Friday Afternoon Visits: January 22: Kidlitosphere News and Views
Little, Brown Replaces Benedict Covers and Dearborn Schools Replace Librarians

Children's Literacy and Reading News Round-Up: January 25

Literacy Reading News RoundupThis 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 at Jen Robinson's Book Page. 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.


Some teachers in Australia have threatened to boycott school literacy and numeracy tests, if the Federal government doesn't take action to prevent the test results from being used to publicly rank schools. More details are available in this Newcastle Herald article by Alison Branley.

According to NovaNewsNow, "The Community Policing Office of the Queens County RCMP Detachment is proud to announce that they are hosting the annual WOW Reading Challenge for Literacy charity hockey game between the RCMP All-Star Bisons hockey team and the Bridgewater Nauss Tim-Br Mart Lumberjacks Junior “A” Hockey Club". We love creative literacy fundraisers like this one, especially when they tie in with sports.

Be Big in your Community ContestIn her latest Muse Briefs post at Rasco from RIF, Carol Rasco says: "Start getting ready now for Clifford’s 2010 BE BIG In Your Community Contest sponsored by Scholastic and partners;  grand prize is a $25,000 community grant and there are additional prizes!  The contest begins February 1, but you can read the rules now and start your planning"

Literacy Programs & Research

In The Huffington Post, Susan Ohanian airs concerns from reading advocate Stephen Krashen about new literacy-related legislation pending in congress. The article says that the new legislation puts "an emphasis on the "direct instruction" of phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and text structure" and that "Not only is this approach to children's literacy development not supported by scientific research, it runs contrary to good practice."  I especially liked this bit: "If Congress really wanted to help schools develop strong readers, they'd provide funds to strengthen the libraries instead of money for buying skill drill worksheets and standardized tests." Indeed!

At Literacy, families, and learning, Trevor Cairney has an interesting post about literature as "relational glue". He says: "Reading involves social relationships among people - teachers and students, groups of students, parents and children, and between an author and his or her readers. The stories that books communicate teach us new things about our world and language and help to build common ground between people." He goes on to list some concrete suggestions to follow "for reading and writing to assume this important place in the lives of families and classrooms". recently published a feature about helping kids with their reading comprehension. ""You know the constant, 'I want to challenge my child'", says Jill Isbell Rhodes, a Reading Recovery teacher with the Long Beach Unified School District. "'I want to motivate them through challenging material'. But often, for the children that are starting to struggle with literacy that challenge becomes an obstacle."... "To sit down and enjoy a book because it's easy, that's the best thing a parent can help a child do - is find books that are easy," says Rhodes."

In the process of discovering an article about increasing children's literacy skills with talking books (links to PDF) Terry discovered, with the goal of "[making] knowledge accessible to people living in extreme poverty. Our tool towards the goal is the Talking Book. The article, which describes a project in West Ghana, and the website fascinating, enlightening, heartbreaking, yet incredibly encouraging.

A new study published  in the January 2010 issue of Health & Place finds children who live in neighborhoods with higher rates of poverty show reduced scores on standardized tests seven years later - regardless of the child's place of residence in Grade 7. University of British Columbia researcher Jennifer Lloyd (UBC's Human Early Learning Partnership (HELP) program) led the study. It is the first of its kind to compare the relative effects of neighborhood poverty at early childhood and early adolescence.  (via

Kaiser Family FoundationPW Children's Bookshelf reports, in an article by John A. Sellers, that a "report on media usage released Wednesday by the Kaiser Family Foundation found some relatively good news for book publishers, amid findings that generally determined that eight- to 18-year-olds are consuming more digital media than ever. According to the report, called Generation M, total media usage by that age group rose to seven hours and 38 minutes per day in 2009, up from six hours and 21 minutes in the 2004 study." Link via Katie B's Odds and Bookends column at First Book.

The Governor of Indiana recently announced a plan to end social promotion for third graders. However, the state's Legislative Services Agency has said that the plan will cost up to $49 million, and must be tabled because of budget concerns. You can find more details in this Chicago Tribune article by Deanna Martin.

Sadie Jo Smokey reports in the Arizona Republic about a new literacy program centered on children living in apartment communities in central and north Phoenix. The program encourages adults to engage young children in reading.

