Not So Tall for Six: Dianna Hutts Aston
Growing Bookworms Newsletter: February 26, 2008

Tuesday Afternoon Visits: Helping Readers, and Making People's Day

So I did my weekend "visits" post early last weekend, on Saturday. And wouldn't you know it? People posted tons of not-to-be-missed stuff on Sunday and Monday. So here I am with an extra post for you.

Makemydayawardas2First of all, I'm honored to report that not one but two of my very favorite bloggers each granted me a "Blogs that Make My Day" award. The first was from Jill at The Well-Read Child. The second was from Susan at Wizards Wireless. Both of these are relatively new blogs, which I've discovered over the past few months, but they've each quickly jumped onto my must-read list. Jill shares my passion for helping people to encourage children to love books. She offers reading tips, in-depth reviews, and articles like this one, about recognizing and responding to adult illiteracy. Jill jumped right on board to help with my article about reluctant readers back in January, and her input was much appreciated. Susan focuses on children's books, comic strips, and especially Harry Potter. She includes lots of fun polls on her blog, but she intersperses the fun stuff with thoughtful posts on things like why it's ok not to enjoy a book that everyone else likes. The most recent post of Susan's that I flagged for mention was this one, about the value of singing picture books aloud with kids. I'm sure to be mentioning other posts by Susan and Jill going forward.

Now, I know that I'm supposed to pass along this award. But it's so hard to choose. There are quite a few blogs that make my day. So I'm going to say the same thing that I said in response to the Shameless Lions award - if I link to one of your posts in any of my Sunday Visits posts, and/or if I included your input in that reluctant readers article, then you have a blog that makes my day.

Now, on to other links:

  • The Lamppost Blog, a new blog written by a high school English teacher from Canada, has an article about common strategies for reaching reluctant readers. I will admit to having found this because I was referenced in the article, but I have bookmarked The Lamppost for further reading. I like the name of the blog, and it's definitely one for teachers to check out.
  • Another post in which my reluctant readers article was referenced (it is just all about me today, isn't it?), this one on a blog I've been reading for a while, is this post at Book Advice. Minerva66 asks: Is time an important factor in children's literacy? She proposes that a factor that hasn't received much attention in the decline of reading debate is simply that many kids are so over-scheduled that they lack the time to "relax, think quietly, and create on their own." I think that she makes an excellent point. Have you all run into this issue, in encouraging your kids and your students to read?
  • Speaking of encouraging kids to read, don't miss the latest post by Donalyn Miller at The Book Whisperer. She proposes that "The manner in which schools institutionalize reading takes this love (of books) away from children." She also discusses the correlation between being a reader and being a good test-taker, and the way that teaching towards standardized tests via "drill and kill ... slowly strangles the joy of reading out of students, and narrows their possibilities as readers forever more." Anyone know a way out of this problem, given the emphasis that the system places on standardized tests? It is ironic, if teaching to the tests is killing a love of reading, because kids who love to read do well on standardized tests anyway. 
  • And if you're looking to encourage boys to read, check out this post at The Miss Rumphius Effect, in which Tricia links to a Chronicle of Higher Education article about what boys should read.
  • Over at Kids Lit, Tasha links to a new AP article by Stephanie Reitz about the new trend of taking children's book art more seriously. I especially liked this statement from the article: "More art lovers are recognizing that whimsy and significance aren't mutually exclusive." I would argue that the same could be said for literature, too.
  • At ForeWord Magazine's ShelfSpace blog, Pam Coughlan writes about her magical ability to make books disappear from the children's library shelves. She also offers some suggestions to authors, publishers, and reviewers for making the magic flow even more easily (e.g. "The publisher has a huge impact on the book by creating the cover art.").
  • I learned from Felicity12 at Look Books that a book that I recently enjoyed (STORM: The Infinity Code) already has three sequels in the UK. One would think that these will make their way over here before too long.
  • I've seen several great posts about the recent Dublin Literacy Conference. But I especially enjoyed this post, by Mary Lee from A Year of Reading, about how she learned, during a live presentation, just what a small world it really is. She was showing a live SiteMeter map during her presentation, and was able to identify TadMack dropping by from over in Scotland. Very cool!
  • At the Kiddosphere, Jennifer Schultz suggests several "school stories" for those kids who are not enamored of fantasy.
  • In the context of a post about an upcoming early literacy summit, Walter Minkel posits, at The Monkey Speaks, that the problem with literacy conferences is that much of the content falls on the "ears of the converted". He suggests a broader approach, by which "we, the librarians out on the floor, who are visiting a school on a parents’ night, or speaking to parents at a preschool, need to be talking up books and encouraging parents to visit the library. Never pass up a chance to talk to the parents who haven’t been converted yet to the “gospel” of reading aloud - to do a commercial for reading aloud." I would actually extend Walter's call, and say that any of us, librarians or not, who have the chance should be making commercials for reading aloud.
  • Colleen Mondor has just posted her You Should Read This Awards for 2008: Books Published for Adults that Teens Will Love. I might amend that title to add that these are books published by adults that we adult fans of children's literature are likely to also love. For instance, Ysabel, which is a book that I just mentioned in my "reviews that made me want the book" post, is included, not to mention many other books that I've enjoyed. The list is not limited to recently published titles, and is a great resource for anyone looking for books that will please teens. On a somewhat related note, over at Bookshelves of Doom, Leila is looking for 2007 YA books that "didn't get enough love"
  • Dearfinaltop_1_19_resizethumbnailDo you have a question that you've always wanted to ask Beverly Cleary? If so, check out this post by Rachael Walker, Outreach Consultant for Reading Rockets, at the First Book Blog. "In preparation for the third annual National D.E.A.R. Day—that’s Drop Everything and Read—Reading Rockets is collecting questions for Mrs. Cleary from readers of all ages. She’ll answer the best and most original questions on April 12, National D.E.A.R. Day and her birthday, in a new exclusive audio interview. You have until this Friday, February 29 to send your question". See also this post at Becky's Book Reviews about D.E.A.R. day.
  • The spring issue of the Prairie Wind, the newsletter of the SCBWI-Illinois Chapter, is now available, with lots of great articles.

OK, that was more than a few links. I hope you'll all find something useful.