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Children's Literacy Round-Up: September 21

Jpg_book008 This week’s children’s literacy and reading news round-up, brought to you by Jen Robinson’s Book Page and Scrub-a-Dub-Tub, a Reading Tub blog, is now available here. This week Terry Doherty and I have collected plenty of content for you about literacy & reading-related events; literacy and reading programs and research; 21st century literacies; and grants, sponsorships & donations.


Ncblalogo The National Book Festival is next Saturday (September 26th). Book Dads reported, in their Weekend Wander column, "In conjunction with the National Book Festival’s event, Reading Rockets is sponsoring a Prompt Response Writing Challenge inspired by The Exquisite Corpse Adventure. The writing challenge gives students in grades K–12 an opportunity each month of this school year to respond to writing prompts by the 18 authors and illustrators involved in The Exquisite Corpse Adventure."

Speaking of the National Book Festival, in this post, The National Children's Book and Literacy Alliance introduced a new website. To make the most of this story adventure, the NCBLA and the Butler Children's Literature Center at Dominican University have joined forces to create a companion website with activities for homes, classrooms, and libraries; art appreciation information; educational support materials; and annotated lists of suggested books to read aloud or independently! Be sure to check out http://www.thencbla.org/ beginning September 26 to explore these additional resources.

We're pleased to report that RIF reached their goal of 3 million minutes spent reading aloud, during the Read for Change challenge. You can find more details at Rasco from RIF. Carol Rasco says: "THANK YOU for helping us reach and surpass the goal of logging 3,059,440 minutes of reading with children at home and in our communities. This success has helped raise awareness about the impact of children’s literacy on the long-term economic health of the country."

Read_across_jamaica_logoJenny Schwartzberg from Jenny's Wonderland of Books pointed us to a series of quarterly book drives by the Read Across Jamaica Foundation. The mission of the Read Across Jamaica Foundation is "to introduce creative and interactive methods of reading that encourage children to enjoy literature and aids the less fortunate in changing future disparaging lifestyles affected by illiteracy."

Literacy Launchpad shares a video about Jumpstart's upcoming Read for the Record event (to be held October 8th). Amy reports: "Their goal is to reach 1,000,000 children this year with the magic of reading! You can be a part of reaching that 1,000,000 by going to their website and pledging to read to the children in your life."

Literacy & Reading Programs & Research

Scholastic Book Clubs' ClassroomsCare Program recently announced a new reading challenge, with new Ambassadors for Reading Eli and Peyton Manning. "ClassroomsCare is an annual challenge to the one million classrooms that use Scholastic Book Clubs. Participating classes read 100 books, triggering a donation of books from Scholastic Book Clubs to ClassroomsCare’s charity partners. The books are then donated throughout the year to kids in preschool to middle school who in many cases would not otherwise have books of their own. Classrooms keep track of books read on posters and online, and then tell Scholastic when they’ve finished. Any books kids read in the classroom, with their parents or on their own count toward the goal. Teachers also can use lesson plans and activities available at http://classroomscare.scholastic.com to incorporate this program into their curriculum." (Via press release from Susan Raab of Raab Associates).

In other NFL-related news, teams across the league will continue the tradition of ‘NFL Community Tuesdays,’ where players spend their only day off getting active in their communities. From school visits to fitness activities, food drives to literacy events, players, coaches, and executives will spend their Tuesdays throughout the season helping those in need, and thanking fans for their support. Here are a few of the literacy-related activities NFL players will be engaged in this fall ...

* Chicago Bears players will visit a school within the Chicago Public School System. Some will join middle school students in writing letters to members of the military.

* Jacob Tamme and Blue (Indianapolis Colts Mascot) will host a Family Reading Night at a local inner-city community center, together with Baker & Daniels law firm. The event will feature a free book giveaway and healthy snacks for local kids.

* NY Giant Justin Tuck will launch the second year of his RUSH for Literacy program, spending time with local children at the Scholastic Auditorium in Manhattan, encouraging them to read and giving them a free book each.

* The entire incoming Pittsburgh Public Schools class of 2013 is invited to Heinz Field for a kickoff event that welcomes them to high school. Coach Mike Tomlin, Charlie Batch and Max Starks will address the students.

* Washington Redskins players will take part in the Redskins Read program, the literacy initiative of the Washington Redskins Charitable Foundation. Three hundred students from DC, Virginia, and Maryland will visit the Redskins locker room at FedExField to listen to players read and receive free books.

Terry and I both LOVE all of these programs connecting football and literacy.

A new report from the Washington-based Center on Education Policy tracks the progress of four states taking part in the Differentiated Accountability Pilot Program, a federal project launched in 2008. The program's goal is to vary the intensity and type of intervention they use with struggling schools under NCLB and focus their resources on those with the greatest needs. We like the idea of allowing states to use broader criteria than just Annual Yearly Progress. Read more in this week's Education Week Online.

Another study came out this week, reported at Science Daily. "Using information from the longitudinal study of early care and youth development, researchers found that children who spent more time in high-quality child care in the first five years of their lives had better math and reading scores in middle childhood. Researchers also found that low-income children who attended high-quality child care programs before the age of five performed similarly to their affluent peers." Link via Meg Ivey's September 18th Literacy Voices Roundup.

Access to summer learning also seems to be a factor in academic achievement. Carol Rasco reported in her Muse Briefs this weekend at Rasco from RIF that, via the National Summer Learning Association, "“Two-thirds of the ninth grade achievement gap can be explained by unequal access to summer learning opportunities during the elementary school years.” Carol has links to more information.

