Children’s Literacy Round-up: 16 February

Happy Monday! Welcome to the weekly round-up of children’s literacy and reading news, brought to you by Jen Robinson’s Book Page and Scrub-a-Dub-Tub, a Reading Tub blog.

cybils_buttonI’m sure you all have seen many of the announcements for the Children’s and Young Adult Bloggers’ Literary Awards (aka the Cybils), but have you seen this? Lots of love from Mo Willems, Elephant and Piggie. Yankeerat (the voice of the Not Just for Kids blog and fellow Easy Reader panelist) said it best: “An appreciative Mo Willems comments on his Cybil award. Now that’s gratifying!”

kidsheartauthorlogo Valentines Day lasts just 24 hours, but a love of books lasts all year! On Saturday, Kids Heart Authors Day was by all accounts a huge success. Mitali Perkin’s tweet in December 2008 culminated in an event where more than 170 authors and illustrators visited more than 40 independent bookstores throughout the region. Positive Book Karma is easy to catch and lasts a long time. Here are a few more ways to celebrate literacy and a love of reading.

  • This weekend Festival Sundiata began in Seattle. The theme is “Unity in the Community.” Organizers want to rekindle a love of storytelling, especially among children. The Seattle Public Library is offering “early literacy and reading activities, and a storyteller will explain the history of shea butter and children will be able to make some.” To learn more about Festival Sundiata, go to Seattle
  • The Alachua (Florida) Branch Library hosted a celebration of African American Children’s Literature Read-In on Sunday, Feb. 15. The goal of the Read-In is to make the celebration of African American literacy a traditional part of February’s Black History Month activities. Although we have missed the event, you might find interesting ideas for your own celebrations in this High Springs Herald article.
  • In Roseburg, Oregon, Valentines Day marked the start of the community’s Celebration of Literacy. 2009 marks the eighth year for this event. It started out as an event with “only a couple of reading and writing activities.” Now it lasts two weeks and there are multiple venues across Douglas County! Get the full run-down of events in this News-Republic Today (online) article. I liked this comment by 8-year-old Adriana: “[If you don’t know how to read,] you couldn’t read anything important. Like, maybe if you had a daughter or a son, you’d probably have to read their report cards … And if you couldn’t read, you wouldn’t know how they’re doing.”

This month, the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) is marking its 100th anniversary. Last week in New Haven (CT), Lisa Monroe (the chapter’s education chair), announced the launch of a community literacy drive. She made her announcement at the New Haven Reads facility, and she called on adults to volunteer their time to mentor young readers in need. You can read more in this article in the New Haven Independent.

This year, El día de los niños/El día de los libros (Children’s Day/Book Day) is being held 30 April 2009. This annual event, created by the American Library Association (ALA) “promotes the importance of advocating literacy for every child, regardless of linguistic and cultural background.” There are lots of details in this postALA website, too. The ALSC is providing up to 200 complimentary bilingual brochures, with recommended book lists and tips on how to encourage children to read, to each library that registers its Día event.

Last but not least, you can share great stores and support the Cybils by purchasing books through the links in the post announcing the winners. As  Jen explains , the small commission helps the Cybils organization purchase a nice gift for the winners. Using the Cybils-sponsored links also helps reinforce the value of this awards program for publishers.

Raising Readers

We are big fans of the Literacy, Families and Learning blog. Last week Trevor Cairney wrote a post that talks about the importance of child’s play and an adult’s role in it. This is actually a recap of two 2008 posts on the subject, but it is interesting, particularly in light of articles that Jen highlighed in the  9 February Reading Round-up: Kristen Stewart’s article in the Salt Lake Tribune about a school that is improving literacy through “brain fitness”; and a post on Education Week’s Digital Education blog about how an experiment showed that students engaged in hands-on learning had a deeper grasp of the lesson’s concepts than those who sat and listened to a lecture.

The theme of reading aloud is, well, getting louder. In “Reading Aloud Conversation,” Franki Sibberson tells us about her blogging partner Mary Lee Hahn’s new book Reconsidering Read-Aloud and offers her own thoughts on reading with older children. Franki reminds us that endowing a love of books comes not just from reading the pages, but connecting with kids in other ways, too. I loved this: “If we limit what we do as parents to read aloud, we miss out on the higher level conversations we can have that last them a lifetime.”

As you may remember from last week’s round-up , Jen told us about BBC4’s program Just Read with Michael Rosen (video only available in the UK). Just Read is Rosen’s 10-week project to get Springwood Primary school in Cardiff, UK, excited about reading, and it is being televised by the BBC. Natasha Worswick has a summary (and the video links) on the first episode on her Children’s Books for Grown-Ups blog. Jen also found additional discussion and reaction to this initiative in these blogs (which she follows).

In her post Library Doctor, Bookwitch raises some interesting questions about whether or not Rosen’s effort would inspire people to support other schools. Her observation about teachers paints a very stark picture: “I felt sad over the school staff who had lost any interest in reading a long time ago. If they don’t have it, they can’t pass it on to the children.”

Over at Getting Reading, Richard Hanks has an answer to Bookwitch’s biggest question: what about the schools that don’t have a famous author to help them?  Hanks is a project manager for Reading Matters, a nonprofit with training and mentor programs that offer literacy support. You might also check out Abby’s post Literacy Lunches Take Two [Abby (the) Librarian] where she talks about reading Clementine to groups of second graders as she visited them for lunch. Do you think they got the book-food link of the title?

In “Teaching Parents to Teach Kids,” Veronica Rocha (Glendale News Press) presents information from a recent workshop for parents at Jefferson Elementary School. Marine Avagyan, the school’s teacher specialist and reading coach, offered suggestions that included reading aloud and asking the kids to write recipes (so kids learn how to write by breaking things into steps). Thanks to Meg Ivey‘s Literacy Voices Roundup at Literacy Now , the NCFL’s (National Center for Family Literacy) blog. Meg also offers a link to a new study about parental conceptions of school readiness. The study presents the findings of interviews with more than 450 parents in seven states.

There is something extra special about projects that kids initiate themselves. High school senior Blakely Owens launched a community book drive to collect new and gently used books for Lamar County (Mississippi) elementary schools. She is conducting this “senior project” in conjunction with Oak Grove Today, the local newspaper. In writing her article for the paper – and as part of the effort to motivate her community – Ms. Owens draws on economic, literacy, and educational data.

What’s not to love about a blog post titled Playing with Books? Over on the Creative Literacy blog, Katie D tells us what happens in her classroom during the morning book time. In Katie’s classroom, “book time” is structured to be “natural and enjoyable,” just like play. So does it work? Here is what she sees: “During books in the morning, kids are accessing books they love and finding space to read. They are talking about, exchanging and sharing books. Kids are reading together, side by side, exploring one text and learning to take turns.”

Literacy & Reading Programs & Research

Over at 5 Minutes for Books , Lauren reminds us that one person CAN make a difference. Her post is a review of Greg Mortenson’s Three Cups of Tea. She connects with Mortenson’s story because of her own experience as a former reading teacher in an inner-city school. “I came to the conclusion that my role was important. By teaching those children to read, I helped them to acquire a skill that they would need in order to choose a better life for themselves. Will some of them still end up in gangs or with other serious problems? I’m sure they will. But with an education, they have a chance. They have hope.”

Jen found this Seattle Times article about recent studies of infant brain development in the NCTE (National Council of Teachers of English) newsletter. Neuroscientists at the Institute for Learning and Brain Science (ILABS) have spent the last ten years studying young brains. Their studies suggest that learning starts at birth, possibly earlier, and that those who start behind, stay behind. ILABS co-director and University of Washington professor offers this: “It’s too late to wait until the age of 5 and expect that teachers in schools are going to be able to catch them.” The NCTE has also published Read Together: Parents and Educators Working Together for Literacy , a guideline for developing young readers and read aloud.

A University of Chicago study published Friday (13 February) concludes that “Children who convey more meanings with gestures at age 14 months have much larger vocabularies at 54 months than children who convey fewer meanings and are accordingly better prepared for school.” In his post on the Education Research Report blog, Jonathan Kantrowitz includes a number of quotes by educators associated with the study. The findings are published in the article “Differences in Early Gesture Explain SES Disparities in Child Vocabulary Size at School Entry,” by study authors Meredith L. Rowe and Susan Goldin-Meadow.

Throughout the week, there was lots of brouhaha about the NY Times article about the Scholastic Book Club. Neither toys-and-books nor media-tie-in products are a new phenomenon, but the outrage seems to be associated with the apparently (to some) mutually exclusive concepts of toys and commercialism for what is supposed to be a BOOK club. There are lots of posts with hardened positions. In a tweet, LizB pointed us to Melissa and this Librarian by Day post, which was celebrated for its balanced approach to the issue.

It may still be winter, but summer will be here before we know it. If you are planning a summer reading program, you might want to check out the Kids @ Your LIbrary resources available from the ALA. A Dozen Ways to Use Kids! @ your library® Materials to Spruce Up Your Summer Reading Program can make your planning easy. Thanks to the Child-Lit list serve for the heads up.

Aussie! Aussie! The Children’s Book Council of Australia (CBCA) has published its 2008 Notable Books list. The complete lists (by audience) are available on the website. You need to download a PDF version to see an annotated version of the list, which includes judges comments, recommendations, and reservations.

21st Century Literacies
The Innovative Educator blog has a great post with 25 Random Things Innovative Educators can Do to Enhance Teaching and Learning. Ideas range from maximizing technology to helping kids stay organized and connecting them with each other as mentors. Thanks to Cloudscome for the tweet.

Publisher’s Weekly has an interesting article about Bob Stein’s presentation at O’Reilly’s Tools of Change conference. Stein, executive director of the Future of the Book, opened the conference with a presentation entitled “A book is a place …”  He sees a more level playing field between author and audience. From the article: “Books will, he suggests, be created transparently and collaboratively, largely online, with the participation of readers.” (via a tweet by Philiplee95)

Over at the Teching Around with Web 2.0 blog, Carol has a review of Johanna Riddle‘s new book, Engaging the Eye Generation: Visual Literacy Strategies for the K-5 Classroom (Stenhouse, 2009). Something to think about: “Rather than merely ‘new,’ today’s literacy is multidimensional, incorporating many different ways of receiving and expressing information and often involving creative collaboration.” You can browse Engaging the Eye Generation at the Stenhouse website.

There were t hree hot topics in the lit-blogosphere last week: the Scholastic Book Club, Amazon’s Kindle2 , and Neil Gaiman. We have already talked about the SBC, so lets move on to Mr. Gaiman and Kindle2. Gaiman recently blogged about an author-agent argument about copyrights, audiobooks and Kindle. You can read the whole thing here . But here’s the best part: “When you buy a book, you’re also buying the right to read it aloud, have it read to you by anyone, read it to your children on long car trips, record yourself reading it and send that to your girlfriend etc. [Kindle] is the same kind of thing, only without the ability to do the voices properly, and no-one’s going to confuse it with an audiobook.”

Grants, Sponsorships & Donations
The NCFL announced that Dollar General, which has supported its national literacy goals, is now offering funding support at the local level, too.  There are two  Dollar General grant opportunities available through the company’s Adult Literacy Grants and Family Literacy Grants programs. The deadline for submitting grant applications is March 4, 2009 and grants will be awarded in May. The maximum grant amount is $20,000. Read more at the NCFL Literacy Now blog.

Cracker Barrel Old Country Store® announced that it is now accepting applications for its Rockin Readers® literacy program. Rockin’ Readers is an elementary school literacy program currently in place in 122 schools in seven states. The program helps “teachers and adult volunteers build caring and literacy in their communities.” In the first semester of the 2008-2009 school year, 1,800 volunteers logged more than 5,300 hours of reading time with children. You’ll find more details about program activities and celebrity involvement in this press release at .

Alibris , the online marketplace for sellers of new and used books, movies, and music, will provide $3,000 book grants to Wapello School District in Wapello, Iowa, and the Mark Twain School and Academy in Detroit, Michigan. The 2009 Alibris Collection award marks the sixth year that the company has supplied underfunded libraries with much-needed materials.  There is an Alibris for Libraries section on the main website. (via Brian Scott at Literacy and Reading News)

For each of the last 20 years, the National Society of Hispanic MBAs (NSHMBA) has awarded grants to talented Hispanics pursuing a graduate management education. Through the organization’s scholarship program, NSHMBA grants annual awards of $5,000-$10,000 for full-time graduate students and $2,500 for those pursuing their degree through part-time study. The scholarship program is currently accepting applications for the 2009-2010 school year. Visit the NSHMBA website to learn more. (via Literacy and Reading News )

New Resources

No new finds this week.

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5 responses to “Children’s Literacy Round-up: 16 February

  1. This is so true. I thought I’d be able to schedule an early morning launch by working on it last night … ha! There was tons of good stuff in the reader this morning. The more we can share the *what works* ideas, the better chance we have of creating readers for the long term.

  2. I love the idea of the festival sundiata. Story telling is woven into the fabric of our society, but I suspect it’s somewhat of a dying art. Wouldn’t it be great if we could get Farida to make some videos of herself in her role as storyteller, to share with the world!

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