Welcome to the weekly roundup of 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 Scrub-a-Dub-Tub, is now available here. Even with a “slow” news week, we have plenty of content on literacy and reading-related events; information on literacy and reading programs and research; 21st Century literacies; nd grant, sponsorship, and donation news.
In a post at Notes from the Slush Pile, Candy Gourlay introduces us to the nominees and winner (Moira Arthur) of the 2009 Eleanor Farjeon Award. This annual award recognizes individuals and organizations who have made significant contributions to Children’s Literature. From Candy:
These people are the heartbeat of children’s literacy – and people like us, who want to write for children, should give credit where credit is due.
The best part is her link to David Finkling’s presentation and proposal: Create a Bestsellers Foundation, where a small percentage of the best-selling books is set aside for “all the organizations, including schools and libraries, that promote reading.” It’s worth a minute-and-a-half to watch Finkling’s remarks on YouTube.
Via tweet from @HelaineBecker, we found this Leader-Post article with ten family literacy tips and activities for the holidays. For example: “Following a recipe is a great way to practice reading, comprehension and math skills. By baking holiday cookies or cakes, you can get the whole family involved.” Dawn Little pairs books and recipes in Cooking with Children’s Literature if you’re looking for some ideas to get you started. Fun stuff!
In Sheffield, UK, Children’s Poet Laureate Michael Rosen performed a live version of his picture book Going On A Bear Hunt at the Crucible theater, to generate excitement about reading. “In the afternoon, almost 1,000 children from 28 different primary schools, dressed in costumes inspired by their favourite children’s literature characters, paraded across the city to the theatre for a second performance of the show.” You can find more details in the Sheffield Telegraph. We heard about this story from Jenny Schwartzberg.
The Association for Library Services to Children (ALSC) is hosting Connecting Kids with Great Websites on Tuesday, 8 December at 7:00 pm (CST). This is a FREE online workshop where you can learn about how the committee arrives at their “Great Websites for Kids” lists. From the blog: “All you need to participate is a computer with speakers and an interest in children’s services.” For a full list of winter course offerings, visit the ACLA Youth Services blog.
Literacy & Book-centric Holiday Events/Activities
Speaking of holidays … If you’re still deciding what you want to give as gifts this year, might we suggest books? If you’re not a bookie yourself, you might head over to Tea Cozy, where Liz Burns is compiling a list of the gift-giving lists. These aren’t your standard “best of” lists. These are lists built around themes, and many offer book/gift combination ideas. Liz is compiling the master list based on what we write, so if you have your own list going, stop by and leave a comment.
Liz, of course, mentions MotherReader’s 105 Ways to Give a Book. We would like to add idea 106: Pair a Harry Potter book with a trip to the Boston Science Museum to see the Harry Potter exhibit. Thanks to National Children’s Book and Literacy Alliance (NCBLA) for the details about the exhibit – and the review of the exhibit!
Jen also liked Joanne Richard’s article for Sun Media on gifts for the reluctant reader. In addition to a pretty nice list of suggested books, Richard offers some general tips from Nikole Kritikos. For example, “‘If TV is a big draw in the home, try piquing their interest with books of non-fiction that can be read aloud on commercial breaks,’ recommends Kritikos. ‘Snippets of fascinating facts and trivia can offer just the right amount of reading to exercise young brains – and trick them into learning!'” Jen says: not sure I agree with “tricking” kids into learning, but the idea of using snippets of interesting nonfiction to fill dead moments of any sort sounds smart.
Among the articles in this week’s Big Fresh (Choice Literacy Newsletter) is 4th Annual Gifts for Literacy Geeks (that would be us, and you, our loyal followers). Brenda Power has some great ideas. Want to go green? Check out the recycled book purse! Want tech? How ’bout a Flip Camera. [Image source: Country Living magazine]
And another gift idea for literacy geeks, especially for teachers, might be Igniting a Passion for Reading by Steven L. Layne. TeacherNinja has a mini review/discussion of the book, saying (on the side of igniting the passion vs. teaching to tests): “If we don’t have curious, teachable, engaged readers and thinkers (no matter their level or ability) then we’re not really doing our job.”
Literacy & Reading Programs & Research
Speaking of teachers having trouble doing their job, a new report suggests that “One in five Scottish children leave primary school without being fully literate.” An article by Simon Johnson in the Telegraph says that “The report found 18.5 per cent of all Scottish children leave primary school without being functionally literate, but this figure dropped to 10 per cent in the richest areas and increased to 26 per cent in the poorest.” I just hope that the outcome of this isn’t a focus on more testing, and more killing of the passion for reading. Because that’s the vicious cycle, isn’t it?
