Children’s Literacy and Reading News Roundup – 27 April

Welcome to the 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.  This week’s edition includes events for reading and literacy as well as ideas and posts about raising readers; literacy and reading programs and research; grants & donations; and a bunch of new resources. There are some great new blogs coming online.


logo_bos_smallJen, a Red Sox fan, wasn’t able to resist this article from Everybody Wins! about the Kevin Youkilis Hits for Kids program. Among other efforts, “Kevin Youkilis “Hits For Kids”, has also forged a partnership with the New England Mobile Book Fair®, establishing Youk’s Kids Reading Group-a program aimed at furthering the important values of reading and literacy among young people.” The post also outlines a fundraising even in Boston to benefit the Raising a Reader program.

bigreadlogoAs part of this week’s NEA Big Read event, some lovely videos of Ray Bradbury talking about the important of reading and libraries were made available. We learned about the link from Teacherninja.

Picture this: Jon Scieszka, Ira Glass, and Sarah Vowell dealing cards – Casino-style. Join them on 30 April 2009 as part of a fundraiser for 826NYC, the Manhattan chapter 826 Valencia, a nonprofit writing lab and tutoring center founded by Dave Eggars in San Francisco. I could go on, but the incredibly talented Betsy Bird at Fuse #8 has put it all together here. She even has links to the video about the center, a pirate store, and a space travel store.

Scholastic is launching a pre-emptive strike on the summer slide. On 30 April, the company will launch the Scholastic Summer Challenge, with a webcast game show on Thursday. This is a four-month effort to “motivate kids ages eight and up to read four or more books during the months that they’re not in school.” School Library Journal has all of the details and more links in this article.

Head over to the FirstBook blog for a summary of  El día de los niños/El día de los libros events across the country. (via Meg Ivey’s Literacy Voices Round-up, 24 April at the National Center for Family Literacy [NCFL] blog)

You may have already seen this, but it’s worth repeating: award-winning author Nikki Grimes is leading a bookdrive to replenish the Young Adult collections at Mena (Arkansas) public schools.  As you may recall, Mena was literally flattened by a hurricane. You can read more in this post on Justina Chen Headley’s blog.

Raising Readers

First up, a reader’s request. Susan Stephenson sent me a good, old-fashioned Email and asked if we might consider including Princess April Pulley Sayres’ story. I happen to be on a More Props for Nonfiction campaign, so I was more than a happy to oblige. In this post, April shared her experience during a recent visit to a rural, Title I school. I won’t spoil her story (she is the author, after all) , but I’ll give you a hint: fairy tales do come true. I also agree with Susan “We need such good news stories about schools.” Trevor Cairney’s post The Power of LIterature is a nice complement and, as Trevor notes “literature does more than just teach.”

Even those of us who love books sometimes forget about the benefits of reading aloud. At Eight Acres of Eden (Australia), Ann shares her joy of reading aloud to her children. Her story about reading Anne of Green Gables to her “wiggly six-year-old” is precious. See also this post at Children’s Books for Grown-Ups, about a recent Michael Rosen broadcast on helping parents who have performance anxiety about reading aloud. If you don’t have time to listen to the whole thing, Natasha Worswick recaps a number of things that she learned from the show.

Over at Share a Story – Shape a Future, we have another new round-up post from the 2009 Literacy Blog Tour, this one focused on “resources and ideas related to reading aloud.” Tomorrow we’ll launch the first of our three-part compendium of all of the books and booklists people mentioned in posts and comments during the tour.

Dawn Morris shares Part 2 of her Top 10 Ways to Raise an Avid Reader at Moms Inspire Learning (though, in fact, she couldn’t resist going to 11, and reserves the right to add more). She concludes, after some excellent and enthusiastic suggestions: “the important thing to remember here is to make reading fun for your child. The minute it seems like work, the less your child will enjoy it. There are books out there for every child that are just waiting to be found!”. And we swear, we had already planned on recommending this post before we realized that Dawn was kind enough to recommend both The Reading Tub and Jen Robinson’s Book Page as sources for recommendations. Dawn also has a nice post this week about Picture Books for Peace, and an addendum about Helping Struggling Readers.

Good news from Hooked on Phonics. According to a recent survey (694 parents) sponsored by the company, 82 percent of parents with children 8 years and younger not only read to their children every day, but read more than8 books per week. The survey results are not on the company’s websites, but you can get more details in Brian Scott’s post for the Literacy and Reading News blog.

Thanks to MosyLu at Kid Tested, Librarian Approved for telling us about Chronicles of an Infant Bibliophile, written by the mom of a “baby bookworm” (her 16-month-old son). Like her, we also liked the suggestions for other parents trying to pick books for your children. As she says, sometimes having the opinion of another parent can be very helpful in finding just-the-right book. [sidebar: This was already in the roundup draft before Jen and I learned of our Primeo Dardas recognition.]

