Childrens Literacy and Reading News Roundup – 24 August

Literacy Reading News RoundupWelcome to the weekly 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. Jen and I collected plenty of content for you about literacy and reading-related events; raising readers; literacy and reading programs and research; 21st Century literacies; grants, sponsorships and donations; and new resources. We hope you find new and useful information.


Everybody WinsThe Everybody Wins! USA Literacy Auction is now officially open. The auction runs from 8/19/2009 to 9/2/2009 and the proceeds go toward expanding the Power Lunch reading program for low income children. There’s a lot of interesting items that would make great gifts so go on over and have a look. Thanks, Book Dads for the virtual nudge to remember this important event!

NCTEFranki Sibberson and Mary Lee Hahn (A Year of Reading) are wonderful promoters of all things reading and kidlit. This year, as part of the National Council of Teacher’s of English (NCTE) National Day on Writing Celebration (20 October 2009) they will be the curators for their very own gallery, “A Lifetime of Reading” that celebrates writing in our daily lives. From the invitation:

Members of the Kidlitosphere are invited to submit stories from their reading lives. Your submission can be an anecdote from childhood, a recent experience around books or reading, a memory from school (good or bad), a vignette about learning to read, the impact of a particular book–anything about your life as a reader. We are looking for a variety of short pieces (think blog post length) from anyone in the Kidlitosphere, including bloggers, authors, illustrators, readers of blogs, etc.

Frank and Mary Lee posted the guidelines for submission, but they are worth posting here, too. Hmmm …  It was a dark and stormy night Once Upon a time … What to write?!

Do you know about the Bookpaths blog? It is about 10 months old, and its purpose is to “bring together literature and place. Through books we can strengthen our connection with all places on earth and through travel we can enrich our reading experience by stepping into a book’s setting.” Cool, huh? If you check out the categories, you can find events from all over the world, as well as list posts (think: 10 best snow books). Donna has already posted a list of Literary events for September 2009.

Raising Readers
JOMB_logo_feed_120Speaking of indominable duos … There are lots of reasons to yell “Woot” for Andrea Ross and Mark Blevis, but those reasons don’t often fit into our roundup. So it is with big smiles (and great pride) that we link you to a recent interview with the dynamic duo of Kidlit Podcasts at Quill & Quire! Their love of reading – and sharing books with daughters Bayla and Lucy – just jump from the (virtual) page! If that doesn’t do it … then read Andrea’s guest post at the Children’s Book Review. “Sure, reading aloud is good for our children but … we’re clearly pampering ourselves [too]. So grab a book and a child and treat yourself to some rampant read-aloud!” Makes you want to find the closest child and a book and just settle in, no?

Dr. Patricia Nan Anderson has a great interview Donalyn Miller on her weekly program
Parenting: A Field Guide Live! Donalyn talks about the need for kids to “read in the wild” and how we make time for what we value … and reading needs to be one of those things. Patricia and Donalyn talk about how you make time for reading in light of the requirements-heavy academic environment and at home, too. Donalyn uses an analogy I hadn’t heard before: “Sometimes we look at reading like as if it is a talent. I’m not an artist because I don’t like to draw. It is a skill, and we all need to read at some basic level.”

Like Donalyn, Stacy Dillon talks about “modeling” for the young readers in our lives. In a post at the ALSC (Association of Library Services to Children) blog, she shares the experiences of how she unplugged during her summer vacation to remind us that modeling in the 21st Century is a balancing act like none other. “Modeling reading is important but maintaining a balance between face-time and screen-time seems even more so.  In an age where young children see their adults (teachers, librarians, parents) constantly plugged in (twittering, fb, texting, calling) it may be more important than ever to take time out, unplug, and simply read together.” [She types, while daughter plays a math game on her computer …]

A recent article in the journal Child Development (and picked up by where we found it) presents the findings of a study that concludes that kids who have imaginary friends have more developed language skills than kids who don’t. The study, conducted at the University of Otago (New Zealand) had two groups of kids engage in realistic story telling. Although the vocabulary levels were similar, those who currently or previously had imaginary companions had richer stories. “The children with imaginary friends tailored their stories to the task. For fictional stories, they included more dialogue. For realistic stories, they provided more information about time and place compared to children without imaginary friends.”

