I have lots of children's literacy and reading-related stories for you this week:
- According to SunHerald.com, "a 17-year-old senior from Marietta, Ga., collected more than 5,300 books for a Cobb County literacy program. After dividing books between a neighborhood elementary school and a battered women's shelter, she needed to find a place for the nearly 4,300 books left." She ended up donating some 4300 books to a Mississippi elementary school that was hard-hit by Hurricane Katrina.
- The San Jose Mercury News carried a nice article recently by Julie Winkelstein encouraging parents to provide books for their kids to read on flights, instead of only using electronic devices. She says " It is not simply that they require no batteries. They also engage the imagination, increase vocabulary, entertain, ask and answer questions, foster empathy, encourage creativity, and give parents and children a chance to spend memorable time together. Books provide the perfect avenues for children to become literate, engaged, articulate and well-rounded adults." I agree. I sat next to a young teenage boy on a recent four-hour flight. He had been separated from his family. He had no book, and spent much of the flight flipping aimlessly through the in-flight magazine, before finally turning to some sort of game on his cell phone. I couldn't help thinking: "who let this 14-year-old get on a plane with nothing to read?" Tasha Saecker also wrote about this article at Kids Lit.
- Literacy News reports on a recent Power of Talk research study that found "For children between birth and age 3, the most powerful number is 30,000 -- the number of words they need to hear every day from their parents and caregivers, to ensure optimal language development and academic success". The study notes that it's input of words that matters, not output, and that these words should come from human interaction, not from watching television.
- Daphne Lee at The Places You Will Go reports on another study, this one from the Journal of Pediatrics, which "found that babies don’t benefit from watching educational videos like Baby Einstein." The point, again, is that parents should be directly interacting with and talking with their children, rather than leaving them alone in front of any video, even an educational video. Daphne also offers her defense of more interactive television-watching.
- InsideBayArea.com had a recent feature article about a new program that provides books for kids waiting in the visitor line at the Santa Rita jail (Dublin, CA). Created by librarian Lisa Harris, the Start with a Story program is staffed by volunteers. The volunteers give kids books that they can keep, and also read with the kids. Seems like a step in the right direction towards keeping kids out of jail in the future, doesn't it?
- Fidelity has partnered with Double-A baseball's Manchester Fisher-Cats to support literacy. According to a recent press release: "fans attending the team's 7:05pm home game on Monday, August 20 are invited to "step up to the plate" to promote literacy by donating their gently used children's and youth books to benefit the Nashua Police Athletic League (PAL) Youth Library. Fidelity Investments employee volunteers from the firm's Merrimack, NH Regional Center will be on hand to collect the books as well as distribute the game night giveaway, Fidelity-sponsored backpacks, to the first 2,000 children." I'm a huge fans of programs that tie together sports and children's literacy, because I think that kids look up to athletes, and emulate them, so I'm happy to hear about this program.
- According to an article in the Record-Searchlight, the Redding (CA) Library is hosting a program to give parents tips on helping their kids to become better readers. "Among the topics: what questions to ask when children have trouble understanding what they're reading; how to get children to understand reading homework; how to motivate them to read; and recommended books for parents and children to read together."
- The Elmira Star-Gazette is running excerpts this month from Jim Trelease's Read Aloud Handbook, as part of the Family Reading Partnership of Chemung Valley Need to Read series about literacy. This week's installment is about what to do when technology and reading conflict.
- The North-West Evening Mail recently carried an opinion piece lamenting the lack of affordable parent-facing baby carriages, suggesting that parents don't talk to their babies as much when the babies are facing away from them, and that this hurts eventual literacy. This does seem consistent with the "Power of Talk" research study discussed above.
- The West Australia Education Minister, Mark McGowan, is making a call to parents to read to their kids for at least 30 minutes a day. According to an article in The West Australian, "Mr McGowan has named the 12 books children must read before they turn 12 and The West Australian’s readers have the chance to agree or disagree in an online competition, which runs until next Monday." Harry Potter, as well as various classics, have made the list.
And that's it for this week. I hope that you'll find some food for thought in the above articles.