Children’s Literacy and Reading News Roundup: 3 August

Literacy Reading News RoundupWelcome to  the weekly children’s literacy and reading news round-up, brought to you by Jen Robinson’s Book Page and Scrub-a-Dub-Tub, a Reading Tub blog. Jen and I collected plenty of content for you about literacy and reading-related events; raising readers; literacy and reading programs and research; 21st Century literacies; grants, sponsorships and donations; and other new resources.  We hope you find new and useful information.

Before we get into the meat of our program I’d like to point you to Anna’s post asking you to click to make a difference. If you saw my tweet yesterday, then just jump ahead to Events. Yesterday at Literacy is Priceless, Anna talked about her work with Curriki and the organization’s effort to partner with Google for a ” full K-12 free curricula that can be used by any teacher in any school district anywhere in the world.” You can learn more at Literacy Is Priceless, the Curriki’s blog post … or you can just jump over and vote.


Literacy and Reading News reports that “Scholastic has launched Scholastic R.E.A.L.: Read. Excel. Achieve. Lead.(TM), a nationwide mentoring program that provides students with reading mentors from their communities. The program was launched at an education Town Hall with Secretary of Education Arne Duncan as part of the 23rd annual 100 Black Men of America conference in New York City.”

AS_newlogoLori Calabrese reports (at Get in the Game — Read!) “In town to be honored by the President for winning the championship and for serving their community, the Columbus Crew, the 2008 Major League Soccer Champions, spent some quality time with DC SCORES, running a soccer, literacy, and service-learning clinic. DC SCORES uses soccer as a building block for teaching academics, social skills, and teamwork for urban youth.”

As reported in School Library Journal’s Extra Helping and Omnivoracious, the “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” tour bus will be traveling around promoting literacy this summer. “To promote literacy and libraries, there’s also a Diary of a Wimpy Kid ice-cream truck that will tour more than 40 libraries over a 30-day period to promote the “Dog Days of Summer Reading.” The tour will start in Sacramento, CA, on August 3 and conclude in Boston, MA, on August 29, delivering free ice cream to fans as it travels cross country. The tour will include a social media tie-in that chronicles what fans are doing in each city and will offer question-and-answer broadcasts with Kinney at random stops along the way.”

Donations from more than 70 of the hottest country music stars have started to arrive at the Waterloo Public Library(WPL) in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada.  The autographed items will be the focal point for Country Musicians Rock and Read, a fund-raising auction for family and children’s literacy in October 2009. The event is part of Canadian Library Month and Ontario Library Week. Our thanks to NashvilleGab for the news. Who’s missing: Canada’s own Lorrie Morgan and Reba McIntire (who collects books at her concerts). Ladies, I hope you’re reading this!

Last but not least, Jen and I are eager to learn more about how United We Serve’s Education Week turned out.  We’re keeping our fingers crossed that it was great and th

Raising Readers

On the Latin Baby Book Club blog, Christianna Meneses Jacobs has a helpful, concise post that explains the reading skills kids need by third grade. She explains what comprehension means, and then offers an easy way for parents to help their children understand what they read. “
Parents can help by stopping to ask questions about the story they are reading to their child…teachers suggest that this activity can also be done with daily interactions with your child. For example, when asking your child about the game they played or the dinner they helped prepared.” You can get more ideas in Creative Strategies for Making Reading Fun at the Bilingual Books blog, too.

At Reading Rumpus!, Tasses suggests summer literacy activities centered around photographs. She says: “The key to turning the simple act of taking a picture into a literacy activity lies in developing the photos and planning for more than a shoebox full of half-remembered shots.” For example, “Have the child write a fond remembrance of the day or something they observed (scientific discovery) next to the photograph.”

Along a similar line, check out this week’s list of Critter Books for Kids. Every Wednesday, the Sierra Club reviews new and upcoming books on The Green Life (their blog). This week it was kids picks. Did you know butterflies taste with their feet. After that you’ll want to visit Darling Clementine to find out how to create a Travel Journal Kit. Clementine describes it as a “low-mess, engaging, and truly creative art experiences for your child. ”

The Hudson Valley Press Online has a nice article about making summer reading fun for kids, with suggestions for parents like: “Librarians and teachers suggest reading aloud with your kids. You can ask them to read a book to the family; alternatively, you can read aloud to them. And don’t just read indoors, says a national reading commission, but move outside to the porch, to a park, or head to the beach with a bag of books.”

