White Sands, Red Menace: Ellen Klages
Growing Bookworms Newsletter: Postponed

Children's Literacy Round-Up: Bonus Edition

I know that I just published a children's literacy round-up on Monday, but it looks like I'm going to have to take an unexpected trip over the next few days, and I wanted to leave you with some extra children's literacy and reading news from around the wires. The LA Times piece about Jon Scieszka will, I think, be of particular interest.

  • John Micklos at the International Reading Association blog linked to a WCPO-TV.com report by Julie O'Neill about a seven-year-old girl who, for her birthday, launched a campaign to collect donated books for a Cincinnati-area Children's Hospital. Kids sure can be amazing.
  • Tricia from The Miss Rumphius Effect links to an NPR story about the new lineup of PBS literacy shows. Tricia finds it of particular interest that an expert quoted in the NPR story (Susan Neuman) thinks that the new shows sometimes "don't have the charm and the interaction and the excitement that some of the other programs have." I'll be staying tuned to see what kind of response the new shows get, but I hope that they'll be a hit with kids.
  • The St. Petersburg Times has a guest column by George Bastable (who I have quoted before) about the importance of matching the right books to individual readers. A middle school teacher, he explains: "My classroom has 11 bookcases. This, with our school library, helps me put the right book in the right hand. A sports book in the jock's hand, a sci-fi book for another, an S.E. Hinton book for the reluctant reader. The week that "angst" is one of our vocabulary words, I slip Catcher in the Rye into the hands of the one student who is ready." It's good to hear, in print, from a teacher like this, someone who is actively trying to get middle school students interested in books.
  • I learned from a Guardian article by Sean Dodson that author David Eggers has started a literacy drop-in center with a pirate theme in San Francisco. Dodson says "Eggers is ... co-founder of 826 Valencia, an after-school drop-in centre for children who struggle with literacy. You could call 826 Valencia itself a heart-warming school of staggering genius, as it has provided a model for re-engaging with disadvantaged communities that is every bit as imaginative as one of Eggers's books... The success of 826 Valencia has led to the replication of similar centres across the states", and is now spreading to the UK.
  • I enjoyed this Dodge City Daily Globe article (Kansas) by Cherise Forno about literacy classes for preschoolers in which "the puppet Bookworm Bob helps children learn that reading is fun, and it's cool to be a bookworm... During his classroom visit, Bob helped children learn several book rules so they would know how to take care of their books and put them away in a safe place. Children also began learning about authors, illustrators and libraries." Of course I have a fondness for programs that help grow bookworms, but this one sounds particularly nice.
  • The LA Times recently featured a talk between columnist Sonja Bolle and National Ambassador for Young People's Literature Jon Scieszka. The column looks like it's scheduled for the Sunday paper, but it's online today. It's a fun, detailed article, starting with "As national ambassador for young people's literature, a position instituted jointly this year by the Library of Congress Center for the Book and the Children's Book Council, he (Scieszka) considers it his job to bring craziness to his domain, to shake things up a bit. "Crazy" is one of his favorite words, and it means something good, something unleashed: unfettered and uncontrollable creativity." Scieszka also criticizes No Child Left Behind and the current political administration, and reveals his personal interest in getting on the cover of a Cheerios box. Seriously, this is a comprehensive, must-read article.
  • According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, a study was recently published on "The Impact of Literacy Enhancement on Asthma-Related Outcomes Among Underserved Children" by Lawrence Robinson et. al. in the Journal of the National Medical Association. "The children (in the study) received two hours of literacy training and 30 minutes of asthma education on Saturdays for at least six months. All of the children displayed significant improvement in reading and self-efficacy, which researchers said was directly related to a decrease in hospitalizations and emergency department visits. The study concludes that improved "literacy is a sustainable factor that will not only improve asthma outcomes but will enhance the potential for educational success" among minority youth with low literacy skills." Interesting. This isn't the first study to connect literacy and health levels, but it's the first I've seen to officially target asthma. There's a link at the Kaiser page to the PDF of the full report.

I'm not sure if I'll be able to post much for the next few days, but I wish you a peaceful weekend.