reading Challenge and possibly attend WrestleMania – is a highly motivating one and one which allows librarians to reach out to teens who may not already have a love of reading.”

Like Jenny Schwartzberg, I wish I was heading to London. I would love to see Twinkle Twinkle Little Bat: 400 years of children’s poetry . Michael Rosen and Morag Styles are the curators for this Folio Society Gallery Exhibition at the British Library (1st April – 28th June 2009)

Here is an announcement from Reading is Fundamental (RIF) about its Kids Challenge contest with US Airways. “Read and win! RIF and US Airways invite you to share the joy of reading with children in your family and community. Join the 2009 Read with Kids Challenge and qualify for a chance to win a family vacation to the Walt Disney World Resort® and more great prizes! Visit for more information.” In exchange for a donation to support RIF’s mission, you can receive a special edition of the Off You Go, Maisy children’s book by best-selling author Lucy Cousins and up to 5,000 Dividend Miles from US Airways.

Voting has opened for StoryTubes, a community-based video project where people send in their “2-minute or shorter” video of their favorite book. Last week you could vote for individual entries made by kids in two categories: Kindergarten to Grade 4, and Grades 5 to 8. This week its individual entries grades 9 and up. Group entry votes follow that. You can get the complete schedule in Teresa Walls’ post, StoryTubes 2009: The Voting has Begun, over at the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) blog.

National Poetry Month

This just in from Anastasia Suen: She’s created Pencil Talk – School, a new blog just for kid’s poems. “I invite K-12 students to write a poem about school and send it to me.” Anastasia will post one student poem a day during Poetry Month.

Tricia Stohr-Hunt will be unveiling her Super Secret Poetry Project this week at The Miss Rumphius Effect. Over at GottaBook, Gregory K will be making an announcement today (23 March) about his annual project. We got sneak peaks on the Kidlitosphere Yahoo! group … but mums the word. I’ve got one word: super-splendiferous. Thank goodness March Madness will be mostly over.

Speaking of poetry … Elaine Magliaro has created Political Verses, a new blog for her political poems. Whatever your politics, you have to love this title: Winnie-the-Poohba and the Hundred Acre Woods.

Jen found this very interesting post about reading patterns on the Everybody Wins! USA blog. According to a LeapFrog and Harris Interactive survey, parents know that reading with their kids is important (98%) but not all of them actually reading to their kids (83%). Those numbers are in sharp contrast to other surveys that show the actual reading rate to be much lower. Even though 75% of the parents wish they had more time to read with their child, they are eight times more likely to spend what could be reading time surfing the Internet or watching TV. The good news is that Leapfrog has launched a million hours reading initiative where visitors can access resources to help foster more family reading.

Speaking of interesting data, this week’s edition of the School Library Journal (SLJ) Teen newsletter had a link to Bookworms at Heart: Teens Would Rather Read, which publishes the results of several Sky News (UK) surveys. Two points of interest: Almost half of those surveyed (under 16) would “rather read books than speak to their friends on social networks or other online sites.” There has been a “meteoric rise” in book club membership, with 47% of the teens responding that they had joined a book club in the last year.

In this week’s Book Whisperer column, Donalyn Miller reminds us that kids are never too old for read-aloud. There is so much in the article that struck a chord with me (no surprise there), but this point ties it together: “Reading aloud reminds children why they love reading. Sitting
on your lap, encircled by love and warmth, these are our children’s first reading memories. Reading aloud reminds children that reading is
pleasurable, an activity they enjoyed before reading turned into a school chore.” (emphasis the Donalyn’s).

At the Feiwel & Friends blog, author John Coy shares his observations about boys and reading, listing several factors that he thinks turn (many) boys into non-readers. See also this additional post by John on the same topic.

Jill Javet, VP for Corporate Relations at TVO (Ontario’s public education media organization), posted this announcement : “TVO, Ontario’s public educational media organization, and Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters (HIPPY) Canada are pleased to announce a new partnership to equip parents of immigrant and disadvantaged families in Ontario to be their children’s first and best teacher as they get ready for kindergarten.” Together, they will integrate resources for the 3- to 5-year-old audience with HIPPY’s program for parents, reaching the family at all levels.

