Books Read in November
Quick Hits: Readergirlz, Carnivals, Kudos, and Judy Blume

Children's Literacy Round-Up: December 1

Welcome to this week's children's literacy and reading news round-up. The literacy round-up currently alternates between my blog and TubTalk, a Reading Tub blog. Terry Doherty and I both contribute links each week, as our schedules permit. You can see last week's round-up here (that one was all Terry).

Literacy and Reading Education and Research

The Des Moines Register has a comprehensive article by Linda Lantor Fandel about how the educational system in Finland produces some of the world's top-performing students. One thing that I didn't realize, for example, was that "Most schools don't have sports teams, so teens aren't pulled out of classes for games, and teachers don't double as coaches." The article explores what aspects of the Finnish system are more vs. less likely to translate well to US schools. Thanks to the International Reading Association Blog for the link.

At Let the Wild Rumpus Start, Tasses writes about the use of audiobooks to fill the gap in children who don't hear enough words read aloud. She includes tips like "Make sure your young reader has a copy of the recording. It's important to make a connection with the text and the sounds. The struggling reader might start to daydream, but re-center them on the page when necessary."

The Journal of Early Intervention has an article by Robyn A. Ziolkowski and Howard Goldstein about the "Effects of an Embedded Phonological Awareness Intervention During Repeated Book Reading on Preschool Children With Language Delays". The study found that "Rhyme intervention improved children's rhyme production and rhyme identification. Initial sound intervention enhanced children's alliteration and initial sound fluency skills." You can read the abstract here.

Terry found a new blog this week. The LiteraBuss is "A resource for teachers, students, and researchers in the field of children, pre-adolescent, and young adult literature." In one post that we liked, the Buss (an elementary school teacher) describes methods for teaching reading in the classroom, including teacher read-aloud of "books that are basically above the reading level of 75% of the class, but not substantially above their level... all books that I have read personally and consider to be masterpieces of children's literature." It's a nice, detailed post, worth reading.

For another perspective on creating a culture of reading in the classroom, see this Burlington Free Press article by Molly Walsh, about a Milton teacher, Deborah Lynde, who "was recognized as the Vermont Humanities Council educator of the year."

For a more academic approach to the assessment of reading programs, see this post by John Micklos at the International Reading Association blog. "Educators looking for reviews of the evidence supporting all types of reading programs--including textbooks, computer-assisted instruction, and professional development approaches--can find effectiveness ratings on the Best Evidence Encyclopedia."

A UK government commissioned report found that "Children given just 30 minutes of one-on-one literacy sessions a day saw their reading age improve by nearly two years in less than five months", according to a Telegraph article by James Kirkup. Reading scores for children with "serious reading difficulties" improved dramatically after the children were one-on-one sessions over 12 to 20 weeks.

An article by Laura Devlin in the Salinas California says that "Research studies show that involvement in the arts at any age assists in the development of positive social behavior and critical academic skills - including literacy, creative and critical thinking, language and math... One study reviewed by the U.S. Department of Education and the Arts Education Partnership finds "when children have been involved in the process of integrating creative drama with reading they are not only able to better comprehend what they've read and acted out, but they are also better able to comprehend what they have read but do not act out, such as the written scenarios they encounter on standardized tests.""

In Aiken County, Georgia, teachers recently prepared "a 20-minute video guide Parents: A Child's First Teacher to encourage parents to build literacy skills from birth." Details are available in this Augusta Chronicle article by Julia Sellers. "Copies of the video, which was produced and created by district personnel, will be available to new parents through the hospital and area doctor's offices. It can also be viewed on the school district's Web site at"

Enjoyment of Reading

Maureen Kearney commented at Kid Tested, Librarian Approved on a recent AP story by David Crary about "kids losing out on play due to ever-more-rigorous academic standards at ever-younger ages, and the move to bring it back." I agree with Maureen that "The child who is given play time, fantasy time, imagination time, becomes our reader, because they already know the world is bigger than what they see with their own two eyes, and they want to discover it."

Cheryl Rainfield shares a lifelong literacy public service announcement from the Library of Congress. She says: "There’s something, for me, about seeing books and reading recommended through another medium–especially when TV may sometimes take people away from reading–that feels pleasing." I agree with Cheryl.

Another new blog that Terry found is called Children's Books for Grown-Ups. In this post, Natasha Worswick shares a personal perspective on "the research the National Literacy Trust (UK) have done in their Talk To Your Baby campaign." Natasha says, in reference to her baby, "It is essential that he knows that reading isn’t just something that is confined to the bedroom at bed time or during the day at home. I want him to enjoy books (magazines, newspapers, signs etc…) everywhere and anywhere. It is also a useful tool when you have completely run out of interesting things to say to your baby!"

The Times (UK) reports, in a column by Valerie Grove, that "Enid Blyton is back, and all is forgiven. This summer she was voted the nation's favourite author. And yesterday the author Anne Fine, the former Children's Laureate, winner of every possible prize for her books, came out powerfully on the side of the Faraway Tree and the Five Find-Outers and Dog series, with a Radio 4 programme called A Fine Defence of Enid Blyton." Personally, I loved Enid Blyton's books as a child, and even as a young adult. They are part of what made me a reader. They might not be the first books I'd choose for kids today, but I agree with Grove and Fine that "we must accept that books written in the 1950s are of their time, and Blyton wrote in a different world".

The Star Bulletin (Hawaii) has a nice feature article by Susan Essoyan about the success of the Hawaii-based Read Aloud America program. "RAP's mission is to build families of lifetime readers. It meets every other week for six sessions during a semester, building new habits gradually, such as "TTTT," or "Turn off the Television Through Thursday."" A program results survey found that "90 percent say their children like reading more and read better after RAP."

Mrsp According to a recent news release, ", a groundbreaking children's entertainment website celebrating books and reading, announced today a series of promotional partnerships with national literacy organizations, including Everybody Wins! USA, TeachersFirst and the Association of American Publishers. Each has officially endorsed the new site and will partner with Mrs. P to help spread her message that "reading is cool.""

A Chandler Citizen Reporter article contributed by Larry Mishler says that "Three Valley organizations teamed up Nov. 17 to stage a big "Literacy Blitz" for students at Thew Elementary School in Tempe. Thew's approximately 545 K-5 students were treated to a pair of assemblies at which they took a "Reading Oath" - promising to read every day or night, wherever they are, a post-assembly visit to the cafeteria where each could pick out a book to take home as his or her own, and visiting volunteers who were there to read books to students in classrooms throughout that morning."

Grants and Donations

Literacy and Reading News announced that "AT&T Inc. is awarding more than $730,000 in AT&T Foundation grants to eight Los Angeles-area educational institutions to support high school retention programs for at-risk students".

According to the First Book blog, Random House is "making it possible to double the impact of each donation from now through December 31. For every donation made to First Book, Random House will match each contribution book-for-book, up to 1 million books!" Pretty nice, especially during such a tough economy.

And that's all for this week. Hope that you find some tidbits of interest.

© 2009 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved.