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Children's Literacy Round-Up: March 22

I am traveling this week, and so I'm giving you my community literacy round-up a bit early. Here are a few tidbits:

  • Susan at Chicken Spaghetti wrote last week about the Rabbit Hill Festival of Literature, to be held in Westport, CT March 30-April 1. She listed several exciting events, and included this endorsement: "I've attended in years past, and this is a fun and impressive literary celebration." You can find more information about the festival at http://www.rabbithillfestival.com/. Sadly, it's a bit out of my way from California. But maybe next year!
  • I enjoyed a March 17th article from NavyCompass.com about how the sailors on the USS Ronald Reagan are participating in the "United for Reading" program. I've written about this program before. Deployed armed services personnel are videotaped reading children's books aloud, and can send the tapes or DVDs to their kids (or "brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews or even the neighbor's kids"). The Navy Compass article includes quotes from program participants and organizers.
  • I was also inspired by reading two March 18th articles about Dr. Ben Carson, who spoke at the Palm Beach County Literacy Coalition's annual Love of Literacy Luncheon. Dr. Carson was the son of an illiterate mother, herself one of 13 children, who put her foot down and insisted that he think of himself as smart. Under her influence, he went on to become a top brain surgeon. I strongly recommend that you read about him in the Palm Beach Daily News and the Palm Beach Post
  • I was happy to see that the Winfield, KS Rotary Club is promoting literacy in Winfield. According to an article in the Winfield Courier, "The Winfield Rotary Club is taking steps to help every local child acquire literacy skills from birth — literally. The club is distributing a book to the parents of every child born at William Newton Hospital. Club members hope the books will encourage parents to read to the infants, leading to a lifelong love of reading for Winfield area children. The club received a grant that provides some funding for the project."
  • I also enjoyed reading a Peoria (IL) Journal Star article by Haley Murray about a recent sign language story hour, co-hosted by The Central Illinois Center for Independent Living and Barnes and Noble in Peoria. Jodi Miller, "a deaf mother of four hearing children, was asked to sign stories to the children, including Little Red Riding Hood and, her personal favorite, The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein." The goal of the program was to encourage literacy in hearing-impaired children.
  • I was less happy with this article. The Advertiser of Adelaide, South Australia published an article on March 21st about a British study showing that fathers are not reading enough to their children. "The Dymocks Literacy Foundation Survey ... found only two in five fathers read to their children." Clearly not enough, especially if we are to encourage boys to grow up as readers.
  • Finally, I recommend a March 19th column by Robert Odum in the Elmira, NY Star-Gazette about how literacy is an intrinsic human trait, but is not self-sustaining or self-starting. Mr Odum says "(l)ike any other muscle, the language muscle will waste away if it is not exercised." He proceeds to discuss methods of compensating for language deficiency in older children.

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