The early February children’s literacy and reading news round-up, brought to you by Jen Robinson’s Book Page, Scrub-a-Dub-Tub, and Rasco from RIF is now available here. Over the past couple of weeks Terry Doherty, Carol Rasco and I have collected plenty of content for you about literacy & reading-related events; literacy and reading programs and research; and suggestions for growing bookworms.
We've got a wide range of topics for you in this edition, from multiple articles about the importance of play to studies about the positive effect of libraries (expected) and texting (unexpected) on children's literacy. I was also happy to see Choice Literacy featuring an article about a topic near and dear to my heart: not pushing kids to read advanced books just because they can (see my own piece on this topic: Reading and Grade Levels: Keeping it FUN). I hope that you'll find something that strikes a chord with you in these stories.
Terry found this one, but she knew that I wouldn't be able to resist it. The Commonwealth Hotel in Boston is holding their second annual Bedtime Stories Pajama Party on February 25th, to help raise money for ReadBoston, a nonprofit children’s literacy organization founded by Mayor Thomas Menino back in 1995. Here's a description from a blog post at Spilling the Beans: "Bedtime Stories Pajama Party is truly a magical night for kids, with professional storytellers and performers all night long. Afterwards, kids enjoy a make-your-own hot chocolate bar with various types of hot cocoa and tons of toppings, while parents shop a library of ReadBoston children’s books from local authors." So fun! Hope that the weather cooperates.
All through the month of February, the NCTE is encouraging people to celebrate the 22nd National African American Read-In. From the event page: "Schools, churches, libraries, bookstores, community and professional organizations, and interested citizens are urged to make literacy a significant part of Black History Month by hosting and coordinating Read-Ins in their communities. Hosting a Read-In can be as simple as bringing together friends to share a book, or as elaborate as arranging public readings and media presentations that feature professional African American writers."
And if you're looking for more children's book-related events, I can think of no better place to look than Anita Silvey's Children's Book-A-Day Almanac. Here's the site summary: "Daily children’s book recommendations and events from Anita Silvey. Discover the stories behind the children’s book classics ... The new books on their way to becoming classics ... And events from the world of children’s books—and the world at large." I've started checking this site out every day. Without this site, I might have missed Winnie-the-Pooh Day on January 18th, or Bubble Gum Day on February 4th. Next year, the Book-A-Day almanac is going to be a book, published by Roaring Brook Press / Macmillan.
Literacy Programs and Research
Mel of Mel's Desk shares a really excellent Caldecott program that she's run with inmates at the county jail. This is a unique way to inspire excitement about books! (via Abby the Librarian's Around the Interwebs)
There was an interesting study presented last week (I learned about it via @PWKidsBookshelf) about what children's book purchasers are looking for. Some good news, too. According to Publisher's Weekly, "books ranked number one over all other media for the youngest ages. Even for teens, books outweigh other media by 57% when it comes to having fun." Also interesting: "bookstores and libraries continue to play a significant role in helping younger children discover books, with 75% of children's books being purchased in a physical store. Bookstores are the primary place that parents of children 0–6 turn to in order to find out about particular titles, followed by "the child tells me" and public libraries."
We've talked in other recent roundups about the defense of playtime. Last week Dr. Michele Borba shared 11 Surprising Benefits of Play (via @ImaginationSoup, who wonders why this is surprising). Personally, I'm already on board with making more time for play. But I'm hoping that this article reaches a large audience. Because in addition to all of the benefits outlined by Dr. Borba (boosts physical health, creates joyful memories, etc.), I just think kids deserve to play. Don't you? In a related vein, see this Parenting article with 10 Reasons Play Makes Babies Smarter (via @ReachOutAndRead). It's quite a nice piece, explaining in non-judgmental terms the many ways why playtime is good for kids, much better than TV or educational DVDs. Or, as my friend Jenny says, "Play is a child's work." (Image from hotblack at Morguefile)
According to a recent news release, "Children who use their local library are twice as likely to be above average readers, research has suggested. The study reveals a strong link between library use and a pupil's reading achievement and enjoyment. The National Literacy Trust report, based on a survey of more than 17,000 eight to 16-year-olds, reveals that almost two-thirds (64.5%) of those who use the library are reading above the expected level for their age. For non-library users, this figure is just 35.5%." (See also a BBC News story on the same study)
Meanwhile, another UK study found that texting improves children's literacy. The Daily Mail reports that: "The ten-year study, funded by the British Academy, examined the effect of the use of text messages on eight to 12-year-olds. Researchers found children as young as five who used mobile phones are better at understanding rhymes and syllables in speech. ... (The study found) that text use was actually driving the development of phonological awareness and reading skills in children. The study also showed that children were subconsciously practising their spelling by regularly sending text messages."
