Here is this week's children's literacy and reading news from around the wires, featuring links collected by both myself and Terry Doherty from The Reading Tub. Yesterday, November 1st, was National Family Literacy Day, and the start of Early Literacy Awareness Month. Perhaps as a result, there is quite a lot of news to share.
Teaching and Encouraging Reading:
The Daily Herald Online has an article by Matt Arado about how "Teachers and reading specialists in high schools all over the country employ ... strategies to keep teenagers motivated about books and reading." The article includes this example: "Many teachers pair established literature classics with newer books that speak to teenagers more directly. "When you're doing (George Orwell's) '1984,' try also using Cory Doctorow's 'Little Brother'" one teacher suggested. The original link is from the International Reading Association blog.
The IRA blog also reports, in an article by Louise Ash, that "The notion that professional development programs for teachers can be effective in helping children improve their reading skills does not fare especially well in a federally commissioned report by the nonprofit research company MDRC."
The Kane/Miller newsletter reported that "ePals, the online program that connects students to pen pals around the world, has a new program, called In2Books. As friends and mentors, adult pen pals are matched up with young readers through In2Books, and together, books are explored, discussed and enjoyed." The program is looking for adult mentors.
Speaking of pals, The Arts Connection said that "In honor of Make A Difference Day, BookPALS: Performing Artists for Literacy in Schools (planned to) read selections from the wonderful world of children's literature" on October 25th. Professional actors modeled strategies for reading aloud. From the BookPALS website: "BookPALS is founded on a clear premise: children must be exposed to the magic of books to develop a love of reading. Who better to make that magic come alive than actors gifted in the art of storytelling?" The Reading Tub also just posted an article about reading aloud (link is to a PDF file).
The Literacy Learning blog shares some thoughts about reading aloud to kids. Tim Shanahan says that "Reading to kids has been shown to improve kids' language development--and this might have a positive impact on reading--but no studies show that reading to kids improves their reading ability". Not to worry, though. He goes on to discuss the benefits that his daughters derived from his reading challenging chapter books aloud to them (as opposed to picture books) from the time that they were very young, and the enjoyment that they all had in this shared read-aloud time. But read the whole post - it could inspire any parent to make more engrossing read-aloud selections.
The Mt. Pleasant News (Iowa) shared an article by Mira Cash-Davis about a family literacy program held at a local library. The article included a series of observations by audience members about the program, such as the way the literacy coordinator used different voices in reading books aloud, and the importance of stopping to ask questions during read-aloud sessions. It's a short article, but with some useful tidbits.
There's also a nice article by Betsy Bybell in the Latah Eagle (ID) about the importance of providing young children with books. Bybell also includes a list of reading tips for parents.
Jen Baum of the blog Laugh often... Love Much shared a couple of ideas for parents to encourage their children to love books. These ideas originally came from Stephanie Ford at Children's Literature Book Club, and I'm pretty sure that I linked to Stephanie's original post back in September, but they are good enough to link to link to again. Plus did you see Stephanie's son's Pigeon costume for Halloween? So cute!
Jon Bard at Children's Writing Web Journal wrote about an article from the Vail Colorado Daily, describing it as "about a classroom in Vail, CO using a yellow Labrador named Moose to get kids into reading. Students take turn reading to the pooch, who (as any Lab owner could tell you) adores the attention. The dogs are “reading certified” as part of a program called “Wagging Tales”." The full article, by Matt Terrell, is here.
The Valley Stream Herald (NY) has an article by Andrew Hackmack about how two New York Islanders hockey "players dropped by Willow Road School last Tuesday morning to talk to students about the importance of reading and writing." Andy Hilbert "reminded the children not to spend all their time watching television or playing video games, but to sit down with a book once in a while." Freddy Meyer talked about how his own literacy skills enabled him to go to college. Both talked about how important reading is for hockey players. I love when professional athletes do that, I really do.
FamilyEducation.com has a printable checklist to help "assess children's competency within literacy/study skills". You have to register by giving them an email address to download it, but there is no charge.
The avalon montessori blog (from Toronto) says that "Just a single minute daily of wordplay can boost kids'vocabulary and reading skills, according to Sharon Darling, founder and president of the US National Center for Family Literacy."
Grants and Donations:
An article by Amy Griffith Graydon in the Nashville City Paper reports that "A $250,000 grant from Nashville-based Dollar General Corp. is kick-starting the local introduction of a program that trains parents to help their kids read better." The Love. Read. Learn! program "helps parents learn critical skills kids must have in place to learn reading, and teaches parents to incorporate reading education into daily activities." Thanks to the IRA blog for the link.
In related news, according to a press release "The National Center for Family Literacy is launching a new set of products titled "Parents + Schools = Successful Children" for National Family Literacy Day on Nov. 1. The materials are designed specifically for Hispanic families, and funding was provided by a $143,700 grant from the Dollar General Literacy Foundation. The family literacy materials are patterned after comic books and graphic novels referred to as foto-novelas that are extremely popular in Spanish-speaking cultures."
And, according to another news release, "Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. donated $30,000 to the Center for Rural Development for the "Ring the Bell for Literacy!" program administered by Pulaski County Schools. The goal of the program is to improve literacy practices through a grassroots effort in local communities thereby strengthening education and economic development in the region."
According to a Florida Ledger article by Cary McMullen, Hal and Marjorie Roberts just gave $3.5 Million to Florida Southern College "to create the Roberts Academy, a transitional school for intellectually gifted children with dyslexia.The Roberts Academy will be a full-day program offering reading, math, science and other elementary-school level subjects. Teachers will be trained in a special method of multisensory reading instruction that has proved successful in teaching dyslexics. The academy will also provide counseling, support and training programs for families."
Reading Rockets reported on a new Cayman Islands children's book award. "Children will choose the award winners of Cayman's first book award, the 'Whistling Duck Book Award.'" The idea is to "introduce children to quality literature and also foster a level of reading in the children of Cayman".
Another book award selected by children and teens is underway in Ontario. According to Brian Scott of Literacy and Reading News, "Thousands of schools and libraries across Ontario are ready to register for the OLA Annual Forest of Reading Program. More than 250,000 children and teenagers will then start reading and considering their vote for best books. The hotly anticipated lists of Canadian books are now available on the OLA web site.
As has been widely reported, Google reached a settlement of the 3-year-old lawsuit regarding their book scanning project. John Micklos at Reading Today Daily links to the Wired magazine article about this, while Mark Blevis has a concise summary of the highlights and implications of the settlement.
The Leader-Post (Canada) has an article by Lara Abu-Ghazaleh about gender differences in reading choice. The article recaps a symposium given by author and reading advocate Paul Kropp to more than 180 teacher-librarians. "Kropp spent a substantial portion of his speech comparing the gender differences that influence reading material preferences... The idea behind the presentation was to recognize the differences in literature and how to balance them to promote literacy in the the classroom."
School Library Journal's Extra Helping reported on an Education Trust study that found that "Today’s kids are less likely than their parents to graduate high school, and most states aren’t doing much to hold schools accountable for this trend".
A Jamaica Gleaner Editorial Forum by Gareth Manning and Mark Titus discusses the link between illiteracy and crime rates in Clarendon. ""What do you do with a 21-year-old young man who is illiterate, is unskilled, has two children and a girlfriend? What do you do with him? So, criminality is one of the only ways open to him," argued Mayor of May Pen Milton Brown. "Illiteracy is one of the prime sources of food to crime," he added."
And that is more than enough for one week. Happy reading! And Happy Early Literacy Month.
© 2009 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved.