Reading Round-Up, 23 June 2008

It’s going to be a busy week, as we gear up for our Book Bag reviews over at Scrub-a-Dub-Tub, so I thought I’d get this done today. Even though it’s only been a few days, there is lots of noteworthy news.

Online Journals, eMags and other Literary Tours de Force

Edge of the Forest The June edition of The Edge of the Forest is now up. There is too much good stuff to mention, so I’ll follow Jill’s and Jen Robinson’s leads and post Kelly Herold’s index.

  • An interview with singer-songwriter—and author of Middle Grade fiction—Dar Williams, by YA author Carrie Jones.
  • Poet J. Patrick Lewis graces The Edge of the Forest with a bittersweet original poem.
  • Sarah Stevenson (a.fortis) and TadMack (Tanita S. Davis) talk vampires in Fiction with Fangs.
  • Not one, but two Summer Reading features: Julie M. Prince takes reading to the pool and Sarah Mulhern suggests summertime reading for kids of all ages.
  • Gail Gauthier is this month’s Blogging Writer.
  • We have three great columns this month: Candice Ransom considers The Long Summer for A Backward Glance, teacher Stacy Dillon gives us her students’ picks for Kid Picks, and Little Willow tells us What’s in Teens’ Backpacks this summer.
  • Reviews in all categories—from Picture book to Young Adult.

Book a Tour If you live in the Washington-DC area (or more specifically in the Fairfax County area), check out the Public Art Sculpture series. The Fairfax Library Foundation commissioned life-sized books and artists decorated them. Plan your trip so you can browse the “indoor galleries” and pick up a book or two. Go to the Foundation’s photo gallery to see the finished works and find out where they’re located. If you truly want some fun, then join Sara’s Challenge at Read, Write Believe to see how many references to children’s and Young Adult books you can spot!

Conferences and other Save the Date Events

24-Hours of Fun Thanks to Rebecca Adler at the Inside Cover blog for the nudge to post a reminder about Dewey’s upcoming The 24-hour Read-a-thon! We mentioned it in a previous Round-up, but we need all the (virtual) reminders we can get. The Read-a-thon begins June 28 at 9 AM (Pacific time), and you can sign on as a reader or cheerleader. Here are the answers to your questions. The charity for this year’s Read-a-Thon is Reading is Fundamental (RIF).

Library Conference The Children’s Literacy Foundation has announced its third-annual conference for small libraries. The conference, titled “Turning Your Library into a Community Center,” will take place September 19, 2008 in White River Junction, VT. We read about it in Amy T’s post on the New Hampshire Library Association (NHLA) blog.

Early Literacy Conference On September 26, 2008, Beginning with Books is sponsoring an Early Literacy Conference. The Community College of Allegheny County North Campus is hosting this event. The featured speaker is Mary Renck Jalongo, Ph.D., and the featured author/illustrator is award-winning children’s author Candace Fleming (Gabriella’s Song, Ben Franklin’s Almanac, Fabled Fourth Graders of Aesop Elementary School, et al). We read about it at in this post at Story Pockets, the blog for the Children’s Department at the Carnegie Library, University of Pittsburgh. You’ll need to go to Story Pockets to get contact information; there is nothing posted on the Beginning with Books site yet.

Read for the Record October 2, 2008 is the day to help set a new world’s record for the most people reading the same book on the same day. This year’s book is Corduroy, a Penguin Young Readers classic. A special edition has been created for the event, with celebrity input and reading tips. This is the third time JumpStart (the non-profit, not the software company) has sponsored the Read for the Record event; and this year’s goal is to highlight early literacy. According to Brian Scott’s post, the Pearson Foundation (co-sponsor) has launched a Spanish-language version of this event. We read about the event in this post at Literacy and Reading News, the blog.

Other News and Highlights

Monday Monday Finally, there is something good about Monday! On Monday evenings, Metro riders can get a handout worth having: Bit O’Lit, a booklet-sized magazine that has excerpts of both fiction and non-fiction books. The timing could not be better for a group that wants to “addict new people to reading.” Because of gas prices, metro rider-ship is WAY up. All this bookishness in DC. Almost makes me want to move back ~ not! The rest of us can read the current issue online. Thanks to Sara at Read Write Believe for her post Sounds Like Candy but it’s Not: Bit O’Lit … that’s how we learned about it.

Balancing the Books Over at Erin’s Musings, Erin wrote an interesting post about Boys and Literacy. Her brother noticed that most of the books in her collection of children’s and young adult books were written by women. As a teacher, she wants to better balance the collection. She started by reading and following the leads in Jane McFann’s article, Boys and Books, at Reading Rockets. How do your bookshelves weigh in?

Ready to Read Charity Navigator, a non-profit that works to promote a “more efficient philanthropic market place” has a nice narrative about the Children’s Literacy Initiative, a Philadelphia-based program whose goal is to improve learning readiness for children in low-income families. CLI has worked in several public school systems in a number of major cities, including Philadelphia, Camden and Newark, New Jersey; Baltimore, MD, and Boston, MA. We found the Charity Navigator profile through a Google Alert.

Two Claws Up! Thanks to some networking and a little bit of fate, I have recently connected with Lobster Press, another think-beyond-tradition independent publisher. Check out these these two articles on the Lobster Press blog. Thanks to Stephanie for pointing them out.

  • In Get the Pages Turning, Claire Fripp (Rights & International Sales Manager) takes an if-at-first-you-don’t-succeed approach to helping parents keep reading this summer. In addition to working for Lobster Press, she teaches English at the elementary and middle school levels.

Better than a Frat Party?! This is a nice counterpoint to Scholastic’s analysis about reading declines. Alex Finlayson offers some great man-on-the-street vignettes to test this analysis: according to a new report by Pew Internet and American Life Project, Generation Y (18- to -30-year-olds) is the group most likely to use the library. “No Shushing in This Library” is the cover article for the June 18, 2008 edition of San Diego Weekly Reader (online). We found it by reading Louise Ash’s post in Reading Today Daily, the International Reading Association (IRA) blog.

… Speaking of Libraries Jamie LaRue has some interesting tidbits about library relevance, public policy, and library patrons in his post Private sales, public elections, at his MyLibLog blog. The post responds to a patron question about the need to continue (public) funding for libraries because the Internet has made them (cough) irrelevant. LaRue frames the Douglass County library’s activities as thought it were a for-profit business to offer an insightful comparative analysis. He closes with this quip: “[O]ne argument on behalf of library funding is this: until all children have independent incomes sufficient to enable their learning to the extent their natural curiosity and ability permit them, we need public support. Unless, of course, ignorance is more important to us.” Love it!

Celebrity Quote worth Reading Last week, Feel Free to Read had a post called Danny Glover Says. It is filled with nothing but Danny Glover quotes. Here’s one that shows at least one celebrity understands that literacy means more than just writing a picture book or being the centerpiece of a PhotoOp titled “Star turning page.” We found this through a Google Alert. Here’s the quote:

If we talk about literacy, we have to talk about how to enhance our children’s mastery over the tools needed to live intelligent, creative, and involved lives. ~ Danny Glover

Good Question Michael Arnzen, Ph.D. posed the question Is Reading to Students Bad? in a recent post about whether/not teachers should read aloud to their students. Arnzen, Associate professor of English at Seton Hall University, opens the post by letting readers know about the discussion at Teacher Magazine based on an incident where a school administrator had taken issue with an English teacher reading to a high school class. I liked this passage: “Students can learn what we might call “audience literacy”: how to be a good, attentive, ethical listener. I would toss in, however, that the method can create a teacher-centered environment in the classroom, and that one shouldn’t dominate the class or treat it as their own private rehearsal hall.”

Star Light, Star Bright … The summer 2008 edition of USAA Magazine has an article about Mark Bent. Bent is a USAA member who, having retired from government service, worked with the Department of Energy, American universities and NASA to produce SunNights, a solar flashlight that “allows refugee children in Africa to learn to read at night without exposure to kerosene fumes.” His company, SunNight Solar, has a Buy-One-Give-One program. For every flashlight ($25) purchased, he donates a second light to nonprofits that distribute them where they are needed.

Thanks Mom! Book Mom in Texas wrote to Dear Abby with a letter for parents looking for ways to entertain their kids. She has an idea that she says is “no cost” (she forgot about the gas!) … take them to the library and let everyone in the family participate in the summer reading club. Many libraries have adult programs. Why not take the approach they recommend for exercise: get a buddy (your kid) and do it together! Bet she wishes she lived in Fairfax, VA! We read about it Friday’s edition of the Daily Progress (right under the crossword puzzle)!

It was a dark and stormy night … If you’re still looking for a reading incentive program this summer, you might check out Reading Adventure, a Huntington Learning Center program that builds on themes of discovery and exploration. We read about it in Brian Scott’s article “Reading Adventure, a New Summer Reading Program” for the Literacy and Reading News blog ( Note: I couldn’t find a direct link to the Reading Adventure program.

Adventure #2: A Family Tree Head over to Wonder Years Radio to read this booklet about researching your family tree. You’ll find great information about getting started (written for kids to understand); get a list of books for reading and activities; and link to a virtual tour of Ellis Island.


Small Steps on Top Louise Ash has a short summary of an article about what the No Child Left Behind Act has done for readers who aren’t struggling. Essentially, the lowest-performing students have made great strides. Evaluators aren’t seeing the same level of increase for students already at the top of the curve. You can read more in the Baltimore Sun article by reporter Liz Bowie, or catch the summary in the June 18, 2008 edition of Reading Today Daily, the IRA blog.

Listen up! Take a minute (Okay, 3 minutes and 23 seconds) to listen to this podcast of Amber Gibson’s report “Three Books for Teens Who Hate to Read” which was selected for the Three Books feature on NPR’s All Things Considered (June 17, 2007). Amber writes for There’s a nice list of resources with library partners, award-winning book lists, contests, and more. It’s worth exploring … but it will take more than 3 minutes and 23 seconds! We read bout this in Louise Ash’s post at Reading Today Daily, the IRA blog.

My Word! Rebecca recently went to the library to pick out books with her 8-month-old son. As she describes the trip, a woman approached her and offered her opinion that her son might be too young for books. Giving this patron the benefit of the doubt, maybe she doesn’t read with or have children in her life. But she was in a library, so she must read, right? Even if she doesn’t there is TV! So how can she miss article-after-article about study-after-study saying that we need to share books with children every day, long before they even recognize letters? Thanks to Jill’s post at the Well-Read Child for getting my adrenalin going on a Saturday afternoon!

The Last Word This week it goes to Jill. I love her opening line in this Well-Read Child post: “Literacy is much more than being able to read a good book…it’s a survival skill.” For the post, Jill is reviewing Everyday Literacy: Environmental Print Activities for Children 3 to 8 by Stephanie Mueller. Like the book, she reinforces the idea that literacy is more than reciting letters or sitting with a book … it’s a natural part of our day, like breathing with our eyes. We read the review at the Well-Read Child blog.