Reading Round-Up, 24 November

It is nice to see that even with Thanksgiving just around the corner and the mad-dash to the holidays upon us, the world of reading, books, and literacy is still very busy. It has been another “bountiful” week for Jen and me as we gathered newsworthy, interesting, and fun items. The  news Round-up is here this week, but be sure to stop by Jen Robinson’s Book Page, too. Jen will have her Growing Bookworms newsletter, afternoon visits, and reviews. Check out the review of Tennyson, which Jen describes as “one of the best reads of the year.”

Events & New Places – Virtual and Otherwise

Webinar: Libraries and the Bilingual Child, Monday, 8 December 2008 Webjunction is sponsoring this forum to answer the questions “how can librarians honor and respect parents’ efforts to keep the home language alive while their child acquires a second language, and why does this matter?” We saw this at the L2 [Libary Learning] blog. You can go to the event post to link to the Web conference room.

Read More Blogs
Thanks to MotherReader and Lee Wind’s 21 Days to Community Comment Challenge, I am becoming a more engaged blogger. I still stop by some favorite places, but I’m also stretching myself and exploring new ones. The Comment Challenge Participants post makes it easy to find new places to visit. Many bloggers link to other posts, so you can expand that way, too. This week I found …

  • Book Chook. Susan Stephenson, who created the Book Chook blog, is a Kindergarten teacher. Her blog “shares snippets from the wonderful world and words of kids’ literacy and literature.” I could tell you what a chook is, but why spoil the surprise? Head on over.
  • Nancy Arruda and Kim Baise, the queens of Bees Knees Reads, introduced me to Books Together, “a blog for kids and their grownups.” I’m not sure why I hadn’t seen it before, but it is in the reader now.
  • Thanks to Shelly Burns’ Wednesday Wanterings at Write for a Reader, Deborah Sloan’s The Picnic Basket is on the list. The tagline says it all: “a delicious blog for librarians, teachers, and other gluttons for good books–all you can read (and write) about forthcoming children’s literature!”

Family Literacy Survey At the NCFL Literacy Now blog, Meg Ivey posted a survey about Verizon’s ThinkFinity Literacy Network. Take the survey by 1 December 2008 and you are entered to win a $100 gift certificate from Better World Books. The ThinkFinity Literacy Network site offers teachers, librarians, parents, and students access to free online tools: lesson plans, homework help, interactive activities.

New Children’s Choice Award for YA Literature Michael Sweet, teacher and founder of Learning for a Cause, has created the Pearson Prize for Young Adult Literature. It is a chance for authors and publishers to get their books to students — and schools to build their YA libraries with quality material. The deadline for entry is 1 May 2009. This is no entry fee, you just have to send two copies of your book. Visit the Pearson Prize website to learn more about the award and application process. Learning for a Cause is currently accepting entries for a 2009 Poetry Anthology. Deadline: 31 December 2008.

Studies, Ideas, and Other News

Barbie has educational value? Victoria Carrington’s blog has a fascinating “5 minute interview” with Professor Jackie Marsh. Together, Mdes. Carrington and Marsh are involved in research that is looking at “young children’s use of popular culture, media and new technologies and their literacy practices both in- and out-of-school.” It is clear from the interview and posts on Professor Marsh’s Digital Beginnings blog that the research looks at the ideas in very new ways. For those already addicted to technology, the Second Life website is your next thing. It’s beyond me, but you can probably get those avatars to tweet.

Weapons of Knowledge
Baltimore County schools are about to benefit from a joint effort by US military contractors Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin to develop high-tech simulations to boost or science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education. You can read a blurb of Andrew Trotter’s article for free. Subscribers to Education Week can see the full article Schools Enlisting Defense Industry to boost STEM

Lost – Not Anymore Technology connects us in ways that some of us thought could only happen on The Jetsons . Today’s kids are living Elroy Jetson’s life. Here’s proof …

  • PBS Kids Island is a new tool that is part of PBS’ Raising Readers effort. There are parent/teacher/caregiver sections that let you preview games, view reading tips, and get curriculum ideas for your classroom. Check out Raising Readers: Preparing Preschoolers for Success, an online professional development course.  I like that you can track your child’s progress, but admit that I was a little disappointed to read “preschool” on the promo page. You can read John Micklos’ post “PBS launches new online learning tool” for Reading Today Daily
  • Literacy Campaign (LitCam ), Google, and UNESCO’s Institute for Lifelong Learning.
  • coloring or activity page, sometimes stickers, sometimes t-shirt iron-ons, and sometimes bookmarks.”
  • For the next 30 days, you can read The Princess Diaries online. Thanks to Sarah at the Reading Zone for telling us about this in her Busy as a Bee post. It’s all about reading, right? Not holiday sales?!
  • Franki at A Year of Reading has just returned from the NCTE and (already) has a post with links to some of the folks who have posted about the event. Also check out Mary Lee’s post Poetry Saturday: Disconnected, that embodies the irony of a conference about technology (Shift Happens: Teaching in the 21st Century) with no WiFi access.

More Reading Research There has been a flurry ofreports analyzing the impact of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) on various aspects of learning. Education Week has devoted a complete issue to analysis and commentary in its NCLB Alert. Here are some items of interest that go beyond the NCLB discussions.

  • From beginner to stellar: Five tips on developing skilled readers. The report itself focuses on the core elements: stages of reading development, components of skillful reading, teacher preparation, how well students are reading, early diagnosis, and what the research means for schools. What makes the report valuable are all the online tools that go with it. There are lots of very practical reading ideas, and handouts for phonic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension with “recommendations for effective instruction.” We found this through John Micklos’s post for Reading Today Daily.
  • Unfortunately, there is a trade-off between academic development and unstructured playtime. Read Linda Jacobson’s article Playtime Valuable – and Under Seige, Experts Warn in this week’s edition of Education Week. The article quotes authors Kathy Hirsh-Pasek and Michael Thompson, a psychology professor and pyschologist, respectively, as saying kids need free play not only to learn collaboration but also to develop their critical thinking skills.
  • Brian Scott interviews Jan Hasbrouk, PhD, a nationally-recognized education consultant and trainer, about the importance and keys to reading fluency for students. Read Tackling Reading Fluency Issues at the Literacy and Reading News blog. Some things aren’t new (if you suspect a problem, find out the source), but she has done some work to help evaluators differentiate and assess types of fluency.
  • Donalyn Miller has a very interesting piece in her Book Whisperer column this week. “Lowering the Bar” offers her observations about the forgotten readers. They aren’t the struggling readers, these are the kids who devour books. She points to recent studies that suggest strong readers are not a priority for schools trying to raise test scores. Her conclusion: “While strong national support exists for fostering the talents of gifted math and science students, it seems we need an educational movement that develops the talents of verbally-gifted people.”
  • Maria Gold wrote a Washington Post article about the results of a Congressionally-mandated study of the Reading First Program. The study found that overall, students who use the Reading First program “scored no better on comprehension tests than students in similar schools that do not get the funding.” There is some good news: “First-graders in Reading First classrooms were better able to decode, or recognize, printed words than students in schools without the program. Decoding is a key step in learning to read.” Kathleen Kennedy Manzos also has an in-depth article in this week’s edition of Education Week. Go to No Effect on Comprehension Seen from ‘Reading First’ and you’ll also get links to additional coverage.
  • A study funded by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) concludes that academic achievement and developing social skills are not mutually exclusive priorities in preschool classrooms. For the study, researchers compared students in two types of Head Start classrooms. One classroom followed the traditional curriculum; the other used an enhanced curriculum that included “social and emotional learning and pre-reading skills.” We read Brian Scott’s article New Program Teaches Preschoolers Reading Skills, Getting Along with Others at the Literacy and Reading News blog. If you want the full scoop, you can read the NIH press release. The study itself is available in the current issue of Child Development.

Sing, Sing a Song At Literacy and Reading News, Brian Scott wrote The Connection Between Preschool Literacy and Music Introduction. Although there is a product promotion at the end, most of the article focuses on the research/literature review described by Assistant Professor Jonathan Bolduc of the University of Ottowa. According to Professor Bolduc, “children who participate in musical and first-language interdisciplinary programs develop phonological awareness, word recognition, and invented spelling abilities more efficiently than their classmates who do not participate in such programs.”

  • If you’re looking to integrate music into your storytime, check out the Musicians Shows by State blog. According to the blog’s mid-November post: “most children’s musicians offer shows according to themes such as animals, multi-cultural, holidays, transportation, self-esteem, drug awareness, environment, bugs, marine life, literacy, music history, history, seasons, special needs, character building, etc.”

