Children’s Reading and Literacy News Roundup – 26 October

Literacy Reading News RoundupWelcome back! This week’s children’s literacy and reading news round-up, brought to you by Jen Robinson’s Book Page and Scrub-a-Dub-Tub, is here. We had a wonderful time at KidLitCon09 … so much so that it took us pretty much all week to get back in the groove. Still, we wouldn’t have traded that time for the world.  Jen and I found plenty of literacy and reading-related events; information on literacy and reading programs and research; and discussions about 21st century literacies; and some grant, sponsorship, or donation news.

Congratulations to the National Center for Family Literacy and the Women’s National Basketball Association. Through their 2009 Fast Break to Reading program, youths across the country have collectively spent more than 1 million minutes reading. You can find more details at the NCFL blog.

Lehigh Carbon Community College, School of Education Department is sponsoring a children’s book drive. More than 1,100 children in the Lehigh Valley receive 3 new books annually from local literacy organizations. The organizations are struggling to get enough appropriate books for the families to select for kids age 1 to 10, so the Ed Department is helping by setting up collection boxes around campus. Deadline for donations is October 30, 2009. To learn more, read this announcement, which also includes the email of the student organizer.

Color Online During Teen Read Week, Tu Publishing had a lovely interview with Susan from Color Online. Susan not only talked about teen reading habits, she offered descriptions of what a female teen reader looks like … and what she wants in a book. Her insight is particularly valuable for folks who are trying to find ways to connect today’s teens with books. “Among my readers there are two divides: those who love urban fiction and will only read books with characters who look like them, and the storylines romanticize the lifestyles they want to have; the other group will avoid traditional AA fiction and the urban fiction and want to escape into worlds that are very different from the challenging, unglamorous lives they lead. In other words, they want pop culture and mainstream fiction with happy, carefree white characters.”

It was tough enough putting together the roundup while making lasagna … then I saw two references to bananas (which are the main ingredient in some of my favorite desserts). The first was Sara Lewis Holmes‘ (Read Write Believe) effort to find a banana pudding poem for Poetry Friday (at Big A, little a). The other is an invitation to celebrate National Family Literacy Day with Books, Birds & Banana Splits. The Redding (PA) library is hosting this community event on October 31, 2009. The cost is FREE and will be held from 10:am to 1:pm.

twitter Twitter co-Founder Biz Stone recently announced that Twitter has partnered with Room to Read in an effort to promote literacy and reading. Essentially, this is a wine auction, where for every case of wine sold, @roomtoread will “be able to supply about 60 local language children’s books to educate the 300 million kids around the world who can’t read.” To learn more, read the announcement on the Sox First blog.

On Thursday, October 29, Cathy Puett Miller and Audrey Borden (My Gifted Girl) are co-hosting a FREE Webinar on Audrey’s FACEBOOK page. We’ll be discussing choosing the best books for your child (gifted or not)and promoting a love of reading. from Cathy’s blog: “We are starting a revolution — outside the ideas of those who know reading is important. This provides an opportunity for any family in America (or the world) to promote literacy learning with their child! Be a part of it!” Space is limited so visit Audrey’s Facebook page to get the registration information.

And just for fun … did you see the New Yorker’s Critterati photos? Thanks to the National Children’s Book and Literacy Alliance for the preview of photos of “animals dressed as literary characters.” [Puppy Longstocking by Daisyhead, submitted to New Yorker Criterrati contest]

Speaking of famous literary characters, Flat Stanley is ready to travel again. The Search for Flat Stanley’s Next BIG Adventure is a national contest for youth (7-8, 9-10, and 11-12 age groups). HarperCollins and Adventures by Disney are sponsoring the contest, which runs through November 30, 2009.

Literacy & Reading Programs & Research
Reuters reports: “Low-income children were better prepared for success in kindergarten when their preschool teachers incorporated educational video and games from public media, according to a new study. The study, conducted by Education Development Center, Inc. (EDC) and SRI International, was commissioned by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) to evaluate video and interactive games from the Ready to Learn initiative, which creates educational programming and outreach activities for local public television stations and their communities.The Journal also reports on the study.

Science Daily reports: “A unique study of former guerrillas in Colombia has helped scientists redefine their understanding of the key regions of the brain involved in literacy. The study, funded by the Wellcome Trust and the Spanish Ministry of Education and Science, has enabled the researchers to see how brain structure changed after learning to read... In today’s edition of Nature, researchers from the UK, Spain and Colombia describe a study working with an unusual cohort: former guerrillas in Colombia who are re-integrating into mainstream society and learning to read for the first time as adults.” You can read a summary of the report at

The National Center for Parents as Teachers complements its article about kids modeling adults with an illustrative video of them imitating adults dancing. In Kids: They’re Not Little Adults, NCPT brings home the point that kids will perpetuate the experiences and behaviors we show them now when THEY become parents.

If you’re feeling nostalgic, head over to Children of the 90s to see the list of 90s TV shows based on children’s books. There are embedded videos for five shows. See if you can guess them before you click through. I only got one, which I guess means I’m showing my age!

Approximately 30 students of Uttar Pradesh’s Ralpur village, some 80 km from Lucknow, have initiated a literacy campaign where each day, the students teach literacy to the “sons and daughters of labourers, servants and other persons engaged in menial jobs.” They run classes for 250 students at five places in the village. The classes are conducted inside make-shift establishments. You can read more at Trak.In.

