Reading Roundup, 8 December

Happy Holidays. We have just about counted up the first twelve. Boy, they’re going fast. As you probably noticed in Jen’s December 1 Children’s Literacy Roundup, we started to see a shift in how the book and literacy communities framed their discussions of reading and literacy. Little less just-the-facts-ma’am, a little more holiday cheer. It continued this week, as we have seen more emphasis on ways to share a love of reading.

Events In the Blogosphere & In Your Community

If you’re thinking about giving books as gifts, you’ll find great, very thoughtful ideas all around the lit blogosphere. Colleen Mondor is rounding up lots of our book recommendations for holiday shopping at Chasing Ray. Over at Chicken Spaghetti, Susan is keeping us in the know with all of the “Best of” lists. Get a running start with this post. If you’re still short of ideas,  MotherReader has more than 100 ideas, broken into nice 21-item bits. So go here, here, here, here, and here. Sarah’s posts at the Reading Zone about books for Twighlight-obsessed tweens and struggling readers aren’t to be missed. Over at Interesting Nonfiction for Kids, Kathleen Krull is happy to offer nonfiction suggestions for readers on your list.

Okay, so that’s lots of new books. What about those barely-been-used books we’ve been reading, reviewing, and collecting all year? Donate them! Gently used books are the perfect item to re-gift … especially children’s books, because they can help a child grow as a reader. Here are some book events that may be of interest. If you have an event or know of one, be sure to tell us about it in the comments.

  • 10 December, Beverly Hilton – Trader Vic’s Lounch. Everybody Wins! Los Angeles, a literacy non-profit, is sponsoring its Holiday of Hope Book Drive. Read this post on the Everybody Wins! USA blog to learn more.
  • Until 22 December, Charleston, SC. The Steinberg Law Firm is accepting new and gently used books to donate to Trident Learning’s literacy centers. You can read this article on the Charleston and Islands News website to learn more.
  • Until December 12, Baltimore, MD Two local organizations that support youth are selling personalized books to promote reading and fellowship. Learnmore in this announcement at
  • Whitney M. Young Jr., Health Services, Albany, NY. In addition to medical-based services for families, this organization also runs pediatric literacy program. The organization needs new or gently used books for children. Read Tom Keyser’s article for the Time Union (online) for more details.
  • Brandie Ahlgren let us know in this post (with sneak peeks) at the City Dog Magazine blog that $1.00 from every sale of the 2009 City Dog calendar goes to Reading with Rover, a nonprofit for literacy that combines, dogs, kids, and reading.
  • Ernie Garcia wrote an article about a program in Yonkers (NY) that gave 9,000 books to kids Kindergarten to third grade. The package also included materials for parents about the importance of reading. They are raising money to buy more books. You can read more details in his article on We found this via

All Wrapped Up Wrapping an empty display case didn’t start out as an event, but it has gotten everyone (read: kids) talking. Head over to Bookends to see Cindy Dobrez’ post about the Holiday-wrapped display case and see how it’s creating buzz. Very clever.

New Places to Visit

Easy Readers Blog – Anastasia Suen, author, educator, Cybils Easy Reader panel organizer, and blogger extraordinaire (6 blogs!), has created a blog just for Easy Readers. Visit Easy to Read to find books for developing readers. You’ll LOVE her blogroll categories! She helps you with fiction v. nonfiction, as well as grouping them by reader type:  early, emergent, and transitional. Be sure to stop by Kid Tested, Librarian Approved for Maureen’s interview with Anastasia.

News, Views, and Interesting Tidbits

A Gift from Both Jen and I have talked about, a website for children that celebrates reading and books, in previous Literacy Roundups. Here’s something new: Stop by the site to hear Mrs. P. read a version of O. Henry’s The Gift ofthe Magi. From their publicist to Jen: “We hope that the story brings a message of hope during this recession-heavy holiday season. Children can access the book by simply going to the site and clicking on the small pile of books at Mrs. P’s feet. Understanding the importance of reading and children, I thought you might be interested in this information.” Note: If you’re starting from scratch, it takes a couple of steps to get from the homepage to Mrs. P. reading by the fire with her pile of books.

In her Friday Afternoon Visits: December 5 edition, Jen pulled together some wonderful discussions and ideas about how we select books, gender issues and books, and reading with kids over at Jen Robinson’s Book Page. Several of the posts she mentioned are especially valuable when it comes to transforming emerging readers into highly successful ones. They’re worth repeating…

