Children’s Literacy and Reading News Roundup – Mid-April 2011

Literacy Reading News RoundupWelcome to the mid-April edition of the children’s literacy and reading news round-up, brought to you by Jen Robinson’s Book Page, Scrub-a-Dub-Tub, a Reading Tub blog, and Rasco from RIF is now available at Scrub-a-Dub-Tub. Over the past couple of weeks Jen Robinson, Carol Rasco, and I have collected plenty of content for you about literacy & reading-related events, programs, and research. Susan Stephenson (The Book Chook) sent me some cool links from Down Under that are included, and Carol Rasco will be back later this month with some reflections for these past 30-odd days and a look forward to next month.

To start us off, I’d like to share an excerpt of a Press Release I received from Reach Out and Read about Joining Forces, an initiative launched by First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden, wife of the Vice President. “Joining Forces aims to educate, challenge, and spark action from all sectors of our society — citizens, communities, businesses, non-profits, faith-based institutions, philanthropic organizations, and government — to ensure military families have the support they have earned.” Reach Out and Read, an official partner of the initiative, will expand to 100 military bases, serving more than 200,000 children and families. It is great to see literacy as a cornerstone piece of this project.


This one falls in the “wish I could have been there” category. At the recent Sunday Times Oxford Literary Festival (London), four children’s laureates spoke about their childhood love of reading, as well as the projects they launched as Laureate. In her post at An Awfully Big Blog Adventure, Savita Kalhan summarized the presentations by Current Laureate Anthony Browne, and former Laureates: Anne Fine, Jacqueline Wilson, and Michael Rosen. “What unified them was their appreciation of books from a very young age – whether it was through teachers and school, through their parents , or through school libraries or local libraries. They loved books, they loved being read to when they were young, and they loved reading. This is essentially what they spent their term as Laureates promoting in schools.” Isn’t that banner just wonderful?

Speaking of banners … If you’ve got money for postage, then the Children’s Book Council will send you this poster and an activity guide for Children’s Book Week … for FREE!!! Author/Illustrator Peter Brown (The Fabulous Bouncing Chowder, The Purple Kangaroo, The Curious Garden, and Children Make Terrible Pets) created this year’s illustration. The key is that you include a self-addressed stamped envelope with your request. Hurry, though! Children’s Book Week starts May 2, 2011.

This is just so awesomely cool … and worth opening just for the music! “Find the Future at The New York Public Library is the first game where winning means writing a book. Work together with the other players to win the game, and your book will go into the permanent collection of NYPL — to be checked out and read by Library users for decades to come!” Here’s the scoop: 500 people will spend the night of 20 May 2011 in the New York Public Library! Then, on 21 May 2011 anyone, anywhere in the world can play. Find the Future: The Game is one of the events to help celebrate the NYPL’s Centennial. Can’t you just see Noah Wylie (Flynn Carson of The Librarian) and Nicolas Cage (Benjamin Franklin Gates of National Treasure) in this?

Literacy Programs and Research

I missed this article last month, but thanks to Digital Directions, an Education Week newsletter, I had a chance to read Kevin Bushweller’s piece Navigating the Path to Personalized Education. Edmunds Middle School (Vermont) has a very diverse student population, with 41% qualifying for reduced and free lunches. As part of a four-year grant, a group of five teachers and their students are using technology to “provide technology-rich, personalized learning.” Kevin also raises a question many of us have: “How can you move forward when there is little, if any, evidence of the impact of technology-rich, personalized learning?” It will be interesting to see how literacy rates overlay with the analysis.

In an extension of that thought, Katie Ash talks about the advances in digital gaming (Digital Gaming Gone Academic). The focus of the piece is how technology has advanced to the point where we can assess how much a student is learning, but she also illustrates the diversity of subjects that students can learn about that otherwise wouldn’t be available to them.

The Joan Ganz Cooney Center and Sesame Workshop have just published Always Connected, which collates data from several studies about young children and media. The researchers looked at studies going back to 1999, and discovered that most of the studies focused on kids 8 and older. THIS report looks at usage in children 3 to 7. Rather than throw out statistics, I’ll offer this quote: “Media platforms by themselves are neutral; what matters most are the choices made by parents, educators, educational production companies, and other content providers in order to encourage a balanced pattern of consumption.” (via Kabongo blog)

The Callier Library (University of Texas) has a blog called COMD News where the staff puts together posts with excerpts culled from more than 600 Internet soruces. This week, they posted the abstract to a study in Reading Research Quarterly titled Young Children’s LIteracy Practises In a Virtual World. The study analyzes the out-of-school activities of students (5 to 11) and their use of virtual worlds (think Club Penguin, Webkinz, etc.) If you are a member of the International Reading Association you can read the full study. Without that, you can glean a lot of good stuff from the Abstract.

Jenny Schwartzberg brought to our attention this SFGate article by Erica Mu about a literacy program that brings children’s books to laundromats in Richmond, CA. Here’s a snippet (quoting Kevin Hufferd): “It’s just far too rare to see children’s books in the neighborhood. That’s our idea: to make sure that wherever families are, there will be books there. We all need to make sure children can read by the time they’re in third grade because from then on. If they can’t do that, they’re really struggling.”

Unwrapping Literacy

Thanks to a tweet by @MrSchuReads, we have a video of Marc Brown showing us how to draw Arthur Read, the beloved aardvark of book and television fame. You can also check out this video of Marc Brown reading Arthur Turns Green.

We’re going to close with this 2-minute video on the Guardian’s New Children’s Book Page. These are kids talking about why they read, what they get out of reading, and why reviews are important to them. You might also enjoy the Book Trailer Videos page on … talk about bringing books and literacy to life!

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