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Children's Literacy Round-Up: March 20

Here's the scoop on recent children's literacy-related news:

  • According to an article in the Lansing State Journal (Michigan), Dolly Parton's Imagination Library program is now being rolled out in The Ionia County Intermediate School District (ICISD). Program organizers are seeking donations, and will begin distributing books to all children in the district (up to age 5) once the donations reach approximately $25,000. The article references Steven Bialostok's book Raising Readers on why this program is important: "the single most important factor influencing children's literacy (speaking, reading, and writing) is the amount of time they are read to."
  • A very brief news release says that: "The United Nations is establishing thousands of literacy centres across Afghanistan. They are part of the United Nations Children's Fund plan to support education in rural areas. According to UN data, 90 per cent of rural women and 65 per cent of rural men are illiterate. Girls were banned from going to school by the Taliban which was in power between 1996 and 2001. After the collapse of Taliban regime they have returned to classes, although efforts to get children back in school have been troubled by militant attacks, including the murder of teachers." A slightly longer article is available at MaximsNews.
  • An article in the Fay Observer (Fayetteville, NC) discusses local efforts to close the achievement gap between black and white students, with emphasis on the need for early intervention to get kids reading. "Recognizing the importance of early intervention, the Cumberland County school system began a literacy program in 2004, getting a jump on the statewide initiative. Cumberland now has literacy coaches in its 54 elementary schools. The schools spend 90 minutes each day with children on specialized reading instruction. The literacy program appears to be paying off. When it began, 72.5 percent of the county’s black third-graders passed the reading part of end-of-grade tests. Last year, 77.2 percent of black third-graders passed — an increase of nearly 5 percent. The scores of white students also increased but by a smaller margin." See the article for further details.
  • Children's author and literacy advocate spoke recently at an event in Illinois, sponsored by the Fox Valley Reading Council, Lake Area Reading Council and Judson College. According to an article in the Courier News, "Fox uses her platform to encourage parents to read to their children voraciously beginning at birth to meet the recommended 1,000 stories in the first five years of life. She even encouraged parents to read to children within the first couple hours of birth. Fox recommends reading three stories a day, which would equal 1,000 stories in 11 months. She believes reading is essential for those in every walk of life." She cited research to back up her point - see the full article for details. 
  • A news release described author Suzanne Bloom's upcoming speaking engagement in Pennsylvania, in which she also was expected to speak on the importance of early literacy. The release also recapped other aspects of Pennsylvania's One Book, Every Young Child early literacy program.