Here is this week's children's literacy news update, a sampling of news stories about children's literacy and reading from around the world.
- Kelly Herold pointed me to this article by Valerie Strauss in the Chicago Tribune about National Ambassador for Young People's Literature Jon Scieszka. It's about the need to make reading fun again. My favorite part was where the author quoted Scieszka at the end of the article: "Reading, he said, is not an elective in life, but a necessity. "Why do we care if people are reading?" he said. "Can't we watch YouTube forever? The answer is no. Because your brain will turn to mush." Don't want anyone's brains turning to mush, do we?
- Via Susan from Wizards Wireless, I found this article in the Kentucky Post about prison inmates recording children's books on tape for their kids. "The children's book program started at the Daviess County Detention Center nearly four years ago with the development of the GOALS Substance Abuse Program. Director Donna Nolan said every inmate in the program is required to record at least one book prior to graduating, and if they don't have children of their own, the tapes are sent to kids in need." That last part I found a little surprising - I totally get why you'd want to have kids listen to their own parent read stories on tape. But listening to a random inmate that you don't know? But perhaps for at-risk kids, something like that could really help, or perhaps they find extended family members.
- Speaking of people in prison, Terry T. Jordan writes in the Philadelphia Inquirer about the link between lack of education and likelihood of incarceration. The article was motivated by these facts: "In the same week this month, a study by a Washington criminal-justice think tank revealed that Philadelphia has the highest rate of incarceration in the country, while another study, by a Maryland-based nonprofit, reported that only half of Philadelphia's students graduate from high school." Jordan, President of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, suggests several concrete steps. Link via the International Reading Association blog.
- The April 16th deadline is rapidly approaching for Canadian fifth and sixth graders to enter the GMAC Great Canadian Writing Contest. "“The GMAC Great Canadian Writing Contest is designed to engage children in writing, while providing a fun and exciting activity that turns winning writers into published authors,” says Thomas E. Dickerson, President of GMAC of Canada." One of the prizes is a visit by author Ken Oppel to the winner's school, library, or family literacy program. You can find details in this article in The Bulletin.
- Also in Canada, the Miramichi Leader has an article by Edna Williston about a program by which "most, if not all, newborns in New Brunswick received a newborn gift bag filled with books to encourage reading and literacy from an early age." I love these types of programs - I think that they start families off in the right direction.
- Last week was Reading Week 2008 in Jamaica. The Jamaica Gleaner published several article about children's literacy, including this opinion piece by Tenna A. Mrr about the importance of parents in supporting children's literacy. The author offers some concrete suggestions, including: "Create a word wall - any wall in the house, a door or the refrigerator can be used. Words and more words tells children that words are vital, interesting and worth exploring and knowing." I want one in my house!
That's all for this week. There are still books to unpack. Happy reading!