448 posts categorized "Literacy" Feed

I'm Now Posting at the EdWords Blog

Child-316510_1280This week I started blogging for EdWords, a BAM Radio Network blog, after being invited by Rae Pica. My first post there was my recent article on Encouraging Your Child to Like Math: Why and How. Today I shared an update of my 10 Tips for Growing Bookworms (originally published on this blog back in 2007, last updated in 2011). The main tip that needed updating was a tip about reducing time that kids spend watching TV - this now more generally applies to all screen time, not just time in front of the television. 

I'm excited about this opportunity to blog at EdWords. Here's what the EdWords guidelines for bloggers say: "our audience consists of teachers, school administrators, parents, education advocates, and others interested in what’s happening in the world of education and looking for practical steps they can take". Sounds right up my alley, given my growing joyful learners focus, doesn't it? Also, the EdWords focus on practical, actionable articles will push me in a good direction, I think. 

I imagine I'll cross-post most of my EdWords articles here, but if you would like to follow me there, you can subscribe to updates my JoyfulLearners EdWords profile. I would also recommend, if you are interested in education, that you check out all of the EdWords posts - I've been finding lots of great stuff there. 

© 2016 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook


Raising Passionate Readers: 5 Easy Steps to Success in School and Life: Nancy Newman

Book: Raising Passionate Readers: 5 Easy Steps to Success in School and Life
Author: Nancy Newman
Pages: 222
Age Range: Adult 

Nancy Newman is a long-time teacher as well as a mother to three sons. Her book, Raising Passionate Readers: 5 Easy Steps to Success in School and Life is a practical handbook aimed squarely at parents on encouraging their children to love (and hence become good at) reading. Needless to say, this book was right up my alley. I found many passages that resonated with me. And despite already having plenty of motivation for and ideas about raising my daughter to love books, I found new ideas, too. I would recommend this book for any parent, whether a passionate fan of reading already or not. 

 The author has developed a simple five step approach, distilled from her years of professional and personal experience. For each step she offers motivation/context as well as concrete tips. Each chapter ends with a Review section broken out into bulleted Main Points as well as Actions. These sections feel a bit redundant on a straight read-through, but I think they will be very handy to refer back to.

Raising Passionate Readers is formatted for busy parents. There is plenty of white space, along with bullets, bolding, and italics to bring important text to the forefront. There are also call out quotes of key points. Most references to research are left for an extensive Notes section at the end of the book. Newman's tone is pragmatic without being preachy, and I think that the book will work for parents from a wide range of backgrounds. 

The chapter that I personally got the most of, as the parent of a preschooler, was Step Two: Encourage Free Play and Fiercely Protect Free Time. While this concept might seem a bit peripheral to the goal of raising readers, Newman explains why free play and free time are essential to the cognitive development of children. She warns that free play is becoming extinct (something I do worry about), but she strongly urges parents to try to change this. She specifically tackles the challenge of nurturing playfulness in young children even though it can be disruptive (delays, mess, etc.). She argues that when a preschooler is running wild "her passion for learning overtakes all other thoughts and she's off and running", adding:

"This is an important dynamic to understand because your attitude about your child's playfulness, and the way you express your anger and frustration when she disrupts your hoe or schedule, will have a tremendous impact on her attitude towards learning. While you want to keep her safe and teach her how to follow rules and behave well, you also want to nurture her intellectual curiosity and enjoyment of learning."

She goes on to provide concrete examples for redirecting behavior without stomping down on intellectual curiosity. I found myself taking heed of Newman's guidance almost immediately. I flagged many other passages, too. While there are far too many to share here, here's one to give you more of an idea about the book:

(On nurturing new readers) "As often as you can, invite your child to "keep you company" by bringing her reading book to wherever you are in your house and reading to herself while you are doing your own quiet activity -- reading the newspaper, paying bills, using the computer, knitting, doing yoga, nursing her baby sister... This will make practicing a much less lonely, far more palatable experience for her." (Page 130)

The last sentence of the above passage gets, I think, to the heart of this book. Newman's goal is to help parents to make reading an enjoyable, positive experience. She believes, as I do, that if you do this, the rest will follow. This echoes the ideas of Jim Trelease in The Read-Aloud Handbook, of course. But Raising Passionate Readers is a much quicker read than The Read-Aloud Handbook, with less integrated research, and more of a focus on practical tips. I think that busy parents who are not immersed in literacy all day may find Raising Passionate Readers to be a bit more accessible than The Read Aloud Handbook.