Anne-Louise Brown has an inspiring article about teacher’s aide Laura Richards and the tools she uses to help students (nine-year-olds) improve their reading skills. In the interview, Ms. Richards explains how she uses newspapers to engage the kids not only in reading, but to broaden their world: “Opening the door to literacy to these kids is like introducing them to a whole new world. They are like little sponges, soaking up every bit of information they can get their hands on.”  We found the article on

Thanks also to Everybody Wins! USA (followed quickly by the Reading Zone) for the lead to this Seattle Book Examiner article that matches specific read-aloud tips (pause for audience participation) with President Obama reading Where the Wild Things Are (let listeners jump in).  How do you top the Reader-in-Chief as a read-aloud role model?

Trevor Cairney (at Literacy, Families, and Learning) has written a second post in what we hope will be a long series about The Power of Literature. In this one, he talks about the power of literature to enrich our lives. He discusses the many things that he learned from the first full book that he read (Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea), saying “the book did more than teach me about language, reading and literature, it enriched me as a learner and as a person; that’s what books can do! The reading of this book has stayed with me for 50 years and has been part of the foundations of my literary history and experience.”

In last week’s roundup, we included The Corner, a book club started by  Common (a rapper known for his social awareness), in our New Resources section. This week, Shanti Menon interviews Common in  this article for School Library Journal.  Common, who is an avid reader himself, offers this description about the link between reading and writing music: “For every artist, information is the key. Reading gave me an avenue to get information. The more information you get, the more you digest, the more you can release. I’m always getting information, learning new things.”

Children’s author Terry Farish has posted a wonderful Powerpoint presentation for educators about Multicultural books for Kids and Teens on her Elephant Rag blog.

Literacy & Reading Programs & Research

For a couple of glimpses at global literacy efforts, check out this post by Janet at PaperTigers (about a free library in Myanmar created by a local resident) and these two posts about author Kirby Larson’s recent visits to schools in the Middle East. Also from PaperTigers, a lovely post about kids making a difference in the world, while simultaneously learning about “math, statistics, literacy, geography and leadership.”

GYSDAnd speaking of kids making a difference, Anna M. Lewis has a post at I.N.K. (Interesting Nonfiction for Kids) rounding up several books for Global Youth Service Day. “During Global Youth Service Day, millions of youth around the world organize community service projects to address the needs of their local communities through service, to be recognized for their contributions, and to be a part of a global youth service movement.”

Author Susan Taylor Brown recently worked on a project for the Arts Council Silicon Valley, teaching poetry to incarcerated youth. She just announced that as part of her project, she’s put together an exhibit for a Santa Clara, CA museum. She says: “
For those of you who are local here in the Bay Area, you might want to come by and take a look at the “Art Empowers” Exhibition which showcases the artistic talents of more than 50 local at-risk youth ages 12 through 18.” More details are here.

At Everybody Wins! USA, Rich Grief links us to an article about recent study that looks at the value of “ability grouping” as a tool for promoting academic success. Christy Lleras, an associate professor of human and community development at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, co-authored the study with UI graduate student Claudia Rangel. Their study concludes that over time, there weren’t a lot of differences in the reading gains between grouped and non-grouped African American students. You can read the abstract here; you need to register to see the full study.

21st Century Literacies

In last Monday’s edition of the Wall Street Journal, author Steven Johnson explored the idea of how the E-book will change the way we read and write. Like others, he says future generations will look back at the Kindle (and other Readers) the way we mark progress by citing Gutenberg’s printing presses. He offers an interesting thought: that the ability to explore print digitally has actually broadened our horizons (think of all the small-town papers we link you to here in the Round-up). The crux: “Before too long, you’ll be able to create a kind of shadow version of your entire library, including every book you’ve ever read — as a child, as a teenager, as a college student, as an adult. Every word in that library will be searchable. It is hard to overstate the impact that this kind of shift will have on scholarship. Entirely new forms of discovery will be possible.” Before too long, you’ll be able to create a kind of shadow version of your entire library, including every book you’ve ever read — as a child, as a teenager, as a college student, as an adult. Every word in that library will be searchable. It is hard to overstate the impact that this kind of shift will have on scholarship. Entirely new forms of discovery will be possible.” Isn’t that mind boggling? and cool, too! (via Steven Weber on Twitter)

Grants and Donations

wingsandhalo In South Bend, IN, With Wings and a Halo – R.E.A.C.H. a Child! Indiana has partnered with the Crime Prevention Unit of the South Bend Police Department to distribute new books to children in crisis. R.E.A.C.H. (which stands for Reading Enjoyment Affects Childhood Happiness) is giving  100 backpacks, each filled with 10 to 12 new children’s books to the police department, who will then distribute them in the community. The two organizations will hold a joint press conference tomorrow; in the meantime, you can read the press release here.

