The Battle of the Labyrinth: Rick Riordan
Growing Bookworms Newsletter: Special Double Issue

Children's Literacy Round-Up: Memorial Day Edition

Wishing you all a peaceful, sunny Memorial Day. And with thanks to all of the men and women who have sacrificed to protect the United States over the years, so that we can sit outside an enjoy holidays like this. (Well, ok, I'm sitting inside on the computer, but I intend to get outside this afternoon.) Here are some recent children's literacy and reading news stories from around the wires.

  • VOA news has an article by Faiza Elmasry about a student run bookstore that is raising literacy levels in a South San Francisco middle school. "To improve students' English skills and general literacy, two English teachers have helped set up a bookstore inside the school. The store provides a variety of interesting books at affordable prices and an opportunity for students to run it themselves." The author of the article visited the store, and interviewed both students and teachers involved.
  • A recent edition of the PBS Online News Hour focused on the question of whether or not there currently exists a gender gap in education. Two experts (Linda Hallman, the executive director of the American Association of University Women, and Tom Mortenson, a senior scholar at the Pell Institute for Student of Opportunity in Higher Education) answered contributed questions, moderated by Ray Suarez. A transcript of the resulting interview can be found here (with links to the audio version).
  • Literacy and Reading News has an article by Brian Scott about the 12th Annual Summer Reading Program at Barnes and Noble, featuring Andrew Clements. "Children who take part in the program read any eight books of their own choosing, list them, and record their favorite parts of the book in their "Summer Reading with Andrew Clements" journal. They then can bring their completed journal to any Barnes & Noble to receive a coupon for a free book from a list of bestselling titles. The completed form also serves as an entry form to win a free autographed copy of an Andrew Clements book."
  • Also at Literacy and Reading News is a post about the importance of fathers in children's literacy, with content from The National Center of Family Literacy. "As Father's Day approaches, NCFL offers ... tips for fathers and families on how to teach their child by using the world around them and maximize time spent reading together", such as "Teach math skills by letting your child count the money to pay at the store".
  • The Hartford Courant has an article by Joe Milicia about the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's Toddler Rock program, which uses music to introduce preschoolers to learning. I've linked to articles about this program before (and this article is very similar), but I think it's still a neat program, if you haven't read about it before. "Letter recognition, rhyming and alliteration — all crucial to developing reading skills — are important parts of the three 10-week programs, which wrap up for the season Wednesday. So are the development of social skills and self-esteem."
  • Have you seen the Times (UK) article by Jonathan Leake that proposes that texting boosts children's literacy? According to the article, "Professor David Crystal believes that sending frequent texts helps children’s reading and writing because of the imaginative abbreviations needed. The finding is in stark contrast to fears that texting’s free forms and truncated words herald the abandonment of traditional grammar. “People have always used abbreviations,” said Crystal, honorary professor of linguistics at the University of Wales, Bangor. “They do not actually use that many in texts but when they do they are using them in new, playful and imaginative ways that benefit literacy.”" Personally, I think that jury is still out on this subject.
  • An article by Fay Burstin in the Melbourne Herald Sun (Australia) addresses late-talking children, saying: "Almost half of all those who start talking late develop language difficulties by the age of four, a University of Melbourne study of 1900 kids has found. The difficulties include learning and literacy problems at school and forming relationships with other children... Professor Sheena Reilly, lead author and speech pathologist at the Murdoch Children's Research Institute, said the study dispelled the myth that all children grew out of language problems. She urged parents to seek help early."
  • According to an article by Sally Williams on IC Wales, a UK think tank has proposed cutting school summer holidays to two weeks to boost literacy. "Children are falling behind in class because progress made during the academic year is forgotten over the long summer break, the Institute for Public Policy Research has claimed. Research suggests that pupils lose some of their reading skills during the long summer break, the Institute for Public Policy Research said. So, in a bid to boost learning, the institute is calling for the school year to be divided into five eight-week terms, with a fortnight’s holiday between each." This recommendation is, of course, controversial already.
  • A recent news release reports that a three-year regional New Zealand literacy program has had "outstanding results" for all primary school students. (Which makes me a bit suspicious - how could any program help "all students"? But anyway...) "Development West Coast invested $1.8 million into the joint research and development project, led by the Woolf Fisher Research Centre at University of Auckland, with Learning Media Ltd, 34 primary schools and several early childhood centres, University of Canterbury Education Plus and Ministry of Education. Teachers were taught how to use student achievement data to monitor and improve both their teaching and pupil learning."
  • The Connecticut Post has an article by Keila Torres about "Lee y sers, a national program to help Latino parents teach their children how to read". The program "was created by Scholastic, in collaboration with the National Council of La Raza and the Verizon Foundation. "We don't see this as a Latino issue, it's a national issue. Latino children are the fastest-growing population in the nation," said Windy Lopez, Scholastic's national manager of Lee y sers. "It's about ensuring those children have the skills they need to compete in a 21st-century economy.""
  • The Milford Daily News (Massachusetts) has a guest column by Massachusetts First Lady Diane Patrick about the importance of reading aloud to children. She says: "This summer, I am proud to join Reach Out and Read in their challenge to all Massachusetts parents to read to your child every day. By taking 20 minutes a day to sit down with your daughter in your lap and read her a story, you're not only helping her to gain a better understanding of our language, you're helping her to develop what could become a lifelong love of reading. When you read to your children, they're not thinking about the valuable lessons or the new words they're learning; they're thinking about how wonderful it is to be spending time with their parents. Later in life, they'll continue to have a positive association with reading, which can have an extraordinary impact on their education and their success in the workplace." I don't know too much about Diane Patrick, but I certainly agree with her about this.

And that's enough for today. Hope that everyone is having a wonderful weekend!