Newman does not include recommended titles, as Trelease does, and Raising Passionate Readers might have benefitted from some direction for parents on helping their kids to find particular books. However, she does get into pros and cons of various electronic devices. She likens setting media consumption guidelines to setting dietary restrictions, and with a realistic acknowledgement that sometimes one splurges for special occasions. 

Although there is no shortage of books aimed at encouraging parents to raise readers, I think that Nancy Newman's Raising Passionate Readers is a useful addition to the canon. Newman's genuine passion for and experience with her subject is conveyed in a practical, parent-friendly package. Recommended!

Publisher: Tribeca View Press 
Publication Date: September 30, 2014
Source of Book: Review copy from the author

© 2015 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook. This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through affiliate links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).


Scholastic Kids and Family Reading Report, Fifth Edition

ScholasticReportfifth-editionThe Fifth Edition of the Scholastic Kids and Family Reading Report was published today. There is a lot of great content available on the Scholastic website, from downloads of the full report to infographics outlining key findings.

Here are some of the findings from the report that stood out for me (see full set of Key Findings here), with some of my thoughts on them:

On The State of Kids and Reading:

  • Key Finding: "Both parents of children ages 6–17 (71%) and kids (54%) rank strong reading skills as the most important skill a child should have. Yet while 86% of parents say reading books for fun is extremely or very important, only 46% of kids say the same."
  • My take: It seems clear that many parents understand the importance of reading, but parents are apparently not doing a very good job of conveying this to kids. I wonder if this has to do with wanting kids to LOVE reading, and hesitating to make the case that reading is important and valuable. Is there a fear that if we tell our kids that it's important for them to read, this will take away some of the joy? How can we balance this, I wonder...  

On What Makes Frequent Readers:

  • Key Finding: "There are several predictors that children ages 6–17 will be frequent readers. Three dynamics among the most powerful predictors are:
    • being more likely to rate themselves as “really enjoying reading”
    • a strong belief that reading for fun is important and
    • having parents who are frequent readers."
  • My take: Again, I wonder about the innate tension in "reading for fun is important." Does knowing that it's important imply that it's not fun? Like eating your vegetables? I do know that in my household, I am modeling reading every single day to my daughter. That much I am sure of. In thinking about this all more, I believe that the message I want to convey to my daughter is: "Reading for pleasure is very important to me. I need it like I need breathing. And I truly believe that all of the books that I have read for pleasure have helped to make me who I am." 

On Reading Aloud at Home:

  • Key Findings:
    • "More than half of children ages 0–5 (54%) are read aloud to at home 5–7 days a week. This declines to only one in three kids ages 6–8 (34%) and to one in six kids ages 9–11 (17%); four in 10 children ages 6–11 who were read books aloud at home (40%) say they wished their parents had continued reading aloud to them.
    • When it comes to being read aloud to at home, more than eight in 10 children (83%) across age groups say they love(d) or like(d) it a lot—the main reason being it was a special time with parents."
  • My take: There needs to be better communication of this message to parents - that we should continue reading aloud to our kids long after they can read on their own. It's beneficial to the kids, and enjoyable to both parties. Personally, I intend to read aloud to my daughter (and/or have my husband do so) for as long as she will allow it. 

On Income Differences:

  • Key Finding: "Six in 10 parents with children ages 0–5 (60%) have received advice that children should be read aloud to from birth; however, just under half of parents in the lowest-income households (47%) received this advice vs. 74% in the highest-income households."
  • My take: Clearly, work needs to be done here. There are some other findings in the report that show that schools do make up some of the slack for lower income children. 

On What Kids Want in Books:

  • Key Findings:
    • "Ninety-one percent of children ages 6–17 say “my favorite books are the ones that I have picked out myself.”
    • The majority of kids ages 6–17 (70%) say they want books that “make me laugh.” Kids also want books that “let me use my imagination” (54%), “tell a made-up story” (48%), “have characters I wish I could be like because they’re smart, strong or brave” (43%), “teach me something new” (43%) and “have a mystery or a problem to solve” (41%)."
  • My take: Nothing new here on choice. When kids are reading for fun, for goodness sake let them read what they want to read. If that happens to be books that are funny, great. Find them more books that are funny. I always recommend that parents check out the Cybils shortlists, because the Cybils finalists are selected on the basis of being well-written and kid-friendly (which often = funny, especially in the books for younger kids). 

