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Children's Literacy and Reading News Roundup: Mid-December Edition

JkrROUNDUPWelcome to the mid-December Children’s Literacy and Reading News Roundup brought to you by Jen Robinson’s Book PageThe Family Bookshelf, and Rasco from RIF. Over the month of December so far Carol Rasco, Terry Doherty and I have collected content for you about literacy & reading-related events; literacy and reading programs and research; and suggestions for growing bookworms. Despite the upcoming holidays, there is plenty going on right now in the world of books (with extra thanks to Carol, who found MANY of these links).

Literacy & Reading-Related Events

Though not quite book-related, here's an appropriate link for parents for the holiday season. AblePlay.org is a nonprofit that evaluates children's toys and products in five areas as they relate to learning disabilities: physical, cognitive, sensory, and communicative. With so many parents and educators seeking "reliable advice" on the best toys for their children, this could be an invaluable resource.

2012CalendarCoverAnd speaking of the holiday season, advice columnist Ask Amy is promoting the Family Reading Partnership's Book on Every Bed effort. Here's the column in which she urges all parents to "Take a book. Wrap it. Place it on a child's bed so it's the first thing the child sees on Christmas morning (or whatever holiday you celebrate)." Simple and powerful. This is the second year for this campaign, and I hope it's a huge success. I know that Terry has her books lined up already! (And speaking of the Family Reading Partnership, Melissa Taylor's post about A Book on Every Bed reminded me that it's not too late to order the Family Reading Partnership's 2012 Read to Me calendar. I've got mine all ready to go for January, and I love it.

Cybils2011If you are looking for books to buy to put on that special child's bed, you might consider mining the Cybils nomination lists (as suggested by Sheila Ruth at the Cybils website). Many wonderful titles have been nominated in categories ranging from fiction picture books to graphic novels to young adult fiction. And if you click through from the lists and make a purchase from Amazon, a small portion of your sale goes to the Cybils organization (where it helps fund things like prizes for the winners). Cybils shortlists will be announced on January 1st.

ImagesIn honor of the 50th anniversary of The Snowy Day, the Jewish Museum in New York is mounting a retrospective of the work of author/illustrator Ezra Jack Keats. The New York Times, in an article by Laurel Graeber, says "Celebrating the book’s 50th anniversary and traveling to three other museums, the show, “The Snowy Day and the Art of Ezra Jack Keats,” tells the story of how a white Jew — Keats was born Jacob Ezra Katz — created a black character who helped change the face of children’s books."

Awit2012 is also the 50th anniversary of Margaret L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time, one of my all-time favorite books. I was pleased to read in Publisher's Weekly (via the Children's Bookshelf newsletter) about Macmillan's year-long plan for celebrating this important milestone.  The multiple 50th anniversary editions that Macmillan is publishing will include "new additional content, including an introduction by Katherine Paterson, an afterword by L’Engle’s granddaughter, Charlotte Voiklis, and previously unpublished photos." There's also going to be a graphic novel version. I wonder what Meg Murray would have thought about that!

And if you happen to be headed to a museum that has dinosaurs, we suggest that you check out this New York Times feature by Pamela Paul that introduces a picture book for older kids on how those dinosaur fossils make their way to museums. (via @PamelaPaulNYT)

Literacy Programs and Research

51+PAI0uIpL._SL160_Terry ran across what we think is a neat collaborative effort to benefit The National Literacy Trust in the UK and the Children's Literacy Initiative in the US. It's a charity anthology of short crime stories, where each of 38 stories is based on a classic song title (Light My Fire, Dock of the Bay, etc.).

As reported in CBCNews, author Margaret Atwood spoke recently about how Twitter and the Internet boost literacy. Here's a snippet: "Thanks to the rise of the internet and of social media, "I would say that reading, as such, has increased. And reading and writing skills have probably increased because what all this texting and so forth replaced was the telephone conversation," she continued." I do hope that all of the online time is helping literacy. An article in The Digital Shift by Debra Lau Whalen reports that "A whopping 95 percent of teens between the ages of 12-17 are now online—and one in five of them say they’ve been bullied in the last year, either in person, online, by text, or by phone, says a new study by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project." At least the literacy benefits might counterbalance some of the social downsides...

