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Growing Bookworms Newsletter: February 19, 2008

Children's Literacy Round-Up: February 19

Here is some literacy and reading news from around the wires and blogs.

  • Education Week looks in-depth into "concerns that money-for-achievement programs actually decrease students’ intrinsic motivation to learn and send mixed messages about studying." Thanks to the International Reading Association blog for the link.
  • Tamara Fisher's latest Unwrapping the Gifted column at Teacher Magazine is a veritable treasure trove of links related to gifted students and gifted education.
  • School Library Journal's Extra Helping has an article by Debra Lau Whelan about a recent study that found that found that UK kids think that reading is cool. For instance: "kids are quite proud to be labeled as readers, with 71 percent saying the description fits them just fine." The International Reading Association blog has the link to the full report.
  • The Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune has an article by Steve Shank in the business forum section about the importance of children's literacy in Minnesota, from a business perspective. The gist is "If even a single child graduates from school unable to read, we should be concerned. But when our population of school-age children is shrinking and so many of them are at risk for illiteracy, we should call it what it is -- a national crisis in the making. Changes are needed, and they are needed quickly."
  • The Hub (Campaign for Quality School Libraries in Australia), reports that "Elementary students in Ontario are going to get extra help reading and learning in their school libraries. Ontario will provide school boards across the province with an additional $40 million over the next four years to hire about 160 more library staff." They give two thumbs up to Dalton McGuinty, Premier of Ontario, and I agree. Seems like every week there is encouraging reading and/or literacy news out of Canada.
  • The Canberra Times (Australia) has an opinion piece by Ilana Snyder that classifies the current media debates over literacy education as "the literacy wars." Snyder says: "At the heart of these battles are competing definitions of literacy... My view is that both psychological and social understandings of literacy are useful for teaching and learning purposes but that is not the point here. There is no single, correct definition of literacy that would be universally accepted. This lack of agreement about what literacy is helps explain the conflict between the conservatives who want to preserve valued traditions and the literacy teachers who are caught somewhere between the legacy of the past and the imperative to prepare children for the demands of the future." It's an interesting discussion.
  • The Age (Australia) has an article by Elisabeth Tarica about a program developed by a teacher from Victoria, Maggie Goodes, who has developed a program "to help teachers better understand and communicate with struggling students." Goodes has been using the program to help underachieving middle schoolers in New York City. The article includes a list of tips for helping an older child with reading. I especially liked this one: "Encourage teenagers to read easy books to younger children and siblings. Struggling readers can see themselves as successful readers when they read to younger children. They can easily read this type and level of text, and it can be rewarding for both them and the younger children." Thanks to Kelly Herold for the link.
  • As another idea for helping older children with reading, see this post at Literate Lives, about a parent-child book club. See also this post by Janet at PaperTigers, about how to help children grow into life-long readers. Janet is seeking to compile reader suggestions on this important topic.
  • The Menasha Public Library in Wisconsin is launching a program called 1000 Books Before Kindergarten, to encourage parents to read aloud 1000 books with their children before they start school. Read more in this Appleton Post-Crescent column by Kathy Walsh Nufer. The Kidlitosphere's own Tasha Saecker from Kids Lit is the director of the Menasha Public Library, though Tasha is not quoted in the article.

And that's it for this week. Happy reading to all!