Children’s Literacy and Reading Roundup – mid-July 2010

Literacy Reading News RoundupIn our house, summer is both flying by and crawling along at a snail’s pace. We have tons to do and the weekend is here before you know it, but the list of fun things we want to do never seems to get any shorter.

It seems that news about literacy and reading is in that same time warp. Given the number of items in my reader, the perception that things are “slower” in the summer is clearly an illusion! Admittedly, I haven’t been particularly vigilant, but I’ve crossed enough trending topics and other discussions to know there is plenty going on. I know there are tons of great items awaiting me in my reader and Twitter history, but right now, even with my strict filters in place, the best I can do is follow up on the occasional Google Alert. Thank goodness for my pal Down Under – Susan Stephenson!! Just this morning she sent me to some really cool stuff.  So here goes …


Unfortunately, one of the trending events for the summer has been library cuts and closings. Over at Book Browse you will find a great list of statistics on why libraries are important and why they are the most economically viable entity in a community. Once you get past the statistics, though, editor Davina Morgan-Witts includes a comment from Book Browse’s Facebook page. In a nutshell: people have been calling the library to tell the librarians they are a waste of taxpayers money. I wanted to apologize to the librarians in NJ on the behalf of these people. They OBVIOUSLY have too much time on their hands if they can muster that much vitriol to call the library. I would suggest they go to the library, borrow some books, and fill their days by reading books if they need something to do!

Can you believe it has been 10 years already? The Library of Congress has just announced the theme for its 10th Annual National Book Festival: A Decade of Words and Wonder. The President and First lady Michelle Obama will serve as Honorary Chairs for what is always an incredible celebration of books and reading. As always the “stars” that appear cover many audiences, from children to adult. Check out this short list from among the 70 authors now slated to appear: international best-selling author Ken Follett; Rae Armantrout, winnervof this year’s Pulitzer Prize for Poetry; National Book Award winner Julia Glass; Pat Mora, one of the nation’s most beloved writers for children; and Elizabeth Kostova, author of the worldwide sensations “The Historian” and “The Swan Thieves.” Mark your calendars for Saturday, Sept. 25, 2010, to attend this FREE event that runs from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.  on the National Mall.

Literacy Programs and Research

This via The Inside Story, The Reading Connection (TRC) newsletter: Kids, parents, staff and volunteers at Carpenter’s Shelter, Independence Place and Sullivan House began an expanded Read-Aloud program as soon as school ended for the summer. The summer program, called “We Are Readers,” includes tons of new books, projects and special guests, all chosen with the aim of increasing kids’ background knowledge, one of the essential ingredients for literacy.

That goes very nicely with Anastasia Suen’s retweet: RT @CherylRainfield: Study shows giving kids books can be as effective as summer school. via @FirstBook

I am guessing this has already been around the web a time or two, but my thanks to Susan Stephenson of the Book Chook for sending it to me. The video is filled with stats, but I particularly liked how the Buck team showed what happens when we change the odds and improve education. Combine this documentary project with the InfoWhelm and Information Fluency video and wow! The landscape of “educating kids” has changed significantly.

In the July edition of literacy tools and resources, I mentioned that one of my new favorite blogs is From the Mixed up Files… If you haven’t been over to visit, hurry, you’re missing a lot of great stuff. Sydney recently wrote a post where she shared what her dormant readers say they look for in a book. Check out Reluctant Readers Speak Up.

A great complement to Sydney’s article is this one from the National Literacy Trust (UK) blog. A Book of their Own offers research and more to explain why it is so important for kids to own their own books. This isn’t a surprise to most of us, as we have seen tidbits from the NLT’s study and the University of Nevada report (also mentioned in the article); still, every time I see this statement, it stops me in my tracks:

The report also found that young people who did not own their own books were nearly twice as likely to agree with negative statements about reading, for example “reading is more for girls than boys”, “reading is hard” and ”I only read when I have to.”

If you need further affirmation of the power of books, read Fiona Ingram’s personal story about adopting her 11-year old daughter. In an interview with A Word Please, Fiona talks about her daughter’s growth from scoring 17% on her English tests to now reaching 75% and complaining that she needs to do better to be a writer. You may recall that we interviewed Fiona, a South African author, about a year ago. It is great to hear the next chapter in her story. Some of you may already know this, but I found this Telegraph (UK) article about the links between gardening and “formal” learning fascinating. There were the obvious points about cross-program learning (science, ecology, life skills) and personal growth (self esteem), but the ripple effect on literacy and problem solving caught me by surprise.

In her post about Read o’clock and Write o’clock, Susan reminds us that literacy is more comprehensive than “just” reading … it’s writing, too. Being a model for literacy is a priceless, FREE gift we can give our kids. Susan’s analogy about making time for family TV really hit home with me.

Thorn & Oak Metaphysical is not a blog I would normally stop by, but there is an interesting essay about Invented Spelling. The discussion is not about “texting language,” but the problems of not helping kids learn to spell things correctly.

Unwrapping Literacy

At, Michelle Matthews has a nice article with some Literacy Games. “If you ask almost any kid, they will tell you that they don’t like homework. Studying isn’t fun. Games, on the other hand, are awesome.” Several of her suggestions I knew about (Boggle Junior, road trips), but I loved the idea of Deal-a-Word. (via

Along the same lines, Susan sent me some literacy-based games that are part of the Literacy Collection on the BBC Web site.  Try the pirate spelling game, Matey! You’ll find these games and more at the Bits and Pieces Place, an EduBlog website that offers the “bits and pieces to help with your teaching.”

Have you seen the Book Chook Cook Book? I LOVE those Rolo Pretzels! You only need 3 ingredients (opt for the pecans) and can make them  in 10 minutes. Then spend the rest of the afternoon reading and chowing down. S-W-E-E-T!

How cool is this? Don’t worry, you don’t have to understand Japanese to love this Bullet Train Library. It seems only appropriate to start and end with the library this week!

13 responses to “Children’s Literacy and Reading Roundup – mid-July 2010

  1. Oh, I love the Bullet Train Library, that is wonderful! And while I know fully this is the tenth year of the National Book Festival, it just hit me between the eyes as I read it here….it really has been ten years. Who knows, maybe that is the magic day you and I will finally meet in person? Thanks for all the great news!

    1. I felt the same way about the 10th anniversary when I saw it. Where does the time go? Alas, we probably won't meet that weekend … I will likely be celebrating my 20th wedding anniversary. My husband and my mom (babysitter) are conniving. I mean planning!

  2. Pingback: Children's Literacy News and Reading Studies | Scrub-a-Dub-Tub, a Reading Tub Blog
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