And the National Post has an excellent article by Katherine Dedyna calling for “parents to be part of the … war on word poverty”, and chat often with their young children. References are cited as to why this is important. The article also discusses the benefits of reading nursery rhymes. See also Val Godel’s recent article about the importance of reading to kids.

The NCTE has a list of suggestions for what family literacy can look like, such as: “Let your children see you write for pleasure. Send family letters to relatives or friends. Let everyone in the family contribute a part or an illustration” and “When you pass a rock formation, landmark, building, or street sign, take turns with the children thinking up a legend behind the name or creation of the item.” Fun stuff! Link via tweet from @linkstoliteracy and @literacySA

“The book you or your child chooses to read is far less important than where the reading takes you.” Isn’t that a lovely quote? You’ll find it in Marsha Jacobson’s guest post on MAW Books Blog. Throughout the post on reading with feeling, Marsha offers suggestions on ways you can engage your kids in discussion and includes several book ideas, too. “Sometimes our greatest parenting moments are the ones that we take for granted the most. Reading to or with our child is one of these. It is a wonderful opportunity for closeness and teaching. It is often the one time in the whole crazy day of parenting that we can take a breath and enjoy the gift of our child.” [sigh]

WalesOnline recently profiled (in an article by Katie Norman) a literacy program started by Rob Jones, a part-time football coach, that encourages boys to read for pleasure. It’s called Only Boys Aloud. “Many of the boys (in the program) are reluctant readers in the classroom, but will pick up a book when asked by Mr Jones because they relate to him. For some boys, he is their only male role model.”

Would you like to be a Literacy Ambassador? In her most recent post A New Year for Reading, Cathy Miller suggests that you include sharing a book with a friend as a regular part of your child’s playdates. “When they’ve run to you, with flushed cheeks and ready to wind down, have a big comfortable quilt or chair and a cool drink, plus a new book to share. You just may become a Literacy Ambassador, to influence your friend in a way that will reward them and their child, strengthen their understanding of their own child and the relationship between the two of them.” Wish I had thought of that.

Patti Gill has a wonderful post about reading fluency over at The Literacy Connection. She draws on her own family’s experience (7th grade girl; 5th grade boy) to talk about fluency with independent readers. Her story about her 7th grader reading “just like mommy” to her 5th grade brother is great. “This reminded me how important modeling is, not only with reading, but with actions and behavior as well”

opposing_arrowsThe results of an international study assessing connections between confidence and reading skills has shown there is a connection between overconfident students and low reading comprehension. The full study can be found in the July edition of Learning and Individual Differences, a journal for educators. [image source: Fotosearch Stock Photos and Images]

What are your reading origins? Donalyn Miller’s newest post at The Book Whisperer explains that every reader has a story. She talks about her journey as a reader and invites you to share your story, too. Stop by, I’m sure you’ll find some friends who cherish the same book you do. [Jen mentioned this post in her July 31 Friday Afternoon visit, too … sometimes it scares me that two people on opposite coasts can think the same thing!]

Literacy & Reading Programs & Research

On Friday, Shadow Play Entertainment launched Do the Write Thang, a “ one-stop shop for mobilizing the world around the importance of literacy.” The project is a spin-off of the the Write Stuff Literacy campaign and offers free assistance in organizing literacy development in local communities.  The goal is to engage all age groups and levels of readers — especially the nearly 30 million teens and adults who struggle with basic literacy skills. (@cyruswebb)

There are two research articles on the Frontier College website. The first looks at community-based literacy programs for students Kindergarten to 6th grade; the second is for students in grades 7 to 12. Essentially, these are two- and three-year “reflective” studies that look at Frontier College’s programs. That said, the analysis offers data on effectiveness and best practices for tutoring, homework clubs, etc. (via @frontiercollege)

Literacy Specialist and teacher Heather Rader has some ideas and suggestions for how to use a reading coach in this week’s Big Fresh (Choice Literacy newsletter). She explains the coach’s role, offers some thoughts from colleagues, and includes a set of questions you can use for strengthening collaboration in your classroom.