And here are the two infographics (both (c) Scholastic):

ScholasticWMFR_info-2

ScholasticReadAloud_info-2

Please do go and check out the resources on the Scholastic website. This is important research that I hope will be widely disseminated, and used to help raise coming generations of readers. 

© 2015 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook


This Holiday Season, 70% of Kids Wants Books That Make Them Laugh, Says Scholastic

Scholastic today released a sneak peek at their Kids and Family Reading Report, due out in January, focused on the kinds of books that kids age 6-17 are looking for. The top attribute that kids are looking for in books that they read for pleasure? Humor. I would say that this is worth keeping in mind, as you do your holiday book shopping. 

Here is a handy infographic, shared with permission from Scholastic. You can find a handy printable version here, go to Downloads .

ScholasticInfoGraphicWhatKidsWant

And here is the text of the press release:

"The Complete Scholastic Kids & Family Reading Report™ 5th Edition Will Be Released January 2015

NEW YORK, December 3, 2014 – To help gift givers select the right books for children this holiday season, Scholastic (NASDAQ:SCHL), the global children’s publishing, education and media company, has released new data on "What Kids Want in Books – a "sneak preview" from the fifth edition of the Scholastic Kids & Family Reading Report™. This national survey of children ages 6–17 and their parents explores attitudes and behaviors around reading books for fun. In this preview of the full report, kids share what they look for when picking out books to read for fun. According to 70% of kids ages 6–17, books that "make me laugh" rank highest on the list across all ages. Among the different age groups:

  • Children ages 6–8 are more likely than older children to want books with characters that "look like me."
  • Children ages 9–11 are more likely than younger children to want books that "have a mystery or a problem to solve."
  • Children ages 12–14 are more likely than older children to want books with "characters I wish I could be like because they are smart, strong or brave."
  • Children ages 15–17 are more likely than younger children to want books that help them "forget about real life for a while."

In addition, 73% of children ages 6–17 agree with the statement, "I would read more if I could find more books that like."

The Kids & Family Reading Report will be available in January 2015. To view and share the "What Kids Want in Books" infographic go to www.scholastic.com/readingreport. For a list of "books that make me laugh," go to http://bit.ly/1rSCVkf.

The Kids & Family Reading Report™ is a biannual report from Scholastic and managed by YouGov. Results are from a nationally representative survey of 1,026 parents of children ages 6–17, plus one child ages 6–17 from the same household, conducted August 29, 2014 through September 10, 2014. For the full methodology, see www.scholastic.com/readingreport."


Some Recent Articles on Growing Bookworms

JRPB-URLonly-smallI wanted to do some sort of growing bookworms post for today, but nothing particular came to mind. Luckily, there has been a fine crop of posts on this subject from some of my favorite blogs this week. Thus instead of sharing my ideas, I will point you to theirs:

At What Do We Do All Day?, Erica shares her strategies for avoiding frustration/burnout in her relatively reluctant younger son's emergent reading. She offers a list of 10 alternatives to forcing your kids to learn to read. Personally, I think her hands-off approach, focused on maintaining a love for books, is the right way to go. Here's one example, a technique that I have employed myself, but do click through to the full post for more:

"When reading aloud, take an extra long pause before a word. I have to be casual about this so my son doesn’t catch on, but if I pause long enough, he gets impatient and I see him looking at the word to figure it out."

At Literacy, Families, and Learning, Trevor H. Cairney shares some detailed recommendations for parents and teachers who are working with their beginning readers on oral reading. He discusses reasons why one should (and should not) practice reading aloud with kids, how to select books, and concrete DOs and DON'Ts. He concludes that oral reading should be used in a postive way, and should "virtually never" be used as a test by parents.  

In a more off-the-cuff post than the previous two, Stacey Loscalzo muses on the joy of reading aloud. She says:

"I challenge us to ... ask our children to be children again and read aloud as often and long as we can. Even and especially after they can read to themselves because there is still something inherently important in hearing the written word spoke aloud." 

