Here is some recent children's literacy and reading related news from around the blogs and newspapers. It's been a while since my last round-up, and I have many interesting stories for you.
PBS recently launched the PBS KIDS Island website, a reading resource with games, activities, and more for preschoolers and their parents, teachers, and caregivers. The new site is part of the Ready to Learn initiative. "Funded by the United States Department of Education, the Ready To Learn initiative creates engaging television programs, exciting games, playful Web sites, and easy-to-use learning resources for kids, parents, caregivers, and teachers—all with the goal of helping children ages 2 to 8 get ready to read."
School Library Journal is hosting a free webcast event on October 8th about Capturing Struggling and Reluctant Readers. "This informative webcast will bring together a panel of experts in reading, media center services, and children’s literacy, including school librarians, educators, and a representative from Capstone Press and Stone Arch Books to cover a range of processes, programs, and ideas that can bolster reading skills, comprehension, and literacy in the K-6 library and classroom."
The National Center for Family Literacy's blog, Literacy Now, has a recap from Sharon Darling of the White House Symposium on Advancing Global Literacy. Also, as part of the Symposium, "The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has announced a grant of more than $2 million to support the new United Nations Literacy Decade Fund to Advance Global Literacy at the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization." I learned about the latter at the International Reading Association blog.
Also via the IRA blog, "The Center for the Book in the Library of Congress and the Read It LOUD! Foundation have formed a partnership to encourage parents and other caregivers to read to their children daily. The goal of the partnership is to inspire 5 million parents and caregivers to read daily to their children by 2014... The Read It LOUD! program will be advertised in shopping malls throughout the United States, through websites, in libraries, and at other locations."
Cynthia Leitich Smith writes about the opening of the 16th Ethiopia Reads library at Cynsations. "These libraries are used by students, teachers and school directors, providing a safe and inviting environment for study and reading. On average, Ethiopia Reads opens one new library every month, bringing books into the lives of thousands of children." Kirby Larson also responds to the Ethiopia Reads announcement, and encourages people to donate.
Via the International Reading Association blog, "The new Frances Mottey Beck Middle-School "Ah-Ha" Reading Award is presented in recognition of a middle-school educator or team of educators who has designed an effective, replicable program for advancing reading/literacy. The award, which consists of a cash payment of $2,000, was established in 2008."
The Children's Book Council has launched a new website for the National Ambassador for Young People's Literature. I learned about this from a School Library Journal article. You can also download the way cool National Ambassador Bookmark in PDF, courtesy of Cheerios, with five reading tips from Jon Scieszka. And speaking of Jon Scieszka, this Publishers Weekly article about his role at the National Book Festival is hilarious. Thanks to Monica Edinger for the previous link. See also a Detroit Free Press article by Erin Podolsky and a Salt Lake Tribune article by Julie Checkoway about Scieszka.
The Southeast Missourian has an article by Lindy Bavolek about how author Jack Gantos "encourages children to love reading". "Often, teachers and librarians said, it only takes one special book to spark an interest. "It's the old saying of putting the right book in the right hands at the right time. It worked for me," Gantos said."
BBC News reports the discovery of a genetic variant that may be responsible for poor reading ability. "The variant, carried by more than one in seven people, has already been associated with dyslexia. Tests by the University of Oxford found people carrying the key sequence tended to perform worse than average in tests of their reading ability."
Also via BBC News, "Every primary one pupil in North Lanarkshire is to be given a whiteboard and magnetic letters as part of a drive to boost literacy skills... Research showed that the reading age of children taking part in that scheme was five months ahead of other youngsters. The whiteboards are said to enhance the learning of word building, phonics, sentence making and spelling as children can move the letters about putting words and sounds together."
According to a Gazette.net article (Maryland) by Jason Tomassini, "A Silver Spring nonprofit organization has released a report examining challenges facing minority students and parents in the county public school system and offering recommendations to help close the achievement gap in a racially, ethnically diverse population." Several of the reports recommendations include strategies for improving literacy.
There is a great article by Dr. Robin Reesal in the Calgary Herald about the mental health benefits of reading. Dr. Reesal discussed reading as treatment, social integration, empowerment, technology, reading and family, and money vs. reading and education. The article concludes with some concrete suggestions. I found this article via Rose's Reading Round-Up at the First Book Blog (Rose was also kind enough to mention the Cybils).
There are also apparently physical benefits to reading. Time reports on a Duke University (where I did my undergrad) study that "finds that the simple act of reading — depending on the choice of material — can spur weight loss in tween-age girls... The idea behind the study, says Dr. Sarah Armstrong, a pediatrician and director of Healthy Lifestyles, was to find a way to motivate the girls without adopting the restrictive and often authoritative voice of so many other nutrition and diet programs."
Yesterday was Jumpstart's third annual Read for the Record campaign. Literacy and Reading News has the details, like: "An early morning reading with NBC's TODAY Show co-host Matt Lauer featured a special White House reading with First Lady Laura Bush. The TODAY Show also featured Jumpstart Honorary Spokesperson LL Cool J, Jesse McCartney, Greg Kinnear, Maria from Sesame Street, and Mary-Louise Parker." See also the New York Times article. This year's book was Corduroy.
Michael Grant and Katherine Applegate have a new blog called Stupid Blog Name (I'm not sure why it's called that). Michael just had an interesting post about what he sees as the future of books (free, paperless, and advertising supplemented). I love the physical presence of books too much to be excited about this prediction, but I can see his reasoning.
At The Miss Rumphius Effect, Tricia calls into question a recently released list from Diane Petryk Bloom of the Norfolk Examiner: "The 25 Best Picture Books for Children." I was especially taken by Tricia's point that "The oldest book on this list was published in 1909. The most recent in 1995. Have no new "classics" or best books been published in the last 13 years? I wonder ..."
Barbara Shoup (author of Everything You Want, which I just read and loved) has an interesting post today about her work (with Lyn Jones) doing "a writing workshop at the Girls’ School, Indiana’s Correctional Facility for young women." Barbara and Lyn prepared print and oral anthologies of the girls' writing, and she talks of how great it was "to see the slow smiles dawn on their faces as they leafed through the book made of their words."
South Carolina Now has an article by Shireese Bell about a storyteller who uses magic to get kids interested in reading. Mark Daniel delivers "“To Catch a READasaurus,” a 45-minute show that blends storytelling, puppetry and magic to teach children that reading can be fun and exciting."
According to an article by Amanda Hickey in the Jacksonville (NC) Daily News,"Five preschoolers are working to make a difference through reading... If the five children read 100 books between home and school, Scholastic Books will donate 100 books to a nonprofit organization on their behalf".
The Record-Searchlight (Redding, CA) has an article by Denise Snider about the importance of reading to children. The article includes "tips for parents to help them raise children to become readers", from the basics about reading aloud to "Promote critical thinking. Asking your child about what he or she likes about stories helps him or her learn to think through situations. These conversations can teach your child to analyze and form opinions."
For other literacy news, see Terry's latest Reading Round-Up at the Reading Tub blog (here). See also Terry's recap of a recent Just One More Book! podcast about self-publishing, which includes "ideas for quick things you can do to pick a good book, regardless of how it is published."
And that is quite enough news for today. But if you've seen any other articles or posts about children's literacy or raising readers, please let me know.