  • LiteraBuss has some advice about how to quickly determine the reading level of a book when you don’t have explicit “I Can Read” levels on the cover. The post mentions the “5 Finger Rule” (and variants) which we talked about here. Here’s the bottom line: “All the book levels in the world won’t do you any good if that child can’t pick up the book and read it.” The LiteraBuss discussion of measuring fluency (speed) v. comprehension is interesting, particularly when you read it in conjunction with this OpEd piece in the Savannah Morning News.  Author Michael Moore (no, not the director, a professor at Georgia Southern) cites a Reading First study that says “kids know phonics, but not meanings.”
  • Everyone loves to have stories read aloud, and it is a great way to engage kids in reading. Head over to the Reading Zone, to see Sarah’s ideas for books for Tweens
  • Over at The Well-Read Child, author Maxwell Eaton presents 10 Tips for the Parents of Ricky the Reluctant Reader. He use comic strip form to set out each point. [That is so Alexander Pope … which, I know, no reluctant reader would get, but it is always cool.]
  • In a guest post on the First Book blog, Tina Chovanec, manager of Reading, recommends pairing the book with a promise (or two): a promise to read together, a promise to learn together, a promise to your child’s teacher, and a promise to make the world a better place. You can read all the details (and shout-outs to great bloggers like Miss Rumphius and the PBS bookfinder) here.
  • In her newest Book Whisperer post for Education Week, Donalynn Miller uses the Twilight book/movie relationship to remind us that we’re selecting books the kids will like. Listen to their preferences, don’t superimpose yours. Two great points (connected by elipses): “If we want to encourage students to read, we must validate some of their less-than highbrow reading choices when they do … Teenagers arguing the merits of a book on a Friday night—how can we not celebrate that?”

Write On! Anabel Marsh reminds us that the National Year of Reading is coming to an end.  Read her National Year of Reading – December post at Anabel’s Children’s Literature blog to get ideas that match this month’s theme: Write the Future.

  • Look no further than Sarah’s post at the Reading Zone to learn about how writing influences a student. She cites a National Survey of Student Engagement study about how writing leads to deeper learning. Here’s a quote from the USA Today article: “The NSSE report found [that] students engage in a variety of positive activities. They are more likely to analyze, synthesize and integrate ideas from various sources. They grapple more with course ideas both in and out of the classroom. And they report greater personal, social, practical and academic development.”
  • Be sure to stop by A Year of Reading , to read Franki and Mary Lee’s post about the future of reading. They introduce us to some of the tech-oriented literacy blogs they’ve been following, and give us their thoughts on 21st Century literacies. “We love books and children’s literature. And it will always be the anchor of our work. But we can’t be comfortable being literacy teachers today without expanding our notion of what it means to be literate in the 21st Century and to learn from experts who have a different set of expertise.” Mary Lee posted an update yesterday.
  • Looking for a reading-writing gift? Then read Tricia’s post about Gifts for Readers and Writers at the Miss Rumphius Effect.

Open for Discussion Tim Shanahan had an interesting post on his Literacy Learning blog that looks at what he thinks are the gaps in President-elect Obama’s education plan. The value of the post is in the facts that it brings out about the state of literacy and education. Here’s one: “For the first time in U.S. educational history, increases in numbers of years of schooling have not led to gains in literacy attainment.” To add to the discussion, you can read about John Corcoran’s new book The Bridge to Literacy at this post on the International Reading Association blog. Maybe they should check out Susan Israel’s upcoming book about Vocabulary Lists and activities for the Pre-K to 2 classroom. We found the library card at the University of Nevada (Reno) library.

Book Safety Over at Literacy and Reading News, Brian Scott has an article about how poor literacy levels are a safety hazard for Canadian workers. He cites analysis from a Canadian Board study which concludes that “four in 10 Canadians in the working-age population do not have the literacy skills needed to perform most jobs well.”

Holiday Boredom We haven’t even wrapped gifts yet, but someone out the International Reading Association blog is already anticipating holiday boredom. In this post last week, Louise Ash suggests we keep in mind when the kids start searching for something to do.

Recent Grant Awards

  • The National Center for Family Literacy has received a $300,000 grant from the MetLife Foundation. The grant will give the NCFL a chance to “explore, enrich and create partnerships between family literacy efforts and community colleges. The goal of this new project, made possible by MetLife Foundation, is to help provide a smooth transition for students from literacy programs to higher education.” There are plenty of statistics on how graduating high school students are not ready for college and need to take remedial reading classes. We read the announcement on the NCFL blog.
  • Spread the Word – Nevada received a $10,000 grant from the Mattel Children’s Foundation. From the press release: “[This grant will allow us]to continue the mission of adopting elementary schools in the Clark County School District deemed at-risk, in order to serve the disadvantaged children and their families in southern Nevada. After the adoption, new and gently used books donated by individuals, community organizations, local businesses, and corporations are distributed to the at-risk youth. At this time, sixteen elementary schools benefit from monthly book distributions.” Read the full press release here.

Yum! Yum! The last word this week goes to Natacha Poech. The National Children’s Book and Literacy Alliance blog had a post about finding just-the-right book for kids. Natacha, a librarian and bookbuyer offers advice on selecting books. This says it all: “Think of books in terms of chocolate mousse and a Hershey Kiss. There are moments for both!”

Have a great reading week … and if you’ve got reading or book ideas, we’d love to hear them. Just leave a comment.

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