There was also an interesting discussion at A Fuse #8 Production earlier this week on whether (or when) it is rude to ask someone what their kids are reading now. Betsy Bird worries that:

"if used for evil instead of good, (asking what your child is reading) could act as an awfully effective way to engage in shaming your fellow parent."

At Growing Book by Book, as part of Sensory Processing Awareness month, Jodie Rodriguez writes about why her child can't sit still when they read. She offers  discussion and strategies. For example, this excellent point:

"If your child is comprehending what is read, does it really matter that they aren’t sitting still during the story?"

And there you have it. A few links of potential interest for those of us who are attempting to grow bookworms. 

And, ok, I do have one tiny literacy milestone to share that cropped us this afternoon. My daughter asked to read Naked! by Michael Ian Black and Debbie Ridpath Ohi, only our second read of this library book. Mid-way through, she pointed to a little cluster of toys in the foreground of the page. She said: "that doll and that potato were in I'm Bored!, except that the doll was wearing a different shirt." And sure enough, I looked back that the cover of I'm Bored! (by the same author and illustrator), and the doll in Naked! bears a strong resemblance to the little girl from I'm Bored! As does the potato.

This isn't quite a milestone, because she has certainly recognized characters from one book who crop up in another (most notably The Pigeon). But this one impressed me because it was so subtle, uncovered in a pair of books she didn't even know very well, and that had completely escaped me. I told her that I was impressed.

Yes, if you put enough books in front of your kids, they will start to notice details. Happy reading to all!

© 2014 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook.


Tips from Scholastic for Getting Kids Preschool-Ready

ScholasticParentsScholastic sent me some tips for parents to help get kids ready for preschool. As my own daughter went back to preschool (for PreK) just yesterday, I thought that this would be a timely thing to share. You can find more tips from Scholastic parenting expert Maggie McGuire here

5 Tips (from Scholastic) to Get Every Child Ready for Preschool

1.      USE YOUR WORDS. Talk, sing and use rhymes with your child. Children 0 – 5 years of age develop literacy skills through conversations.   Talk about what you’re making for dinner or buying at the grocery store; talk about the people you see in your town – the firemen, policemen and the pediatrician and what they do to help people.  Research shows 3 year-olds who live in language-rich environments have a vocabulary of nearly 1,110 words, but children without this experience only know 500 words? (Source: The Preschool Experiences We Deserve: A Guide for Families, FIS, 2014).

2.      BOND WITH BOOKS. Use books to show that words and pictures go together and to create special bonding moments with your child. Ask your child questions about the pictures and letters. Even parents who are not confident readers can use picture books and create stories to go with the images. 

3.      PLAY IS LEARNING. LEARNING IS PLAY.  Preschoolers learn through fun and games. Role-play activities like serving pretend meals or dress-up, as well as doing puzzles and playing with blocks and other manipulatives all contribute to school readiness.  When adults talk about and participate in the activities, children learn new vocabulary and develop more sophisticated social skills that will serve them well in a preschool or school setting – sharing, taking turns, etc. 

4.      SHOW CHILDREN THAT MATH IS EVERYWHERE. Children ages 0 – 5 are hardwired for math - whether that’s counting their fingers and toes, learning shapes, manipulating objects like building blocks or dividing up cookies so everyone gets an equal share. Play with and talk about numbers, shapes and patterns everywhere you find them.

5.      GET CRAFTY AND BUILD MOTOR SKILLS. Arts and crafts activities help develop a child’s early writing skills. Have preschoolers paint, draw, cut and glue to develop fine motor skills. Connect literacy with these activities by asking a child “What’s the story?” in his/her picture.

(Back to Jen) These are all things that we do in my house. Some, admittedly, we do more than others. I am not personally very crafty, for example, though I'll share books with my daughter at pretty much any time of the day. But I do agree that it's important to pursue a variety of activites.

I especially agree with the notion that kids are hardwired for math. My daughter has recently starting throwing random math problems at me throughout the day, like "Mom, what's eight plus twenty million plus seventeen?" She thinks that the fact that I can usually answer these questions means that I am very good at math. I tell her that I have had a lot of practice, and that she'll be good at math, too, when she practices more. Last night (after her first day of PreK) we couldn't get her to go to bed, because she was sitting at the kitchen table doing pretend math problems (basically scribbling, but calling them math problems). 

