Welcome to the November edition of the Tools for Reading and Literacy. This is a monthly “annex” to the Literacy and Reading News Roundup that Terry writes with Jen Robinson (Jen Robinson’s Book Page) and Carol Rasco (Rasco from RIF). In each issue you will find links to articles, websites, and online tools that facilitate the processes of reading and learning. Whether the information is recently published or a couple years old, it’s new to her and may be new to you. Enjoy!
When I saw that @HesedBooksGifts started following us on Twitter, I visited them and scrolled through some of their tweets. That’s how I found Bella Libreria, the blog of a self-described “twenty-something blogger fresh from school.” The BL chick is “Dusting off the shelves and Experiencing the Magic of the Written Word.” Check out her post filled with fun bookmarks.
LazyReaders.com is home to the Lazy Readers Book Club. Whether you are looking for an adult, young adult, or children’s books … and want one that is 250 pages (or less), then stop by. Dr. Danny Brassell created The Lazy Readers’ Book Club to offer short book recommendations for those who feel they do not have the time to read. From the home page: “My mission is to increase interest in reading by providing cool, short book recommendations for all ages. From interest comes devotion.” Thanks to @WordToons for the introduction.
Here’s another new-to-me social reading site: TheReadingRoom.com. Caroline McLean, Product Director for the company introduced me to the site in an Email. She describes theReadingRoom.com as a social community of more than 70,000 Unique Browsers, 34,000 active members and an average duration on the site of 6mins, well above industry standards. “100% of our audience is only interested in books.” I liked the simplicity of the layout, the front-page access to Google previews of books, and one-click access to read free books.
And another … As part of its 90th anniversary celebration, Scholastic has launched You Are What You Read, a new global social networking site for readers. When you log on to www.youarewhatyouread.com you’ll be asked to list the five books that had the biggest impact on their lives. You’ll also be able to connect with other readers through these shared “Bookprints.” The site also contains the Bookprints of more than 130 “Names You Know” – notable people from entertainment, academia, business, media, publishing, and more. That’s nice, but what grabbed me is that there is also a SEPARATE community for young readers with “kid-friendly information about books and other activities.”
I am a big fan of WorldCat, so when I got an email that they’ve increased the level of detail for more than 250,000 pop and classical music entries, I was tickled … music and books go well together! WorldCat has partnered with allmusic.com and Rovi so that WorldCat users will know more about the music they’re looking at, see the cover art; get song titles, composers, and track times; and track picks, ratings and reviews. Those are just THREE of the new features. Check it out.
For the last post in my pre-Halloween series “Now THAT’s Scary,” I talked about dyslexia, dysgraphia, and dyscalculia. Each of these are learning disabilities that affect how readers process printed information. In the mid-October edition of Digital Directions (Education Week), Katie Ash has an article about how schools are testing eReaders (Kindle, Nook, iPad, Intel Reader) as a tool for helping dyslexic students. It’s still too early to draw any conclusions, but based on the anecdotal examples Katie provides, the potential seems incredible.
Resources for Kids
FictFact.com is another find-a-book site that lets readers and readers-to-be track down a series. They can find and create a queue for all the books in a series (they aren’t always easily numbered), get notices when new books are released or added, organize all the series you’ve read or are reading, and also create a public profile for sharing books.
Barnes & Noble has launched a B&N Kids Club. Unlike it’s member cards, this is FREE! Of course, they are hoping that you’ll buy books ($5 reward for every $100), but they also offer fun, free stuff, too. There are activity pages you can download; free cupcake or cookie on your child’s birthday; and a free gift from TikaTok. They also have online read-alouds of beloved children’s books. This month it is Maurice Sendak reading Where the Wild Things Are.
Resources for Parents
My thanks to Carol Rasco for passing along her discovery of Anita Silvey’s Book-a-Day Almanac. It may be my browser, but it takes a couple clicks to get it to come up right, but oh man is it worth it. She describes this as a “daily love letter to a book or author.” In addition to offering details about a book and who the right audience is, there is also a calendar of events and trivia for each day, as well. For example, did you know yesterday was National Author’s Day … and has been since 1929, when it was adopted by the National Federation of Women’s Clubs?
At various times over the past few years, this query has come into the Kidlitosphere Yahoo! Group: Help! I am looking for content-appropriate books for my 7-year-old who reads well above grade level. In the past everyone pitched in with their recommendations … now we have a blog: The Little Gifted Reader. Guatemama2000 (aka Valerie) started the blog as a way to share (and catalog) the collections of books she’s gotten for her now 10-year-old daughter.
Books that Heal Kids is another resource I’ve discovered through the Kidlitosphere Yahoo! group. Roxanne is an elementary school counselor and is passionate about bibliotherapy in its purest sense. Whatever you’re child may be feeling – or you may be feeling and want your child to understand – Roxanne probably has a book for that. She has her tag front and center in the left top corner. Definitely worth checking out!
Also be sure to check out this 8-minute video called Raising Readers by Jean Ciborowski Fahey, Ph.D, Education Director of the South Shore Hospital Reading Partnership in Weymouth, Massachusetts and Family Literacy Consultant to the Massachusetts Department of Education. The video is packed with real-life examples s of ways to incorporate literacy into everyday activities. The tune is catchy, the demonstrations are great, and the video illustrates building literacy in other languages, too. (via @kctherapist)
Resources for Educators
Shmoop Online SAT Prep uses kids’ favorite video games (Oregon Trail, Tetris, and Mario Brothers ) as the basis for its test-prep services. The games are “metaphors for various challenges that students will face (and overcome!) on the SAT.” Because Shmoop is a digital curriculum compan, it understands that SAT test preparation needs to include reading, writing, math, and test-taking strategies. Users have access to 500 vocabulary words; 1,000 practice problems in reading, writing, and math; three full-length interactive practice exams; and in-depth review topics. There is also a reward system, and kids can earn Shmoop points (called Shmoints) for top scores. (via Extra Helping, School Library Journal newsletter)
It was bound to happen … and Central Michigan University has beat everyone to the punch. They have created and are teaching the first university iPad literacy course. This is a a pilot course on the potential and uses of the iPad to make sure students/users are getting the most out of it. Think they give you one or is ownership a course prerequisite. I can dream, can’t I? (Cult of Mac blog via RSSOwl)
This from ReadWriteWeb: Open-source publishing platform Omeka has announced today the launch of hosted Web service Omeka.net. While similar in some ways to the content management system provided by WordPress, Omeka is geared towards the online exhibition of library, museum and archive collections. “Omeka is aimed at helping bring academic scholarship and cultural heritage sites to the Internet. By using Omeka.net, scholars and archivists will be able to easily build digital exhibits and publish digital scholarship, while also taking advantage of Web 2.0 tools that foster collaboration and communication.” Can you imagine the possibilities? (via RSSOwl)