Welcome to this week’s roundup 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. For most of us east of the Mississippi, it is a snowy, winter wonderland. March has come in like a lion … and the roar about literacy is just about as loud.
Next week, the Share a Story – Shape a Future blog tour will pre-empt the roundup. There will be plenty of worthwhile reading, I’m sure. A HUGE thanks to Valerie Baartz, The Almost Librarian, for the great new flyer promoting the event.
We kick off March with Read Across America. Public School Insights has republished a number of interviews with leading authors as part of today’s celebration. Read Across America is an annual event that marks the birthday of Theodor Geisel (aka Dr. Seuss ) and works to motivate children to read. The National Education Association has sponsored this event, now in its twelfth year. Thanks to Tricia Stohr-Hunt (Miss Rumphius Effect ) for the links to the interview with Joseph Bruchac. Public School Insights also republished its March 6, 2008 interview with Mr. Ambassador himself, the incomparable Jon Scieszka.
Speaking of Dr. Seuss, I would imagine one of his books might be among Fuse #8’s newest project: finding the Top 10 100 Picture Books of All Time. [Update: Easy Readers are not part of this collection, so Dr. Seuss books won’t likely make the list.] From now until 11:59 PM eastern on March 31, 2009, Elizabeth Bird is collecting our ideas and our individual Top 10 lists. She asks that you Email her rather than leave a note in her comments. Here are the instructions: “Be sure to include “Picture Book Poll” in the subject line. List these books in your order of preference. So your #1 picture book would be the one you feel is the most important, and so on. I will be giving your first choice 10 points, your second choice 9 points, and so on.”
March is Small Press Month. I love this quote by Sherman Alexie on the the event homepage: “The small presses represent what is most brave, crazy, and beautiful about our country and our literature. So let us all sing honor songs for the independent publishers.” Visit the website to learn more and get a free poster to promote that features that quote!
Before we know it NCAA March Madness will be here. For those who would prefer some bookish bracket busters, check out Tom’s post Tournament of Books: Brackets Revealed, Office Pools May Begin. March Madness-style tournament to find the “best” book. Three points to Omnivoracious.
Also at Fuse #8, Elizabeth Bird told us about librarians doing fabulous work for Project Cicero. This year’s event will be held this coming weekend (6 to 8 March) at the Hotel Pennsylvania. Project Cicero describes itself as a “non-profit book drive to help create or supplenent school and classroom libraries for children in under resourced New York City schools.” In the past eight years, Project Cicero has distributed more than 1,150,000 new and gently used books to 6,500 NYC classroom and school libraries. WOW! To learn more and/or see the volunteer opportunities, you can read the Fuse #8 post or visit the Project Cicero website.
National Poetry Month is in April, but now is the time to get ready. Susan Thomsen has details and the links you need at Chicken Spaghetti. I especially like her link to the list of 30 Ways to Celebrate prepared by Academy of American Poets. For those who Twitter, The Academy tweets under the name PoetryNYC. Thanks, Susan. The always-resourceful Elaine Magliaro not only has a list of resources for National Poetry Month (right sidebar) but a post with Book Lists & Resources for Women’s History Month at A Wild Rose Reader.
While you’re marking your April Calendar, be sure to add the the 2nd Annual Celebration of Latino Children’s Literature Conference. This event will be held April 24 and 25 in Columbia (SC). For more information, registration fees and registration form, visit the Latino Literature Conference page on the University of South Carolina College of Education website. We found this in Teresa Walls’ post on the ALSC Blog (Association for Library Services to Children).
In more Big Apple news, Best Book I Have Not Read told us how she loves books and book programs. More specifically, she told us about BookUpNYC, a program sponsored by the National Book Foundation. From the post: “Through BookUpNYC, we are addressing this issue and introducing young people to America’s rich literary culture. Working in weekly, after-school sessions with writer/instructors, BookUpNYC helps young people identify their interests and guides them toward finding quality books they will enjoy.” There are more Details at Best Book I Have Not Read and the National Book Foundation website.
The National Center for Family Literacy (NCFL) will be the lead consultant for the new Legacy of Literacy Initiative in southern Indiana. From the post: “The Legacy of Literacy initiative will work to ensure that all individuals in the region have access to increasing their functional literacy skills, including reading proficiency, application of basic math and calculation competencies, and basic computer skills.”
In her most recent Book Whisperer column, Donalyn Miller addresses the relationship of reading and writing. In referencing a report by the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), she offers this: “What we need it seems is a national call to arms, a large scale effort to improve writing instruction.” As part of its National Day on Writing event on October 20, 2009, the NCTE is collecting samples that show how and why Americans are writing every day.
In the recent edition of Serendipitous Friday Finds at Reading Rumpus!, Jen found pulled this about.com video about reading children’s books. In a two-minute span, Kieran Moore offers a simple visual presentation on how to make reading fun. Tasses also included a link to this Glendale News Press article Teaching Parents to Teach Kids. As Tasses points out: “What teachers do, what reading teachers know, isn’t rocket science, but it’s darn close. When teachers take the time to offer tips for developing reading abilities they not only help students, they also forge a bond of respect with parents.”
Over at The Places You Will Go, Daphne Lee tells us about Animating Literature: Words and Beyond, a conference organized by the British Council. Jen pulled this quip from Daphne’s recap: “I stressed, during both my sessions, that it was important for children to, first and foremost, see books as things of pleasure and delight. Parents and teachers are intent on teaching children to read, but what’s the use in knowing how to read if you don’t want to read?”