Jen mentioned in her Thursday Afternoon Visit; NCAA Tournament edition, but it’s worth repeating. If you’re a fan of reading and not necessarily a fan of Accelerated Reader (AR), then you’ll want to read Sarah Mulhern’s posts over at The Reading Zone. Once again, Sarah shows us that there is always a way to make lemonade out of administrative lemons. In this post (15 March 2009), she shares her frustration of a once-reluctant-now-voracious reader who wants help selecting books, but needs to get her “AR points” before she can consider some of Sarah’s suggestions. Not content to just vent, Sarah tells us what she did in this post on St. Patrick’s Day. She pulled the AR tests her school owns, identified 10 books that her former student would like (each worth 10 points), and guided her to those books. The best part? The student was excited to have the recommendations and STILL wants to read the book Sarah originally recommended.

This one is more about raising writers than readers … Aerin suggested it to us, and we thought that some of you would find it useful for the aspiring writers in your life. If the post title doesn’t grab you Chloroform + Aresnic + Hydroxide = Love , then this opening should:  “Lord knows I’ve tried everything to put a stop to it — hiding pens and paper, snatching books out of her hands, forcing her to watch television — but she won’t quit, not even when I tell her the really scary publishing stories.” Yes, you’ll want to read on. [My thanks to Fran Cannon Slayton and her panel about tips and suggestions for writing hooks that work at the VA Festival of the Book! It’s making me a more discerning reader.]

Literacy & Reading Programs & Research

When President Barack Obama signed the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, Title I schools that are struggling most to reach No Child Left Behind (NCLB) goals will share an unexpected $3.4 billion to spend on improving the schools. In this week’s edition of Education Week (online), David J. Hoff’s article “Title I Turnaround Programs Due for Big Cash Boost” offers details and a year-by-year accounting of how the money will be spent. Also in Education Week, Alyson Klein has a nice companion article that explains why some educators remain skeptical of NCLB despite the cash infusion. And, for a more hands-on approach, see this Washington Times article by Mark Chenoweth about Education Secretary Arne Duncan reading aloud with kids. (“The Wednesday reading program – called “power lunch” – is a lunchtime literacy-and-mentoring program that brings adult volunteers into low-income elementary schools for one-on-one, read-aloud sessions with students, according to the sponsor, Everybody Wins! DC.”)

At Rasco from RIF, CEO Carol Rasco posted good news about maximizing the value of your tax dollars: “Announcing great news for Reading Is Fundamental: President Obama signed HR 1105, the Omnibus Appropriations Act 2009, and it not only includes RIF’s funding but actually includes an increase of almost $200,000 over our current year level of $24.6 million! What exciting news considering this time last year RIF was OUT of the proposed budget!”

Twelve leading Scottish Premier League footballers are supporting a new project which uses the motivational power of football to encourage families (read: parents and children) to improve their reading skills. The project is sponsored by the Scottish Government, the Scottish Premier League and the National Literacy Trust. One player from each SPL club  chosen their favorite adult and children’s book to create an inspirational reading list. My favorite part: “[They] selected children’s books ranging from Harry Potter through to Roald Dahl classics. A diverse range of adult books have been chosen, including The Count of Monte Cristo and the graphic novel Maus: My father Bleeds History.” These books form the basis for reading sessions with groups of parents and their children who will meet at libraries across Scotland. The article, Footballers Champion Reading is well worth the read.

In a recent post at the Schools Matter blog, Jim Horn offers analysis of why/how free play is vanishing in kindergarten classrooms. He draws his post from Crisis in the Kindergarten: Why Children Need to Play in School a study posted at the Alliance for Childhood website. Of particular interest to me is the idea that that time of day called “free choice” is more adult-directed than truly free.

