Bitterblue: Kristin Cashore
Growing Bookworms Newsletter: May 21

Children's Literacy and Reading News Roundup: Mid-May

JkrROUNDUPWelcome to the mid-May edition of the Children’s Literacy and Reading News Roundup brought to you by Jen Robinson’s Book Page, The Family Bookshelf, and Quietly. We focus this week on a couple of on-going literacy and reading related events. We also have some news about literacy and reading programs and research, and a few suggestions for growing bookworms. Thanks for tuning in!

Literacy & Reading-Related Events

NutshellThe reading world - online and off - has come alive with remembrances of children's author Maurice Sendak, who passed away earlier this month.  Ironically, enough, there is a national tour of his work traveling the country's libraries. We discovered it in Inside Over There! an article about the exhibit's stop at the Skokie Public Library  in this month's edition of Children & Libraries (an ALA publication). This article at WinnetkaTalk has a wonderful photo gallery of the exhibit (photo to left one example).

There are far too many appreciations and homages to Maurice Sendak for us to list them all. But here are a few things that particularly caught our eye:

Jcg_portraitAlso, just in under the wire, Jean Craighead George died this week at 92. She was probably most well-known for Newbery-medal winning Julie of the Wolves, but SLJ reports (in an article by Rocco Staino) that she wrote more than 100 books for young adults.  For other links, see this piece on the Cybils blog. A tough month for big-time children's literature voices, that's for sure.

Lloydalexander01Speaking of now-silent voices from children's literature, I received an email this week from Jared Crossley about his Kickstarter project to do a documentary about Lloyd Alexander (who died 5 years ago tomorrow). Jared adds "Tomorrow is the five year anniversary of the death of Lloyd Alexander, and to honor him, I have organized a "Lloyd Alexander Day". As part of "Lloyd Alexander Day", I sent a letter out to over 50 elementary schools (30,000+ students) inviting them to join with us in celebrating this great author, by reading/starting one of Alexander's books on that day. We have received support from Utah, Pennsylvania, California, Georgia, and even as far as Kenya (Mt. Kenya Academy and Nyeri Primary School, where the Janine and Lloyd Alexander Library is located, will be participating in the event)." You can find details here.

In other news, articles about summer reading have just started to pop up:

And in award news, the 2012 Independent Publisher Book Awards were just announced. These awards come in a variety of categories, for children and adults. We were especially happy to see our friend Sarah Jamila Stevenson receive a Bronze Award in Children's Multicultural Fiction for her debut novel, The Latte Rebellion. But there are lots of other great choices on the lists. Via @SheilaRuth.

Literacy Programs and Research

Ror.redA newly released study shows that At-Risk Latino Children in Reach Out and Read Have Strong Kindergarten Literacy Skills. "The study... is detailed in the Journal of Community Medicine & Health Education. The results of the study are hopeful for the future of students involved – and to all students who enter school ready to learn." Via @ReachOutAndRead.

Irene Sege reports in the Eye on Early Education Blog that "A recent analysis of international data from the Paris-based Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) offers more evidence of the link between oral language development and reading. The new analysis finds that children whose parents regularly read aloud with them in the first year of primary school performed substantially better in reading at age 15 than children whose parents rarely, if ever, read to them." This is hardly surprising, but we say the more concrete data that is presented about the links between reading aloud and literacy the better. Note that the countries studied for the analysis did not include the United States. Via @ReachOutAndRead and @EarlyEd4All.

Here's a small but concrete tip for boosting literacy skills for preschoolers. According to Barri Bronston in the Times-Picayune, "A 30-week study (at Ohio State University) found that specific references to print in books - such as pointing out letters and words on pages or showing capital letters - can have a major impact on children's literacy skills... The study is part of Project STAR (Sit Together And Read), a randomized clinical trial based at Ohio State to test the short- and long-term impacts associated with reading regularly to preschool children. It involved more than 300 children in 85 classrooms." Via @ReadAcrossCA.

Here's a story that will warm your heart. Megan Stokes writes in the East Orlando Sun about 12-year-old Sarah Dewitz, who just realized her dream of getting a bookmobile (like "an ice cream truck but for books") for her family's 2-year-old children's book distribution nonprofit, adopting a county bookmobile that had been abandoned due to a loss of funding. Via @BookPatrol.

Speaking of book distributions programs, here are articles about two more from Jenny Schwartzberg that we thought readers might find of interest:

  • First up is an op-ed piece by the Shirley Bigley Lamotte, the CEO of Baltimore Reads. Lamotte discusses why physical books still matter in the digital age, and the importance of book distribution programs. She says: "Students (particularly those who come from poor families) who participate in book distribution programs improve in reading performance, are motivated to read and find enjoyment and inspiration in reading. They achieve better basic language skills, such as the ability to express themselves verbally and understand spoken language. Book distribution programs help to level the playing field." We certainly agree!
  • According to an article by Huang Ying in China Daily, up to 80% of the available children's book in China go to the 30% of the population that lives in urban areas. Rural children have extremely limited access to books. A new program by the China Youth Development Foundation is aiming to change this through "the donation of books to primary schools and training teachers there to become qualified in reading guidance and exploring the children's interest in reading."

Suggestions for Growing Bookworms

CliflogoSuzanne Loring from the Children's Literacy Foundation shares tips for making reading time family time at Parent Express. I enjoyed Suzanne's list of "ideas to get you and your kids reading together throughout the day", such as: "Take one night a week and make dinnertime reading time, too. Everyone in the family must bring a book to the table and read while they are eating."

Melissa Taylor shares some great suggestions for pretending that every week is Children's Book Week (like "pick an author and read all of his or her books") in an article titled Good and Bad News at Children's Book Week is the good news of the title. The bad news concerns the cutting of nearly 50 librarians from D.C. school libraries, and the implications for everyone who cares about kids and reading. Our own Carol Rasco is quoted in the piece, and Jen Robinson's Book Page is also linked. But we'd recommend the piece either way for Melissa's strong stand in favor of school libraries.

I also really enjoyed The Equation for Nerdy Book Club World Domination by Jen Vincent at The Nerdy Book Club. The equation is pretty simple: You + Books + Others = Nerdy Book Club World Domination. But the point of the piece is that we who love books should do more than sit by ourselves in the corner reading books. We should be out there talking about books to everyone we can, and helping to connect people with books, and spreading the culture of reading. But Jen puts it all much more eloquently than I do. Please do read the piece.

A recent post by Laurel Snyder focuses on importance of picture books. In "a meditation on my fierce love of picturebooks", Laurel discusses, passionately, why she thinks that many parents are making a mistake by pushing their kids toward chapter books, and away from picture books, too soon. She makes both the practical point that early chapter books "generally offer simpler sentence structure and easier vocabulary than the picture books they’ve “graduated” from" and the emotional point that " in abandoning their picture books, these kids are missing out on sheer  play and poetry". As a parent who wants my daughter to LOVE books, I want her to enjoy the pictures, play, and poetry for as long as possible, and I appreciate Laurel's reminder. (Via @CynLeitichSmith)

And two miscellaneous items:

  • Image-2-224x300Did you know that they now sell Scrabble Junior Cheez-Its? I learned about them from Stacey Loscalzo,and almost immediately ran out to get some. How cool to have letters on my child's snack food!
  • Have you seen the "These are your kids on books" poster, from the Denver, Colorado nonprofit literacy group Burning Through Pages? It has, accordingly to GalleyCat, gone viral. Which is great, because it is AWESOME. You can see it here.

That's all for today. Carol will be back at the beginning of June with more children's literacy and reading news. And, of course, we'll be sharing literacy links on Twitter in the meantime @CHRasco, @readingtub, and @JensBookPage. Thanks for reading, and for caring about children's literacy!