Reading Round-Up, 27 October

Go figure … I have the Reading Round-up ready to go first thingthis morning and LiveJournal kept timing out. Happy  Monday!

Given the amount of stressful, down-right awful noise filling the airwaves,  you might think the only news is bad news. Well, I am a glass-is-half-full kinda girl, so today we are sending some good news your way. Updated to fix typos … they were getting to me.

The October Carnival of Children’s Literature is up.  Jill at The Well-Read Child is hosting this month’s event. The Well-Read Child is always a good place to stop, not just at carnival time.

Bookin’ through Halloween If you’re still searching for a Halloween costume, Susan has compiled a great collection of easy-to-do, economical costumes for children’s book characters over at Wizards and Wireless. Also note that PBS is having a whole day of kids’ Halloween shows on TV. Read more at the PBS Kids website.

… Right into November
November is a big month for families, remembrance, and celebration. There is Family Literacy Month, National Adoption Month, Remembrance Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving. I’m sure we’ll have more ideas for Family Literacy Month, but you can visit the Needham Free Public Library (MA) blog for their ideas to get you started.

Biggest Book Drive Ever Online bookseller Better World Books and media-based nonprofit Invisible Children have launched The Biggest Book Drive Ever–a campaign to raise awareness among young people of the strife in northern Uganda and empower them to help students like themselves in the war-ravaged region. Read more in John Micklos’ post in Reading Today Daily, the International Reading Association blog.

Virtual Rock! Author/Illustrator Jarrett J. Krosoczka (Punk Farm, Punk Farm on Tour, et al) is staying close to home this fall, so he’s hosting a Virtual Blog Tour on his website. Go to to order a signed and personalized book. His page will be up until the end of November.


Maryland:  In Reading Today Daily,  Louise Ash wrote a post noting that there is a shortage of literacy volunteers in Maryland. She cites a Washington Post article MD Suffers Shortage of LIteracy Volunteers Affluent Montgomery County local literacy council has”about 600 tutors but needs an additional 200 to 300.”  There are more sccary statistics about the literacy gap in the article.


More Proof that Reading Matters The National Literacy trust just issued Literacy Changes Lives: An Advocacy Resource, a report about the relationship between a child’s literacy ability and their success later in life. Lots of great snippets to reinforce the need to read. Thanks to the Childhood and Education blog for the link to this and many other reports in Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Children.

Think Reading! Word Walls have been around a long time, but for those who aren’t familiar with them, Rachel Lyash has a post about Word Walls   over at Rache’ls Children’s Literature blog. She talks about their value, but also links you to some other resources that offer lesson plans and step-by-step guides for creating one at home or in your classroom. More places for reading ideas …

Getting Books Where They’re Needed Most In the last week, there have been several posts about the combined efforts of First Book (a nonprofit), Random House (a publisher), and the US Department of Education (a bureaucracy) to distribute 850,000 books donated by Random House this year. You can get a complete history of the campaign at the US Education Department website, or head to these posts at Through the Looking Glass Book Reviews and Literacy and Reading News to get the latest updated information.

Everything’s Bigger in Texas In last Tuesday’s edition of Reading Today Daily, John Micklos tells us that the Brownsville (Texas) Independent School District Wins Prize for Urban Education. The BISD has won the 2008 Broad Prize for Urban Education, and will receive $1 million in college scholarships for graduating seniors next spring. Visit the Broad Prize website to learn more.

It Takes a Village These are some of the community-minded, community-oriented stories from the past week about helping kids learn to read.

