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Posts from September 2010

2010 Cybils Panels

Cybils2010small Just a quick update to let you all know that the nominating and judging panels for the Cybils were announced last week. Here are direct links to each panel:

You can also follow the Cybils organizers on Twitter here, the Young Adult panelists here, and an ever-growing set of all of the 2010 panelists, maintained by Amy Baskin, here.

And here are some comments from Anne Levy, Cybils co-founder and champion, about the selection of panelists:

At last count, more than 190 people volunteered for roughly 110 spots (give or take a few, I really haven't counted lately). Inevitably, some of you will be disappointed. It wasn't personal. Honest.

We tried to achieve a balance on each panel. We wanted a mix of occupations, genders, regions, ethnicity, etc. Some veteran judges weren't asked back so we could make room for more newcomers. A few people impressed us with the combined reach of their blogs, tweets and Facebook presence. Still others have such a masterful command of their favorite genre that we knew it would be a poorer contest without their expertise.

Read Anne's full post here.

For those of you who volunteered but were not selected, please know that the organizers were sad not to be able to include you this time around. They did their best to put together the most balanced panels that they could. It was especially difficult because certain categories (like young adult fiction) were very popular this year. If you weren't selected, please do try again next year. And we hope that you'll still participate in the Cybils by blogging, tweeting, following us on Facebook, supporting our sponsors, or buying Cybils bling. And, most importantly, by nominating books.

Nominations for the 2010 Cybils open this Friday, October 1st. Anyone can nominate titles, one book per category. Visit the Cybils blog on Friday for more details. Thanks for your interest in the Cybils!

Kiss Good Night: Amy Hest

Book: Kiss Good Night
Author: Amy Hest
Illustrator: Anita Jeram
Pages: 30
Age Range: 0-3

KissGoodnight I've been reading quite a few board books to Baby Bookworm (now 5 months old). I like the board books right now because they're smaller than regular picture books, and thus easier for me to manage when I'm holding her. And I like being able to stand them up for her to look at when she's lying in her play area. Baby Bookworm's favorites tend to have pictures of either animals or babies, and the accompanying text is not much of a factor for her. My favorite of the board books so far is Kiss Good Night by Amy Hest, illustrated by Anita Jeram.

Kiss Good Night is a small book, about six inches square. It tells the story of Sam, a young bear being put to bed by his mother, in a little white house on Plum Street. Sam's mother keeps asking him if he's ready to go to sleep, and Sam keeps explaining that he's "waiting". Not in a whiny way. But in a determined way. He's waiting for something important, and he can't go to sleep without it. The title is a bit of a give-away, of course, but we can handle a lack of suspense in a 30 page board book. Personally, I find the little story sweet without being cloying.

Hest's prose has just enough repetition to be comforting, but not enough to be dull. She builds on the text from page to page, gradually reviewing the bedtime rituals from several of the previous few pages. I think that when reading aloud to newly verbal children, this will be a good memory test. And the phrasing is occasionally unconventional - enough to add interest. For example:

"Afterward, Mrs. Bear pulled one side
of the blanket way up high under
Sam's chin, and the blanket was red."

How much better than just saying "she pulled the red blanket up"? And this:

"Mrs. Bear poured milk
in two glasses and they both
drank milk and it was warm
sliding down. Afterward,
Mrs. Bear yawned. "You must
be ready now," she said."

"And it was warm sliding down" pleases me. There are also occasional rain sounds, which are fun to read aloud. I pretty much know this book by heart already, but I'm not tired of it. And isn't that pretty much the best thing one can say of a bedtime book?

Anita Jeram's illustrations are warm and cozy, just like the book. She uses lots of deep reds and golds, with visible brushstrokes to add texture and depth. The action is pretty much centered on Sam's bed, so there's not a lot of variety to the illustrations, but she manages to sneak in little tidbits, like a mouse in Sam's room, and the various positions of Sam's stuffed "friends". And the picture near the end, of Sam stretching up for another kiss, with the friends tumbling, is priceless.  

In short, I adore Kiss Good Night, and I expect to read it many more times in the coming months. Definitely a keeper!

Publisher: Candlewick
Publication Date: September 2004
Source of Book: Gift for Baby Bookworm from Lara N.

© 2010 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. All Amazon links in this post are affiliate links, and may result in my receiving a small commission on purchases (with no additional cost to you).

Growing Bookworms Newsletter: September 21

Jpg_book007Today I will be sending out the new issue of the Growing Bookworms email newsletter. (If you would like to subscribe, you can find a sign-up form here.) The Growing Bookworms newsletter contains content from my blog focused on children's books and raising readers. There are 1280 subscribers. Currently I am sending the newsletter out every 2-3 weeks.

Newsletter Update: In this issue I have a review of a new middle grade novel, along with two children's literacy roundups (one from Rasco from RIF and the other from The Reading Tub). I also have an announcement about the Cybils, an announcement about a recently study on the benefits of print material from RIF, and a list of recently published books that have been catching my eye. Finally, I have a post about International Literacy Day and a literacy milestone from my own home.

On the blog but not in the newsletter this month, I shared a press release about a book donation project dedicated to strengthening inner city schools in Los Angeles, and a farewell post to the Booklights blog from PBS (where I was a contributor).

Reading Update: The only book I've finished reading for myself these past couple of weeks is The Kneebone Boy by Ellen Potter (reviewed below). I'm currently reading Epitaph Road by David Patneaude, and listening to The Lion by Nelson DeMille.

KissGoodnight I'm reading aloud both the first Harry Potter book and The Complete Tales of Winnie-the-Pooh (alternating depending on my mood) to Baby Bookworm. I'm also reading her many board books, and a few picture books. My favorite of the board books is Kiss Good Night by Amy Hest, illustrated by Anita Jeram (Candlewick), a gift from Lara N. I'll write about that more later this week.

OhBaby Baby Bookworm's favorite remains Little Duck Says Quack by Judy Dunn and Phoebe Dunn (because it actually makes quacking sounds). She's also showing some interest in Oh Baby! Go Baby! (a board book edition of The Places You Will Go).

How about you? What have you been reading and enjoying? Thanks for reading the newsletter, and for growing bookworms.

© 2010 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. All Amazon links in this post are affiliate links, and may result in my receiving a small commission on purchases (with no additional cost to you).

RIF-Sponsored Analysis Confirms Access to Print Materials Improves Children's Reading

RIFF_logo Carol Rasco from RIF gave me a head's up about a report being released from RIF today. Earlier this year, RIF commissioned Learning Point Associates to conduct "a meta-analytic research synthesis of children’s book lending and book ownership programs to determine the effect of providing access to print materials on children’s educational outcomes". Learning Point Associates is a nonprofit education research and consulting organization and an affiliate of American Institutes for Research.

The results are no great surprise, but are a nice validation of book distribution programs. Learning Point Associates uncovered more than 11,000 research reports on the relationship between children's access to print materials and educational outcomes. After rigorous screening, they conducted a meta-analysis of 108 reports that most directly addressed the question at hand. They analyzed the most rigorous 44 of the reports in more detail. They found that:

"Giving children access to print materials is associated with positive behavioral, educational, and psychological outcomes".

Here are a few highlights from a two-page summary of the report  that I received from RIF. The study found that access to print materials:

  • Improves children’s reading performance
  • Are instrumental in helping children learn the basics of reading
  • Causes children to read more and for longer lengths of time
  • Produces improved attitudes toward reading and learning among children

Both the summary and the full report will be available from RIF after 10:00 EST this morning. Additional information will doubtless be available from Carol's blog, Rasco from RIF and the RIF homepage.

To me, this is further confirmation that funding book distribution programs like RIF, Reach Out and Read, First Book, and others is essential. I hope that you'll take a few minutes to check out or spread the word about this report.

The Kneebone Boy: Ellen Potter

Book: The Kneebone Boy
Author: Ellen Potter
Pages: 288
Age Range: 9-12

Kneebonesmall Ellen Potter's latest novel, The Kneebone Boy, is a darkly humorous middle grade mystery/adventure sure to appeal to fans of the Lemony Snicket books and Lois Lowry's The Willoughbys. It features the three Hardscrabble siblings. Otto, Lucia, and Max have been living as social outcasts in their small town since the mysterious disappearance of their mother several years before. Their isolation is also, perhaps, because they are a bid odd. Especially the eldest, Otto, who always wears the same scarf around his neck, and only speaks using sign language.