There is a fascinating study of a writing revolution and how we are moving from universal literacy to universal authorship in an article by Denis G. Pelli and Charles Bigelow in the October 21 edition of Although the emphasis is on how we’ve moved from a few authors/year in 1400 to more than 1 million authors a year in 2008, the underlying message is that you can’t participate in modern society without learning to read. “International concern for the minority who can’t read may soon extend to those who can’t publish. Reading—a defining characteristic of civilization as far back as ancient Greece when all Athenian citizens were expected to know how to read—is now taken for granted in industrialized democracies.” Yet even in the “industrialized democracies” there are millions who can’t read! (via @sushobhan)

At, Brian has a short article that describes guided reading and offers tips on how to help new readers continue to become more confident. “Guided reading is about planting reading strategies in your child’s mind.” Aksi at Literacy News, Brian has put together a chronology of studies looking at the motivation for learning reading skills. The oldest study is 1997, the most recent is 2004; he offers the findings of about ten studies in all.

The South Carolina State Library has produced South Carolina – Day by Day, a family literacy calendar “designed to be a tool that families, caregivers, educators and librarians can use at home and in the classroom to develop early literacy skills that help young children become prepared for school or do better in school.” It is filled with a year’s worth of activities as well as lists of recommended reading. If you are interested in the South Carolina calendar or want more details about the goals and activities, go to The State online.

In an essay on literacy, Amy (My Friend Amy) offered a thoughtful piece on why adult literacy matters, too. any of us focus on children’s literacy, and as she pointed out, the kidlitosphere has done a phenomenal job raising awareness and exchanging ideas. But as she also makes several excellent points about why we need to engage adults, too. “Because adults are parents who will or will not read aloud to their young children. Because adults are parents who will decide how important books and reading are in a household. Because adults are parents who will help their children with their homework. Because adults are people who can demonstrate that reading is to be enjoyed and books are to be loved.” Amy raises the issue in the context of I Told Two Friends, a campaign started by author Melanie Wells to raise $100,000 to fight adult literacy.

First BookKatie B at First Book linked to a Boston Globe story by James Varnis about teachers making house calls to visit with their students’ families (is anyone else thinking of Miss Honey from Matilda?). “The goal is to build stronger relationships between teachers and families in a quest to bolster parent volunteerism in school and involvement in their child’s education at home, as well as break down any misconceptions that parents and teachers might have about one another. Boston, which is working in partnership with Harvard University, began its program two years ago and has expanded it to five elementary schools.”

Joyce Grant at Getting Kids Reading reports that “The Toronto District School Board (TDSB) is proposing a boys-only public school and boy-friendly teaching strategies. The TDSB is Canada’s largest school board.” The idea is to address the fact that boys learn differently.

At Literacy is Priceless, Anna cites a scary statistic: “in America, a kid drops out of high school every 9 seconds …” Then she says “imagine if they didn’t.” We like imagining that. The statistic is the foundation of filmmaker Mary Mazzio’s documentary Ten9Eight, “a thought provoking film which tells the inspirational stories of several inner city teens (of differing race, religion and ethnicity) from Harlem to Compton and all points in between, as they compete in an annual business plan competition run by the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE).” It will leave you speechless AND inspired.

21st Century Literacies
At PopMatters, Shaun Huston analyzes the multiple forms of literacy required for reading comics. For example: “Every movement from word to image and back again so as to create a coherent, narrative whole engages the reader’s brain in distinct ways.

In an article for the St. Petersburg Times, Jeffrey S. Solochek explains how teachers at Shady Hills elementary are using iPods for literacy. According to one teacher, the kids love to hear the author’s voice. One teacher loaded the iPods with videos about firefighters for a block about the five senses. The school has 80 iPods available for teachers (Kindergarten to grade five) to use.

Thanks to the Resource Shelf for the excerpts of David Rothman’s guest column at Huffington Post article suggesting that we need a National Digital Library System. To support his idea, he talks about leveraging e-Book technology to get kids engage with books and stretch library dollars.

Grants and Donations

If I were going to move, I would have to choose between Canton, Ohio; Elgin and Chicago, Illinois; Portland, Oregon; and Los Angeles, California. Why? Because these five library systems have received the National Medal for Museum and Library Service, sponsored by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). The main criteria for the award is that the nominated organization offers an original way to help their communities. These five were selected from a list of 40 nominees, and as the School Library Journal points out, they are kid-focused libraries that embrace everyone in their communities.

Boys Booked on BarbershopsI wish I had stopped by the Headliner’s Barbershop in Fredericksburg, VA, on the way home from KidLitCon09. The local chapter of Mocha Moms has created a “book nook” in the shop as part of the Boys Booked on Barbershops (B-BOB) program. The shop owner, Harry Schein is also a dad to two boys and a girl. “”I’m a father, and literacy is important to me …I thought it was a great idea.” Sabrina A. Brinson, an associate professor of childhood education and family studies at Missouri State University created B-BOB in 2004. She is also national director of the companion Girls Booked on Beautyshops program, which was started in 2003.The programs are now located in more than 100 U.S. barbershops. In putting together this blurb, I found a video about the programs. (via


Today’s Nonfiction Monday roundup is at Wrapped in Foil. Don’t you love the banner? What a lovely way to close out October.

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