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Children's Literacy Round-Up: March 16

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, is now available. And, because we (Terry Doherty and I) took last week off from the round-up to celebrate the Share a Story - Shape a Future literacy blog tour, this week's round-up is enormous. Let's dive in! 


On Read Across America Day (March 2nd, Dr. Seuss's birthday), the National Post's book blog, the Afterword, ran a fun feature on five things you didn't know about Dr. Seuss. For example, "Dr. Seuss rhymes with another epic figure in children's literature: Mother Goose. Coincidence? No."

In related news, Everybody Wins! shares a reminder from Senator Tom Harkin, in honor of Dr. Seuss's birthday, to read to kids. He says: "By taking some time to read to a child, you open doors that otherwise might be closed in their life. Whether by inspiring a child’s imagination, enriching their creativity, or instilling a renewed sense of excitement about the educational process, reading helps children become successful students equipped with the tools they will need as they enter the workforce."

Rtw-logo_sm Reading the World XI will be held March 28 and 29 in San Francisco. The conference, celebrating multicultural literature for children and young adults, is sponsored by University of San Francisco's School of Education. We found the news via: A Fuse #8 Production (where you can find more details).

We love it when athletes demonstrate the importance of reading to kids. Thus we were pleased to see this announcement, that "The Pittsburgh Penguins are proud to team up with the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh on Friday, March 20, 2009 with our first-ever children’s book collection. Fans are encouraged to bring new or gently used children’s books to the game. The books will then be distributed to local Carnegie Library branches throughout the Pittsburgh area for summer reading programs."

And in other athletes reading with kids news, Richard Hanks at Getting Reading reports "The players from Rotherham United, trained by Reading Matters, visited their first school, Maltby Manor, on Thursday (12/3/09). They read with six pupils each in a series of reading partnerships.

Brian Scott from Literacy and Reading News reported on March 8th that: "The Denver Public Library's (DPL) new Reading Rocket bookmobile will hit the road today, making its first stop at Schmitt Elementary in the Ruby Hill neighborhood. It is the first of two new bookmobiles that will serve 28 Denver Public Schools (DPS) and 15 community centers. A second Reading Rocket is scheduled to arrive in April 2009."

NPM_LOGO_2008_final April is National Poetry Month, as we've mentioned previously. Gregory K reports at GottaBook that "In celebration of the release of his new book My Hippo Has the Hiccups, Kenn (Nesbitt) is offering up a free 30 minute web-based visit for any group that purchases 10 or more copies of his book." Greg's got big things planned himself for National Poetry Month, but the details won't be available until March 23rd. Stay tuned!

Raising Readers

At Literacy is Priceless, Anna Batchelder shares a handout for parents with "tips and technology resources that are helpful for fostering child literacy development." She says: "Feel free to print, distribute and share!"

Sue_steph1At The Book Chook, Susan Stephenson shares an interview with Valerie Baartz, The Almost Librarian, filled with tips for parents on including literacy-related activities in day-to-day life. Susan concludes (and I agree): "Wow! Isn't that a wonderful summary of what literacy does for kids? And as Valerie says, a tremendous gift for parents to bestow." (Image to the left created by Susan)

The Hawaii Reporter has an article by J. Arthur Rath, III about Wally Amos, Read it LOUD! founder, and his children's literacy efforts. The article includes parental reading tips from Amos, like this one: "Children and adults love hearing good stories read out loud during family gatherings--ostensibly for the kids, but you may be surprised at the interest from others. It strengthens family bonds. A little tip: make certain your children grow up seeing you read often. Become a friend of your local library--it has what you need for a good life."

At Educating AliceMonica Edinger has an excerpt from a recent New York Times article about motivational rewards for students. There doesn't seem to be a consensus as to whether "giving children prizes or money for their performance in school" is a good idea or not.

I ran across a nice little opinion piece in the Courier Connection, written by children's librarian Deanna Gouzie, about ways to reach reluctant readers. Here's a brief snippet: "Make a Connection – I believe that kids who do not read simply have not met the right book yet. They have not uncovered the author or subject that will help them discover the fun part of reading."  

Literacy & Reading Programs & Research

Bookninja links together two recent studies on reading to kids, and adds a personal response. The good news is that (via Carolyn Horn at The Bookseller), "Reading to children aged two years and under will have a positive effect on a child’s vocabulary, according to a study reported by The British Psychological Society." The bad news is that (according a recent Telegraph article), "Three quarters of Britain's parents are too busy to read bedtime stories to their children, according to a study." We found the link to Bookninja's post at Omnivoracious.

Natasha Worswick at Children's Books for Grown-Ups also commented on the second survey, discussing the fact that: "In the news last week was the results of a survey that found only 1 in 30 fathers read their children a bedtime story. The rest are too busy to do so. Only 3% said that they easily found the opportunity to do so and the rest of those said they found it a struggle because of time pressures and busy lifestyles." Sad, that's what that is.

