The early April 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 month 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. Carol also shared a March review and look forward at April/May/June events at Rasco from RIF last week.
We didn't do a mid-month roundup in March because Terry was working so hard on the Share a Story - Shape a Future literacy blog tour. If you somehow missed that, please do check out this master post, with links to the many amazing article about unwrapping the gift of literacy. As Carol pointed out, lots of people worked on contributions to Share a Story, but no one was as tireless as SAS founder and champion Terry Doherty. She certainly deserved a break from the roundup.
But now we're here, with a host of lovely literacy-related events for April. I hope that spring has sprung wherever you are.
April is National Poetry Month, an event always embraced by the Kidlitosphere. There are far too many events going on for me to mention them all here. But fortunately, Irene Latham compiled a thorough list, which Pam Coughlan presented at Kidlitsosphere Central. Do take a moment to check out the bounty of events.
One particular initiative that I would like to mention is something new that Greg Pincus (Gregory K from Gotta Book) is undertaking. He's launched a Kickstarter project called Poetry: Spread the Word. The idea is that individuals can pledge to contribute to the project, and thus become patrons of the arts. If the project is funded to the tune of $5000, Greg will commence a flurry of writing and sharing original poetry and making visits schools to talk about poetry. Greg says: "I think poetry - like music, art and the arts in general - is critical for kids to experience. Yet with budget cuts and shifting priorities, it's happening less and less. It's time to find creative and replicable solutions to the problem." Personally, the part that drew me in to become an official backer of Poetry: Spread the Word was the school visits. I never like to tell other people how to spend their money. But if you love poetry for kids, this project is well worth a look (and well on the way to being funded already). See also Greg's annual 30 Poets/30 Days poetry tour, already in progress.
If you haven't seen it yet, I highly recommend that you check out the March Carnival of Children's Literature at Playing by the Book. Zoe Toft did an amazing job of categorizing more than 50 posts on topics like early literacy, picture books, poetry, and more. She's highlighted posts by first-time contributors and posts that especially spoke to her (including Read Aloud Dad's post about how reading aloud made him a better father, which I love, too). It's an editorial triumph, and a great place to start to catch up on the doings of the Kidlitosphere.
Speaking of Playing by the Book, Zoe brought to our attention two other events this month. First, she brought us the scoop about a new Twitter forum for adults who want to talk about children's books. Chats will take place every other Sunday at noon Pacific Time. I haven't been able to participate yet, but I do have the chats on my calendar. Zoe also shared a roundup of Bookish Ways to Help Japan.
Drop Everything And Read (D.E.A.R.) Day will be celebrated in the US on April 12th, Beverly Cleary's birthday. National D.E.A.R. Day is a special reading celebration to remind and encourage families to make reading together on a daily basis a family priority. Leaders include: The National Education Association (NEA); Parent Teacher Association (PTA); the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), a division of the American Library Association; Reading Rockets; The General Federation of Women’s Clubs (GFWC); the Newspaper Association of America Foundation (NAA); First Book; HarperCollins Children’s Books; Read Kiddo Read; Walden Media and Ramona Quimby. But really, anyone can participate. Just make some time on April 12th to read with your family. Bonus points for reading a Ramona book!
Literacy Programs and Research
Because she is apparently tireless when it comes to sharing information about children's books, Zoe from Playing by the Book also held a book drive last month for families in Christchurch, New Zealand, following a terrible earthquake. Terry found a post thanking Zoe and others who helped at Day 1 Every Pen In The House Ran Out Of Ink.
In a guest post at Margo Dill's Read These Books and use Them, Sharon Burch explains the role music plays in our development, and, by extension literacy. "Humans are 'wired' for music. Until recently, scientists did not know how music affected the brain ... Most activities only cause a portion of the brain to “light up” with activity; thus, the saying, right brain/left brain, etc. But there are actually four parts to the brain and music makes ALL of the areas “light up” and create new neural pathways as a person is learning and playing an instrument."
A recent study by the Journal Research in Social Stratification found that having more books in the home was correlated with higher education levels for kids. I found a piece on this at GOOD.is, via @RoomToRead. GOOD's Patrick James says "It makes sense that having access to books and being keen to seek books out on ones own would lead to a greater interest in reading and schooling. I wonder how electronic books and iPads would factor in to a future study like this." Personally, I think it's more likely to be correlation relative to what the parents think are important. People who buy lots of books are people who encourage their kids to go on to higher education. So I think you could be buying those books in digital format, too. (Though certainly my home will always be filled with physical books, and I see the appeal of thinking "if you buy more books, your kid will end up having more years of education"). More details in this Salon piece.
As the mother of an "ex-preemie" (turning 1 year old tomorrow!), I was particularly interested in a recent Boston Globe article by Carolyn Y. Johnson about the effects of mothers' voices on preemies. The results aren't in yet, but the participants make recordings of their voices, which are played for the babies in the NICU. This is one of those studies that I think is good to do, so that if there's a significant effect, more people will use recordings, etc. But the idea of talking to your premature baby as much as you can, and reading books aloud, well for me that was just what I wanted to do anyway. (via @ReachOutAndRead)
Talking to your kids early and often is one thing, but new research is showing that teaching kids more and more, at ever-younger ages, is counterproductive. Alison Gopnik at Slate reports on two upcoming studies that find "while learning from a teacher may help children get to a specific answer more quickly, it also makes them less likely to discover new information about a problem and to create a new and unexpected solution." She gives some interesting examples of experiments where kids find more creative solutions on their own, when they don't have the answers spoon-fed to them. Which makes complete sense to me. I'm already trying to get Baby Bookworm to figure things out on her own when she can, even though it's hard sometimes not to help. (via @PWKidsBookshelf)
Suggestions for Growing Bookworms
At Delightful Children's Books, Amy and her children are reading their way around the world, and they invite others to join them. The tour is grouped by continent, and so far includes visits to South America and Africa, with more to follow. Parents, if your kids are armchair travelers (or you'd like them to be), this is something to check out.
And for a much more local program, both @DebbieDuncan and I enjoyed this San Jose Mercury News piece by Carol Rosen about a Reading Buddies program that pairs teens with younger kids. "It's a program that allows parents a little time to themselves, while area teens enchant the children with different books, and encourage the youngsters to find reading fun and adventurous. It also lets these kids know that older children enjoy reading and in turn promotes emulation." Lovely! And while we're talking about teens who are promoting literacy, see also this Book_Dads interview with 18-year-old author and literacy advocate Riley Carney at Blog Talk Radio.
I also enjoyed this School Library Journal interview by Debra Lau Whelan of second grader Bella Grace Tyler, who challenged herself to read 1000 books in a year (she's going to make it, too). Now this is a kid after my own heart. I guess it's not a suggestion for growing bookworms, exactly, but just goes to show that challenging kids to read more books can work, if it's done right. A library contest got Bella Grace started. (Via the ExtraHelping newsletter)
Reading Rockets, in a guest article by Reach Out and Read, shares family read-aloud tips for parents of children with ADHD. For example: "If your child has ADHD, paying attention for long periods of time can be a challenge. So, meet the challenge head-on — make reading time fun time for you and your child. First, pick a quiet spot away from TV, radio, and video game noise. Read for short periods at a time and put the book away if your child loses interest. Pick up the book later and read for another short time period." But do check out the whole piece. (via @ReadingRockets)
That's all I have for you today. I have a birthday to get ready for, after all! But I'm sure that Carol and Terry will both be checking in on their own blogs later today with other literacy tidbits. Thanks for reading the roundup, and for your interest in Children's Literacy! And happy baseball season, for those of you who celebrate it. Go Red Sox!