Bottom line, there are many factors to school readiness. But Scholastic's tips are all solid places to start.

© 2014 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. (Except for the tips, which are from Scholastic.) You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook


A Tip for Nurturing Developing Readers: Take Away A Possible Fear

My daughter just turned four in April. She loves to be read to, and we are in no rush whatsoever for her to learn to read on her own. But I've noticed lately that she's sometimes resistant to even flipping through the pages of a book on her own (say, in the car). She'll say: "I can't read yet, Mommy." And it struck me that there was something defensive about this.

So this morning something came up about books (as is not uncommon in our house), and she remarked that if she was going to read a book it would have to be easy. I was inspired to say: "You know, even if you learn to read, we will still read to you. Whenever you like, for as long as you like." Huge smile, big hug, and, perhaps, a look of relief. 

I may be projecting here. It's not that she came out and said: "I'm afraid that if I learn to read you guys won't read to me anymore. And I like it when you read to me." Rather, I've put together fleeing impressions based on her responses to things (including a diminishing interest when I point out individual words when we are reading together). But it's certainly possible that I'm right, and that she's been cautious about the idea of learning more words because she doesn't want us to stop reading to her. This is a fear that I am more than happy to take away.  

So, that is my tip for other parents of developing young readers:

Take a moment to assure your child that even if he learns to read on his own, you will still read to him. 

Then, of course, stay true to your word. There are so many benefits to continuing to read aloud to your children after they can read on their own. You can read them more advanced titles, thus enhancing their vocabularies and giving them exposure to ideas. You can use the books as a springboard to discussions about all sorts of things. And you can experience parent-child closeness, snuggled up together over the pages of a book. 

© 2014 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook


New Survey from RIF Finds Only 17% of Parents Make Reading a Top Priority for Summer

News Release from RIF: Kids Spend Nearly Triple the Time Playing Video Games or Watching TV vs. Reading

Macy's and Reading Is Fundamental Launch Be Book Smart Campaign June 18 to Support Children's Literacy

  BeBookSmart RIF_Primary_Vertical 

 

WASHINGTON - (June 18, 2014) - Despite research that indicates the importance of summer reading in preventing children from losing literacy skills, only 17 percent of parents say reading is a top summer priority, according to a new survey from Reading Is Fundamental (RIF) and Macy's. The survey, conducted by Harris Interactive, also finds that children spend nearly three times as many hours weekly watching TV or playing video games as they do reading in the summer. More than 1,000 parents with children ages 5-11 completed the survey online in April.

Results of the survey are made public as Macy's and RIF launch the 11th annual Be Book Smart campaign to support children's literacy. Be Book Smart begins June 18, and invites customers nationwide to give $3 at any Macy's register in-store, to help provide a book for a child andget $10 off a purchase of $30 or more. Macy's will donate 100 percent of every $3 to RIF. The campaign ends July 13.

"Many families think of reading as eating your vegetables--good for you but not necessarily a treat. Reading is the best vacation. It takes you places you never dreamed you would visit, and summer especially is a time when kids can immerse themselves in the topics they like best," said Carol H. Rasco, CEO of Reading Is Fundamental. "Thanks to our partnership with Macy's, we are bringing more books to children who need them most and starting them on a journey to a lifelong love of reading."

More than 60 percent of parents in the survey said they do not believe their child loses reading skills over the summer. However, existing research shows that summer learning loss is a major problem, particularly for low-income children who can lose up to three months of reading skills because of limited access to books and learning opportunities while out of school. The key to helping children maintain and even improve their literacy skills over the summer is providing access to quality books that they can choose based on personal interests. 

Full survey results are highlighted in an executive summary by Harris Interactive. Key findings include:

  • On average, parents say their child spends 17.4 hours/week watching TV or playing video games, 16.7 hours/week playing outside and only 5.9 hours/week reading.
  • Parents who consider reading to be extremely or very important are twice as likely to have a child who reads every day.
  • Children who were involved in a reading program last summer were up to two times more likely to read every day. Yet, over half of parents said their child did not participate in a reading program at all last summer.
  • Last summer, children who read because they wanted to were twice as likely to read than children who read because they had to.
  • Despite the proliferation of e-books and digital formats, 83 percent of parents said their child preferred print books for summer reading, compared to 7 percent preferring tablets and 4 percent preferring e-readers.