When a mix-up leaves the three stranded in London with only the clothes on their backs, they find themselves launched on an Adventure. They soon find themselves digging into multiple mysteries, such as "what happened to Mother", "who is Great-Aunt Haddie", "Does the reclusive Kneebone Boy really exist?", and "Is this really a five-legged cat?".

I found the action of this book to ramp up a bit slowly, though this changed about 1/3 of the way into the book, and the middle and ending were quite compelling. I kept reading in the meantime because I enjoyed the contrast between Potter's matter-of-fact writing style and the Gothic tone and setting of the book. As noted on a Booklist blurb on the back of the book (though that blurb was for a different novel), there are nods to both Snicket and Dahl.

Potter uses a literary device by which one of the three children is telling the story, but the reader doesn't know which one. There are various direct asides to the reader, as well as honest admissions and occasional sibling spats. I think that this vagueness about the narrator lends some additional interest for the reader, since another mystery to try to solve is "which sibling is the narrator?".

Here are a couple of passages, to give you a feel for Potter's writing style:

"There were three of them. Otto was the oldest, and the oddest. Then there was Lucia, who wished something interesting would happen. Last of all was Max, who always thought he knew better. They lived in a small down in England called Little Tunks. There was no Big Tunks. One Tunks was more than enough for everyone." (Page 1, ARC)

"They were silent for a moment. Then Lucia said, "So, what do we do now?"
"Nothing," Otto said. "Things will go on as they always have."
Note to reader: If you ever want your life to turn topsy-turvy, say, "Things will go on just as they always--" Oops, I almost said it. Anyway, say the last words that Otto just said. I, however, want to keep my life as normal as possible, so I can get on with writing this book." (Page 37, ARC)

"It was the right and responsible thing to do, so they put it off until later." (Page 120, ARC)

That last line especially made me smile. Even though the children are quirky, and even though over-the-top things happen to them, they are reassuringly real.

I didn't see the ending of the book coming, though in retrospect I could have -- all of the clues were there. The reason I didn't stemmed from the same aspect that I noticed in Potter's Olivia Kidney books - it's a bit hard to tell how realistic the setting is supposed to be (vs. fantasy elements), and thus to predict how the ending will go. That's not at all a criticism. I think that The Kneebone Boy will keep kids guessing until the last page - and that's a very good thing. I enjoyed The Kneebone Boy, and I recommend it for middle grade readers and up, boys and girls.

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Publication Date: September 14, 2010
Source of Book: Advanced review copy from the author

© 2010 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. All Amazon links in this post are affiliate links, and may result in my receiving a small commission on purchases (with no additional cost to you).

Press Release on Strengthening Inner-City School Libraries in LA

I received this press release from Sheryl McFarlane on the Kidlitosphere Yahoo Group (yes, I am reading, though I haven't participated on the list in a while). I thought it was worth sharing.


Los Angeles – As part of their ongoing commitment to strengthen inner-city school libraries throughout Los Angeles and beyond, Access Books has joined forces with a team of Canadian authors to help impoverished families gain access to books. The event will take place at Ralph Bunche Elementary (16223 Haskins Lane, Carson, CA 90746-1092) on October 2, 2010 at 9 a.m. This school is one of 25 elementary schools in the Compton Unified School District (CUSD) that is in desperate need of books for its 450 students.

Access Books, "Air Lift to L.A." and a team of volunteers from Bunche will spend October 2nd revitalizing the library by painting murals and cataloging brand new books. In addition to the books, Access Books will provide a reading rug, rocking chair and sofa to create a warm and inviting environment for students. Five authors from Canada will be on hand for the event and to give fun and exciting presentations to the students.

The participating authors are:

  • Rob Weston, author of Silver Birch award winner Zorgamazoo
  • Kari-Lynn Winters, author Jeffrey and the Sloth, On My Walk, and other award-winning books.
  • Jill Murray, YA author of Rhythm and Blues and Break on Through
  • Wendy Kitts, Freelance Writer, Book Reviewer, and author of a soon-to-be published picture book from Nimbus Press
  • Helaine Becker, author of more than 40 books for children including Silver Birch award winners Boredom Blasters and Secret Agent Y.O.U.

Sadly, only 48 percent of Bunche's students are scoring "proficient" or "advanced" in English & Language Arts on the California Standards Test. Research has shown that the best predictor of how well a child will learn to read is the number of books to which he or she has access, but 61 percent of economically disadvantaged children don't have age-appropriate books at home. The students of Bunche Elementary fit this profile: 90 percent live at or below the poverty line. According to a 2009 report from the Jumpstart Foundation, communities ranking high in achievement tests share a common denominator: an abundance of books in their libraries.

California's Department of Education recommends 28 library books per student, according to the February 2010 draft of its School Library Standards. Bunche, however, has a mere three books per student. Therefore, Access Books has set a goal: Collect at least 5,000 books for Bunche's library and classrooms. Many of these will be brand new, popular fiction titles – books that have been carefully selected to get students excited about reading.

Access Books' partner for this endeavor, "Air Lift to L.A.," grew wings after Canadian children's author Helaine Becker visited a Long Beach elementary school and saw the empty shelves. Shocked and saddened, she rallied her Canadian colleagues and started a book drive. "The conditions [in Los Angeles] are on par with the worst of the Third World countries," she writes on the "Air Lift to L.A." Facebook page. "Actually, they are worse, because in much of the Third World, people are doing their best to raise their standards, while in Los Angeles, conditions have deteriorated abysmally in the last ten years."

Bunche has just moved its campus library into a new, larger space to afford room for growth, but unfortunately, many of the shelves are bare. The library assistant nicknamed the library "The Dream Shop," but with so few books, its dreams have yet to be realized.

California ranks last in the nation in funding for school libraries, spending less than one dollar per child. Although the 2011 federal budget proposal includes a $400 billion investment in education, there's no mention of federal funds specifically geared toward school libraries. According to Sandra Barnett, head of the American School Library Association, "the budget is proposing to take away the last access to literacy for these kids in high-poverty areas." The American School Library research data clearly shows that students with access to school libraries and good books score higher in state reading scores and are more interested in reading.

"I think the big issue is that we really need to make reading part of school and make reading fun and interesting," said Rebecca Constantino, P.h.D., the founder and executive director of Access Books. "And that starts with having a good library."

The Cybils Are Coming!

Cybils2010small Read any good children's or young adult books this year? Now is the time to start thinking about which ones you think are the best of the best. Because nominations for the 2010 Cybils open October 1st. The Cybils, of course, are the Children's and Young Adult Bloggers' Literary Awards, given each year to books (in a range of categories) that demonstrate both kid-appeal and literary merit.

This is the fifth year of the Cybils awards. I've been involved since year one, sometimes as a category organizer (for young adult fiction and for middle grade/young adult nonfiction), generally as a round 2 judge in one category or another, and currently as Literacy Evangelist (cheerleader/promoter/person who has been an organizer since the beginning and has some context to offer). Although I have very limited time for my blog this year (hello Baby Bookworm), I chose to stay involved with the Cybils because I believe strongly in what the Cybils awards stand for.

First of all, the Cybils are about winnowing through the many books published each year to find a few in each category that are especially well-written and kid-friendly. I've said many times that I believe that one of the most important things that comes out of the Cybils process is the shortlists that are published at the end of round one. The shortlists are lists of five to seven top titles in each category (a couple of the categories are further split by age range, for a total of about a dozen short lists). The shortlists are tremendously valuable, for parents, teachers, librarians, and children's literature fans of all ages.

The other thing that is wonderful about the Cybils is that there are ways for lots of people to contribute. Anyone can nominate titles (one book per category). The people who make the shortlists, and pick the winners in each category, are bloggers who have demonstrated expertise in that area. I think it's a nice mix. And because there are so many categories, lots of people are able to be involved in the process.

What's going on with the Cybils right now is that judging panels are being formed. What I can tell you from my behind-the-scenes viewpoint is that the organizers in the nine categories (ranging from picture books to young adult titles) are making a tremendous effort to assemble well-balanced panels. They are striving for a mix of new and returning panelists, and a range of perspectives and job experiences on each panel. Unfortunately, not everyone who volunteers can get a spot on a panel - one price of success of the awards is that we have more volunteers than we have room for. But I promise you that the organizers are doing their best to include as many people as they can, while making the strongest panels that they can. Panels will be announced starting Monday.

