Children’s Literacy and Reading News Roundup – Mid-November edition

Literacy Reading News RoundupThe mid-November 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 will chime in shortly with some thoughts for November and a look ahead to December at Rasco from RIF.  Last week I had the opportunity to (finally) meet Carol in person.  During our (*cough* 3-hour *cough*) lunch, Carol talked about the Happy Birthday RIF video contest. Of course I came right home and found them … if you haven’t seen the collection of winning videos, it is definitely worth a look.  Oh, to have a scintilla of that kind of creativity!

UPDATED to correct Sarah Mulhern’s name (The Reading Zone)


This is more a phenomena than an event … popular characters from fiction are starting their own Twitter feeds. I have mentioned @The_Pigeon in my own tweets, but I love the idea of following @HalfPintIngalls (who reminded women to vote on November 2) and others. Betsy Bird (A Fuse #8 Production) mentions Peeta from The Hunger Games (which I haven’t read!). Characters coming to life … cool. Thanks to @FuseEight for the links.

The holiday-related events will start coming in fast and furious now, and it only seems appropriate to kick things off with a pair of literacy charities.

On Veteran’s Day, Reach Out and Read launched a virtual book drive to support military families. The book drive will run until Thanksgiving. To support the virtual book drive, you can donate a book or sponsor a child in the program. Several of the books distributed to military children were chosen because they address issues related to separation and deployment. More details in this press release. Book, another favorite literacy nonprofit, has announced that it is partnering with Borders and Build-a-Bear workshops to ensure children have a happy Christmas. “From now through Dec. 24, customers shopping at Borders stores nationwide will have the opportunity to donate books and stuffed animals, including Hal Moose©, a Build-A-Bear Workshop furry friend with soft brown fur and antlers. [Isn’t he adorable?] Each Borders store will deliver the books and stuffed toys to a local charity. In addition, Borders will kickoff the holiday charity drive by promising to donate $50,000 to First Book! This is ON TOP OF the 10,000 books distributed to low-income schools and programs in the greater Detroit area and First Book’s collaboration with Cheerios to distribute 250,000 books to 24 Feeding America food banks across the country.

Just in time for the holidays, Pam Coughlan is having an ABC Giveaway at Mother Reader.  She’s giving away 50! picture books. There are two separate contests and you can only win one set of 25 books, but wow! Twenty-five books for some of the young readers you adore!

Literacy Programs and Research

As some of you may know, Donalyn Miller (The Book Whisperer) hosts a monthly Twitter chat called #titletalk. In the recent conversation, Sarah Mulhern (The Reading Zone) raised the topic of ARCs (advanced review copies). ARCs are a version of a book that cannot be sold or cataloged by an actual library. Many are donated to charities, many are thrown out. What has come from that discussion is ARCs Float On, a project to get books to potential readers. You can read Sarah’s post and subscribe to follow the #ARCsFloatOn hashtag. If you are looking to donate books or are a teacher seeking books, fill out this matchmaker survey.

I learned about the Black Stallion Literacy Foundation via a (Tucson, AZ) story. The organization helps elementary school kids learn and grow in their reading by starting them on the books about the relationship between kids and horses, and then allows them to meet horses and apply what they have learned. At the website you’ll find information about school programs (love the pic of young boy reading to a horse), community programs, and ways to get involved. There is also a spot on the site that is clearly marked JUST FOR KIDs, too. You KNOW they love that!

We’re thinking about the holidays, and Sherry Early is thinking about next summer. She recently announced her Books for Zambia project on her Semicolon blog. She is collecting books for this orphanage. Sherry has an Amazon wishlist of all the books she would like to send. There are 150 titles to choose from, from folktales to Dr. Seuss.

Congratulations to the Kidlitosphere’s own Liz Garton Scanlon, whose lovely picture book All the World (with Marla Frazee) was selected for this year’s Cheerios Spoonful of Stories program. You can see Liz’s thoughts on this (and how this program helps children’s literacy in general) at Liz in Ink , and read more about this year’s program in US Today.

