Here is some recent children's literacy and reading news from around the wires. Several of the articles describe local events for National Children's Book Week, which runs from November 12th to 18th.
- In the Modesto Bee (CA), Anne Britton says that even people who don't have children or grandchildren should care about children's literacy, because everyone in a community is affected by literacy levels. She recaps local Children's Book Week programs, concluding: "More books in more homes. That’s the goal. Watch our community soar. Give the gift of reading — it gives a child wings!" Also in California, Jo Ellen Heil recaps local Ventura Children's Book Week events in the Ventura County Star.
- In the Burlington Times (NC), librarian Heather Holley-Hall writes about the 88-year history of Children's Book Week, and notes that: "Reading encourages our kids to stretch their imaginations while developing crucial language and comprehension skills. Children whose families read to them have a much higher chance of becoming lifelong readers. Reading is a vital survival skill, too." She also shares her personal experiences in reading with her son.
- Meanwhile, Jennifer Clampet writes in The Times (Oregon) that "While libraries and schools across the country have set aside one week to celebrate Children’s Book Week this month, the Tualatin Public Library is looking forward to setting aside 3,000 square feet and dedicating every day to children’s literacy."
- The San Jose Mercury News / Resource Area for Teaching Gift of Reading program began this week. "Gift of Reading seeks to improve literacy in our community by bringing the magic of books to under-served children." Each year, the program collects and distributes thousands of new and like-new books. You can read more about the motivation behind the program in this blog post or this column by MN columnist Mike Cassidy. I have a big box of review copies (not ARCs, but finished copies) that I plan to donate to this excellent cause.
- According to a recent press release, "The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) and PBS today announced plans to launch PBS KIDS Raising Readers, a literacy initiative designed to harness the power of public media content and tools to teach literacy skills to children ages 2 to 8, especially those from low income families... included under the PBS KIDS Raising Readers umbrella will be the two interactive literacy-oriented series for preschoolers, SUPER WHY! and WORDWORLD that launched in September; new web content from SESAME STREET and BETWEEN THE LIONS; and a literacy website for parents, caregivers, teachers and kids featuring content from each of the series." Thanks to Cheryl Rainfield for the link.
- Another press release talks about a new literacy program focused on children with developmental disorders such as autism. "The Early Literacy Skills Builder (ELSB) is the result of a collaborative effort between Attainment Company and researchers at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte. It is the first and only literacy program that addresses the needs of children who are verbal and nonverbal, particularly those with autism spectrum disorders. The program is designed for children ages 5 to 10 and consists of multiple tools for educators, including CDs, DVDs, books, flashcards and even Moe, the frog puppet."
- And one final press release for this week, "For the sixth year in a row, Cheerios® is putting FIVE MILLION great children’s books free inside boxes of Cheerios cereal, as part of its sixth annual Cheerios® Spoonfuls of Stories® program, kicking off during National Children’s Book Week, November 12 to 18, 2007. In addition, Cheerios is again working with First Book, an award-winning children’s literacy nonprofit, to give a year’s worth of children’s books to 50 reading programs serving disadvantaged children across the country." Five Simon & Schuster titles have been selected for this year's program, including one that will be printed in both English and Spanish. "The books, which are specially sized to fit inside cereal boxes, feature all the original content and illustrations. Families can see which book is in the box through a special cut-out window on the front of the box ~ so they can pick the exact book they want, or collect all five titles."
- According to a Christian Science Monitor article by Amanda Paulson, newly released census data (part of the Child Well-Being Index) shows that parents are reading more to their children. "The data also found increases in the percentage of children who are read to at least seven times a week -- from 48 percent to 53 percent of children aged 1 to 2 -- and there were increases for children both below and above the poverty line." The article cautions that the census data is based on self-reporting, but I still think it's some slight cause for encouragement. Of course it would be better if 100% of children were read to every day. But we have to start somewhere. Thanks to Jason from Kim and Jason for the link.
- The Hutchinson Leader (MN) has a nice feature article by Kiza Olson about the importance of reading with children. It says things like "If you want to help children develop their reading skills, understand what they are reading and learn to love reading."
- In an article for The Age (Australia), Ian Whitehead proposes that children may be doing poorly in school because of too much emphasis on the basics, and not enough effort to make learning fun. He asks: "Could it be the most effective primary school teachers spend not more, but less time on formal exercises? What if the most dynamic classrooms, those places where kids want to be, were not focused primarily on performance, but on the love of learning?" Interesting stuff!
How will you celebrate National Children's Book Week? I'll be attending the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) conference later in the week, and celebrating children's books and reading there.