Let’s Get Happy In this  post, Louise Ash (Reading Today Daily) links us to a Reuters article about a University of Maryland study about TV watching, reading, and long-term happiness. After studying 34 years of data collected from 45,000 participants, researchers conclude that people who read more (and watch less TV) are happier. TV brings you short-term enjoyment, but “it is more likely to lead to overall unhappiness.” Wow. We can be happy AND save electricity at the same time.

Yeah, Dad In her most recent Literacy Voices Round-up, Meg Ivey not only highlights Jen’s Reviews That Made Me Want the Book Column, she links us to Lindsey Gemme’s article for Casa Grande Valley Newspapers, Inc. (online). Gemme introduces us to three of 130 imprisoned dads who read to their kids via digitally-recorded CDs. “Fathers Bridging the Miles” is a program sponsored by  Read-to-Me, an international literacy nonprofit based in Hawaii. It was hard to pick just one quote that captured the spirit of the article. So I have two.

  • Randy Konohia , serving his sixth year of a 10-year sentence, admits that before entering the Read-to-Me program, he wasn’t a big fan of books. But since his own children, between 6 and 9 years, have been getting the books and his recordings, he himself has gotten more enthusiastic about reading…”For a guy that don’t read, and now I’m reading, it’s making me broader, too.’
  • Borges has been participating in Fathers Bridging the Miles for just over a year. And with three kids, he’s taken full advantage of the program, having read almost 80 books so far. “My wife had to buy a new bookshelf, just for all the books I send them,” he laughs.

Booking through School MotherReader let us know that Book is the New Cool, with an excerpt from a Times Online article.

  • If you’re a regular listener at Just One More Books, then you probably listened to the episode with Andrea and Mark’s conversation, about read-a-thons. The podcast is great, and so are the comments. Andrea commented that her daughter LOVES to read with younger kids and that this seems so much more worthwhile than a contest. Comments continue to come in. Heidi Estrin’s comment earlier this week captured it: “Selling kids on reading can be so easy, really – all it takes is a good amount of reading time spent with one or more enthusiastic adults — so it’s strange that we dream up all these complicated schemes to achieve those ends when it’s really not necessary.”
  • Also, Jeanne Jackson Devoe has some interesting observations in her article “Taking a Reading on Literacy” for the Times of Trenton (NJ) (online). Louise Ash’s post Think of boys as readers, says Journalist is what called our attention to the article.

Football Hero The National Federation for the Blind announced that Hall-of-Fame Quarterback (and Fox NFL Sunday Co-host) Terry Bradshaw is going to be the National Ambassador for Braille Readers.  In a press release, the NFB says that Bradshaw will promote the “Braille Readers are Leaders campaign, a national initiative to promote the importance of reading and writing Braille for blind children and adults.” We saw this in Louise Ash’s post for Reading Today Daily.

The Last Word Over at the Well-read Child, Tanya has a wonderful post about reading wordless picture books out loud. In her words: “I have found that, with a little thinking ahead and attention to detail, you can draw listeners in to the book and make the story last longer than the time it takes to flip through the pages.” You can find wordless picture book ideas in Tanya’s post, and also in Reading Wordless Books at Eva’s Book Addiction.

Happy Thanksgiving!

clipart courtesy of

7 responses to “Reading Round-Up, 24 November

  1. This is amazing, Terry. And I’m sorry I wasn’t able to contribute more this week. I spent 3 days virtually computer free, which was great, but now I have 817 unread items in my Google Reader. But I am back, and ready to start collecting stuff for next weekend.

    I especially liked the article about fathers bridging the miles. And I loved that Book Whisperer column (which is usually true, but this one was especially good). I’ll get a link up to this round-up this morning.

  2. is it odd that I feel more well read just after reading your round-up?

    Thanks for so much good stuff to check out!
    I’m off to link, link, link
    (oh, and comment, comment, comment!)

    Happy Thanksgiving!


    1. Re: is it odd that I feel more well read just after reading your round-up?

      Thanks, Lee. It is so helpful to me to find new places and new ideas for helping kids learn to read.

  3. Thank you!

    This is, as always, a terrific roundup. And–I’m so glad you found me at bookstogether! Thank you!
    Anamaria Anderson (

  4. Thanks for all the great info. I liked reading about the read-a-thons. Interesting conversation.

  5. The Picnic Basket

    Thanks for the shout about The Picnic Basket blog which connects publishers and great books with the teachers and librarians who use them with the readers. Much appreciated — plus I’m thrilled to find your site. Hope to see you and your readers as reviewers on The Picnic Basket soon. — Deborah Sloan,

Comments are closed.