The National Center for Family Literacy blog reports that talks about literacy are underway on Capitol Hill. “On Thursday, the Early Childhood, Elementary and Secondary Education Subcommittee of the House Committee on Education and Labor held a hearing titled Improving the Literacy Skills of Children and Young Adults. NCFL Advisory Board Member Dr. Dorothy Strickland, Professor Emeritus, Rutgers University, testified and spoke persuasively about the importance of family literacy and family involvement.” Link via @TeachStrategies.
Here’s a fun literacy tidbit. The Orange County Register reports, in an article by Jaimee Lynn Fletcher, that in Seal Beach, “Fifteen dogs from Beach Animals Reading with Kids will help give out 750 books on Friday at the 29th annual holiday parade on Main Street. The BARK dogs will trot along the parade route among the marching bands and floats to give away books to encourage children to read over the holiday break.” Link via @FirstBook.
Via Charlotte’s Library we learned about “a rather nice story from the Guardian. The folk of Westbury-sub-Mendip faced a double loss. First, their local library closed. Second, their iconic red telephone box was threatened. The solution was beautifully simple–make the phone box into a free, honor-system, library!” Really, you must click through to see the pictures – this is priceless, a tiny little library inside an old-style red phone booth.
Jenny Schwartzberg also brought to our attention a lovely essay by Pam Allyn in The Huffington Post. Allyn writes about the importance of stories, particularly stories that are read aloud to children. She says: “By sitting down with a child or young adult and reading to him, we celebrate the strength of those stories and remind ourselves that no matter how dark the world gets, the path is lit by the power of words.” (But do read the whole thing – it’s an inspirational piece.)
21st Century Literacies
BBC News reports (in an article by Zoe Kleinman) that “Children who blog, text or use social networking websites are more confident about their writing skills, according to the National Literacy Trust. A survey of 3,001 children aged nine to 16 found that 24% had their own blog and 82% sent text messages at least once a month.” Jonathan Douglas of the National Literacy Trust said: “Does it damage literacy? Our research results are conclusive – the more forms of communications children use the stronger their core literary skills.” [Image Source: Hand drawn Social Media icons by G-Force.]
In a similar result, School Library Journal (SLJ) reports that “According to a new study, low-income children in preschool classrooms improved their literacy skills when their teachers incorporated videos and online technology into the curriculum… Researchers looked at whether videos and games impacted young children’s literacy skills and found that kids with the most to learn made the most gains… To access the full study, sample content from the curriculum, and a video interview with a teacher who participated in the study, visit http://cct.edc.org/rtl.” Link via @everybodywins and @NCFLMeg
This one came via email by Michael Kline. Over at Dogfoose.com, Michael has created PDFs of his book Wordplay Cafe (Williamson Publishing, 2004). “This one’s for the Teachers” invites you to download the book with one condition: “All I ask in return is that the files remain in the classroom and be treated in a scholarly manner.” If you build classroom activities from the book, Michael would also like to know so he can share it on the website with other educators.
Speaking of SLJ … Kate Messner offers a wonderful example of Twitter @ work in the classroom. She opens with her class participating in a #litchat with Cheryl Klein and Sara Lewis Holmes, as they talked about Operation Yes! Sara’s new book. Messner includes an excerpt of the #yeschat transcript, as well as a detailed outline about how to put together and present a proposal for using Twitter in your classroom. Thanks to Sara Lewis Holmes for the link.
Grants and Donations
The Financial Times has raised $778,000 so far this season in support of Room to Read. “Room to Read builds libraries and schools, publishes local-language children’s books and supports girls’ education in south and south-east Asia and southern Africa. The FT will publish reports on its activities in the next weeks.”
And for a more grass-roots effort, the Blue Mountains Courier-Herald reports that “A group of Georgian Bay Secondary School students are working at their goal of purchasing 500 books for new babies in the community. The Born to Read group works with Keystone (Bruce Grey Children’s Services) by raising funds to buy books. Keystone then delivers a book and letter from the group to each new baby born to the families involved in its programs.”
If you’re planning to donate any books during the holiday season, Lisa from Online Publicist suggests that you do so in memory of Dewey, a book blogger who passed away about a year ago. Lisa says: “Her spirit lives on in the Dewey Read-a-Thon, Weekly Geeks, and The Bookworms Carnival. She loved reading. She loved books. She supported Banned Books Week and believed everyone had the right to reading material. In her honor, I’m calling this donation project The Dewey Tree. It’s a little bit The Giving Tree, a little bit Dewey, a little bit charity.” To participate, simply donate some books, take a picture of your donation in some way, and share it with Online Publicist. You can find more details here.
And finally, if you’re looking for donation opportunities for the holidays, Sherry from Semicolon has links to ways that you can give gifts to soldiers, with emphasis on programs for giving books.
Carol Rasco is hosting the Nonfiction Monday roundup at Rasco from RIF. Given that today is the anniversary of Pearl Harbor, I’m sure there will be a book or two among the collection.
NOTE: Bookcover images are NOT linked to a vendor.