Suggestions for Growing Bookworms
We love Choice Literacy's weekly e-Newsletter, The Big Fresh. On January 22nd, Brenda Power shared a variety of resources for helping kids to choose appropriate books. I especially enjoyed a piece by Shari Frost from the Choice Literacy archives: Just Because They Can Doesn't Mean They Should: Choosing Age-Appropriate Books for Literature Circles. Although this article is about choosing books for in-class reading groups, I think that it applies well to individual reading, too. Shari discusses the importance of choosing books that kids are ready for emotionally, not moving first graders up to young adult novels just because they "can" read them. An excellent reminder on an important topic. See also this post from 11-year-old Melina at Reading Vacation on how she decides what books are appropriate for her.
There's a nice piece in the Seattle Times Books section in defense of letting elementary school kids continue to read picture books. Heidi Stevens has quotes from parents and experts on the subject. I especially liked this quote from parent Dawn Lantero "Developing a love of reading is the ultimate goal. Picture books, comic books, e-books, anything with the printed word exposes your child to new vocabulary words and reinforces grammar and syntax knowledge." See also, from the Sydney Morning Herald, tips to make your child an avid reader. (both articles via @ReadAloudDad)
Also via ReadAloudDad, a piece by Carly Price in the East Valley Tribune (Arizona) emphasized the importance of talking to preschoolers. "Dr. Jill Rosenzweig, a longtime academic who received her doctorate in education from University of Arizona, emphasized the need for extensive parental involvement in her presentation Tuesday in Chandler. "Read, read, read; talk, talk, talk; play music, do everything in your ability to develop language, doesn't matter what language," Rosenzweig said on the topic of language development in the home. "If a child is proficient in their own language when they come to school, they'll learn English so quickly.""
Dawn Little's Links to Literacy newsletter has a nice piece about telling stories around the house. Dawn explains: "Storytelling can incorporate all components of literacy (listening, speaking, reading, and writing) and is therefore extremely beneficial. According to the National Storytelling Network, “Listening to stories is essential to the development of human imagination, creativity, and abstract thought processes.” " She suggests "a few ways you can use items around your home to guide your children to create stories, both orally or written: " (via @RileyCarney)
Our thanks to Wendie Old (Wendie's Wanderings) for the link to Why Read Aloud, author Rick Walton's new blog. Rick's goal is to collect stories about how being read to by your teacher affected you, or about how you reading to students has made an impact on them was to set up a blog and to let people write these stories in the comment section.
Salon has an interesting piece about how font choice (they call them hideous fonts) can affect reader interest (and by extension reading/literacy). Terry has dubbed it "TypeFace the Facts" because of the convergence of research, analysis, and e-Readers. [via the Snowed-in edition of Fusenews at a Fuse #8 Production]
According to a recent announcement on Mashable, "Kids in the U.S. now have a chance to design Google’s famous homepage logo and win a scholarship, as well as a technology grant for their school. Google announced today that it’s launching the fourth annual Doodle 4 Google contest with the theme “What I’d like to do someday…” The contest is open to K-12 students in the U.S. The winning Doodle will be displayed on Google’s homepage; its creator will receive a $15,000 scholarship, and his or her school will receive a $25,000 technology grant."
Carol found (via an announcement in from AASL Hotlinks Feb. 2011) a link to a new PBS documentary that examines digital media in learning. According to Twin Cities Public Television: "Targeted at parents, teachers and anyone concerned with education in America, this one-hour documentary takes viewers to the front lines of an education revolution. Digital Media: New Learners of the 21st Century examines how mobile devices and digital media practices can empower young people to direct their own learning. Documenting five success stories both inside and out of the classroom, the program demonstrates how digital media, games, smart phones and the Internet are fundamentally transforming the way young people communicate, collaborate, participate and learn in the 21st Century. Featuring leading experts, thinkers, and practitioners in the field, Digital Media is a startling preview of a 21st Century education."
Thanks for reading the roundup, and for your interest in Children's Literacy! Terry will be back mid-month with the next roundup.