On the other hand, The Chronicle of Higher Education shared a nice op-ed piece by William Pannapacker about how many people are "still in love with print books." He says: "Contrary to many futuristic projections—even from bibliophiles who, as a group, enjoy melancholy reveries—the recent technological revolution has only deepened the affection that many scholars have for books and libraries, and highlighted the need for the preservation, study, and cherishing of both." I know I cherish my books in print, even as I download library books onto my iPad for vacations.

Jenny Schwartzberg sent us the link to a neat Washington Post story by Joshua Partlow about a program that uses old folktales (turned into books by a nonprofit publisher)  to help teach Afghan students to read. This story highlights the importance for literacy of having stories available that resonate with the particular audience. The Anne E. Casey Foundation Population Reference Bureau recently reported, in their analysis of 2010 census data, that "Children of mixed race grew at a faster rate than any other group over the past decade; from 1.9 million in 2000 to 2.8 million in 2010 (a 46 percent increase)." Sounds like there's going to be a need for a lot of copies of Sarah Stevenson's The Latte Rebellion in a few years...

Suggestions for Growing Bookworms

Stacey Loscalzo recently decided, given the need for reading tutors, to go back to work in this area. In this short post, Stacey shares a poem that inspired her wish to provide her first student with "A Lot of Slow to Grow". Which pairs quite well, I think, with this post from Read Aloud Dad. RAD asks, how do you want your child to spend time when bored? Watching TV (or worse), or reading books? One key to having your child read whenever they have a passing moment of boredom is to keep lots of books around your home. Let's see if we can provide all of our children with plenty of "slow to grow", and even plenty of boredom (with books handy), in the hope that they'll find time to grow as readers.

SkeletonI also just read (with thanks to Carol) a piece that Patrick Carman wrote last month for The Digital Shift about transmedia and the way it has changed the very notion of books and reading. Carman's view is that "What many ultra-wired kids needed was a pathway back to books. They needed someone to take two steps toward them before they could take one step in the direction of reading." As a result, he's been experimenting with stories that cross over between books and video, offline and online. I think this ties in well with a November NY Times Education piece that captures and categorizes various links about "the future of reading."

PBSKidsFor those families headed out on long trips for the holidays, PBS Kids is offering a video app for the iPad through which you can have free streaming access to more than 2000 PBS Kids television episodes. New videos are added every week. (Of course books are still our top choice for travel, especially for children under 2, but there's certainly an appeal of having some educational video content available, to add variety to the mix.) School Library Journal actually reported, back in November, that iPads are expected to outpace computers in schools by 2016.

Speaking of the iPad, and other app platforms, Cybils app category organizer Mary Ann Scheuer was interviewed last week on NPR's Here & Now show. Mary Ann did a great job of discussing the benefits of apps to help encourage reading, and she also managed to put in a good word for the Cybils. Excellent work!

If you live near New York, you might try visiting the Queens Library's new Children's Library Discovery Center. According to this ABC News story (you can check out the video), "Interactive components create an environment where children can learn about science, engineering and math. There are, of course, books related to each experience." Sounds pretty cool!

Finally, for some more concrete Growing Bookworms tips, Amy at Delightful Children's Books has just launched a new three-part series on introducing children to books. In the first installment, Amy focuses on introducing books to babies. She includes some general ideas for reading to babies, as well as a lovely list of recommended titles for "discoverers and communicators", age 0 - 13 months. I wish I'd had this post when Baby Bookworm was in this age range.

Thanks for reading, and for caring about children's literacy. We wish you all a joyful holiday season, and a book-filled 2012! Carol will be back at the beginning of January with the next roundup.