November Carnival of Children's Literature
Books Now Available: Theodosia and the Staff of Osiris

Children's Literacy Round-Up: November 17

Welcome to this week's children's literacy and reading news round-up, with links contributed by me and by Terry Doherty from The Reading Tub. There has been plenty of news around the net this week:

Brian Scott at Literacy and Reading News reports on an NIH study that "shows that it's possible to teach preschoolers the pre-reading skills they need for later school success, while at the same time fostering the socials skills necessary for making friends and avoiding conflicts with their peers.

Also via Brian Scott, we learn that "Recorded Books announced the upcoming release of its newest reading and writing program, Dr. Janet Allen's Plugged-in to Nonfiction for grades 4-5... Plugged-in to Nonfiction Grades 4-5 includes a collection of high-interest texts and audiobooks for students who struggle with fluency and pronunciation. The program is designed to help students develop the necessary skills to tackle nonfiction text found on standardized tests and in real world situations."

The Boston Globe reports, in an article by Gabrielle Dunn, that Boston Mayor Thomas Menino is "urging parents to teach preschool children the old-fashioned way: by talking, reading, and playing with them." The Mayor's goal "is to remind parents of the simple but often overlooked ways they can improve their child's education before formal schooling begins", including reading aloud. I found this article in Meg Ivey's Literacy Voices Round-Up at the NCFL Literacy Now blog. See also this article about early literacy projects in Pensacola, Florida.

Also on the NCFL Literacy Now Blog, Toyota Teacher of the Year finalist Misti Lauer has a guest post with words of advice about building a family literacy program. She says: "most important is a thorough look at the community needs and current resources available. Collaboration is an ongoing process as needs and resources change, but partnerships and collaborations are assets to any family literacy project."

The Midwest Book Examiner has an article by Terri Schlichenmeyer about "How to Choose a Children's Book (For Grandparents, the Childless, and the Clueless)". She suggests that the hardest age to buy for is the 9 to 13 set, and adds "My best advice is to ask Mom or Dad what the child likes to do and go from there. I think kids of this age are hard but fun to buy for, because the books are adult-friendly as well as perfect for kids. This means you can spend time reading them, too, without feeling silly." Of course if you're already reading children's book blogs, you probably have lots of ideas for books to buy kids. I found this article via the International Reading Association blog.

The Association of Jewish Libraries has started a new podcast covering author talks, lectures on Jewish literature, panel discussions, and workshops. Available here, the program provides audio that "enhances and enriches the listener's appreciation of Jewish book culture." We found the link at Becky's Book Reviews.

And the Jewish News of Greater Phoenix has an article about a retired educator who encourages literacy through art. "One of (retired educator Muriel) Feldshuh's ongoing projects is her literacy quilts, of which she has completed three, with a fourth on the way. Periodically she mails letters to the most esteemed children's book illustrators across the country requesting a drawing. She takes the illustrations and sews them together to create a quilt." The quilts are currently on display at the Children's Museum of Phoenix.

While we're on the subject of literacy and crafts, Ann Wallace writes about literacy baskets for the Clarksville Leaf-Chronicle. "The literacy basket project is one more avenue to encourage parents and children to make reading part of their daily routine. "We plan to give these baskets out to every family in our school with a new baby and be here to support them in establishing reading habits at home," (School Librarian Rachel) Wainwright said."

At Unwrapping the Gifted, Tamara Fisher has a detailed post rebutting several "reasons why the academic needs of our gifted students aren’t always met, among them lack of teacher training, lack of funding, lack of accurate data on student learning needs (or lack of acting upon the data we do have), lack of awareness about these students and the effects that little challenge can bring about for them, and so on." The idea that people would hold gifted kids back from reading more advanced books because this might make other kids feel bad, well, I find that horrifying, and certainly a path to kids who DON'T become readers as adults.

Johnwood At the Tiger's Bookshelf (the PaperTigers blog), Janet writes about the Room to Read program and "the joy of literacy". I must admit that I haven't read Room to Read founder John Wood's book, Leaving Microsoft to Change the World. But I have a copy, and I will get to it one of these days.