21st Century Literacies

eSchool News reports, in an article by Meris Stansbury, that “As schools shift to 21st century learning in a time of budget crunches, digital textbooks in classrooms are on the rise. To help educators and administrators efficiently implement digital texts, two diverse districts (from California and Florida) share their motivations, tactics, and goals for their textbook programs.” Link via @tomwhitby.

The Book ChookIn a post about connecting students to reading, Rhonnda shares some lists she created with resources for getting kids connected with books. These are definitely up Susan Stephenson’s “Creative Literacy” alley. Two of the lists she mentions are a Sharetabs group called Engaging with books; and a Diigo list called books and alternatives. I like how she thinks: “Today we have so many ways to offer people a chance to feel the power of a story, to connect to a narrative. In schools, if we cannot get many of our young people to connect with the story, then we are not really trying. If we want to help them with their literacy skills we must help them make the connections.”

Yesterday, the USA Weekend magazine insert has an article with Bargains That’ll Put a Smile on Their Face. The main focus of the article is to help families find the “coolest and newest” stuff for their kids and not break the bank in the process. Within the article, though, are some great literacy/reading-related ideas that you may find useful. The article mentions My Virtual Tutor: Reading Adventure game (pre-K to second grade) that offers reading comprehension tools AND an art program that lets kids “illustrate scenes while they listen to a story.” There are homework helper sites, a Mark-My-Time digital bookmark for helping families log their reading time, and sites with how-to videos for help with school projects.

Grants and Donations

NCFL We haven’t heard from the National Center for Family Literacy in a while. Obviously, they’ve been saving up for this big announcement: “NCFL will distribute $30,000 in funding to libraries that are pioneering programs to families through the Libraries and Families Award. Funding for the program will come from Better World Books’ Libraries Discards & Donations program, a free service that helps libraries manage their unwanted books.” You can read more about this national award for libraries NCFL Literacy Now blog.

This year retailer T.J. Max celebrates 25 years of partnership with Save the Children. Beginning today T.J. Maxx stores will be selling limited edition reusable shopping bags for $0.99. The bags are designed with Save the Children original children’s artwork, and for each bag purchased, T.J. Maxx will donate one basic item such as; socks, underwear and backpacks to Save the Children’s U.S. programs, up to 25,000 items. In addition to the limited edition bag, T.J. Maxx will also be hosting its annual in-store fundraising program. From July 26 – August 22 customers can donate $1 to Save the Children’s U.S. Programs. The goal is to collect and distribute basic supplies to impoverished children in rural areas. When kids don’t have to worry about having clothes to wear to school, they can focus on learning! Jacqueline has all of the details at Blessings Abound.literacy_launchpad_T

Amy from Literacy Launchpad has a grassroots donation opportunity. She’s selling gorgeous t-shirts to promote literacy, with proceeds going to her family’s adoption fund. The shirts say: “Early. Often. Always. Read to your child.” Jen has already ordered hers … and if you attend KidLitCon in October, you might just see twins!

Via news release, ” Reading Rainbow and Country Inns & Suites By Carlson(SM) today announced the national winners of the Reading Rainbow 15th Annual Young Writers & Illustrators Contest… Chosen from more than 45,000 entries from around the country, winning entries were selected for their originality, creative expression, storytelling and integration of copy and illustrations.” Gina also has a post about this at Booklights.

United_way_tampa_bayA three-year partnership among nonprofits United Way of Tampa Bay and First Book, and corporate sponsor Psychological Assessment Resources (PAR) (also of Tampa) started with a book drive in 2006. In each of the last three years, PAR has offered to match all donations made during the first week of the drive to a maximum of $10,000. By being the Magical Wizard of Book Doubling, the United Way of Tampa Bay and First Book have been able to collect and distribute nearly 300,000 books to readers in need. “In 2008 alone, we distributed new books worth over $110,000. That’s a return on investment of over 600% for our donors.”