"We are committed to RIF's mission of empowering children through literacy and inspiring them to embrace the joy of reading during the summer," said Martine Reardon, chief marketing officer, Macy's. "Be Book Smart offers our customers the opportunity to give back to their local community, and thanks to the collective generosity of our customers and associates, we've given 10 million books to kids since 2004."

The survey sheds new light on the importance of summer reading, as advocates across the nation gear up for National Summer Learning Day, on June 20.

To celebrate the launch of the campaign, select Macy's across the country will host Reading Circles, featuring storytelling and photos with popular book characters. Customers can also help spread the word about the campaign by entering the Be Book Smart Summer Instagram photo contest. One winner will be selected each week  of the campaign to receive a $500 Macy's gift card. Visit rif.org /macys  for more details.

 Since 2004, Macy's has helped raise nearly $30 million for RIF. Through customer-supported fundraising campaigns, in-store events and volunteer activities, Macy's has donated funds and resources to further the message of literacy for future success. Macy's longstanding support has enabled RIF to promote literacy at all levels, from buying books for children, training educators, and providing resources to parents.

Methodology

This summer reading survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive on behalf of Reading Is Fundamental between April 7-18, 2014 among 1,014 parents of kids ages 5-11. No estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables, please contact Olivia Doherty at Olivia@thehatchergroup.com or 410-990-0824.


Top 10 Tips for Getting Kids Reading this Summer: Scholastic Infographic

As I posted on Monday, Scholastic's Summer Reading Challenge launched this week. As a life-long fan of outdoor reading, I like this year's theme of "Reading Under the Stars". Scholastic prepared this companion infographic, which I thought parents might find useful. It's somewhat tied to the Summer Reading Challenge, with emphasis on tracking time spent reading, but there are also tips here (with references) that could benefit any parent.

I especially like tip #1: Let Kids Choose. I think that's so important. And of course I'm an expert at Tip #8: Be a Reading Role Model. Click to expand the image. 

Top10Infographic

This post (c) Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. The infographic copyright belongs to Scholastic. 


News Release: 2014 Scholastic #SummerReading Challenge Launches Today

Students Log Reading Minutes as They Seek to Break the World Record for Summer Reading; Teachers/Schools Can Register All Their Students

Prizes and Sweepstakes for Kids; Free Resources for Parents and Teachers

SummerReading-LOGONew York, NY – May 5, 2014 – Today, Scholastic (NASDAQ: SCHL) announces the launch of the 2014 Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge, a free, global reading program that motivates children to read throughout the out-of-school summer months by logging their reading minutes, and earning rewards, with the goal of setting a new world record for summer reading. Last year’s participants set the world record of 176,438,473 minutes read. Teachers, schools and families can register their children in grades K–8 starting today at scholastic.com/summer and children can log minutes from today through September 5th, 2014.

The Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge was created to give schools and families a free and engaging way to encourage more children to read during the summer and prevent the ‘summer slide’– the learning losses that set children back academically when they do not read during the out-of-school summer months. Children sign up to read on behalf of their school and the schools compete to win top prizes. The top elementary school with the most minutes read will win a visit from bestselling author-illustrator David Shannon (Bugs in My Hair!) and the top middle school will win a visit from bestselling author Gordon Korman (The Hypnotists). The top 20 U.S. schools with the most reading minutes recorded by September 5th will be featured in the 2015 Scholastic Book of World Records.  

This year’s Summer Reading theme is Reading Under the Stars, and is powered by EVEREADY®, the maker of batteries and flashlights, to encourage families to discover new and fun ways to explore reading outside this summer. Reading Under the Stars comes to life for children online as they enter reading minutes and, throughout the summer, the site will unlock interactive star constellations containing special video messages from NASA astronaut Leland Melvin. Children will also have the opportunity to take an extra “Chapter Challenge” and learn more about space from Pascal Lee, a planetary scientist from the SETI and Mars Institute and author of Mission: Mars. Parents can support their child’s reading all summer with the free “Reading Under the Stars Guide,” which includes summer reading book lists, curated by Scholastic experts, Read Under the Stars videos, expert articles, tips and family activities.

