Wednesday Afternoon Visits: July 2
Reviews that Made Me Want the Book: July 6

Children's Literacy Round-Up: July 6

I missed last week's round-up of children's literacy and reading news, and have lots of things to share with you this week:

  • The Baltimore Sun reports, in an article by Liz Bowie, that "Although the nation's lowest-performing students have made great progress in the No Child Left Behind era of testing, the top students are not making similar strides, according to a report by the Fordham Institute... While the report's authors are careful to say they found no evidence that the landmark education law passed in 2002 has hindered the progress of talented students, the report does raise questions about whether the law is putting too much emphasis on bringing up the bottom tier of struggling students." Meanwhile, the Salt Lake Tribune reports mixed results in Utah schools from the Reading First program, in an article by Lisa Schencker.
  • A former children's librarian, Carol Sue Snowden, recently left more than a million dollars to the public library and several local schools in Columbus, Ohio, according to an article by Debra Lau Whelan in School Library Journal. "“We all knew that she was dedicated to expanding children’s love of reading, but I don’t think anyone expected this amount of money,” says Kim Snell, spokeswoman for the library." My favorite part is that "Snowden also left money to the libraries she used growing up in Illinois, including $10,000 to her grade-school library, $10,000 to her high-school library, and $10,000 to her local library." I have such fond memories of the libraries that I used growing up that this is a joy to see. See also this SLJ Extra Helping article about the benefits of reading aloud to kids.
  • According to another SLJ article by Whelan, "Despite last-ditch efforts by library supporters, the Mesa Public School Board in Arizona voted this week to eliminate all teacher librarians over a three-year period." So very sad.
  • And, in another sad story, Literacy and Reading News recaps a study that found "that almost 1 in 5 parents do not see the benefit of reading to a child before they are at an age when they can sit up or talk and 1 in 4 parents struggle with reading and so do not read to their children at all." This UK-based study found that "over 50% of parents only spend a maximum of 8.5 minutes reading to their children each day and, more surprisingly, over 34% of parents spend no time reading to their children at all. Only 3.9% of parents spend the recommended maximum2 3.5 hours reading to their children each week, an average of 30 minutes every day." Doesn't it just make you want to jump up and down in front of parents and encourage them to read to their kids?
  • The Tuscaloosa News reports, in an article by Harriett Burton, that the Hale County Hospital in Greensboro is the first hospital in Alabama "where every pediatrician has signed on with Reach Out and Read, a national children's literacy program for poor children."
  • A middle school jazz band in Coral Springs, FL has written a song "to inspire their fellow classmates with a love of literature." The NBC-6 website has the scoop. ""We wanted this song to kind of express that reading is important and will really help you succeed, because without reading, you’ll fail -- guaranteed, as the song lyrics go,” said lead singer and writer Russell Hall."
  • A Maryland education panel has suggested a longer school day, in an effort to raise test scores for middle school students. School administrators, however, have indicated that such a plan would be very expensive. Read more in this Washington Post article by Nelson Hernandez. In a similar vein, the Newark Advocate reports in an article by Seth Roy that all-day kindergarten boosts children's literacy skills. Thanks to the International Reading Association blog for the link.
  • The Independent has a fun 5-minute interview with Henry Winkler. Thanks to Kelly Herold for the link. Henry Winkler is a major advocate for "kids who learn differently", and it's always a pleasure to read his interviews. I would like to meet him someday.
  • The Galesburg Register-Mail (IL) has a nice article by Michelle Anstett about ways to keep kids, including reluctant readers, reading over the summer. It concludes (with words from librarian Kari Smith)" "No matter what, though, Smith says parents taking time out to read with their children is crucial to building a love of reading. “The most potent thing that you can give you child as a parent is your undivided attention,” she explained. “If they know they’ll get your undivided attention for a period of time,” reading might not seem like such a chore."
  • According to an article by David Robinson in the Scotsman, J.K. Rowling has dealt a blow to UK plans to age-band children's books, by coming out against the proposal. "The writers’ rebellion against age-banding is spearheaded by Philip Pullman, the best-selling author of the His Dark Materials trilogy. “Declaring that a book is for any group in particular means excluding every other group, and I don’t want to exclude anybody,” he said." 
  • The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle has an article by Lorinda Toledo about a newly built literacy school to help students in distressed areas of Rochester.
  • According to the Post-Chronicle, "Dolly Parton has been forced to set up a U.K. office in a bid to cope with the demand for free books from her children's literacy scheme."
  • According to, "Ready to Read, a programme aimed at enhancing the pre-literacy skills of pre-schoolers, has been introduced at 65 city libraries. It entails lending books to day-care centres, creches and nursery schools, according to the city's official website."
  • For more children's literacy news, see The Reading Tub's very comprehensive June 30th Reading Round-Up. Seriously, don't miss it - Terry covers a few of the articles that I covered here, but has lot's more, too.

And that's it for this week. Hope that you all had a lovely July 4th weekend!