Children’s Literacy and Reading News Roundup – Mid-December 2010

Literacy Reading News Roundup

Welcome to the mid-December children’s literacy and reading news round-up, brought to you by Jen Robinson’s Book Page, Scrub-a-Dub-Tub, and Rasco from RIF is now available here. Over the past couple of weeks Jen Robinson, Carol Rasco, and I have collected plenty of content for you about literacy & reading-related events; literacy and reading programs and research; and suggestions for growing bookworms.

Jen’s first-of-the-month edition is at Jen Robinson’s Book Page, and Carol Rasco may chime in shortly with some thoughts to close out the year. As you may know, Reading is Fundamental made it past the first hurdle of losing its budget, but there is still work to be done. We love having Carol, but there are millions of children who need her passion and all that RIF has to offer … not to mention a bit of a holiday for Carol, too.


If you are considering a donation to a literacy charity, Zoe has an incredibly comprehensive list at Playing by the Book.  Whether you want to give time, books, or money, you’ll find charities the world over. Zoe has them broken down by country and then alphabetical.

A program that provides books to national and international literacy programs is asking donors to share the Spanish / English children’s books currently being distributed in Cheerios boxes, so that they can distribute them to children in need. See the Darien Book Aid Plan website for more details.

In Sunday’s Statesman Journal (Willamette Valley, Oregon), Kathy Martin features stories about high school students at the Tech Prep Academy who are working to improve literacy among elementary students in Marion County. The Reading for All initiative includes student participation in a project designed to “focus on Community Literacy and Student Success.”  Here is the link to the article. (a Bing feed, via RSS Owl)

Literacy Programs and Research

Melissa Taylor (Imagination Soup) has a wonderful article about bibliotherapy. In Percy Jackson is My Therapist, she shares how Percy Jackson helped her deal with the procedures her 4-year-old endured when diagnosed with a “seizure disorder.” Melissa includes research and interviews that support her thesis that Young Adult (YA) literature is a great stress reliever. Melissa would welcome comments (hint!), so please drop by.

And for another approach to bibliotherapy, check out this Lexington Herald-Leader article about a teen who used books to help cope with being stuck in bed due to a knee problem, and then reached out to bring books to other “children trapped in difficult circumstances. Which is why a charity launched by a teenage girl in Georgia has now dispensed more than 51,000 books to shelters for abused and impoverished children around the country, including in Kentucky.” Thanks to Jenny Schwartzberg for the link.

I know I usually save cool toys – I mean tools – for the monthly roundup, but for those who have received or are getting iPods (or Nook or Nookcolor) and want to fill them with books, I thought you’d want to know about the Audiobook Jukebox! “At present, Audibook Jukebox has indexed more than 1500 reviews contributed by almost 100 bloggers. The review links can be found by author, title, narrator, genre, and publisher. Types of books range from children’s and family books through most popular adult fiction genres to history, self-help, and religion. No matter what your reading taste, you should be able to find a great audiobook by following the links at Audiobook Jukebox.” (via Michelle @GalleySmith who was retweeting @bookladysblog)

Because we’ll be shifting into “resolutions phase” soon, here is another it-can’t-wait item. Franki Sibberson shares not only her ideas, but her experiments with QR codes in her elementary library.  What I particularly love about her piece is not how she envisions using QR codes for her students, but the ways she can see her students using QR codes!

In a complementary article, Yvonne Zipp has a wonderful piece about “super librarian” Cindy Dobrez in the Christian Science Monitor. She’s got a 20-year winning streak going in her Stump the Librarian game! It’s a great article! (via Mary Ann Scheuer link on Facebook)

Gerald G on OpenClipArt.orgIn “Wake Up Call, America: Don’t Hit the Snooze Button,” Clay Jenkinson (Bismarck Tribune, North Dakota) opens with some staggering statistics. “A new study shows that the United States now ranks 14th in reading literacy among the world’s nations. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development conducted a study involving 470,000 15-year-old students around the world. The results indicate that the world’s most powerful and important nation is a bonehead in educational standards. The U.S. ranks 17th in science (which is up a little from previous years), and a miserable 25th in mathematics.” This is just the beginning. To read more statistics and experts’ perspectives on how we got this way, check out the full article.  (via Google Alert; Alarm Clock: Gerald R on

That’s not the only bad news, I’m afraid. The 8 December 2010 edition of Medical News Today summarizes the results of Report Card 9: The Children Left Behind (PDF), a report by the Innocenti Research Center (UNICEF’s independent research center).  This is the first time the study ranks each of the 24 OECD countries relative to health, education, and material well-being for children.  In a nutshell: “Italy, the United States, Greece, Belgium and the United Kingdom, for example, are seen to be allowing their most vulnerable children to fall much further behind than countries like Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Switzerland and the Netherlands. The report argues that the consequences of ‘falling behind’ are enormous for children, as they are for the economy and societies.”  There are other key findings in the full article.  (via RSS Owl feed)

Unwrapping Literacy

It was all I could do NOT to open the roundup with this one … Did you see Awaken young minds with ‘A Book on Every Bed, in last week’s Washington Post? It’s by none other than @AnitaSilvey (Everything I Need to Know I Learned from a Children’s Book … among many others).  The idea is that for whatever holiday you celebrate, wrap up a book and leave it on a child’s bed so that on “the” morning the first thing they see is a book. (via @RascofromRIF).

I have never met Susan Stephenson, but she CLEARLY knows me well. As y’all know she routinely sends me links that we might want to use for the Roundups.  Here is the note she sent to go along with the link to “You know you want the Mo Willems pigeon one, Terry. Driven to Read! Is Bill looking for Christmas gifts?” Actually, I want that one AND the Elephant and Piggie one.  [from Susan who saw it at Playing By the Book].

Susan also sent me this link to making Ice Lanterns … which we could well be doing tomorrow if we get those 2 to 5 inches of snow.

I tried every which way I knew to embed this PBS Newshour interview with Stephen Sondheim.  One of the most fascinating aspects for me (and I would imagine many writers) is Sondheim’s discussions about rhymes and how they influence the listener. “A rhyme draws the ear’s attention to the word. So you don’t make the least important word the rhyme word … sometimes you avoid a rhyme you want to fool the ear/listener.]”  That surprise is something that is very subtle. He particularly loves words that are spelled differently but sound alike like rougher and suffer has more impact than rougher and tougher, or colonel and journal. It’s a fascinating nine minutes.

And for a story sure to warm the hearts of all of us who strive to connect children with books, check out this Dalton Daily Citizen article, about how a third grader’s letter-writing campaign is resulting in the opening of a new Books-A-Million store in Dalton, GA. That 9-year-old Charlie struggled to learn to read makes the story that much better.

6 responses to “Children’s Literacy and Reading News Roundup – Mid-December 2010

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  3. I can hardly wait to read this issue each time it comes. As a retired gifted middle school teacher to my smarty pants teenagers, and first grade teacher, now I’m MamaPat to 4 year old and 8 months old grandsons. You can imagine the thrill that I have now since the 4 year old “reads” his books at home to anyone who will listen, or not, and he does the “voices” like he’s heard stories read to him. Thanks for continuing the love of reading because it does open so many doors.

    Merry Christmas to you all. And I do mean “All” because doing what you do takes a deducated group.


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