School Library Journal reports, in an article by Debra Lau Whelan, that the Reach Out and Read program (in which doctors give children books on their well-child visits) is expanding to military bases. Reach Out and Read "is piloting a program that will reach 90,000, or 25 percent, of the children of U.S. military families worldwide aged from birth to five years old, says Matt Ferraguto a Reach Out and Read spokesman." I love Reach Out and Read, and I think that this is a logical and timely expansion to the program.

Jill McGivering of BBC News suggests that literacy is seen as a key to fighting the Taleban in Afghanistan. Link via the International Reading Association blog. She quotes science teacher Abdul Raziq, who says "If the people were literate, they wouldn't have this insurgency now. That's why I'm trying to do what I can to educate the future generation, so they can serve their country, instead of destroying it."

The blog I Speak of Dreams reports on a Neurologica study about "Modifying the brain activation of poor readers during sentence comprehension with extended remedial instruction". ScienceDaily reports that "A new Carnegie Mellon University brain imaging study of dyslexic students and other poor readers shows that the brain can permanently rewire itself and overcome reading deficits, if students are given 100 hours of intensive remedial instruction." Promising stuff!

We learned from the Everybody Wins! blog about ", a new, free educational / entertainment website for kids ... which is creating the magic of "story time" to an audience around the world. The site stars actress Kathy Kinney, who played Mimi on "The Drew Carey Show," as Mrs. P, an adventurous, funny Irishwoman with a passion for books and reading.  From beside the crackling fire of her Magic Library, Mrs. P reads classic children's stories and gives kids a chance to read along with her through a special subtitle option."  

RebekahC at Ready Set Read Reviews writes about the Cheerios Spoonful of Stories program, in which General Mills puts children's books into Cheerios boxes. Rebekah says: "whether or not you're a big fan of the plain Cheerios themselves (I'm not. I prefer the Honeynut kind myself.), why not go out and pick up a couple of boxes now. If your kids are anything like mine they see the prizes/toys shown on a cereal box and are jumping crazy to get them. Why not indulge them this time, and get a prize that will keep on giving for years to come through strengthened language skills, literary skills, etc?!" She also has this year's list of books. Whatever makes reading fun, I say.

According to a recent news release, the Toys for Tots literacy program is kicking into gear for the holiday season. "Launched in March of this year, the Toys for Tots Literacy Program is a year-round initiative offering our nation's most economically disadvantaged children the ability to compete academically and to succeed in life by providing them direct access to books and educational resources that will enhance their ability to read and to communicate effectively." The UPS Store and Mailboxes Etc. will be selling donation cards for the rest of the year.

Pbskids According to another press release, a "Nonpartisan Research and Advocacy Group for the Well Being of Children Cites PBS as Model of Successful Educational and Non-Violent Programming".

Paul C at the TLTT Cyber Cafe (from Think Literacy Team Teachers) shares children's books for high school read-alouds. Paul says that "Several posts to First Class reveal the power of reading children's books to build literacy skills in cross curricular high school classrooms", and includes several examples. How cool is that? 

The LA Times has an article by Anna Gorman about how "a monthly class at Southern California WIC sites urges low-income parents to read to their children, take them to visit their local libraries and engage them in literacy-related activities." The class is "sponsored by Reading is Fundamental of Southern California (and) aimed to teach parents the importance of literacy and help them start building their own libraries at home." I'll bet this program really makes a difference.

The Times (UK) book section has an article by Joan Smith about the fight for literacy in Sierra Leone. She begins "Sierra Leone (is) one of the poorest countries in the world. It needs electricity, hospitals, sanitation, vaccination programmes - but above all it needs books. When my friend Claire Curtis-Thomas, the Labour MP for Crosby, visited Sierra Leone for the first time five years ago, she asked people what they most wanted. Curtis-Thomas is an engineer and the answer she expected was a health clinic or a water-treatment plant; they asked for a library." She calls upon Times readers to help.

Also in the Times, an article by Emily Bearn about UK Children's Laureate Michael Rosen's distaste for standardized tests. For example: "Rosen, who is 62, is the patron saint of the overtested child. For decades, he has trawled like the Pied Piper around schools and literary events, enticing children into the magical world of books. A vociferous critic of the current education system, he believes that “futile” testing has reduced literature to a series of tick-box exercises. The tragedy, Rosen believes, is that children are no longer encouraged to love books." I think that I'd like Michael Rosen, don't you?

And that is quite enough for this week! Hope you find some tidbits of interest.

© 2009 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved.