Reading Roundup, 5 January

Happy New Year! It feels good (if not a little overwhelming) to be back in the office. Catherine was very excited to head back to school this morning. She thought that since it is a new year, then she must be in a new grade. Oh, to have a first grader’s sense of time! Like the rest of us, she is charged by that internal clock that says “it’s time for a fresh start.”

As I mentioned in my New Year’s resolutions post, bloggers within the Lit-blogosphere are energized and posting lots of fresh ideas for reading, reviewing, and blogging about books in 2009. In the kidlitosphere (since I follow that most closely), great things come from the conversations on our blogs. I created a Mr. Linky at the resolutions post as an informal way to pull some of that energy together. So please stop by and add your post.

While we were away enjoying some time with our families, Jen Robinson and I were still collecting news and ideas. The good news is that reading and literacy news was fairly minimal until late last week. Some of the items may be from December, but we kept them because they have a “timeless” quality. So here’s the first Reading Round-up for 2009.

Book Your Resolutions – Over at Literacy Learning, Timothy Shanahan offers his recommended “resolutions” for the incoming Secretary of Education. If you’re looking for something on a little bit smaller scale, and haven’t quite decided on your reading or book goals for the year, you may find some inspiration here:

Raising Readers – Whether you’re looking for book ideas or need a few statistics to get you started, here are some places that offer support to your effort to read with your kids.
  • Check out this poem about reading to preschoolers by Richard Peck posted at the 4IQRead blog.
  • BookDads has all reasons you need for reading with your kids every day. This Focus on Reading post draws statistics  from FirstBook, a national literacy non-profit, offers ideas, and links you to other articles. Also on BookDads, Chris Robertson also has a post with tips for choosing children’s books and activities that make reading fun for your child.
  • The MotherDaughter Book Club reminds us that reading together doesn’t break down along gender lines. Their post Dads can read with their daughters, too, links us to Dad’s Playbook: Coaching Kids to Read, an eBook published by the Partnership for Reading, a program of the National Institute for Literacy.
  • Stop by FirstBook to get ideas for bedtime stories in this post about sharing the magic of bedtime stories. So far, 755 people added their favorite bedtime story in this tie-in activity with Disney’s newly released Bedtime Stories movie. For comments collected between 19 to 25 December, Disney Publishing Worldwide will donate 1 new book to kids in need. Comments continue to roll in … since Disney pledged up to 250,000 books, maybe a few more comments would encourage them to extend the deadline.
  • Best Books I Have Not Read has just published a list of read-aloud books for intermediate-age (grades 4,5,6) students.

Inspired Reading – In December, author Sara Lewis Holmes published an open letter, asking us to participate in her effort to build a library of camp and horse-related books for Flying Horse Farms, “a magical, transforming and fun camp for children with serious illnesses and their families.” This is a personal story, as Sara’s neice has been battling cancer for more than two years, and has filmed a video for Flying Horse Farms. Shelly Burns (Write for a Reader ) posted the full letter, with its ways you can help

Global Trends – With some help from their friends in Cuba and Venezuela, Bolivia begins 2009 as an “illiteracy free” nation. According to the UNESCO standard, if 96% of the population 15 and older can read and write, the country is certified as illiteracy free. Now THAT’s a resolution! or was it a revolution?

Teens Read – In Thiells, New York, kids waiting to see a doctor at Haverstraw Pediatrics can enjoy a good story. Amanda Van Ryn (14) organized a community service project where teens from North Rockland Schools will be reading books with preschoolers and giving them books. Amanda organizes the volunteers, Reach out and Read provides the books. Amanda says: “There’s a lot of kids that come into kindergarten and prekindergarten without any prereading skills and not much English … At first, we just wanted to start it so we could give books out to kids, but then we realized the program Reach Out and Read was already started.” We saw the post on the International Reading Association (IRA) blog, and read more details in the article Teen Working to link Doctors, Preschool Literacy at

  • If you’re thinking about creating your own pediatric literacy program, check out this grant initiative. From the ALSC blog: “Nordstrom, Friends of Libraries USA (FOLUSA) will be granting 20 grants for $500 each to match $1,000 raised by selected Friends groups, women’s groups, libraries, and other non-profit organizations for purchasing Books for Babies kits from FOLUSA.” Applications are due by 1 April 2009.
  • Check out the Oce Future Authors project. As a result of this community project, 45 middle and high school students from 15 different School District of Palm Beach County (Florida) schools realize their dreams to become published authors. Their works of poetry, short stories and essays have been published in a book they named Confessions of a Teenage Author. Learn more about the event and the summer writing workshop here.

Screen Reading – Over the past few weeks there have been a few posts about the dynamics of reading on screen. In December, Tricia (Miss Rumphius Effect) wrote Changing Views on Reading, opened the discussion on reading v. digital literacy, by linking to Christine Rosen’s article “People of the Screen” in The New Atlantis. Also in December, Anne Mangen, of the Center for Reading Research (University of Stavanger, Norway) published a study about how the mechanics of reading on a screen (e.g., manipulating a mouse) interrupts our reading patterns. [The IRA blog has a summary post of Mangen’s report, and you can read the full story in the December 22, 2008 edition of Science Daily.] Yesterday, Trevor Cairney has pulled the analysis of two other researchers [Jakob Nielsen and Mark Bauerlein] in his post Online Reading is Different at his Literacy, Families and Learning blog. Cairney’s suggests that discussions about how we read and how computers are changing our reading are important. His thoughts are worth setting out …

“I don’t want to blame the Internet for leading readers away from ‘close’ reading. This is my point of departure from many who focus only on the dangers of the Web; it’s what we do with the web that counts. What is critical is how parents and teachers support children as they encounter and use the Internet. The real challenge of the Internet is that its use both reflects the busy pace of life, while in turn influencing the pace with which we process information and the way we communicate (see my previous post on loss of family time here). There is a real danger that we will read less texts that are rich in language and content and will rely instead on emails, text messages, tweets and so on.”

It is particularly interesting to think about reading, literacy, and technology in the context of a new study that concludes that phonological awareness is a strong predictor of reading disability when evaluated in Kindergartners and first graders. The full study is published in the Learning Disabilities Research & Practice journal. We read Brian Scott’s excerpt in this post for Literacy and Reading News. There is also an interesting piece about blogs and social networks as tools for collaborative learning in this post at Literacy and Reading News.

Graphic Reading – Laura Hudson’s article “Comics in the Classroom” (Publisher’s Weekly, 22 December 2008), offers a nice introduction to the evolution of comics books to graphic novels. Although the emphasis of her piece is whether or not comics publishers will be able to capitalize on the growing interest, she offers some anedotal information about visual literacy and what teachers want to use graphic novels in their classrooms.

Everybody Wins! I love that name. Everybody Wins is a nonprofit literacy and mentoring organization with “chapters” in various cities. Everybody Wins! New York, is launching Family Read, a new reading and literacy programs designed to reach the most disadvantaged children in the Ocean Hill-Brownsville area of Brooklyn. “The Family Read project is funded by a generous grant from University of Phoenix, which will also collaborate with EVERYBODY WINS! and the Knowledge Network Learning Support Organization to design and build the programs’ training modules, supply online and library resources, and provide community outreach.” See more in this Literacy and Reading News post.

Scholarships and Grants

Deadline: April 2009 – American Fire Sprinkler Association, based in Dallas, TX, sponsors the AFSA National Scholarship contest. High school seniors are eligible to win a $2,000 scholarships for reading an essay about sprinklers and fire safety and answering a 10-question quiz. Read more in Brian Scott’s post for Literacy and Reading News.

Deadline: unclear – has just launched three new scholarship opportunities for high school seniors. The scholarships are theme based, open to all high school students, and involve video work. Students must create a film that shows their talent and why they are “more than a grade.” A new contest, for the best overall video in any category, will award $20,000 to the winner. You can get a quick summary of the contest in this Literacy and Reading News post.

Grant Awarded: The Mattel Children’s Foundation awarded a $10,000 grant to Spread the Word Nevada, a children’s literacy project. The grant will allow the organization to adopt more elementary schools in the Clark County School District deemed at-risk, in order to serve the disadvantaged children and their families in southern Nevada. Read more at the Literacy and Reading News blog.


Elaine Magliaro (Wild Rose Reader ) put together a post that presents the guidelines, position statements, and blog posts most viewed this year (I mean in 2008). It is worth bookmarking for handy reference and more leisurely reading.

The Book Whisperer listed her five favorite rabbit holes. What are they? Gotta go over to find out. One hint: Jen Robinson’s Book Page is one of them. Yeah Jen!

If you’re starting the new year by reaching out to new sites/blogs, check out this page of Top Sites in Children’s Awards and Bestsellers at You might also check out the January calendar over at … just 3 days until Elvis’ birthday. What shall we read in his honor?

Thanks to Jennifer at Jean Little Library for this post about It’s an easy way to learn about new releases of your favorite author, music artist, and actor.

Stop by the Northfield (MA) Public Library blog and its treasure-trove of blogroll links. This recent post takes you to Chorion, a website with lists of links to children’s book sites and best-loved characters, like Paddington, and authors, like Eric Carle.

If you’re a regular reader at Best Books I Have Not Read, you’ve already seen this post about LiteratureMap. This is a really cool tool. If you have a particular author, you can map him/her in relation to other authors. You can also list three authors you like and GNooks can introduce you to a fourth writer based on your input.

One of my resolutions for the new year is to stay out of the office on the weekends. I may move the Round-ups to Tuesday to compensate, because I know there are more gems among the 200 posts sitting in my reader. More than likely, Jen will pick up some of those in her mid-week visits. Thank goodness for collaboration!

3 responses to “Reading Roundup, 5 January

  1. Great stuff, Terry! And I certainly support you staying out of the office on weekends. I’ll bet Catherine does, too. And yes, I do hope to keep up my weekly visits posts, so I can always sneak in extra literacy links there (especially things from the blogs, there’s a lot of cross-over).

    Here’s to another year of raising readers!

  2. Thank you so much for helping get the word out about the Flying Horse Farms library! Emily and I deeply appreciate it.


      The site you mentioned,, went down, but is now back up as

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