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

Literacy Reading News RoundupWelcome to the third edition of the new bimonthly children’s literacy and reading news round-up brought to you by Jen Robinson’s Book Page and Scrub-a-Dub-Tub. As Jen Robinson is currently on hiatus and enjoying her life as Mom, Carol Rasco (President of Reading is Fundamental), and Susan Stephenson (Book Chook and Literacy Lava) have joined me as contributors to the Roundups. Boy, I don’t know what I’d do without them! We have collected some great information on literacy events, research and literacy programs, and have a great video to close out the month.


Speaking of Jen … The BESTEST event this month is that Jen and Mheir brought Baby Bookworm home from the hospital. Jen made the announcement on her Facebook page Wednesday. Yeah!

Voters in Ohio turned out in overwhelming support of their public libraries at primary ballot boxes 4 May, according to this article by the Ohio Library Council. There were 29 library levies on the ballot, and 25 were approved (18 were first-time requests). (via American Libraries Direct Online, 5 May 2010)

Last week Barnes & Noble announced the launch of its 2010 Summer Reading program featuring Scholastic’s bestselling multi-media adventure series The 39 Clues®. This is the 14th summer children in grades 1 to 6 can earn a free book just by reading eight books and turning in a completed journal sheet. The free program kicks off in Barnes & Noble stores across the country 25 May 2010 and continues through Labor Day (6 September). In addition to the in-store events, the BarnesandNoble.comwebsite will have summer reading blogs, games, and other activities. (via PR Business Wire)

Speaking of summer reading, Scholastic has announced that Word Girl is this year’s Summer Reading Ambassador. Scholastic is also partnering with Reading is Fundamental (RIF) for Give to RIF, a summer reading campaign that asks each of us to help put books in the hands of kids who need them the most. Scholastic is also making a donation of 50,000 books to RIF on behalf of those particpating in the Scholastic Summer Challenge. You can read a great interview with Carol Rasco at On Our Minds, a Scholastic blog.

And speaking of RIF … (do you see a pattern emerging?) Borden Milk is proud to join RIF in announcing “Elsie the Cow’s Reading Adventures” Art Contest. Borden and RIF have teamed up to promote the joy of reading for local children throughout Texas and Louisiana and to encourage families to fuel up for learning. Borden understands the importance of providing kids with essential nutrients to help develop sharp minds and is supporting education by donating books and reading materials to schools.

Don’t have a cow, but … Trevor Cairney is inviting us to build an International Top 200 for picture books and novels. From Trevor: “I hope to create separate lists for novels and picture books. I’d also like to have a more international flavour with the best books in the English speaking world, including the USA, UK, Australia, New Zealand and Canada.” It will be fun to see how this progresses … even if you can’t winnow your own list, do head over to Literacy, Families and Learning, Trevor’s post is chock full of links to lists of great books, including Elizabeth Bird’s Top 100 picture books and100 Top Children’s Novels polls, which are the inspiration for his effort.

Literacy Programs & Research

For three days in mid-April, 1700 volunteers visited 600 households to administer an educational assessment for children ages 6 to 16 to administer tests. In talking about the event, Richard Ssewakiryanga goes beyond the process to talk about the impact of the assessor’s presence on parental opinion. “Many of the community members reached are reflecting and thinking about the solutions of improving and contributing to the education of their children.” Assess Children’s Abilities at the Household Level is a fascinating piece, well worth two minutes of your time.

A recent study by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association concludes that by pointing to words as they read, parents and other caregivers can “greatly enhance” their children’s literacy development. The study was conducted in a classroom setting, but the practice of moving your finger along with the words will work just as nicely at bedtime, too. (via

In an article for Education Week, Catherine Gewertz summarizes the findings of a just-released federal study of supplemental reading programs. The research centered on three programs that are intended to improve students’ reading comprehension: Read for Real, created by Chapman University and Zaner-Boser; Project CRISS, developed by Creating Independence Through Student-Owned Strategies; and ReadAbout, a computer-based program by Scholastic Inc. Only ReadAbout actually improved students’ comprehension,but only with social studies texts and only when the teacher had a previous year’s experience with the program. Read the full article here.

