Children’s Literacy and Reading News Roundup – 4 January

Happy New Year!

Literacy Reading News RoundupWelcome to the inaugural 2010 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. We have been enjoying all that the season has to offer (especially the chance to catch up on our reading!), but it’s also nice to be back. So lets jump in …


Today – thanks to the initiative of Franki Sibberson and Mary Lee Hahn at A Year of Reading – we are celebrating all things Scieszka. Tomorrow, the Librarian of Congress will announce the new Ambassador for Young People’s Literature. Today, we are taking some time to thank the first Ambassador, Jon Scieszka for all he’s done. If you’ve written a post, be sure to stop by A Year of Reading and join the virtual party. Link your post here.

Jenny Schwartzberg brought to our attention a fun NPR article about Bookstore Night in Buenos Aires. Here’s a snippet: “In Argentina over the weekend, Buenos Aires held its annual Noche de las Librerias — Bookstore Night. The city closes a main avenue, and places sofas and chairs where cars and trucks normally idle. People with books from the many bookstores lining the avenue, lounge in the seating and a festival atmospherel replaces traffic.” How cool is that? The idea is to celebrate books and reading. recently announced the finalists for the National Kids’ Writing Contest. Book Dads has the full scoop, reporting that “Stories were submitted by kids age 4-13 from New York to California and represented nearly half the states in the country.”

If volunteering for literacy is among your New Year’s resolutions, you might want to check out these two news items

  • The Colorado Springs Gazette announced that the Children’s Literacy Center is calling for volunteers aged 14  and up to provide reading tutoring to children two hours a week. Training sessions are 5:30-8 p.m. Jan. 19, 20 and 21  at the center, 2928 Straus Lane, Suite 100. For information visit
  • Planeterra, a global non-profit dedicated to sustainable community development through travel. The organization has announced 11 volun-tourism opportunites for 2010. There are opportunities to travel in Central and South America, Africa, and Asia. Read Brynn Mannino’s article on The Daily WD (Women’s Day) to read summaries of each opportunity.

Action for Family Literacy Ontario (AFLO)will host its annual conference in Markham, Ontario, Canada on February 18, 2010. From the AFLO blog: “Lorri Sauve, from AFLO, will be joined by Lesley Brown, Executive Director of the OLC, to present the topic Teach a Parent, Reach a Child: Integrating a Family Literacy Approach in the Early Years.” Click here to learn more.

Literacy Programs & Research

Tonya Wright Literacy Connections has a well-rounded discussion of how music and reading go together. In addition to discussing some of the science and offering suggestions on ways to incorporate music into your child’s life, Tonya also includes lists of children’s music, books for inspiring musicians, and other resources. (via @LiteracyCounts)

At, Anna Weinstein summarizes new research about how kids want to learn. A study conducted by David Geary, PhD, suggests that some things we learn naturally (biologically-driven), others don’t come as easily (reading and writing). He suggests that the “let kids discover things for themselves” (with less teacher instruction/guidance) may not be the most effective educational strategy. He makes some interesting points that are worth the read.  (via @fionarobyn)

Also via Jenny Schwartzberg, this University of Richmond newsroom article about an English professor who integrates service learning into her children’s literature classes. Libby Gruner’s “students learn about literature’s impact on children is through volunteering for programs such as Reach Out and Read, Church Hill Activities and Tutoring, the William Byrd Community House and the Youth Life Foundation. All of these organizations focus on children and education, especially reading.”

In Naples, Florida, the Classroom on Wheels has been visiting migrant camps in Bonita, FL, to help migrant families secure education for their children. “With a small army of bilingual teachers, they reached out to parents in the camp to discuss ways they can improve their children’s literacy and study habits, and foster a better environment for learning in their homes.” There is a nice slideshow, too. (via

Interesting Nonfiction for Kids takes on the decline of play and recess in schools. David Schwartz says: “recess is an endangered species. Studies consistently prove its value. In one set of experiments from the mid-1990s, researchers found that school children became less and less attentive the longer recess was delayed… For all their lip-service to the necessity of drawing on research-based teaching strategies, education authorities in the U.S. and Australia (and probably many other countries) don’t seem to care much about research on play.” Sad!

NewVisions for Public Schools has a realistic, practical list of suggestions for making literacy part of your life. Although many of the items will be familiar to regular Round-up readers, their emphasis on linking reading to an everyday activity may encourage those who still haven’t caught the reading bug. For example: “Show your children how to use language to get things done. For instance, show them how to read a menu, find a good Web site, write a thank-you letter or present their views on some current topic of interest.”

The current edition of the Early Childhood Education Journal presents the results of a study about the books that families select for joint story reading. The co-authors, professors from the University of Maryland and University of Illinois, tracked a group of teachers, parents and students (Kindergarten to fifth grade) for four months. “The results provided insight in relation to the parents’ perceptions about literacy, reading with families, and story reading. All members of the families read to their children frequently or daily and engaged the children in conversations about the books read.” You can read the abstract and introduction in this free preview document (PDF).

21st Century Literacies

Teacherninja wrote about e-books a couple of weeks back. He suggests that schools and libraries wait a bit longer before investing resources in e-Book readers, because it’s still too soon to know what standard will shake out. His take is that the final standard will be cell phone-based. If you have thoughts on this, share them at Teacherninja.

At Literacy is Priceless, Anna Batchelder shares 10 Twitter Tools for Your Classroom. She notes: “I’ve always thought of Twitter as a great tool for the Language Arts classroom because the application naturally encourages users to develop reading and summarization skills—i.e. there is only so much you can say with 140 characters!”

Both Jen and I appreciated (and are humbled by) the inclusion of our blogs in Karen Schweiter’s post describing 15 Free Resources for Young Readers.  Karen was the guest author at Teaching that Sticks in December 2009.

Grants and Donations

The McCormick Foundation has announced $880,000 in funding through Chicago Tribune Charities, a McCormick Foundation fund. The funding will help 38 local agencies assist Chicago’s adults, children, and families with the literacy skills they need for lifelong success. Through partnerships with media outlets, such as the Chicago Tribune, the McCormick Foundation continues Robert R. McCormick’s legacy of service by encouraging local giving, inspiring civic involvement and addressing human needs.

Zoe at Playing by the Book has compiled a list of charities “that distribute (kids’) literature, support literacy projects or are some other way involved with books.” Of course there are others, but if you’re looking for ideas for places to donate and support literacy, Zoe’s list provides a nice starting point (though she does note that these are just ideas, and she’s not specifically endorsing any individual charity from the list).

There is a heart-warming story about Rossinton, a 10-year old boy who, thanks to a Save the Children after school program, now has access to books … and has found a love of reading. You can read the story on the Save the Children website.

In Closing …

This week, Anastasia Suen is hosting Nonfiction Monday at Picture Book of the Day. With a new year comes 51 new opportunities to host Nonfiction Monday.  Here are Anastasia’s instructions: “Add your name and a date to the comments when I make a new call for hosts in my Nonfiction Monday post on January 4th, 2010.”  Learn more about what a host does here.

Last but not least, it is great to *hear* Andrea Ross’ voice again in the blogosphere! If you want a daily dose of inspiration with a splash of humor (but no wine or coffee), stop by We Can Rebuild Her.

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