For more about the Cybils, check out:

  • Gina Ruiz's post at AmoXcalli about the Cybils: Year 5, the reflections of a first-year panelist and current organizer. And while you're there, stop and leave a comment to welcome Gina back to blogging at AmoXcalli, after a year-long absence. Gina is the Social Media Guru for the Cybils. She urges: "Follow us on Twitter, fan us on Facebook, support us by buying Cybils swag and sport our bling on your blogs and websites. Most of all get those nominations in and keep reading!"
  • Sherry Early's post about the "unexpected treasure" that she's found through the Cybils at Semicolon, a post that she wrote as part of Book Blogger Appreciation Week. Sherry was also a first-year panelist for the Cybils. She says: "I don’t know if I’ll be judging for the Cybils this year or not, but I’m so hooked that I’ll be there on October 1 to nominate my favorites, and I’ll be reading as many of the nominated titles as I can find whether I’m judging or not. Cybils is great place to dig for unexpected treasure."
  • For further reading, bios of all of the Cybils organizers are now available on the Cybils blog.

Stay tuned! It's just starting to get interesting.

Children's Literacy Round-Up: September 15

Jpg_book008A new 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 (with much assistance of late from Carol Rasco from RIF and Susan Stephenson from The Book Chook), is now available at the Reading Tub. This week Terry Doherty has collected plenty of content about literacy & reading-related events, programs and research. I can't actually say that I contributed to this edition. However, I am preparing to get back into the swing of things, and hope to be posting the next full roundup, at the end of the month, here at Jen Robinson's Book Page.

Terry_readingtubfinal_1 In the meantime, Terry (with help from the above contributors, and various Twitter friends) has compiled a delightful assortment of literacy-related tidbits. Here are a couple of highlights: 

Scholastic"For the 2010-2011 school year, Scholastic’s ClassroomsCare literacy program has adopted the theme “The United States of Reading. the idea is to emphasize state pride and giving locally, with emphasis on giving voice to America’s teachers, students, and parents who participate in the program. From the press release: “Reading is not a given for many of our nation’s children, some because they don’t have access to books, others because they have no one who can show them how to use them. Whether in cities or in rural areas; living with parents, or with other caregivers; in any one of the fifty states, these kids need books so they can, in the words of Scholastic’s President Richard Robinson, ‘Read Every Day’ to ‘Lead a Better Life’.” Since 2001, Scholastic Book Clubs ClassroomsCare literacy program has put more than 10 million books in the hands of kids. Visit the ClassroomsCare blog to see how your state is doing in the United We Read campaign." [Note: I also received this news release from Raab Associates]

"You may also enjoy Dawn Little’s recommendations in Motivating Readers, Again: Books About Reading. If you haven’t been following her Motivating Readers series, it’s not too late to catch up." [I'll second Terry's strong recommendation of this series.]

I-can-read-meme "This morning, Susan Stephenson of the Book Chook opened the September I Can Read! Carnival. This is a monthly meme created to celebrate and cheer on the newest readers among us. If you have a book suggestion (easy reader or short, illustrated chapter) or tip ideas Susan would love to include them in the carnival. Posts can date back to as far back as Spetember 2009! The Carnival is usually open for a few days, so you’ve got time to join us!"

And finally, two extra items from me. First, I'd like to bring to your attention the Breaking Waves e-book. I learned about this from Kelly Fineman, category organizer for Poetry for the Cybils, and poet extraordinaire. Kelly explains:

"It's September 15th, and that means that it's the release day for BREAKING WAVES: An Esoteric Collection to Benefit the Gulf Oil Spill Relief Fund, edited by Tiffany Trent and Phyllis Irene Radford, now available from Book View Café. The collection includes 34 stories, essays and poems, opening with "In England in the Fifties", a poem by Ursula K. Le Guin, and closing with "Troubled Water", a poem by Kelly Ramsdell Fineman...

Purchase this e-book for only $5 US (technically, $4.99) and you not only get the fabulous content inside, but also the knowledge that the full purchase price is going to the Gulf Coast Oil Spill Fund of the Greater New Orleans Foundation, which divvies donations up among organizations that help fishermen and their families, a term which includes not only direct assistance to the local fishing families but also funding to the SPCA, environmental monitoring via the "Bucket Brigade" and more. And hey, given the content, this e-book would be a bargain at twice the price."

Kudos to Kelly for being the closing act in such an impressive publication (Ursula Le Guin!) benefitting such an important cause.