“We know that the more children read, the more they succeed and time spent with books is especially important during the summer months so students return to school ready to tackle more challenging texts,” said Francie Alexander, Chief Academic Officer at Scholastic. “In the summer, we want our kids finding books that fit their personal interests because those are the books that will make them fall in love with reading.  Being part of the Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge motivates kids to build up their reading minutes and earn rewards, while parents and teachers can monitor progress. Everybody wins!”

Here are ways parents, children and educators can get involved in the 2014 Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge.

FREE SUMMER READING TOOLS FOR PARENTS:

  • Facebook calendar app and live chats:  Parents can find something every day on the Scholastic Parents Facebook including a summer calendar app with expert tips and articles and activities. Every Friday, parents can enter for the chance to win an EVEREADY® “Reading Under the Stars” prize pack including a picnic blanket, EVEREADY® flashlights and headlamps and EVEREADY® Gold® batteries. Plus, parents can join “Book Swap” live chats all summer with top parenting and reading experts.
    • The first live chat will be hosted by Lori Ess, Associate Director of Title Presentation, Scholastic, and Betsy Bird, Youth Materials Collections Specialist New York Public Library, tonight, May 5th at 9 p.m. ET.
  • Reading minutes mobile app: Parents can monitor their children’s progress and help their children enter minutes on-the-go via mobile on the Scholastic Reading Timer app.
  • 2014 summer book list:  Curated by Scholastic experts, this list features more than 700 books for children in Pre-K–8, including this year’s “Reading Under the Stars” themed list, which showcases books about space, stars and astronomy, as well as spooky stories to read by a campfire.
  • EVEREADY® free book on pack program – Parents can receive a free Scholastic book by mail when they buy two specially marked packs of EVEREADY® Gold® batteries or EVEREADY® flashlights and redeem the package codes online. Visit eveready.com/reader to learn more. 

FREE SUMMER READING TOOLS FOR CHILDREN:

  • Events at museums and planetariums: Special “Reading Under the Stars”–inspired overnight events with free books, EVEREADY® flashlights and activity sheets for attendees.  Events will take place at planetariums and museums across the country including:
    • Carnegie Science Center “Science Sleepovers” (Pittsburgh, PA, May 9)
    • Milwaukee Public Museum “Overnights” (Milwaukee, WI, May 16)
    • The Smithsonian: National Museum of Natural History “Smithsonian Sleepovers” (Washington, D.C., May 17)
    • Adler Planetarium “Astro Overnights” (Chicago, IL June 6)
    • California Academy of Sciences “Penguins + Pajamas” (San Francisco, CA, June 13)
  • Reading rewards & prizes: Throughout the summer, children who join the Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge read to earn digital badges and take the extra Chapter Challenge and win a chapter from a favorite book.  Elementary school readers will win weekly chapters that make up a full Geronimo Stilton:Mini-Mystery book. Middle School readers will win weekly chapters from a variety of bestselling titles including The 39 Clues®Spirit Animals™ and more.
  • Monthly sweepstakes: Once children log minutes, they will have the opportunity to enter for a chance to win Ricky Ricotta series books, a Harry Potter paperback box set, Jedi Academy series books, and a multiplatform prize pack (The 39 Clues Book 1: Maze of Bones, Infinity Ring Book 1: Mutiny in Time, Spirit Animals Book 1: Wild Born).
  • Virtual map: Children can track their school (and any other participating school) to see how many minutes have been read and keep tabs on which schools are in the lead.

FREE SUMMER READING TOOLS FOR EDUCATORS:

  • Educator dashboard: Teachers can register up to 100 students and track their reading throughout the summer. Teachers who register by June 30th can enter a sweepstakes for the chance to win a Scholastic classroom library.
  • Emails to parents: The educator dashboard provides automatic emails for teachers to send to all their students’ parents to ensure children are entering their reading minutes all summer, when they are out of school. Emails are available in English and Spanish.
  • Free resources in English and Spanish: Teachers can access bi-lingual information including: letters to parents, printable activity sheets, reading logs and reading certificates in addition to videos for parents.