Kristen McLean, Executive Director of the Association of Booksellers for Children, talks about eBooks, digital readings, and kids in The Kids are Alright!, a recent article for Publishing Perspectives. I would certainly like to believe her thoughts about literacy: “I believe that the drive to use new technologies is going to achieve what more than 150 years of public education could not: nearly 100% literacy.” (via @JeanetteMcLeod and @emmacunningham)

This via Wendie Old @ Wendie’s Wanderings. Over at Cynsations, Mari Mancusi had a great guest post that is the perfect complement to Kristen’s. In ‘Kids don’t read like they used to — and that’s a good thing, Mari is largely wearing her writer’s hat, offering ways to keep readers engaged with what you’re writing. But the idea that kids want more from their reading experience – and they are going online to find it so they can keep reading is spot on for literacy development. “readers don’t just want to hang out in your world, they want to contribute to it. Encourage them to create fan videos and put them up on YouTube. Or draw pictures and post them to DeviantArt.”

At Tidy Books, Ian draws on his personal experiences as the dad of an elementary student to talk about the impact parents can have on a new reader. Reading for Pleasure, Not by Pressure has some wonderful vignettes; the idea of the idea of using bedtime reading as a “treat” has given me some food for thought.

If that doesn’t give you pause, maybe this headline will: Too Much TV for Toddlers Means Trouble Later On. The study takes what we already know about immediate impact (time in front of TV = less reading, less physical activity) and goes one step further to look at longer-term impact. The researchers are clear that this type of study cannot evaluate cause-and-effect, but I can envision a PSA or two coming from it! (via Guardian, UK)

Just as the elections were getting underway in the United Kingdom, Valerie Strauss (The Answer Sheet, Washington Post blog) had an interview with Sarah Ebner, editor of School Gate, a blog on the website of The Times of London about how the elections could affect US school reform. Like politicians here, there is a lot of discussion directed toward ways to raise standardized test scores. The Conservatives are championing a model similar one here in the United States: charter schools, particularly the KIPP (Knowledge is Power Program) endorsed by President Obama. Read Sarah’s discussion here.

An analysis of Medicaid forms by the American Academy of Pediatrics concludes that 92% of the states’ application forms are written at a fifth-grade level or higher. This could have a significant impact on health coverage for kids. “Researchers found that the risk of a child getting dropped from coverage went up significantly with each grade level increase in the language used in the Medicaid renewal application.” In the US, 40 million adults cannot read material written at a fifth grade level. (via Science Daily)

Closing with the Positive …

Check out the headline in this UK Telegraph article: “Children credited with creating the first increase in library book borrowing for a decade.” In 2009, there was a 5 percent increase in the number of children’s books going home with families, with 95+ MILLION children’s books borrowed! there was also a nearly 50 percent increase in the number of visits to library websites. Very cool.

Volunteer USA has recently begun publishing a Weekly Reading Tip on its Facebook Fan Page so that “our friends with kids can help teach them to love learning in a fun way!” If you have a favorite reading tip, head over and share!

Mom2Amor made this video “A Love for Reading” in August 2007. It was new to me, and maybe it will be to some of you, as well. I’d highly recommend watching the video and then reading Plowmanator’s post with simple ideas for daily learning. There are eight ideas and the toughest one for me is the first … let their independence shine. [It’s killing me to leave those dirty clothes all over the floor!]

19 responses to “Children’s Literacy and Reading News Roundup – Mid-May 2010

  1. Pingback: Children's Literacy News and Reading Studies | Scrub-a-Dub-Tub, a Reading Tub Blog
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  3. Thanks so much for keeping the roundups going, and going so well, Terry, Carol, and Susan! I do look forward to getting back to them. But in the meantime, I'm so happy that they're in such excellent hands. And thanks for the good wishes for Mheir, Baby Bookworm and I. We're all doing well (if a bit sleep-deprived). She gets stronger, and cuter, every day.

  4. So much happy reading news! I loved the video at end, it is new to me too and great to email parents as we start our thinking about summer reading! THanks!

    1. Thanks Katie. Finding the videos is a fascinating process. This one was really neat. I can't believe it's already time to start talking about summer reading. Thanks for stopping by.

  5. Terry, thank you for including the Medicaid form issue which is a serious one. Too many children go without care when the care is available either due to lack of informaiton passed to parents or caregivers or deterrents like the literacy level you point out in this posting. I encourage readers to contact the American Academy of Pediatrics to support efforts to simplify these forms ( and also contact the National Association of State Medicaid Directors, 1133 19th Street, NW, Suite 400, Washington, DC 20036; (202) 682-0100; fax: (202) 289-6555.

    1. Carol – Thank you SO MUCH for that additional information. This is such a HUGE issue. When we talk about literacy people often think "books" and "leisure reading," I know I lose perspective on the day-to-day importance of learning to read. I just take it for granted what a blessing it is.

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