  • Louise Ash told us about Ames Elementary in St. Paul (MN) in a Reading Today Daily post. The school has turned itself around and is no longer on the “failing schools” list. In summarizing an article in the Star-Tribune (online), Ashe uses this quote: “[the school]adjusted its curriculum, stepped up efforts to connect with parents, started a Saturday school, instituted uniforms and made a cultural shift to raise children’s sights toward graduation and college.”
  • She also told us about an effort San Bernadino (CA) to help troubled teens with reading and writing. Once a week, a group of teens currently housed at a detention facility run by the probation department, meet one-on-one with a tutor from the Watson and Associates Literacy Center. The WALC is part of the College of Eduction, Cal State San Bernadino. Read the full article in The Sun (online).
  • AT&T Inc. has awarded more than $650,000 to ten educational instituteions in San Diego and Orange County (CA). The grants are part of the company’s signature initiative, AT&T Aspire; they will fund high school retention programs for at-risk learners.  Read the complete list of recipients in Brian Scott’s post at the Literacy and Reading News blog. America’s Promise Alliance calculates that 7,000 students drop out every school day. That’s one every 26 seconds.
  • Middle School librarians around the country are using galleys to help build buzz with readers about upcoming books. In Connecting kids and book galleys can boost reading, Louise Ash pulls together details from Sally Lodge’s article in Publishers Weekly. You can also read Cindy and Lynn’s thoughts (with a link) in their new Bookends blog. This week, there will probably be a run on requests for Kate DiCamillo’s 2004 Newbery-winner, The Tales of Despereaux (link to excerpt on Today Show website. It’s the current read for Al Roker’s Book Club. We don’t follow Al’s site regularly, so thanks to Omnivoracious and Paul’s End o’ the Week Kid-Lit Roundup.
  • Head over to The Best Books I Have Not Read blog for Authentic Learning -Book Bistro-Book Talk At it’s Best, an article-with-scrapbook post about ways we can engage and show kids reading is a lifelong adventure.

TV That’s Good for You If you have a child or work with kids, you probably know PBS Kids is putting a lot of emphasis on literacy and reading. Randy Astle, who is not associated with PBS Kids, wrote a very detailed post about how PBS Kids is raising readers. The post is lengthy, with information about the Ready to Learn grant, new-and-improved website activities to engage kids and their parents in promoting reading, and background about the reading-related shows from Sesame Street to Martha Speaks. You can also read Louise Ash’s article about how the PBS Kids show WordGirl spurs vocabulary growth in Reading Today Daily. On a personal note, WordGirl the show and the WordGirl page on PBS Kids online are very popular with a first grader near and dear to my heart.

It’s Not What You Know… It’s what you remember. Over at the Literacy, Families and Learning blog, Trevor Cairney has published part on of a series about reading comprehension. In his post: Teaching and Supporting Reading Children’s Comprehension (Part 1), explains why comprehension is important, as well as what it “looks like” for kids 5 and younger, and also offers ideas on how to promote comprehension through daily activities.

You Snooze, You Lose In Henry County (Alabama), rest and reading time has replaced the iconic nap. Teachers believe that they need this 30-minute period to keep up with “increasingly demanding state goals for students.” We read Louise Ash’s post in Reading Today Daily. You can read the full article, Some Schools Eliminating Naptime for Kindergarten, in the Dothan Eagle (online)

Test Scores and Books
Virginia Governor Tim Kaine has signed legislation that will add a child’s Lexile score to the Standards of Learning (SOL) tests for students in third through eighth grade. The Charlottesville Daily Progress picked up an AP summary of the Governor’s Press Release. Don’t you think it should be a little bigger than half-a-paragraph in a sidebar? Teachers and librarians … what do you think? Will it help promote reading with parents?

Online Learning
During its annual conference, the North American Council on Online Learning has issued a A Snapshot State of the Nation Study: K-12 Online Learning in Canada. We read the intro/summary in Louise Ash’s post, Report Spotlights Online Learning in Canada, for Reading Today Daily.

An Open Book
In her post at the Reading Zone, Sarah introduced us to, a new online community for those who teach reading (K to 3). On the heels of Sarah’s post, I received this article about Open Content Licensing: Understanding What Material is Legal and Safe to Use. In her piece, Katie Ash talks about Creative Commons and other programs to help teachers continue sharing, but without legal risks. It’s in the current edition of Education Week’s Digital Directions.

Do We Need More Tests? In an article in Education Week, Scott Cech tells us that College Board, the company that brings us the P/SATs, has created Readi-Step, a pre-PSAT for eight graders. The purpose is to measure a student’s progress toward college “earlier than 10th grade.” The test will debut next fall. It will be administered in school, and comprises three 40-minute multiple choice sections: critical reading, writing skills, and math. It will cost $10 per student, to be covered by already-strapped school systems … on top of all the other tests 8th graders already get to take!

In the spirit of Halloween …

I’m including my daughter’s painting of The Wild Thing from Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak.  Out of the blue, this weekend, she wanted to paint. And she surprised us with this one.