In the Charleston Gazette, Davin White describes a new literacy program started by a former West Virginia University student. "Jason Parsons wants to make a difference in the Southern West Virginia region where he grew up. He hopes the effort he and other young adults make to improve child literacy pays off, and their example encourages others to give back to West Virginia." Parsons has started a program that encourages high school kids to donate their old children's books, which are in turn redistributed to "elementary schools, public libraries, after-school programs and directly to families".

21st Century Literacies

Here's one to follow ... in Education is Priceless, Anna Batchelder pulls together links about NalandaU (Chennai, India), "a free online university that aggregates video and course content from universities such as MIT, Stanford, Yale, Berkeley and the Indian Institute of Technology." Fascinating stuff.

The Socially Networked ClassroomAt A Year of Reading, Franki Sibberson reviews a new book: The Socially Networked Classroom by William Kist. She explains that Kist: "is realistic in his understanding of the challenges we face as teachers trying to implement social networking. So, he takes time to share ideas no matter what kinds of blocks and constraints you have in your school/district. He gets to the bigger picture of 21st Century skills so that there is an in for everyone."

On a related topic, we found some literacy on Ms. Heshka's Grade I H Class blog. Ms. Heshka, a first grade teacher, uses the blog to convey class events, but in a recent post, she also "sent home" some tips for reading with developing readers! "The home reading program we started is going VERY well! Thank you soooo much for doing the nightly reading. I can not believe how much their reading has improved since September. Way to go grade ones!!!"

Via Critique de Mr. Chomp Chomp we learned of a BBC News story about how texting helps children to be better spellers. Sean Coughlan reports that "Children who regularly use the abbreviated language of text messages are actually improving their ability to spell correctly, research suggests... These latest findings of an ongoing study at the University of Coventry contradict any expectation that prolonged exposure to texting will erode a child's ability to spell."

At Literacy Toolbox, Dawn Little shares mini-reviews of literacy-related games for the iPhone that her children enjoy.

Although their existence obviously began earlier, the acceptance of comic books and graphic novels as "real reading" seems to us to be a 21st Century phenomenon. The Culpeper, VA Star-Exponent has a nice little column by Laini Bostian defending the presence of comic books in libraries.

Grants and Donations

Schools and nonprofit organizations across the country received more than 109,000 free children’s books through the Verizon Foundation’s recent Season’s Readings campaign. Season’s Readings began in 2001 as a Verizon employees’ campaign to advance the cause of children’s literacy. Since then, more than 2 million children’s books have been donated to children across the country. (via, a Verizon Wireless press release site)

Via email news release, we learned that the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation is once again inviting public schools and libraries to submit proposals for mini-grants.  "The deadline for submission of proposals for the $500 Minigrant award is September 15, 2010.  Proposals are read directly after the September deadline and announcements will be mailed out in mid November.  Applications are available exclusively online at the Foundation’s website".

According to, "A program that promotes literacy is back up and running in Thomasville. It teaches children to enjoy reading by providing them with free books, but it was suspended because the demand was greater than the supply of books. Twenty thousand dollars. That's how much the Archbold Hospital Auxiliary donated to Thomasville's Literacy Committee to continue the Ferst Foundation Project. The Foundation supplies every Thomasville child under the age of five with a free book each month, delivered right to their doorstep."

According to CNN Money, "RCN Corporation, a leading provider of all-digital television, high capacity data and voice services, has partnered with Tuck's R.U.S.H. for Literacy campaign to donate more than 1,000 new books to a local school. RCN will use their Smart Cars and vans to deliver the books to Brooklyn Collegiate."

Another news release reports that Barnes & Noble "announced today that it collected and donated more than 1.1 million books for children in need all over the country during its 2009 Holiday Book Drive, thanks to the generous support of customers and its enthusiastic booksellers. In addition, Barnes & Noble donated another 150,000 books to students in the New Orleans School District through Reader to Reader, Inc., a non-profit organization that distributes books to schools and libraries in need, and 50,000 to Toys for Tots".

Better World Books reports that "The winner of the first Readers’ Choice Literacy Grant is an innovative  program that uses therapy dogs to help improve kids reading, the Intermountain Therapy Animals (ITA) R.E.A.D. program."

Wrapping Up ...

Nonfictionmonday Terry may have some last-minute literacy and reading links at The Reading Tub. At Booklights today, I have the seventh installment in my Tips for Growing Bookworms series. This one is about pointing out when you're learning useful information by reading (recipes, maps, instruction manuals, etc.). Today's Nonfiction Monday round-up is at Playing by the Book. Thanks for your interest in children's literacy!