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Growing Bookworms Newsletter: June 17, 2008

Children's Literacy Round-Up: June 17

I'm a bit late with this week's children's literacy and reading news round-up, and Terry from the Reading Tub has scooped some of the articles that I was going to mention in her latest Reading Round-Up, so you should definitely head over and read that. But I still have some other news for you here, too:

  • Toasted Coconut Media sent me the link to TV segment about summer reading. They said: "Hot Tips from Cool Authors: How to Keep Kids Reading this Summer" — a WABC-TV segment that aired on Sunday morning. The short clip takes a small, medium, large approach— Jane O'Connor (Fancy Nancy) gives tips for the young readers, MAC (Anna Smudge: Professional Shrink) advises the 9-12 crowd, and Scott Westerfeld (Uglies) saves teens from summer boredom. Jane and Scott are of course NY Times Bestsellers; and MAC is an "up & comer" who recently sold out of her debut novel at its sneak preview during NY Comic Con." You can find the video here (and on the many other blogs that have already written about this). There's also a nice post with summer reading tips (in text format) at MAC's blog.
  • Lots of people (including Terry's post mentioned above) have reported on the recently released Scholastic study about children's reading habits. I first read about the study in this USA Today article by Greg Toppo. Greg said: "About one in four say they "have trouble finding books that I like," a breathtaking admission in the age of chain bookstores, librarians' blogs and blockbuster children's series such as Harry Potter." I was shocked by that statistic, too. But a cool thing is that there have been more than 50 comments to date on the article, which shows that a lot of people (outside of the sometimes self-referential children's book blogging community) are concerned about this topic. See also the Publisher's Weekly article by John A. Sellers about the report (which I found via Monica Edinger). There is good news in the report, including these conclusions highlighted by PW: "It (the study) also found that although children can readily envision a future in which reading and technology are increasingly intertwined, nearly two thirds prefer to read physical books, rather than on a computer screen or digital device. Additionally, a large majority of children recognize the importance of reading for their future goals, with 90% of respondents agreeing that they “need to be a strong reader to get into a good college.”"
  • At Public School Insights, Claus von Zastrow rounds up some new public education success stories posted at their site. I especially liked "Bending Bureaucracy to Kids' Needs in Great Neck."
  • The Independent shares recommendations from US educational psychologist Robert Slavin, who recently "arrived in the UK to head up the newly formed Institute for Effective Education at York University." "Success for All (Slavin's program) promotes early educational success for children, particularly those from deprived backgrounds, by concentrating on basic literacy... Success for All uses phonics, setting, regular assessment and paired learning to ensure that all children get a good start in school and no one is left behind".
  • The Boston Globe ran a feature by Dennis Fisher about a recent visit by Henry Winkler to a Boston-area bookstore. Here's the opener: "Henry Winkler is still the coolest guy in the room. But as he strides into Porter Square Books on a recent Sunday evening, that aura has nothing to do with his ability to start a jukebox with one well-placed whack and everything to do with his gift for making hundreds of anxious, self-conscious kids feel like they're the cool ones." Doesn't that make you want to read the rest? There is no doubt in my mind that Winkler really cares about helping kids with dyslexia.
  • The Washington Post reports, in an article by Michael Alison Chandler and Maria Glod, that more schools are trying out separation by gender in the classroom. "The approach is based on the much-debated yet increasingly popular notion that girls and boys are hard-wired to learn differently and that they will be more successful if classes are designed for their particular needs."
  • Speaking of girls and boys learning differently, Reading Rockets recently highlighted a 2004 article from their website by Jane McFann about boys and books. It's a very comprehensive article, and I recommend it for parents entering the summer reading season. See also the fabulous Reading Rockets 2008 Summer Reading list. The list is grouped by age range, and also includes an audio book section.
  • Via a Tucson Citizen article by Anne T. Denogean, "Tucsonan Martha Gilliland is on the verge of fulfilling a longtime dream. And while doing so, she's hoping to help others fulfill theirs. Gilliland, 63, will have arrived in Africa by the time this is published to climb the continent's highest peak, Mount Kilimanjaro. She has turned her climb into a fundraising effort - "To Kilimanjaro for the Right to Read and for Democracy" - for Literacy Volunteers of Tucson." Story via the International Reading Association blog.
  • According to this article in Dispatch Online (South Africa) "about half of South Africa’s children – 53 percent – have never owned a book. In contrast, 57 percent of households own a TV." The gist of the article is that adult illiteracy levels in the country "would not be so high if a culture of reading had been instilled in young children – even in the poorest communities. Even if parents cannot afford to buy books and other reading material such as newspapers, an effective library system, which young children are encouraged to make use of, could help children read themselves into literacy and out of poverty." The article discusses planned initiatives to increase literacy in the country.

Hope you find some of these articles of interest. Happy reading!