Second, I ran across an interesting article on Twitter today (via @GinaRuiz, the Social Media Guru for the Cybils). Tara Parker-Pope of the NY Times Health blog Well asks: Can Exercise Make Kids Smarter?  The answer appears to be yes, based on a couple of recently published studies. Parker-Pope notes:

"These findings arrive at an important time. For budgetary and administrative reasons, school boards are curtailing physical education, while on their own, children grow increasingly sluggish. Recent statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that roughly a quarter of children participate in zero physical activity outside of school.

At the same time, evidence accumulates about the positive impact of even small amounts of aerobic activity ... But it’s the neurological impact of sustained aerobic fitness in young people that is especially compelling."

Compelling, indeed! It is crazy that with all of the evidence of the problems related to obesity, there's less phys ed and recess in schools every year. Perhaps if enough evidence mounts about the ways that exercise helps the brain (and hence test scores?) the situation will change.

Mrsp_com_logo150 That's all the literacy news I have for today. But do head over to the Reading Tub for the full round-up. And while you're there, check out Mrs. P's guest post about the art of storytelling.  

So Many Books, So Little Time: A Partial Wish List

The other day, I had a few spare moments out to myself (a rare thing), so I naturally stopped by the nearest bookstore. I've also been reading the last issue of Horn Book Magazine. These two things have together made me aware of how many books there are out now that I'm looking forward to reading. Many of them are sequels (which makes sense, because, given limited time, those are the ones that I automatically know that I want to read, without even needing to see a review). Here is a partial list:

  • Bonny Becker (ill. Kady MacDonald Denton): A Bedtime for Bear. Candlewick. Picture Book. I adore Mouse and Bear. See here.
  • RayAngela Johnson (ill. Luke LaMarca): The Day Ray Got Away. Simon. Picture Book. I liked the HB review by Sarah Ellis. "The streets are mean, the heroes are laconic, and the theme is both subversive and (literally) uplifting." I put this one on Baby Bookworm's wishlist.
  • Sara Pennypacker (ill. Marla Frazee): Clementine, Friend of the Week. Hyperion. Early Elementary School Fiction. I adore Clementine (see here, here, and here).
  • Ingrid Law: Scrumble. Dial. Middle Grade Fiction. This is the sequel to Savvy, reviewed here.  
  • Lisa McMann: Gone (Wake series, book 3). Simon Pulse. YA Fiction. This is the conclusion to the Wake series. First two books reviewed here.
  • Watt Key: Dirt Road Home. FSG. Young Adult Fiction. A companion novel/spin-off to Alabama Moon, reviewed here.
  • Pittacus Lore: I Am Number Four. Harper. Young Adult Fiction. First book of a new teen science fiction series about alien children living hidden on Earth. I'm always looking for good YA science fiction, and Cynthia K. Ritter's HB review convinced me to give this one a look.
  • Giants Ken Follett: Fall of Giants (The Century Trilogy, #1). Dutton Adult. This is a 20th century epic by the author of Pillars of the Earth, one of my favorite novels for adults. I don't know that I'll ever time for a huge book like this one, but I do want to read it.
  • K.T. Horning: From Cover to Cover: Evaluating and Reviewing Children's Books (revised edition). Collins. Adult Nonfiction. I have the 1997 edition, but Liz B convinced me that I also want this one.
  • Roger Sutton and Martha V. Parravano (Horn Book Magazine Editiors): A Family of Readers: The Book Lover's Guide to Children's and Young Adult Literature. Candlewick. Adult Nonfiction. I mean, isn't the title and authorship enough? No? OK, here's a quote from Roger, included in Martha V. Parravano's editorial from the recent Horn Book issue: "Given the chance, kids will read the same way adults do: for themselves. Don't think of books for young people as tools; try instead to treat them as invitations into the reading life." Perfect! I'll buy the book for that alone.

That's all for today. You can see some other books catching my eye in my left-hand sidebar, about half-way down. I do have many other books that are already on my shelves that I'm interested in reading, and a bunch that I'm interested in reading or re-reading to Baby Bookworm. Not sure when I'll find time for any of it. But it's nice to dream!

Happy International Literacy Day, and a Literacy Milestone at Home

Today is International Literacy Day. According to the International Reading Association website:

International Literacy Day, traditionally observed annually on September 8, focuses attention on worldwide literacy needs. More than 780 million of the world’s adults (nearly two-thirds of whom are women) do not know how to read or write, and between 94 and 115 million children lack access to education.

What can you do to celebrate International Literacy Day?