Action without Borders (aka “connects people, organizations, and resources to help build a world where all people can live free and dignified lives.” Mozilla and have announced Mozilla Service Week. From 14 to 21 September, “we’re asking individuals to step up and make a difference by using the Web to better their community. We’re looking for people who want to share, give, engage, create, and collaborate by offering their time and talent to local organizations and people who need their help…By utilizing our community’s talents for writing, designing, programming, developing, and all-around technical know-how, we believe we can make the Web a better place for everyone.” If you are a non-profit (think: libraries, schools) you can register your project with and potentially get help from within your community or from around the world. If you know a tech-savvy person who is looking to volunteer their services, they can sign up, too.

New Resources

My School Book Club (UK) – In the UK, schools can register on this website, and each month, they’ll get a “fresh selections of carefully chosen books for children up to 11, all at outstanding prices.” Normally we don’t include commercial websites, but this one is a little different. 20% of each book sold goes toward purchasing books for the school. Parents need to be more engaged in the process because purchases are made online, making it easy to know what you’re kids are reading and to talk about their selections.

Ballin’ with Books Cyrus Webb (Conversations Book Club) launched this site for people who love sports and books. “The goal of this site is to inspire conversation among sports lovers worldwide and learn about some powerful books concerning influential sports figures and their lives along the way. You’ll find interviews and links to the authors’ websites, too.

International Children’s Digital Library – I can’t remember whether we’ve mentioned this site before, but it’s worth the extra note. Whether you’re looking for books about a specific culture or searching for literature in a specific language, this is the site to bookmark. The ICDL is a “digital library of outstanding children’s books from around the world [and its Foundation supports] communities of children and adults in exploring and using this literature through innovative technology designed in close partnership with children for children.”

Stephanie Sandifer offers her thoughts on promoting reading at home at This Mommy Gig, and just announced that she has created UBAM Young Readers Blog. UBAM stands for Usborne and More, as the site also features “information on current literacy research, resources for parents and caregivers who want to promote reading in the home.” What I liked about her ideas were that she is inclusive of all age groups, including the elusive teen reader!

This week, Diane Chen is hosting Nonfiction Monday at Practically Paradise, a School Library Journal blog. Diane asks that if you are leaving a link in the comments, please leave off the “http” so that the comment is not rejected.

While you’re checking roundups, refill your mug (or grab another soda) and settle in for the Summer Carnival of Children’s Literature.  Melissa Wiley – who has been Carnival manager extraordinaire since its inception four years ago – has delivered the Carnival to its new destination: Kidlitosphere Central. If you’ve ever participated in or enjoyed one of the Carnivals,  be sure to stop by to thank Melissa!

10 responses to “Children’s Literacy and Reading News Roundup: 3 August

  1. Wow! Thank you so much for spreading the word about Curriki its efforts to get funding to provide free and open K-12 curricula materials for the world! Your tweets and blog post is very much appreciated!

    From a fellow reading enthusiast in dusty Dubai!

    Keep up the amazing work! Your Roundups are a SO useful!

  2. I am still trying to find the Journal article about the correlation between overconfident students and low reading comprehension. In the meantime, there are more details here.

  3. Thanks for the mention of the new post and the wonderful resources you are sharing. I’ve already made a few new friends in the world of reading (and that’s what the Literacy Ambassador is all about). The community of people promoting reading with families and children has an even more important voice these days as our wonderful teachers are focusing in teaching the skills of reading. I have a library science professor friend who calls our focus “the behavior and habit” of reading. I like that and we certainly do need both the skill base and the motivational part. Keep up the good work!

  4. Terry, I love that two people on opposite coasts can think the same thing. And I love the Country Musicians Rock and Read event. It’s great seeing people from so many different areas talking about literacy every week.

  5. I went to USA Weekend to check out the illustration part of Reading Adventure, and came away liking the digital bookmark. I think kids who like to measure things would enjoy toting up their reading time, and families who reward reading time might like it too.

    Of course, gimmick-lovers like me might want one too!

  6. I have been a fan of this blog for ages and am flattered to find you’ve mentioned the Latin Baby Book Club in this post. Christianne is a valuable resource of information for all of us.
    Keep up the great work!

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