21st Century Literacies

Leave it to Literacy is Priceless to take us out of this world! In this post, Readinggal points us to Google Lit Trips as “an incredible tool for helping students visualize and learn about the places they encounter in stories!” The first title in the K-5 directory? Possum Magic by Mem Fox!

Franki Sibberson
loaded the March edition of her 21st Century Visits with lots of great links. You’ll find resources and “great examples” in elementary learning, as well as a collection of topics to get you thinking about “modern literacy.” One (of many) that caught my eye: IDEO’s 10 TIPS FOR CREATING A 21st CENTURY CLASSROOM EXPERIENCE, which Frank describes as “a list I start carrying around with me.” See also the first article in a new year-long feature that Franki will be doing for Choice Literacy: Beyond Gadgets , on integrating technology into literacy instruction. We found this article via this weekend’s issue of The Big Fresh.

There’s a nice, succint article about digital reading this morning at the Book Publishing News blog. The piece focuses on, but Bob Budlow, president of Still Motion Studios (which produces MobiStories) says don’t give up on (traditional) books: “”MobiStories aren’t meant to replace the crucial early story-time experience with mom or dad reading to a child…They offer children the opportunity to learn and enjoy a story-time experience on familiar digital devices, throughout the day, anytime, anywhere and on virtually any device. Now, screen time is reading time.”

New Resources Can I Do? Scholastic and author/child development expert Denise Daniels have created a resource for families who are struggling with job loss and challenging economic times. What Can I Do? My Journal for Caring and Sharing in Tough Times, is a free, downloadable journal for kids 6-11 whose families are suffering through a difficult transition. A parent guide is also available on the site. Thanks to Ruth Spiro for the lead via a Kidlitosphere post.

Little Read Wagon is the San Antonio Public Library System‘s early literacy program. This is a community-based program designed to increase awareness and support the development of early literacy skills. From the blog: “Little Read Wagon staff provide foundational literacy information and materials to parents, extended family, and caregivers of children ages birth-five years. Services are provided free of charge at public libraries, childcare facilities, schools and community-based organizations.” They just started the blog in November 2008, and at the bottom of the page you’ll find a list of links related to early childhood and literacy.

Through a Google Alert, I found a link to NICHCY: A Guide to Children’s Literature and Disability. It is a handy list of links and resources to children’s books on various disability-related topicss, from ADD to physical disabilities. It identifies the book, describes its audience and format, and also has a list of publishers.

A Day’s Outing is a new website designed to help you “find the most exciting events, activities, and attractions around you, whether you are home or on the road.” You’ll find lots of great things to do, I like that you can find out about libraries, and library  and literacy events, including With spring break here, it may be a handy resource to find something to do with the kids! You can also sign up for a newsletter to get updates on events.

Grants and Donations

According to an article in the Bonner County Daily Bee (Idaho), “The East Bonner County Library District received a grant (part of a larger grant from WalMart) for $10,000 that will fund new library resources for the Bonner County Juvenile Detention Center… The grant-funded resources will provide popular teen and young adult fiction to motivate reluctant readers and will also provide books on tape and books on CD for non-readers.”

11 responses to “Children’s Literacy and Reading News Roundup – 23 March

  1. Pingback: A Week Until National Poetry Month | Scrub-a-Dub-Tub
  2. Anastasia – Our pleasure. I am so in awe of how you get it all to work! And I love that kids can get involved as writers, too. Sometimes I lose sight of the writing part of the reading connections.

    Meg – Thank YOU! In fact, I need to go back to your Friday round-up, because there were a couple of things you had that I missed.

    Jen – It is fun, isn’t it?! It’s so great to see the literacy voice grow.

  3. Now, I would have thought you would have been a wrestlemania fan, Terry!

    There’s so much I need to investigate in this post. I believe Free Play is of vital importance in kindergarten, so I am off to read your link with steam already wisping from my ears!

  4. Nice work on this as always. I learn something every week, and we greatly appreciate you reporting on content from our blog.

    Rich Greif
    National Executive Director
    Everybody Wins! USA

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