I'd also like to share my own domestic literacy milestone. This week my daughter, Baby Bookworm, turned her first pages of a book. She's five months old (a bit less than three months when corrected for prematurity). If I prop up a board book next to her when she's lying on her back, one with relatively thin pages, she'll bat at the pages a bit. And if she happens to get a page to turn, she'll push it further, so that she can see the illustrations better. It seems to be intentional, though I could of course be projecting. Her favorite titles for this activity are:

  • Little Duck Says Quack by Judy Dunn and Phoebe Dunn. Random House. This is a photo essay with a very brief story about a duck, from egg to birth to growing up and meeting his "special friend." There's a sound button to make the duck quack. BB LOVES it! She smiles every time she hears the quacking. And she likes the illustrations. I think it's the fact that it's photos - they really catch her eye. I received this from Random House along with the similar Little Puppy Says Woof. She doesn't care for that one as much.
  • Animal Soup by Todd H. Doodler. Golden Books. Review copy from Random House. This book features mixed-up combinations of animals. Like Tiger + Rhinocerous = Tigerocerous. Each two page spread has pictures of two animals, with a fact about each. When you lift a big flap, it tells you the name of each animal, and then shows the combined animal. BB isn't that into the combined versions, or the lifting the flaps (I think she's just figured out that pages turn left and right - lifting up is confusing). But she laughs and coos at the colorful, cartoon-like illustrations of the regular animals. She especially likes the flamingo.

What are you going to do to celebrate International Literacy Day in your household?

End-of-Summer Children's Literacy Round-Up

Jpg_book008 This month’s children’s literacy and reading news round-up, normally brought to you by Jen Robinson’s Book Page and Scrub-a-Dub-Tub, a Reading Tub blog, is now available at Rasco from RIF. Carol Rasco has been generously filling in for me these past few months, since Baby Bookworm was born. I'm hoping to get back to the round-ups soon (I have already been sharing a few things on Twitter), though I think it will be tough to fill Carol's shoes. Anyway, Carol and Terry Doherty have collected plenty of content about literacy & reading-related events; literacy and reading programs and research; and 21st century literacies.

My favorite item from this week's round-up is, not surprisingly, about books, Boston (my hometown) and baseball. Carol says:

Another potential community or even Family Literacy Night activity that builds on the “One Community, One Book” concept was recently announced by Boston: One City, One Story.  I can see this as a great school night activity – what about you?

I looked into this one further, and found: "After considering over 20 stories submitted by local authors, we chose a story by Tom Perrotta entitled The Smile on Happy Chang’s Face... We thought that Tom’s story would appeal to many people as it deals with universal themes like family relationships. And it involves a baseball game." So, people in and around Boston collectively reading ashort story about baseball. Works for me!

I also liked this extra-fun item from Carol:

Speaking of Libraries, have you seen this great game?  The Library Adventure Game!  It uses a web-based simulation to teach reference skills….sounds very interesting to me as a former sixth-grade teacher who struggled to find engaging activities on just this topic.

Terry_readingtubfinal_1 But do click through to read the whole round-up. You can also find today, at the Reading Tub, Terry's September round-up of resources for literacy and reading. Terry is really "getting back into the groove" of finding literacy-related resources and tidbits. One example that I need to check out myself is the sixth issue of Susan Stephenson's free digital magazine about literacy: Literacy Lava. See lots of other great resources compiled by Terry here. I look forward to compiling some myself soon.

Happy Labor Day weekend, fall, start of school, and all of that.

Farewell to Booklights

Booklights Today I shared my 54th and final post at Booklights, a PBS Parents blog run by Gina Montefusco (shown below in the lower right-hand corner - photo taken at KidLitCon 2009). Booklights started in April of 2009, with a goal of promoting the joy of reading with kids.

Booklights_team-thumb-300x225-2463 My original co-bloggers at Booklights were Pam Coughlan (lower left) and Susan Kusel (upper right). We were later joined by Terry Doherty (top center) as a regular contributor, and Susan Thomsen (not shown)and Ann Neely (bottom center) as occasional contributors.

Blogging for PBS was a great opportunity, and Gina and my co-bloggers made it a wonderful experience. I'm going to miss it! I have links to some of my favorite Booklights posts here. And I have a copy of that KidLitCon photo on my desk every day. Farewell, Booklights!