Holyoke Enterprise has a nice article filled with tips from the National Center for Family Literacy on how to turn any child into a better reader. For example: “Make literacy and reading portable. As you drive across town look for signs with words beginning with the same letter as your young child’s name.” And “Read it again. Children need to hear favorite stories repeated. This helps them recognize and remember words. Most importantly, as kids become familiar with a story, it gives them confidence about reading and improves their comprehension.”

At the Springfield Moms website, speech therapist Jennifer Pollock answers a reader’s question about ways to encourage early literacy skills in young children. Her answer is short, sweet, and parent-friendly. She draws on Dr. Judith Schickedanz’ 1999 book More than ABCs to focus on the four early literacy skills: book handling behaviors, looking and recognizing; picture and story comprehension; and story-reading behaviors. Note: Teacherline on has a link to excerpts from the book. It cannot be reproduced or distributed for any reason other than a course that PBS sponsors. That’s why we are letting you know about it, not linking to it.

new_kids Have you been to the Kids Book Review lately? (Geez, why so many questions this morning!) First, check out Tania’s interview with Amy Watson of Literacy Launchpad. Sample Q&A: “Why is she so impassioned about literacy and children’s literature? It’s fun! That’s why I fell in love with children’s literature in the first place. I just love it! And I believe that reading literally can change a person’s life.” We love Literacy Launchpad and Amy (have you gotten your Literacy Launchpad T-shirt yet?) But I digress … Check out the new features that Tania is offering with her book reviews: price comparisons, links to teachers notes, links to author and illustrator sites, and a chance to vote on a book.

Another spot for finding short, sweet, and useable info is Totsy’s Place, a blog for toddler-related stuff. 12 Top Tips for Bedtime Stories not only offers ideas, explains toddler/preschooler milestones, and has some reassuring words for you, too.

Literacy & Reading Programs & Researchfree-ED

Did you see this graphic – or the real billboard (Martinez, CA on I-680 south after the Benecia Bridge on the right-hand side)? Isn’t it great?

xx created this outdoor, bigger-than-life ad campaign to promote public libraries, all because libraries are a great resource – and no one has ever done this before! The goal of the “Free Education” campaign is to “create a greater intellectual life among Bay Area citizens and to help improve the performance of schools and teachers.” Thanks to Brian Scott and Literacy and Reading News for the link.

The Star City Harbinger (Roanoke, VA) has an article that begins with the question “Is your child ready for Kindergarten?” There is a short list of questions to help parents gauge whether their child is ready socially, emotionally, physically, or cognitively. It also includes some tips with ideas on how to prepare your child for life-long learning. The first four ideas ALL relate to literacy: read with your kids; let them catch you reading; talk, sing, and play with your child; give them tools and let them play with writing.

At Families, Literacy, and Learning, Trevor Cairney has a great post for those looking for a short, sweet, multi-study look at infant/toddler brain development and learning. In short, the studies underscore the importance of play and discovery in helping even the youngest children acquire information. Trevor offers concise descriptions of studies sponsored by the University of California at Berkeley; Massachusetts Institute of Technology; and University of British Columbia; then he includes a set of additional links for other lists.

At Literacy Learning, Tim Shanahan offers some suggestions on how to teach fluency to English Language Learners (ELL students). “I would avoid have them read meaningless stuff, like “decodable text,” as I would not want to get them used to the idea that reading doesn’t make sense. ” Reminds me of another recent post that about how proscribed reading stifles learning.

In this week’s edition of Education Week Online, Debra Viadero expresses the concerns of educators around the country who are trying to transform their failing schools … as called for by Secretary of Education Duncan. Educators are looking for research-based solutions, but apparently there are none. Brian Hassel, a consultant who has worked with schools suggests that even though there are no “gold standard,” studies, “the collected wisdom on the subject so far is strong enough to help schools bring about change.” I can whisper (ahem) a book that might help!

Reading RocketsIn her latest Sound It Out column at Reading Rockets, Joanne Meier writes about a July 2009 Pediatrics study “about the contribution of adult-child conversations to a child’s language development. This piece, along with other research, documents the effect of language in the home on a child’s vocabulary.” Joanne focuses on three specific findings “important enough to share with parents during these first few weeks of school”, including: “Get your child talking, a lot. The more talking a child does, the more they are provided with an opportunity to practice and consolidate newly acquired interesting words.”

The good news is that the percentage of students deemed “college ready” (in an ACT survey) increased by 1 percent over last year. The bad news is that STILL less than 1 of every 4 high school graduates is prepared to attend college. The study’s results show that there was no change in the reading scores. Catherine Gewertz has pulled all of the key data together nicely in ACT Scores Show Most Students Aren’t Ready for College (Education Week Online).

21st Century Literacies

This may be so last century – or it may be timeless – it depends on how you categorize humor. In Book Fail, Travis Jonkers (100 Scope Notes) lets the pictures images do the talking.

There is an interesting discussion going on in the Children’s Publishing Group on LinkedIn. Dawn Stephens starts us off with a link to a New York Times article about integrating online materials in classrooms. Both Arizona and California have initiatives to move from traditional to digital textbooks. The teachers contributing to the discussion have some thoughts that aren’t included in the article. My gist: you can put a price on a textbook, but the time spent with a real, live teacher – priceless.

The Detroit Free Press has a column by Leanna Landsmann about ways to promote literacy using high-tech methods (with suggestions from K-12 educator Jim Moulton). For example, family wikis: “Planning a big family event? Set up a family wiki to share everything folks need to know about it. Moulton says this is also a great way for friends and cousins who only see each other during summer to stay in touch during the school year.” has now posted the discussions from a Webinar about using cellphones as instructional tools. The webinar, sponsored by Sprint, took place 23 July 2009. When you register (free) you will be linked to the event.

And coming soon … a way to test a student’s “technological literacy.” The National Assessment Governing Board has released a discussion draft of a computer-based National Assessment of Educational Progress in technological literacy. In 2012, the test will be “administered to a representative sample of the nation’s 4th, 8th, and 12th graders …[to] evaluate students’ understanding of technology tools and their design, the ways they can be used to gather information and communicate ideas, and their impact on society.” You can read Kathleen Kennedy Manzo’s full article in Education Week online.

Grants and Donations

Amy Green has a wonderfully inspiring story on Tonic entitled Well Read Kids at My One School. In May 2009, Besa Kosova quit her job and opened a bookstore … yep, in the middle of this economic mess. In June, My One School Bookstore (Orlando, FL) began selling donated books for the benefit of child literacy.  Kosova is a refugee. She escaped from Kosovo at 17, and now 15 years later, is a single mom of 2 children and the founder/director of this initiative. She has already raised enough money to build a school in India.

New Resources

Mighty Education System – Once again Susan Stephenson introduces us to a free, online resource that offers teachers, homeschooling groups, and parents a way to introduce or complement other literacy work. Susan has explored all aspects of the network – from the stickers, charts, and coloring pages to spelling games, flash card ideas, and writing stories. See what Susan thinks about this useful literacy resource for parents over at The Book Chook.

This may not be a new resource … but since we may have new subscribers … Lisa R. Bartle, a reference librarian at California State University (San Bernardino, CA) created the Database of Award-Winning Children’s Literature. With more than 4,000 records from 50 major children’s book awards across five English-speaking countries, you can find whatever you’re looking for by award, by subject, or even by title (to see if it won an award). Lisa also has a nice summary about each award. Thanks to Jon Bard and the Children’s Writing Web Journal for the link!

Thanks to Brenda Power and The Big Fresh (Choice Literacy newsletter) for introducing us to Anneographies. Author Anne Bustard created this blog, which links a children’s book biography with a famous person’s birthday. From Brenda: “You can check out the archives to figure out upcoming famous folks you might want to highlight on their birthdates in your classroom with read-alouds and biography book shares.” Anne does not have a search box on the blog that would allow you to search by name.

Facts First! Nonficton MondayThis week, Nonfiction Monday is hosted by Anastasia Suen at Picture Book of the Day.  Anastasia is seeking hosts for mid-September through December 2009. Scroll down to the Mr. Linky box to add your name if you are interested. Don’t forget to add #NFMon … in your blog post, add it first (as a line unto itself, before you start writing); on twitter, add it at the end.

17 responses to “Childrens Literacy and Reading News Roundup – 24 August

  1. Thanks, Carol. It really is a lot of fun to see and put together all the chatter about raising readers. And it most definitely is a two-woman job! I couldn’t do it with out Jen!

  2. Thank you so much for this! I enjoy reading it every week and love how you consolidate literacy news throughout the week. What a job for the two of you! Thanks again!

  3. Thanks, Dawn … it is a labor of love. We thought it might not be quite as relevant with Twitter handling so much #literacy, so it’s nice to know we are still making a contribution. Thanks again for stopping by.

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