Extras: Scott Westerfeld
The Name of this Book is Secret: Pseudonymous Bosch

Children's Literacy Round-Up: Teens, Dads, and Famous Kiwis

Here is this week's children's literacy and reading-related news from around the wires. There is some great stuff this week, and I've been helped in my quest by several other bloggers (links below):

  • Becky Levine was kind enough to send me a link to a UC Davis Magazine article about the school's Children's Literature program. Here's my favorite part: "Both a good bedtime story and an effective classroom tool, a children’s book can teach young children the use of words and language in a friendly way, and help improve their writing skills. It can also introduce children to a whole world of cultural experiences. Yet, as schoolrooms become increasingly dominated by standardized testing, UC Davis instructors fear that the value of children’s literature may be overlooked. So at UC Davis new programs for future teachers are refocusing attention on the subject. And in recognition of the benefits of children’s literature for adults as well as children, the books are also playing an important role in some undergraduate classrooms." How cool is that?
  • The Roanoke Times reports that teens still read. The article contains encouraging statistics about teen reading, as well as quotes and examples from teenagers. Teens quoted mentioned that they read more because there is now YA literature that reflects their lives. It seems to me that this trend will likely increase. Thanks to Confessions of a Bibliovore for the link.
  • The Prince of Wales has called upon British parents to read to their children. According to the Telegraph, "A new national festival supported by the Prince of Wales hopes to revive the art of family storytelling. Jasper Rees reports, and gets the views of some notable storytellers." The article notes that: "The long-term impact of an early childhood without bedtime stories, according to leading children's writers, cannot be overstated." Authors cited in the article include Eoin Colfer, Michael Morpurgo, and GP Taylor.
  • Literacy Launchpad links to a great New York Time article by Michael Winerip called Making a Love of Reading Happen. As Amy pointed out at Literacy Launchpad, it's especially nice to see an article like this written from a dad's perspective. Michael notes, after several years of attending back-to-school nights at his children's middle school, "Each year it seems I hear less and less about what books the students will read and more and more about how they’ll be prepared for the state tests. If my wife or I don’t raise our hands and ask “What novels?” it usually doesn’t come up." [This is exactly the same criticism that came up in some UK-based articles last week - many schools are so standardized-test-focused that they don't have the resources to foster a love of reading.] Michael also says "It falls to parents to make a love of reading happen. And though I have labored long and hard at this, I haven’t found it easy, particularly as my kids get older." But you should read the whole article - it's excellent (even though the author admits to mixed success, his goals are clear, and I, for one, appreciate his perspective).
  • Speaking of dads, the Worthington Daily Globe has an article about a Dads and Early Literacy Workshop held in Slayton, MN. According to the article: "“If parents — especially fathers — read to their preschool children, it really shows and makes a positive difference when those kids arrive at school,” emphasized Tom Fitzpatrick, the workshop’s leader and a program director of the Minnesota Humanities Center, based in St. Paul." The article discusses statistics on why it's important to get fathers reading to their children, and the potential payoff when they do. Of course it's great for both parents to read to their kids - I think the idea here is to encourage fathers, who are statistically less likely to do so. See the Minnesota Humanities Center for more information.
  • The Anderson County (SC) Literacy Fall Festival was held this weekend. Organizers expected to give free books to "roughly 3,000 to 4,000 children from pre-kindergarten through middle school", according to the Independent Mail. The festival is now in it's 16th year.
  • Famous New Zealanders (aka kiwis) are donating their favorite children's books for an online charity auction. According to Scoop (New Zealand), "The November auction will raise funds for the Books for Babes Trust. The Trust is celebrating ten years of giving books to families that have limited access to books, with the aim of helping parents bond with their newborn babies."'
  • Several senators have introduced a bill to Congress that would (according to the Providence Journal) "create a federal pediatric early literacy grant initiative based on the longstanding, successful Reach Out and Read program. Under the new, five-year, $85 million initiative, parents would be sent home with a prescription to read to their child and the tool to make it happen — a brand-new children’s book." Here are the author credentials for the article, which includes much-read details about the success of the Reach Out and Read program: "Aaron Friedman, M.D., is a professor and chairman of pediatrics at Brown University’s medical school, and is pediatrician-in-chief at Rhode Island Hasbro Children’s Hospital. Pamela High, M.D., is a professor of pediatrics at Brown’s medical school and director of developmental/behavioral pediatrics at Hasbro Children’s Hospital." Reach Out and Read is also targeting military families, according to an article in the Blackanthem Military News.
  • The Minneapolis Star Tribune has a feature article by Julie Pfitzinger about helping kids "crack the code" of learning to read. Specifically, the article is about the use of phonics to help kids to decipher the elements of reading (registration may be required, but you can sign up for a 7-day quick pass with minimal information).

And that's all for this week. But if you come across any articles in the news related to children's literacy or raising readers, please let me know. Thanks, and happy reading!