Literacy & Reading Programs & Research
Our thanks to Marjorie at Paper Tigers for sharing the update about Books to My Neighbor, IBBY’s (International Board on Books for Young People) year-long project to “enhance friendship between Greek and Turkish children through picture books.” The January 2009 IBBY newsletter has a nicely detailed chronology and recap of the event. The newsletter highlights this quote, and it is definitely worth repeating: “We proved that children’s books can be used as a tool for better understanding of the other, thus easing the way for peace in the area.”
Library and Archives Canada released the results of last summer’s TD Summer Reading Club. They are pretty impressive: 500,000 children across Canada participated in the TD Summer Reading Club;they read almost two million books; and took part in close to 30,000 programs and activities in 2,000 library branches across the country. The program’s goals are to encourage Canadian children to read for pleasure, to help maintain and improve their children’s reading skills during the summer and to encourage them to be lifelong readers and library users. Learn more about this free summer program at the TD Summer Reading Club website. (Via Literacy and Reading News )
A number of bloggers commented about the School Library Journal Extra Helping article about the apparent link between orderliness and literacy. More specifically: an orderly home is “significant and positively associated with early reading skills.” I saw it first at Eva’s Book Addiction, and then several other places. I love Eva’s logic: “Chaos and noise set all my nerves jangling – and how can one read when all hell is breaking loose all around? – but I’m not sure that cleanliness is a prerequisite for reading households. In my family, we use the time we could spend dusting or cleaning windows on – reading!” Still, the best hook (not to mention a picture of my favorite Girl Scout cookie ) goes to Saints and Spinners: Eating Cookies Makes You a Better Reader!
Although not specifically about reading, Eric Robelen’s article “Network says ‘YES’ to College for All” Education Week) speaks to the importance of the teacher-student partnership. YES (Youth Engaged in Service) is a charter school network in the Houston, Texas area that is working to increase the number of disadvantaged students who graduate not just from high school, but college as well. YES prep high schools serve 2,600 students on five campuses. The students have consistently earned high rankings under the Texas accountability system, as well as national attention. So far, 84% of YES graduates either have earned their degree or are enrolled in college.
Check out this parking lot in Kansas City (MO). How cool would it be to park your car behind The Invisible Man? Thanks to Kyra (and her Mom) at Black Threads in Kid LIt for the picture.
21st Century Literacies
In this Literacy is Priceless post, Anna introduces us to Curriki, an “online community [that] gives teachers, students and parents universal access to a wealth of peer-reviewed K-12 curricula, and powerful online collaboration tools. Curriki is building the first and only Web site to offer a complete, open course of instruction and assessment.” The site has more than 25,000 free education resources.
In this economy, virtual field trips could quickly become the norm for schools this spring. In the current edition of Education Week, Kathleen Kennedy Manzo has an article that offers some great examples of how teachers are using technology to explore places near and far. She also tells us about Sandy Scharf and how Ms. Scharf was able to launch several electronic field trips thanks to a grant she received. I think you’ll find a lot of valuable information in “Virtual Field Trips Open Doors for Multimedia Lessons. ”
Not too long ago, we linked you to Neil Gaiman’s 2c in the audio book v. Kindle debate. In his journal this weekend, he presented the end of the audiobook argument. Thanks to Melissa Wiley for making it easy to pull out the best part:
“An audio book, read by someone who’s good at it, is an audio book, an experience that’s different to, sometimes complementary to, the words on the page. A computer reading to you is a computer reading to you. And at the point where they can read books to us as well as we can read them aloud to each other, we will have other things to worry about.” (via Here in the Bonny Glen, Links for a Saturday).
Have you read about the Mini Book Expo for Bloggers? If you’re looking for books to review, this is the site for you. This post explains the rules: claim it – read it – blog it. There are also feedback forums for bloggers and readers and publishers. If you’re in Baltimore, you might want to stop in The Book Thing of Baltimore, where all of the books are free. The Book Thing is a nonprofit that believes “no one should be deprived of books for any reason.” Anamaria talks about her recent visit in her Books Together blog post .
Anastasia Suen – author, teacher, consultant, blogger extraordinaire – has made her blogs/microsites even more dynamic. She has transitioned from her Easy to Read blog to a NEW one: 5 Great Books. Why? “[Because] I realized that when I teach reading I always use a mix of picture books and easy readers. It’s part of the Daily 5.” Head over to 5 Great Books to read about the Daily 5 themselves and an example of how they work). Oh, and while she was tinkering with the blog, she also added two new resources: a For Parents page on her website and a Literacy microsite , too.
Tools for Literacy Programs – The National Center for Family Literacy created this FREE catalog in the Free Teacher’s Resources section of the website. The catalog is a user-friendly publication with literature organized into component and topical areas with full citations, summaries and findings provided. From the NCFL: “It is a useful tool for those currently working in family literacy, as well as for those interested in learning more!”
Thanks to a donation by Equal Health, an Arlington, Texas-based healthcare company, the fourth grade students at the Sidney Lanier Center for Arts in Dallas are reading comfortably. Their teacher received money to purchase eight comfortable seats (beanbag chairs, pillows) so that her students would be comfortable during reading time. In her DonorsChoose.org proposal the Title I language arts teacher explained that having comfortable places to read would be a great motivator to her struggling students. (via Brian’ Scott’s Literacy and Reading News post)