Audrey, Wait!: Robin Benway
Readergirlz: May Issue Launches Enhanced Summer Literacy Site

I received the following press release from the NCTE, and thought that it would be of interest to readers of this blog, as it pertains to reading and children's literacy (highlighting mine):

For years, has provided educators with hundreds of free lesson plans covering a wide range of K-12 reading and language arts-related topics. Now parents, camp counselors, and others gearing up for a summer of fun, educational experiences can take advantage of new additions to Learning Beyond the Classroom, a companion website that features everything non-teachers need to promote literacy learning and practice even when school is out

Learning Beyond the Classroom, initially launched in June 2007 by the International Reading Association (IRA) and the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), extends the reach of teacher-popular reading and writing lesson plans for K-12 students to an out-of-school setting. The activities on the site provide a fun twist to literacy fundamentals. Even better, the activities can ward off the learning loss that many students, especially those who struggle in school, experience over the summer.

The collection of more than 50 out-of-school activities, organized by age groups, is available at Each activity comes complete with a list of needed materials, clear instructions, and an explanation of the practiced skill, including a glossary that defines literacy jargon, like "theme" or "phonemic awareness." The site also features online, interactive materials, like a crossword puzzles tool and another for creating comic strips, many with related tip sheets that explain how the tool can be used along with suggested activities. 

This year, the website features two new podcast series, Chatting About Books and Text Messages. Emily Manning, an elementary teacher and mom in Denton, Texas, who hosts Chatting About Books, has contributed many lesson plans to, including 2007's most popular lesson, "Can You Convince Me? Developing Persuasive Writing." She notes, "As a classroom teacher, I'm always looking for new ways to make reading enjoyable and meaningful to students."

Text Messages provides book recommendations that adults can pass along to preteen and teen readers. Scott Filkins, the host of the series, notes, "As a high school English teacher, I've worked with a wide variety of teen readers and I delight in seeing a reader connect with a good book." His first podcast will delve into American Born Chinese, a book that tells its story in words and pictures and that made Amazon's editors choice list in 2006. (Note from JR: American Born Chinese also won the 2006 Cybils Award for Graphic Novels, ages 13 and up. See an interview with author Gene Yang here.)

Learning Beyond the Classroom is part of, a nonprofit website maintained by IRA and NCTE with support from the Verizon Foundation, and in association with the Thinkfinity consortium. Last year, more than 10 million visitors visited the site for free lesson plans, interactive student materials, Web resources, and standards for K-12 classroom teachers of reading and the English language arts.

The International Reading Association is a nonprofit, global network of individuals and institutions committed to worldwide literacy. With more than 80,000 members, the Association supports literacy professionals through a wide range of professional development resources, advocacy efforts, and volunteer programs. For more information, please visit

The National Council of Teachers of English, with 50,000 individual and institutional members worldwide, is dedicated to improving the teaching and learning of English and the language arts at all levels of education. For more information, please visit

The International Reading Association's annual conference is going on right now in Atlanta. Maybe next year I'll be able to attend.