More good news from Scholastic:  To help celebrate National Volunteer Week, Scholastic has launched Be Big in Your Community, a national contest for kids and adults to share BIG ideas … just like Clifford’s Big Ideas. This is  part of Scholastic’s ongoing Clifford the Big Red Dog(r) Be Big!(tm) campaign. You’ll find more details in Brian Scott’s article on Literacy and Reading News and the Scholastic website.

On Thursday, according to a news release, “The Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy announced today that its prestigious National Grant Program is awarding a total of $634,070 to 10 nonprofit organizations, public school districts, and other agencies across the United States to improve the literacy skills of parents and their children. Since its inception in 1989, the Foundation has awarded nearly $32 million to 730 family literacy programs in 50 states, including the nation’s capital.”

The Elgin Courier (Texas) has an article about a new local literacy program, recently funded by more than $200,000 in grants. “The purpose of Project Hog Wild is to provide literacy programs and materials for low income and bilingual children in Elgin and the outlying rural areas …Project Hog Wild will provide high quality reading materials in English and Spanish, furnish children’s reading areas in the library, provide literacy computers and employ a full-time children’s librarian to serve these children through the project. The Friends of the Elgin Library will provide additional support for this project by contributing books and project administration.”

New Resources

¡Imagínense Libros! is a blog started in February 2009. It is “a virtual evaluation collection of Latino children’s and young adult literature designed to help librarians, educators, and parents choose high-quality books authentically representing the Latino cultures.” The author is a University of Alabama professor, and he also lists resources related to Latino/a authors and illustrators, and covers other topics related to Latino Children’s Literature. and Our thanks (and Eva M’s, too) to Susan Stephenson for Screen Me Up Scotty, a Book Chook post about this really cool resource for kids. A Glog is like a digital poster, where you can put text, images, sound, video. From Susan: “I think it has immense potential for the classroom, for home schoolers, or for anyone wanting to help a child respond to a stimulus like a poem or novel in his own way.” Susan offers lots of details about the site and its value for homeschoolers, teachers, and parents (and why you should direct kids to the EDU site). There’s only one downside: the art of creating glue and paste fingerprints will be lost to the next generation. Reading Gal at Literacy is Priceless said it more succinctly than I could: “WebQuests are a wonderful way to build your students’ critical background knowledge, reading and technology literacy skills.” Head over to Literacy is Priceless to see her examples of ways to take students to far-off lands right from their desk.

Raising Readers and Writers is a new blog on the block. Julie Johnson, currently a first-grade teacher formerly an intermediate grade teacher, created the blog to “share [her] passion for teaching that revolves around literacy.” Thanks to Franki Sibberson (A Year of Reading) for the introduction. While you’re introducing yourself, be sure to stop by the new Teaching Authors blog, too. Six teachers (who are also working writers) will be sharing their tips and ideas about “about the subjects we love best–writing, teaching writing, and reading.”

Creative Ways to Encourage Young Literacy is a new blog that shares information on ways to promote literacy at home. The emphasis is on pre-emergent literacy, and you’ll find a great tips in the sidebar , and book discussions, too.

Programming change: This week Nonfiction Monday is being hosted by Anastasia at Picture Book of the Day.

9 responses to “Children’s Literacy and Reading News Roundup – 27 April

  1. You’re welcome Jen … I certainly wasn’t going to put up that New York team’s logo! I was born/raised an Orioles fan. Bill is still a fan. The current ownership really soured me on them, so I’ve lost interest. He says we keep getting the Washington Post for the news … I have my suspicions! Happy Monday.

  2. Thanks Laura, you’re right. It is a wonderful sentiment. The whole article is filled with great quotes, it was hard to narrow it down.

  3. Oh my gosh, Terry, I am once again so amazed by all that you do, and the wonderful person that you are. It’s people like you that make all the difference in the blogosphere!

    You’ve once again put together so many wonderful resources. It’s so great to be able to rely on you, Jen, and Susan for the latest news. It’s funny, because I just found EverybodyWins on Twitter, and am inspired by all of the great things they are doing. I’m also especially interested in Terry Farish’s PowerPoint on multicultural literature, as multicultural books are a major focus of my blog. You’ve also provided so many other resources that are worth taking the time to look at.

    I also can’t thank you enough for quoting me and for mentioning three of my posts! What you wrote really means a lot to me. It just so happened that I was feeling a little down this morning, so it was really nice to see your blog post come through in my email. You made my day!

    I feel so lucky to have found you and your blog. It truly has been an honor getting to know you, and I’m looking forward to working with you in the future.

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