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Children's Literacy Round-Up: Marc Brown, Ken Follett, Hockey, and Teacher Pay for Performance

Here's the recent children's literacy and reading-related news that particularly caught my eye:

  • According to a recent press release, "Sixty-one percent of low-income families have no books for their children,* widening the gap in reading achievement among children in communities nationwide. To combat children's literacy problems in Hartford, the CIGNA Foundation will make a $39,000 grant to the Children's Literacy Initiative (CLI) for the Blueprint for Early Literacy (R) pilot project... The Blueprint for Early Literacy (R) will bring CLI professionals to pre-kindergarten classrooms at the Kinsella School, 245 Locust St. and the Little Angels School, 75 Zion St. to train and coach teachers as effective literacy educators." "
    * The Literacy Crisis: False Claims, Real Solutions, 1998"
  • According to Literacy News, "The Advertising Council and the Library of Congress have launched a new series of public service advertisements (PSAs) developed to inspire young people to "explore new worlds" through reading and to promote literacy in all types of learning, including books, periodicals and cartoons."
  • A Telegraph article by Graeme Paton says that child literacy rates in the UK are below government targets, though slightly higher than last year's rates. The gap between children in poor areas and children in wealthier areas has not narrowed, however.
  • The Tampa Bay Business Journal has an article about a program in which lawyers, judges, and law students tutor children at local elementary schools. "The program is dedicated to keeping kids in school and out of the juvenile system by helping third-graders with below-average reading skills prepare for the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test and pass the third grade." The idea is that children with below-average reading levels are more likely to end up in legal trouble as adults. The lawyers try to help them early on, so that don't get into trouble later.
  • New has an interesting opinion piece about rethinking pay for performance for teachers. It says: "In NSW (Australia), as in the United States, we need to face up to the issues of teacher quality, performance and remuneration. In other professions, those who are more effective or take on more difficult tasks are rewarded. In the teaching profession, the fixed pay system rewards seniority, not performance, and teachers max out their salary by their mid-thirties." A government report in Australia "recommended that steps be taken to improve the remuneration of teachers so as to raise the profession’s entry standard and retention rates by providing incentives."
  • According to Herts 24 (UK), "BEST-selling author Ken Follett is backing a campaign to link sport with increased literacy." The idea is to have children from primary schools in Stevenage the chance to write, and have published, articles about sports. Follett hopes that the program will get students reading and writing.
  • In other books and sports news, according to the Bakersfield Californian, fans who brought new or gently used children's books to a local preseason hockey game could get terrace sets for a dollar. "All books donated at Saturday's game will go to My First Library, a drive organized by The Californian to provide books for hundreds of children who might not otherwise have books of their own."
  • The Chillicothe Gazette (Ohio) has an article about a local program that works to promote literacy in underprivileged children by encouraging their parents to converse with them more. Current efforts of the program will focus on "storytelling and showing parents how to tell stories to their children, and not just ones in books."
  • The Marquette Mining Journal (Michigan) has an article about a visit by author Marc Brown to Northern Michigan University. Brown "credited his three children, now adults, with inspiring most of the plots of his “Arthur” books... Discussing the importance of reading and literacy, Brown noted that one-third of 4- to 6-year-olds spend an hour or more a day at a computer, often playing video games, and that almost 90 million adults in the United States are functionally illiterate. He said he is disturbed by the declining sales of picture books ... (and) that many parents are more interested in pushing their children to read above their grade level than in teaching them to read for the sheer pleasure of reading." He also "cited the flood of “dreadful” celebrity-penned children’s books as another detriment to literacy." I wish I could have been there.

Happy reading to all!