Ten Cents a Dance: Christine Fletcher
Growing Bookworms Newsletter: January 12

Children's Literacy Round-Up: January 12

Welcome to this week's children's literacy and reading news round-up, brought to you by Jen Robinson's Book Page and Scrub-a-Dub-Tub, a Reading Tub blog. In case you missed the announcement, Terry Doherty and I have been each collecting links, and then alternating the preparation of this post. This has helped to keep the round-ups manageable for us, even as the amount of children's literacy and reading news seems to increase every week.

Literacy and Reading Programs and Research

This week's big news, already mentioned by Terry at her lovely new WordPress blog, is that the new National Early Literacy Report has been released. Terry says: "The NELP study is a comprehensive look at understanding early literacy. It weighs in at 260 pages, and is highly technical." She has posted a few findings from the Executive Summary. You can also find posts about this report at NCFL Literacy Now, Education Week, The Christian Science Monitor, and the International Reading Association blog.

The IRA blog also reports, in an update by John Micklos, that "To celebrate its 20th anniversary, this year's African American Read-In has been extended to include the entire month of February." The idea is for "schools, churches, libraries, bookstores, community and professional organizations, and interested citizens to make literacy a significant part of Black History Month by hosting and coordinating Read-Ins in their communities."

Walter Minkel at The Monkey Speaks linked to an article from the London (Ontario) Free Press by Kelly Pedro "about the links between the play of babies and toddlers and pre-literacy skills." Walter says: "Most of us who’ve been involved in pre-literacy skills and young children have known this stuff for a while, but each generation of new parents doesn’t have a clue how literacy happens, needs to learn it, and we librarians need to take a major role in spreading those facts around." He adds at the end (and I wholeheartedly agree with him): "I wish they broadcast stuff like this as part of halftime at the Super Bowl, or in place of commercials during shows like 24. But I don’t think they ever will, so it’s up to folks like us to let adults know how children gain the skills they need to learn to read."

There were two interesting articles on Literacy and Reading News yesterday, both by Brian Scott. The first is about "the pros and cons of new reading devices" in which reading is done on a screen instead of on paper. For example, researcher Anne Mangen says: "Swedish researchers believe we understand more and better when reading on paper than when we read the same text on a screen. We avoid navigating and the small things we don't think about, but which subconsciously takes attention away from the reading." The second article is about a recent study by Dr. Jeffrey Wilhelm that "studied adolescent boys and their reading, attitudes, aspirations, and the opportunities available to them to increase literacy."

Enjoyment of Reading

The First Book blog has a guest post by Rachel Walker from Reading Rockets about resolving to have "a regular diet of books and reading for you and the young readers in your life". She discusses portion size, muscle-building, and being a reading role model.

Steph from Reviewer X linked to another article about encouraging families to read, this one by Michelle Kerns from the the Sacramento Books Examiner. It includes "5 local, fun, and easy ways to get your family hitting the books this year."

Shannon Hale has an excellent post about parents who try to encourage their children away from books with pictures to read only books with text. She asks "Why are we so anxious to get our kids off of pictures?" She also adds, in reference to first and second graders, "I see a lot of kids falling out of love with reading at that age. It must be a delicate stage. I wonder if for some of those kids, they just got stressed. Someone was pushing them to read harder books, bigger books, books without pictures, and reading ceased to be a game and instead became a duty with high expectations." I wish every parent could read this post, about helping kids to maintain the joy of reading.

The Berkshire Eagle recently carried a letter from local librarian Amy Consolati Lee about ways to support teenagers so that they will embrace reading. Lee says things like "Computers and DVDs may be the carrot that brings them into the library, but the books will simply gather dust and the personal enrichment and joy that comes from reading a book will never happen if the personal contact is not there. Teens need to see adults they respect reading and talking about books. They need to be introduced to books that talk about things that are important to them." 

Over at The Well-Read Child (one of my favorite blogs for encouraging and celebrating children's reading), Jill has posted a new roundtable discussion topic. Jill says: "Teachers at any grade level, including homeschoolers are invited to participate. What is your favorite book to use in the classroom? The book could be fiction or nonfiction, a chapter book or a novel, a book of poetry or anthology of short stories, a picture book or board book, etc. Please tell me why this is your favorite book and also tell me the age or grade level for which you use it."

I learned from a recent news release that "Cocky, the University of South Carolina mascot, likes to read with his friends. That's the message he and a group of USC classmates gave to kids at J.D. Lever and Byrd elementary school during visits from "Cocky's Reading Express" on Friday. At both schools, the college students read books to the children with much joy and enthusiasm. Cocky then appeared, to the delight of the kids, helping two of his college friends read books." Sounds like a good program to me!

New Web Resources

Lori Calabrese recently discovered "an awesome website that allows young writers to become a published author! You can create books online at Tikatok.com, a web site where kids can channel their imagination into stories, and publish them into books for you to share and treasure with friends and family."

The Blue Zoo Young Writers blog is "a fresh place for writing ideas, tips, and more, especially for middle school and young teen writers!" They offer suggestions for where young writers can publish their work, information about contests, and other resources to nurture young writers. We found this site through Literacy and Reading News.

Grants, Sponsorships, and Donations

The upcoming inauguration has sparked two new book programs. First, as reported by The Children's Book Review, Primrose Schools will be donating $200k to Reach Out and Read, followed by an inauguration-focused curriculum. "In celebration they have put together a wonderful video of children's voices talking about what they want for the American children." Also, as reported on Carol Rasco's blog, in celebration of the inauguration, "RIF has partnered with Sallie Mae and Building Hope to provide classic books and books with a presidential theme to D.C. students. These books will go to children in kindergarten through 12th grade at public, private, and charter schools in Washington, D.C." They are accepting donations for the program.

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