Children’s Literacy Round-up – 2 February

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.

february_clipWow! February is already here. It is a short month, jam-packed with holidays and observances.  Today is Groundhog’sDay, with an event that could set the mood for the rest of the month! Is spring around the corner or will it be six more weeks of winter?

This week’s Literacy and Reading News Round-up is also chock-full of great information. Last week, Jen Robinson wrote a post asking How Can We Encourage Reading Aloud? It has gotten some great discussions going,  in the kidlitosphere and beyond (here and here, for example).  Within the discussions about why reading aloud is important there are some great ideas that can be easily integrated into our busy  lives. Thank you for being part of the conversation. Change seems so hard when life is crazy, your ideas help make new habits look possible! Now on with the show …


Books and Chocolate? I’m there! and Divine Chocolate have a pre-Valentines offer you can’t resist. Four of every five book orders from Betterworld will have a  Divine Milk Chocolate bar. Yes, it also applies to International orders. The offer ends 4 February 2009. Read To Co-op is Divine on the Betterworld website for more details.

In the context of literacy and reading, we found several items of note in celebration of  Black History Month. If you’ve got a recommended resource (or a favorite book), please leave us a comment.

Family Literacy Day Updates – It is too soon for a final tally on the Canadians’ quest to set a new record for “Most Children Read To in a Single Day – Multiple Locations” in the Guinness Book of World Records.  But there were some related news finds of interest.

  • If you like the suspense of GBWR events, use this map on the ABC-Canada literacy Foundation to keep current.
  • You might also enjoy this article in the StaynerSun (Ontario) that shares the simultaneous-read-aloud event at Creemore Public School.
  • The Leader-Post (Saskatchewan, Canada) has an article about Book and Bannock Day at Arcola Community School. Children, parents, care-givers, and teachers spent 30 minutes reading aloud together. This is the fifth event in the school since October, and each time, more parents turn out to read with their children. Angela Kelly, a teacher, says that Book and Bannock Day is part of the school’s effort to ” increase literacy skills through a connection with the family.”
  • At Literacy and Reading News, Brian Scott has this post describing the work of Canada’s Literacy Coalition, a  group of “16 organisations from the literacy field, including community groups, resource centres, unions and school boards, from both the anglophone and francophone sectors.”

Raising Readers

When classes are done at Northwood High School (Montgomery County, MD), the kids head to the cyber-cafe. Where? The library.  The librarian book-talks, the kids read, study, eat, or game (on Tuesdays). Here’s what the librarian says: “”We have an expression in New York…If you hang around the barbershop long enough, you are going to get a haircut.” The lead came from Reading Today Daily; the article (with photo of kids in beanbag chairs) is in the Washington Post.

Speaking of the Washington Post, Annie Gowen has a Front Page article in today’s newspaper about how busy it is in the libraries around Washington, DC.  There is a lot of emphasis on the competition for computer time, but there’s also a literacy nugget or two, like this one by librarian Nancy Savas: “The story time for toddlers that used to draw 20 or so children now commands three times as many…One day, 172 children showed up.”

In last Monday’s edition of the Huffington Post, Matthew Emerzian and Kelly Bozza published an article about Every Monday  Matters, their initiative to effect social change. The article is front-loaded with stats about literacy (55% of children have an increased interest in reading when given books at an early age), but they also have a 5-step plan where you can get books to kids who need them.  Read “Every Monday Matters: “Are You Really Going to Read That Again?” to learn more.

In this article in the Daily Herald-Tribune (Grand Prairie, Alberta, Canada), Chrystal Rhino offers one mom’s story about ways parents can make  literacy fun. There are lots of ideas, but one sticks out: The Cooking Rule.  If her daughters want to cook with her, they need to know how to read a cookbook.  Jennifer has a great post about Encouraging Tween Readers at 5 Minutes for Books.

buildingblockslogo In the 27 January 2009 edition of the Vancouver Voice (online), Kate Dyer-Seeley wrote an article that not only talks about how her bookish habits as a Mom, but also introduces a wonderful program sponsored by the Fort Vancouver Regional Library. It is called Building Blocks to Successful Learning.  The FVRL partnered with two school districts to create a program that brings the library experience to families. Each week, FVRL staff visit a local school so children (0 to 5) and their parents/care-givers can enjoy a full-service storytime (stories, games). The program is an hour and it is free. All costs are born by the library system.   Read more in this highly detailed article, “‘Couve Connections: Building Reader.”

The Paws to Read Club is an after-school pilot program at the Old Bridge School (Old Bridge, NJ).  Twice a month, third graders  attend this one-hour program that is designed to improve their reading skills, as well as address social issues and skills.  The program is an outgrowth of Paws for Literacy, another local initiative that uses therapy dogs to help kids with reading and self-esteem.  Third-grade teacher Joyce Regan describes why it works: “The dogs are not judgmental, they don’t correct the kids, and the children always find a way to relax…They are also with their peers, who help them learn because none of them will judge them or tease them for reading.” You’ll find some wonderful quotes from the kids and the facilitators in ‘Pet Project’ at Old Bridge School Encourages Children to Read. has a nice article about therapy and service dogs if you’d like to learn more.

Over at Literacy Launchpad, Amy makes it easy to understand (or explain)  literacy in this post about pre-reading skills. Each element is simply stated and well presented (who doesn’t love lists?). She drew the material from a Calgary Herald article. You might also like Brian Scott’s piece “Tips for Parents to Help Children Develop Strong Reading Habits” for Literacy and Reading News.

Cam Johnson’s article for King5 News (Seattle, WA) reminds us that as parents we’re often competing with our kids’ love of all things video. Especially after Christmas. It isn’t the lost cause we think it is. Reading is Fundamental to the rescue! On their website, you’ll find ideas to help you use that love of visual fun to your advantage.  Here’s an idea: pick out some books that feature the characters or themes of their games. We found the links in Louise Ash’s summary for Reading Today Daily. The King5 newspiece is on MSNBC – no video.

If you need some inspiration to jump-start your week, look no further than Planet Esme. Before the ALA Awards were announced last week, Esme Raji Codell published a very thoughtful essay about the Coretta Scott King Award.  If you thought that was a compelling piece, then you need to read Ethnic Corazon, an incredible piece by Yuyi Morales (Corazonadas).  It is beautiful, and as Esme points out, Yuyi is A Gift to the World.

Literacy & Reading Programs & Research

There are many benefits to full-day kindergarten. Young children have the opportunity to learn social skills; develop and practice classroom behavior skills they’ll need for the next 12 years; and begin their academic instruction. According to this article in the Temple Daily Telegram (Temple, TX), when students finish their kindergarten year, “at least 50 percent leave as goodr readers.” Reading is important, it’s the testing that bugs me. Three times each year, “the kindergartners and first-graders wait in line to read to a teacher in the library.” Ugh.

Laura Black, a newly-elected Representative of the state legislature has an idea that she thinks will better prepare children for school. She has proposed legislation that would, in effect, change the minimum age for kindergarten. Currently, children who turn five by 2 September are eligible to start kindergarten. Black wants to move it back to July 1.  The Salt Lake Tribune article presents the challenges posed by this “simple” idea.

In her article “More Money Means More Literacy,” (Online Pioneer Plus ), Cynthia Münster describes an adult literacy program at Loyalist College (Ontario, Canada) that is structured to help adult earn the equivalent of a high school diploma in as few as nine months. The program will benefit from $10 million that the Canadian Government announced would be dedicated to “adult literacy and apprenticeship programs.”

21st Century Literacies

We read and talk about 21st Century Literacies so frequently now, we’ve decided it deserves its own headline.

Andrew Trotter’s article “Students Turn Cellphones On for Classroom Lessons” (Education Week) offers some ideas about how teachers are using cellphones to engage their students. You can read an excerpt for free. You need to be an Education Week subscriber to see the whole article.

Even Sesame Street is joining in! The Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop just released a study Pockets of Potential: Using Mobile Technolgoies to Promote Children’s Literature. The study draws from other recent analysis in making its case that mobile technologies have “untapped educational potential.”  Originally seen in Reading Today Daily.

We may soon see Google Books v. library. In an article, Google Books Deal Riles Some Librarians, Louise Ashe (Reading Today Daily) draws from two sources to talk about the fallout from Google’s recent settlement agreement with authors and publishers and the Google Books Library Project. Here are her links for learning more about the recent discussions:  Wall Street Journal Digits and New York Review of Books.

During the 2007-2008 school year, more than 1 million students (K to 12) participated in online coursework. This is a nearly 50% increase over the previous school year. According to a survey by the Sloan Consortium, 75% of the school districts that responded offer online or blended courses. You can read the survey analysis here.

Over at the Children’s Writing Web Journal, Jon Bard has some important links for those interested in or fascinated by ebooks. Read Friday Project to Offer ‘Profit Share’ Contracts to learn more about this digital-only initiative and the potential for children’s digital books.

Grants, Sponsorships & Donations

The Lubuto Library Project has been nominated for the 2009 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, the world’s largest children’s and young people’s literary award. The Lubuto project is creating libraries of quality to serve Africa’s street kids and other vulnerable children.  Read more.

Marya Jansen-Gruber (Through the Looking Glass Book Reviews) has an informative post about the Innovation Reading Prize, awarded by the National Book Foundation. The award is given “to individuals and institutions and collaborative programs [that are] using innovative approaches to successfully inspire Americans to be become lifelong readers.”

In Literacy and Reading News, Brian Scott’ has an article about City National Bank (Los Angeles) and its Reading Is The Way Up(r) program. During February, the bank will provide 4,000 new books to four public elementary schools in Los Angeles.  Kindergarteners who attend the February 5 book donation event will each take home a hardcover book! The donation is the culmination of a holiday book drive, where City National Bank matched the 2,000 books donated by Barnes & Noble customers in December 2009.

New Resources

I would be completely remiss if I didn’t open with a link to Kidlitosphere Central. This is the newest representation of our collective efforts to promote, celebrate, discuss, and encourage reading of all that is related to children’s and young adult literature. Pam Coughlin (aka MotherReader) is the juggernaut behind this venture. Stop by the blogs page and you’ll be finding new resources for years to come!

In clicking through the links on RIF’s page of Motivational ideas, I came across, a resource for “helping parents find good books.” One the website, you’ll find helpful information for encouraging reading and book lists (more than 800 books sorted by category or reading level). Reviews are on the Eager Readers blog.

Other News

For those of us who work with books for children, Friday’s CPSC Ruling to put off testing in some products is huge. Lead in children’s products is a serious issue. That said, the CPSC’s everything-including-the-kitchen-sink testing program would have had devastating impact on bookstores and libraries.  The “stay of testing” will give the panel more time to evaluate the rules, and “COULD relieve certain materials and products from lead testing.” (emphasis mine)

Want to be treated like a rock star? Can you teach in the UK? Are you a guy?  According to this article in The Telegraph, only 13% of elementary school teachers in England are male. Ironically enough, it is the economy that is pushing men to consider teaching. Applications are up 40%. These quotes are worth repeating:

  • Matthew Friday (32): “There is too much work and a lot of pressure, but I have some really experienced colleagues who are great role models for me. It is the only job I have ever really enjoyed doing and I feel so lucky that I don’t dread Monday mornings.” (emphasis mine)
  • Simon Horrocks (40): “if you are motivated by self-worth and want to make a difference, there is nothing more rewarding.”

Last but not least, February is Library Lovers’ Month! Thanks to Philip Lee’s tweet, I found this great link to Books and Reading eCards.

February calendar clipart courtesy of

5 responses to “Children’s Literacy Round-up – 2 February

  1. We have reports from therapy dog reading programs that children become motivated and skills increase substantially. Feedback from Pages for Preston, a program initated by teacher and therapy dog trainer Julie Hauck in the Longmeadow School, Sheboygin, WI, has encouraged us to donate books from our Planet of the Dogs series to several programs. You can read about Julie Hauck’s experience on
    Robert McCarty

  2. What a round-up! I am worn out just thinking about compiling something so extensive. Thanks for the great info, Terry!

  3. Thanks everybody. I have been delinquent in the courtesy department this week. mea culpa

    Jen – Fair warning … there is lots of good stuff this week, too!

    Robert – Thank you for taking the time to tell us more about therapy dogs.

    Susan – There is no one way to win over a reader, so the more we can share, the luckier we’ll be. Like you, I have a dream!

    Meg – We couldn’t do this without you! Your links always give us a new place to look.

Comments are closed.