To support the students in their states and encourage summer reading throughout America, many of the U.S. Governors and Governors’ Spouses are joining Scholastic as “Reading Ambassadors” for the 2014 Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge. The 2014 Reading Ambassadors, whose names will be announced soon, will host summer reading events at schools in their respective states, and, in honor of each Reading Ambassador, Scholastic is donating 500 books to the school of his or her choice.

For more information about Scholastic and the Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge, please visit the Scholastic media room.


A Tip for Growing Bookworms: Avoid Bookshaming

A post at the Nerdy Book Club this week really made me think. Priscilla Thomas, an 11th grade teacher, wrote about the repercussions of what she called "bookshaming". Thomas says:

"To be clear, opinion and disagreement are important elements of literary discourse. Bookshaming, however, is the dismissive response to another’s opinion. Although it is sometimes justified as expressing an opinion that differs from the norm, or challenging a popular interpretation, bookshaming occurs when “opinions” take the form of demeaning comments meant to shut down discourse and declare opposing viewpoints invalid."

She goes on to enumerate five ways that bookshaming (particularly by teachers) can thwart the process of nurturing "lifelong readers." I wish that all teachers could read this post. 

But of course I personally read this as a parent. Thomas forced me to consider an incident that had taken place in my household a couple of weeks ago. We were rushing around to get out of the house to go somewhere, but my daughter asked me to read her a book first. The book she wanted was Barbie: My Fabulous Friends! (which she had picked out from the Scholastic Book Fair last fall). 

I did read this book about Barbie and her beautiful, multicultural friends. But at the end I made some remark about it being a terrible book. And even as I said it, I KNEW that it was the wrong thing to say. Certainly, it is not to my taste. It's just little profiles of Barbie's friends - no story to speak of. But my daughter had picked out this book from the Book Fair, and she had liked it enough to ask me to read it to her. She seemed to be enjoying it. And I squashed all of that by criticizing her taste.

Two weeks later, I am still annoyed with myself. Priscilla Thomas' article helped me to better understand why. She said: "When we make reading about satisfying others instead of our own enjoyment and education, we replace the joy of reading with anxiety." What I WANT is for my daughter to love books. And if I have to grit my teeth occasionally over a book that irritates me, so what? 

Rather than continue to beat myself up over this, I have resolved to be better. The other night I read without a murmur The Berenstain Bears Come Clean for School by Jan and Mike Berenstain, which is basically a lesson on how and why to avoid spreading germs at school. As I discussed here, that same book has helped my daughter to hone her skills in recommending books. It is not a book I would have ever selected on my own. But I'm going to hold on to the image of my daughter flipping to the last page of the book, face shining, to tell me how funny the ending was. 

Growing bookworms is about teaching our children to love reading (see a nice post by Carrie Gelson about this at Kirby Larson's blog). They're not going to love reading if we criticize their tastes, and make them feel anxious or defensive. I'm sorry that I did that to my daughter over the Barbie book, and I intend to do my best not to do that again. If this means reading 100 more Barbie books over the next couple of years, so be it. Of course I can and will introduce her to other authors that are more to my own taste, to see which ones she likes. But I will respect her taste, too. 

© 2014 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook. This site is an Amazon affiliate.


International Book Giving Day: February 14th

Ibgd-blog-badge200pxFebruary 14th is already known through children's and YA book blogging land as the day that the Cybils winners are announced. (There's some other holiday that day, too, I think, but we're book people here. Right?) February 14th is also International Book Giving Day. The official site (see details here - this is a grass roots effort) recommends three ways to celebrate:

  1. Give a Book to a Friend or Relative.
  2. Leave a Book in a Waiting Room or Lobby.
  3. Donate a Book.

There's a cool poster, designed by Hungarian designer and illustrator Mariann Marayjust released for 2014: 

Ibdgposter2014

I found this poster at the home of Amy at Delightful Children's Books. She is one of the organizers of this event. Other International Book Giving Day posts are up at Susan Stephenson's blog, and at Playing by the Book (also organizers). 

I haven't decided how we'll celebrate at my house. (I give books to my daughter so often that giving her a book will hardly stand out). But I'll be giving it some thought. Meanwhile, you can follow along using the hashtag #giveabook on Twitter.

Happy Book-Giving!