Bilingual Readers has a post about how imagination and language development go hand in hand. Here's a snippet: "According to the latest research (and just plain old common sense), playing pretend is actually fundamental to a young child’s language development and early literacy skills. Children use language to construct their imaginary worlds, much like they do when telling a story. Children experiment with vocabulary and sentence structures as they expand their imagination, weaving words together in such a way that language and imagination are completely inseparable." (via @KarenNemethEdM)

Stacey M. Childress has an interesting OpEd about how a Maryland School System's decision to move beyond conventional wisdom has yielded great results in minimizing the learning gap. She presents the six strategies Montgomery County used in reducing the achievement gap from 35 points to just single digits.

According to a recent press release (which we found via @everybodywins), "Ninety-five percent of Americans consider early childhood literacy an important problem, but they do not know that reading to children between the ages of 3-5 has long-term consequences for a child’s academic achievement and life-long success, according to a new survey released today. The poll shows that seventy-three percent of Americans wrongly believe that if children enter kindergarten unprepared, they will catch up in elementary school. Jumpstart, a leading non-profit focused on early literacy intervention, and the Pearson Foundation commissioned the “Pearson Foundation Early Childhood Literacy” poll, conducted by Candice Bennett and Associates."

Speaking of reading to children, The Book Witch reports on "Alan Gibbons most recent newsletter for The Campaign for the Book which deals with all the teachers who don’t read... He lists the results of a survey: "Teachers “never read a whole book”. One in eight teachers has never read a book to their class, research has revealed. Almost 600,000 children could be missing out on great stories and failing to develop a love of reading because of the use of book “extracts” in the classroom, it suggests."" Book Witch has a bunch of detail about the study - it's a post well worth reading, for teachers and others. Teacher Monica Edinger also reports on this survey.

At Literacy Learning, Tim Shanahan offers a practical definition of reading comprehension, as well as some ideas about teaching children to comprehend stories. He includes links to two Powerpoint presentations, including one called 10 things every teacher should know about reading comprehension (2). He offers some pointed questions to help you determine what is (or isn't) a comprehension problem, and reinforces the idea that the goal is to engage the reader, not teach him or her to take a test!

21st Century Literacies

21stCenturyLiteracies Which is the better learning tool: the keyboard or the pen? According to a recent University of Washington study, it's the pen. Dennis G. Jerz  links to the UW Press Release announcing the study's findings at Jerz's Literacy Weblog. In a nutshell, the study concludes that "Second, fourth and sixth grade children with and without handwriting disabilities were able to write more and faster when using a pen than a keyboard to compose essays." One commenter talked about how the spellchecker can be an obstacle.

Terry mentioned last week the private school library that announced that they are getting rid of all of their books. This weekend, author Mary Pearson discusses this decision in a guest post at Tor.com. She makes some excellent points, such as: "A traditional book offers no distractions. No pop-ups, no games, no bells, no whistles. Just you, the book, and your thoughts. Time to sit, reflect, ponder, and make connections. How often when looking at a computer screen can you do that without the temptation to fill it with one of those bells and whistles? With a book the only bells and whistles are your thoughts. That is no small thing."

In similar vein, Publisher's Weekly's Children's Bookshelf recently published an article by Diane Roback about children's publishing in the digital age. Roback share's findings from a recent panel discussion on this subject, with particular attention paid to the topic of eBooks. There's quite a bit of food for thought in the discussion. See also an outspoken followup post at Critique de Mr. Chompchomp categorizing smart vs. dumb ideas around eBooks for kids. I have to say that the notion of adding animation and video to eBooks horrifies me, too.

Grants and Donations

We mentioned last week that the Philadelphia Free Library system was in danger of being closed. Many people raised their voices in outrage over this, and it seems to have worked. Betsy Bird reported in Saturday's Fuse News: "For those of you concerned about the state of the Philadelphia library system, news has come according to Mitali Perkins (rapidly becoming my primary source of news). Said she, "The Free Library just tweeted this: Good news: the PA Senate has passed the bill that will allow the Free Library to remain open! Thanks to all who spoke up on our behalf!""

Ilovemylibrarian_cmyk_nologos Speaking of libraries, School Library Journal announced, in an article by Rocco Staino, that nominations are open for the I Love My Librarian award. Staino says: "The New York Times, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, and the American Library Association (ALA) are encouraging the nominations of public, school, college, and academic librarians for the I Love My Librarian! Award. The public can nominate a librarian online until October 9, and each will be judged by a selection committee based on their quality of service to library users, demonstrated knowledge of the library and its resources, and a commitment to helping library users." See also an interesting post by Abby (the) Librarian about the need for librarians, particularly children's libraries, to collect data, and advocate for what they do.

Alma_logo_engIn other award news, we learned from Tasha Saecker at Kids Lit and from Aline at PaperTigers that the nominees for the 2010 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award have been announced. I'm with Tasha in wondering "how they manage to make a selection with so many amazing and diverse authors nominated." From the ALMA website: "The Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award rewards the best in contemporary children's and young adult literature from all over the world. This makes the list of nominees a good starting place if you want an overview of what's going on in children's literature today."

Booklights And, while it's not exactly award news, I have a new post up today at Booklights about The E.B. White Read-Aloud Awards.

Terry_readingtubfinal_1That's all I have for you today, but I'm sure that Terry will have a few extra links later today at The Reading Tub. You may have noticed that Terry's been running a series of posts with titles like "links for 2009-09-19", which consist of un-blurbed literacy and reading-related links. These posts are part of a work in process, as we try to find a good way to share links with people between round-ups, thus giving you fresher news, and making these roundups a bit less overwhelming. We're not quite there yet (I, in particular, am having trouble finding time to share links in yet another venue), but we're working on it. In the meantime, if you scroll down through recent posts at The Reading Tub, you'll find additional literacy links.

Thanks for reading, and for caring about children's literacy.