Reading News & Children’s Literacy Roundup – June in Review

Welcome to the Children’s Literacy and Reading News roundup brought to you by Carol Rasco at her blog Quietly, Jen Robinson of Jen Robinson’s Book Page, and yours truly, here at the Family Bookshelf blog.

Carol has once again given us a bounty of good news and great ideas in her June in Review post over at Quietly. With the devastation of the derecho all about, I cannot imagine how she was able to get the post done. Our hearts go out to those in many points beyond who are dealing with the combination of soaring temperatures, no power and no relief on the immediate horizon.

Jen also added some bonus links in her Roundup for June in Review post, that went up Friday. Read on for two items about boys and reading!

Reading and Literacy Events

The big event for June has to be Betsy Bird’s complete polls on chapter books and picture books. Hearing that I can get PDF copies made my WEEK! I can’t wait to load it onto DropBox to carry with me and have handy for my trips to the library! Summer reading made easy!

Chris Van Allsburg picture bookSpeaking of picture books and lists … Carol also shares a link to 10 Important Life Lessons From Children’s Books. which was featured in The Atlantic, June 21, 2012. Only two are not matches in Betsy Bird’s Top 100 lists: The Sweetest Fig by Chris Van Allsburg and The Hundred Dresses by Louis Slobodkin. That’s pretty amazing, don’t you think?

There is no shortage of great stuff going on in the UK this summer, and as Miranda McKearney points out on The Guardian’s Teacher Network Blog, there are plenty of ways to prevent a summer holiday literacy dip, too. Love that phrase “literacy dip.” Enter: Story Labs, the theme for the 2012 Summer Reading Challenge. There are 980,000 kids ages 4 to 11 taking part in the challenge this summer. What I particularly like is how they are reinforcing the ideas of the fun of reading for pleasure and giving kids the chance to finish stories started by authors. New ideas? No, but when we as parents are combating “required reading” lists, its nice to have a voice on the other side.

Literacy Programs and Research

There is so much great stuff packed into Carol’s June in Review post … from LeVar Burton bringing back Reading Rainbow: Take a Look. It’s in a Book as an App to not one but TWO Education Week articles (byline – Sarah Weeks) about a report from the folks at Harvard University’s Mind, Brain, and Education Program that says they are increasingly finding the brain to have more plasticity than previously thought. Our brains are not necessarily as hard-wired for specific tasks and are capable of change in response to experience and training. There’s a picture book for that.

The Children’s Literacy Initiative blog has a post about the summer slide, too. Embedded within in their blog post are statistics about losing skills in the summer. The article cites the Parents magazine blog in saying that children can lose up to one full month of learning over the summer. The impact on disadvantaged youth is even greater. There are some great quotes about the value of summer reading on the New York State Library website.

In the midst of serious heatwaves – when even the kids say its too hot to go to the pool – is that they stay inside and get more screen time. Ricki Block (@rickiBL) recently tweeted an oldie but a goodie … a 2010 study by the National Research Center for Women and Families about Young Children and Screen Time (Television, DVD, Computer). I liked how they offered positive suggestions that went beyond “just turn it off.” Like this one: “If your child is going to watch something, watch with her and comment or ask questions about what you are watching. You can make passive TV viewing active this way.”

It is particularly interesting to think about screen time in the context of these two items that Jen highlighted:

  • Michael Morpurgo shares his thoughts on the ways that we are failing boys in the enjoyment of reading. (The Guardian blog). As Jen points out “The piece is impassioned and yet clearly articulated, and is well worth a look.
  • The NCBLA blog also has a post: We Are Not Doing Enough for Boys in Young People’s Publishing. I was shocked when I read that a book publisher told a teacher (and NCBLA founder) that she did not know what she was talking about when she said “the younger generation was much more visual oriented than previous pre-screen generations and I encouraged publishers to once again include illustrations and pictures in middle grade fiction and nonfiction to encourage those visually oriented kids to read more.”

Raising Bookworms

Summer reading programs are a ready-made ways to prevent learning loss. Libraries across the country have summer reading challenges, events, and activities that feed the need for maintaining literacy skills and – more importantly – let kids gain confidence with books of their own choosing.

The summer is whirling by so fast, and like you, we want to savor every moment. As has become our tradition, we are going to take a break from the reading news roundups in July. Jen will be tweeting reading news and literacy events; and Carol will wrap up the month with fireworks (sorry, I couldn’t resist!). The Reading News and children’s literacy roundups will return in mid-August, most likely here.

Thanks for helping us spread the word! We wish you all lots of fun with family and friends … offline and in books!