Books Now Available: I Shall Not Want
Bonny Becker, Contest Winners, and Blog Tour Controversy

Children's Literacy Round-Up: June 9

Here is some recent children's literacy news from around the wires:

  • The Children's Book Review has a nice article about summer reading tips, inspired by and linking to articles from Parents Magazine. I especially like the section on "set up reading as a challenge, not a chore." See also this article about summer reading by Brenda Rindge in the Charleston Post and Courier. I especially liked this item: "Introduce the bookmark. Remind your youngster that you don't have to finish a book in one sitting; you can stop after a few pages, or a chapter, and pick up where you left off at another time. Don't try to persuade your child to finish a book he doesn't like." Finally, see this Vallejo Times-Herald article by Tony Burchyns, which recommends that parents help kids to remain intellectually challenged over the summer.
  • Via the International Reading Association blog, the Harvard Education Letter has an article by Laura Pappano about the importance of building a sophisticated vocabulary in young children. The article says that "a growing body of research and classroom practice show that building a sophisticated vocabulary at an early age is also key to raising reading success—and narrowing the achievement gap."
  • The Battle Creek Enquirer has a brief article by Trace Christenson about a reading event called Read to Me, Under a Tree. "The program, for children up to age 5 in Head Start and Early Head Start, was designed to encourage young children to read, according to Barry Smith. Smith said the Fatherhood Male Involvement Program joined with the Head Start program at the Community Action Agency of South Central Michigan and the Early Reading First: I Can Read program at Western Michigan University for an afternoon of reading, games, food and raffles. Several adults from across the community sat down on quilts spread out on the grass at Bailey Park and had groups of kids listening to them read stories."
  • John Burgeson writes in the Connecticut Post about a celebration at a Bridgeport school in honor of the kids who, collectively, read 24,000 books over several months. "The day began with a parade in which a long line of youngsters exited the school, each class carrying a banner showing how many books they had read. Some wore hats made out of construction paper, and many were waiting for their permanent teeth to erupt."
  • A number of people have written about this already, but Joan Oleck wrote an engaging article in School Library Journal about the Toronto Public Library's fabulous new children's room. "The first of several planned KidsStops—places that look like play areas, but are aimed at getting little ones ready to read when they start school—was recently unveiled at the S. Walter Stewart branch in East York". There is a bunch of cool stuff - check out the article for details.
  • Education Week has an article by Alyson Klein and David J. Hoff about McCain and Obama's positions on K-12 education and No Child Left Behind. I can't say that the current positions of either candidate make me feel optimistic about this. But it's worth understanding where they stand.
  • In the Gaylord Herald-Times, Michael Jones writes about the success of a program that uses audiobooks (Playaways) to help reluctant readers. "By combining today’s technology, Playaways (think audio books on MP3 players), with the print version of books, Trevor and other reluctant readers at GIS have developed a passion for reading; an enthusiasm GIS sixth-grade teacher Melissa Jorgenson and librarian Christine Rinehart hope turns students into life-long readers."
  • This isn't exactly helpful information, but the Guardian reports in an education article by Anushka Asthana that English is "too hard to read for children". "Masha Bell, the literacy researcher who carried out the work, argued that there were 200 words on the list that could be improved by simply dropping 'surplus letters' such as the 'i' in friend or the 'u' in shoulder...
    Bell argued that the spelling system was a huge financial burden on schools and was to blame for poor literacy results compared with the rest of Europe." I think that this is probably true, but that it would be infeasible to try to make wholesale spelling changes now. But of course I'm far from being an expert.
  • The Toronto Star reports, in an article by Louise Brown, that active students get better grades. "New Ontario research shows schools that push fitness and nutrition have watched their standardized scores rise by as much as 50 per cent over two years in Grade 3 reading and 39 per cent in Grade 3 math – outscoring other schools in similar neighbourhoods by about eight points across all three subjects."

And that's all for this week. Happy summer reading!