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Children's Literacy Round-Up: September 10

Here's the children's literacy and reading related news that caught my eye this week. There's quite a bit of news from the weekend's International Literacy Day. I don't pretend to capture of all of it, but I have some highlights (and lowlights).

  • According to a recent press release, "Governor Jennifer M. Granholm recently proclaimed September as Michigan Reads to Children Month, encouraging parents, grandparents, siblings and caregivers across the state to take an active part in the Library of Michigan's one-state, one-children's- book program, Michigan Reads!, featuring the book "Big Chickens" written by Michigan author Leslie Helakoski and illustrated by Henry Cole." I say that "parents, grandparents, siblings and caregivers" from all states should be encouraged to read to kids all the time. But the Michigan program is a good start.
  • Similarly, in Canada, "Education Minister Kathleen Wynne is encouraging parents to celebrate International Literacy Day on September 8 by reading with their children."
  • And speaking of encouraging people to read to kids, check out this BlogCritics Magazine interview with Terry Doherty, creator of The Reading Tub. Terry's goal is "to bring reading home to families". The site has lots of reviews (or book profiles, as they call them), classified by age range. I think it would make an excellent resource for parents.
  • Did you know that there's a National Punctuation Day? According to a recent press release, it's going to be celebrated September 24th. "It's a day for librarians, educators and parents -- people who are interested in teaching and promoting good writing skills to their students and their children. It's also a day to remind business people that they are often judged by how they present themselves." National Punctuation day was started in 2004 by former newspaperman Jeff Rubin.
  • Some daunting news was presented on International Literacy Day this past weekend. According to the Daily Time of Pakistan, seven million children are not enrolled in schools, including approximately 50% of children between the ages of five and seven. Meanwhile in Nigeria, the State Commissioner for Basic Education said that "over 76.3 million out of a population of 140 million people are non-literates. She stated that about 60% of the non-literate Nigerians are women while 10 million are school-aged children and youths who are out of school." Both countries do have efforts in place to improve children's literacy.
  • And in India, "President Pratibha Devisingh Patil on Saturday said priority attention should be given to women’s literacy and education. For, the male-female gap in literacy rate continued to be “unacceptably high.” The divide was sharper in rural areas, she said in her address at an International Literacy Day function here." Ms. Patil also said that "India accounted for 20 per cent of the world’s out-of-school children and 35 per cent of adult illiterates." Of course, the first step to improvement is understanding of the problem.
  • On a brighter note, Sri Lanka reported gains in literacy. According to the national Daily News, "Education Minister Susil Premajayantha said moves are under way to achieve a 100 per cent literacy rate among Sri Lankans by 2011." He said the Education Ministry's Informal Unit has taken many steps to achieve this target, among which is getting children into schools."
  • The Johannesburg, South Africa Central Library held a fun celebration for National Literacy Day, "a day set aside to encourage a culture of reading." There's a nice profile at the City of Johannesburg website. You can also find articles about other literacy day celebrations from Evansville, KY and Muskogee, OK.
  • "The National Center for Family Literacy (NCFL), headquartered in Louisville, Ky., and Every Child Succeeds (ECS), located in Greater Cincinnati, are joining efforts to close [the gap in literacy between children from poor vs. high income houses]. Literacy Begins at Home, a pilot project, is aimed to boost family literacy through in-home visits." You can find more details in this press release.
  • According to Education Week, the NIH has awarded $30 million over the next five years to research centers devoted to studying the "4th grade slump" in reading. The goal is to come up with interventions that can be used in the classroom, to keep kids reading proficiently as they move from basic decoding to fluency and comprehension.
  • My local paper, the San Jose Mercury News just published a feature story about the many community reading programs in the East Bay, discussing books from 9 communities.

And that's quite enough for today. I'll keep you posted if anything else especially interesting comes up this week.