Two different studies made the news recently about the effect of screen time on kids.

  • First, reported, in an article by Jeanna Bryner, that some preschoolers are watching more than five hours a day of television, and that “nearly 70 percent of the preschool-age children exceeded recommendations by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) for limiting screen exposure (including TV, DVDs, computers and video games) to one to two daily hours.” (via @ImaginationSoup)
  • Meanwhile, Beth Harpaz of the LA Times explored the question of which is worse for teens: social messaging time or television time, noting “research has shown that the more time kids spend in front of screens — whether it’s TV or instant-messaging — the worse their school performance. “That doesn’t mean it’s true for every kid, but it makes sense, that for every hour a kid is playing video games, it’s an hour that they’re not doing homework or reading or exploring or creating,”” said Douglas Gentile, a child psychologist and associate professor at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa.

The Readers Digest (UK) just completed a survey of reading and literacy, as well. 91% of parents who answered the survey expressed concern about declining literacy levels amongst children in the UK today, with one in 10 parents (10%) stating they’ve been “shocked” by their own child’s poor spelling and reading skills. Ironically (or not,) parents believe the number-one reason contributing towards a decline in literacy skills amongst children is that they don’t encourage them to read and write more. Here’s how the perceived “causes” break out …

  • 36% of parents saying lack of parental encouragement is the top contributing factor,
  • 34% say its children spending too much time playing computer games
  • 13% believe the top cause is that children are not taking their education seriously enough
  • 10% for general disinterest amongst kids in having correct grammar and writing skills; and
  • 3% for children not visiting the library as much.

Caught this one via Jen’s  retweet of a @Book_Dads. Yesterday @ReadAloudDad offers Five Effective Ways to Read to Your Kids. Read Aloud Dad answers the oft-heard question: how can I possibly make time to read with my kids. [Hint: it only takes 3 minutes].

Kirk Dooley has a lovely article about Callan Harrison in the Dallas Morning News. Callan, now 23, was diagnosed with auditory processing disorder when she was in elementary school. It is a learning disorder on the Autism Spectrum. Callan’s extra credit project in her Implications of Children’s Literacy course at SMU, was so impressive, that her teacher recommended making it a children’s book. So she did! The Girl Who Learned Differently was written for children in kindergarten through third grade. “The book will teach kids with learning differences that it’s OK to feel different,” said Callan. “It’s OK to learn different and OK to be different.” Read the full article in the Dallas Morning News.

Unwrapping Literacy

I know I tweeted about it, but Franki Sibberson’s post Blogging with Ana at A Year of Reading is oh-so-worth sharing again. It has so many layers and so much inspiration. “Ana now sees herself as not only an artist, but an artist and a writer. Ana learned so much from starting with something she was passionate about. Ana has a new confidence this year and I attribute so much of that to her blog.”

Ditto Erin Ocon’s article in Choice Literacy Helping Aaron Find his Voice. “While helping Aaron find his writing voice, I was reminded of my own. I was reminded that when I write, I don’t do it according to formulas, and no matter what advice I get from educational companies, co-workers, or even administrators, I can’t teach according to formulas either. Instead, I want to convey to my students that my writing voice comes through trusting inspiration, and slogging through revision.” I just love teachers! (via the 11/6/2010 Big Fresh)

Since we’re talking about voice, let’s close with this incredibly adorable commercial/PSA about reading. It’s called Literacy is cute and I found it on

18 responses to “Children’s Literacy and Reading News Roundup – Mid-November edition

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  5. Thanks so much for keeping me and others up-to-date on what is happening with literacy! evven if I have heard about something you mentioned before, it helps me to reember how important the informaiton is and to pass it along to others.

    1. Barbara – On the one hand it sounds familiar (like the study conclusions), yet there is still plenty of new stuff out there, too! Thanks for stopping by!

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