Everybody Wins! reports on the various studies assessing whether or not parents are reading aloud to kids, concluding: "We need a renewed effort in the U.S. to encourage reading aloud in the home; to provide support to parents who struggle themselves with literacy; and to provide read-aloud support in classrooms through volunteer programs like Power Lunch; and to encourage more read alouds in school curriculums." Can't argue with that! 

Tim Shanahan announced at Literacy Learning the opportunity for people to participate in an online discussion about the National Early Literacy Panel (NEAP) report. He says: "The discussion in being sponsored by the National Institute for Literacy and will include Laura Westberg, from the National Center for Family Literacy (she was the PI on the report), Tori Molfese, a panelist from the University of Louisville, and me." 

Matt Ferraguto from Reach Out and Read brought to our attention a article about a study that we previously mentioned, on when learning starts. The new thing in this article that we noticed was that "at 6 months of age, babies can distinguish between the sounds of all languages (the adult brain cannot)." Isn't that fascinating?

Terry found an article on Marnee Brick’s Speech Therapy Telepractice Blog about using charts and schedules to build early literacy. "Picture charts and schedules provide children with a way to “read” within their ability." Several specific examples are given.  

Education Week reports, in an article by Kathleen Kennedy Manzo, that "While learning experts surely agree that too much television and inappropriate content can have detrimental effects on children, the right kinds of programs can set them on the path toward reading." Good news for PBS! has an article by Mary Desaulniers about the effects of music on the brain, and on reading ability. Here's an excerpt: "Can music help produce better readers? Definitely, according to a research done at Northwestern University which suggests that music training is directly linked to enhanced verbal proficiency. In fact, researchers at the university suggest that musical training may be more effective for developing verbal skills than learning phonics. Why? The brain’s multi-sensory engagement during music practice and performance enhances the same communication skills needed for speaking and reading".  

Kids Doing Great Things

Franki Sibberson has a lovely post at A Year of Reading about kids finding charitable causes that they believe in, and taking action. For example, Franki's daughter asked for books written in Spanish, instead of gifts for her, for her birthday, and donated them to a children in Guatemala. Another little girl collected things for the Humane Society at her birthday party. Franki says: "Kids have always been amazing in the way they work to make the world a better place.  But, I think the tools of the 21st Century have made it easier for them."

At The Book Chook, Susan Stephenson has a post (which I mentioned briefly before) about a 10-year-old girl named Darla who created her own literacy program for younger kids in her neighborhood. "Darla created Bookworm Wednesday, where she invited neighbourhood children to come to her house, borrow books, enjoy small incentives for reading them, and listen to a story being read aloud." She's now working to help others to establish Bookworm Wednesday programs in their communities.

21st Century Literacies

21stCenturyLiteracies KatieD at Creative Literacy reports on using iMovie to keep literacy alive in early elementary school classrooms.

Terry first heard via Twitter (from @lonniehodge and @philiplee95) the news that there's now a reader that allows you to read Kindle books on your iPhone. Here's the New York Times article. A friend of mine who travels quite a bit with his three-year-old, and has an iPhone, was very interested in this news!

Grants, Sponsorships & Donations

Idesofmarchmadness2009becausekidsneedbooks Cari from Book Scoops brought to our attention a book donation event called The Ides of March Madness: Because Kids Need Books. The event is being hosted by The King's English, an independent bookstore in Salt Lake City. Cari says: "The idea is to get books into the hands of children who would otherwise not be able to get books. "

According to a recent news release "The Pitney Bowes Foundation has awarded a $50,000 grant to Everybody Wins! for the support of Project LEAP (Literacy Enhancement Action Plan) ... Project LEAP will improve educational outcomes for low-income students by enhancing the ability of Everybody Wins! affiliates and strategic partners to deliver literacy mentoring services.

Terry reports that "Read Aloud Virginia has just received over 9,000 books from First Book in Washington, DC! While this seems like a lot of books, it really comes out to less than one free book per child during Read Aloud Virginia's summer months."

According to a recent press release, "Capstone Publishers, the leading publisher of high-kid-appeal children’s books for school and public libraries, has made a donation of 10,000 books to Books for Africa, the world’s largest shipper of donated text and library books to the African continent. ... Books for Africa is a nonprofit organization based out of St. Paul, Minn., and has shipped more than 20 million books to 44 African countries since it was founded in 1988." 

According to another new release, Pratham Books, a not-for-profit trust in India, has a mission of putting a book in every child’s hands. For the past five years, the organization has been spreading the joy of reading among children in India and abroad. Early this year, Pratham Books, along with other publishers like the National Book Trust, Children's Book Trust, Scholastic and Eklavya, distributed books worth roughly $6million (Rs.30 crores) to nearly 6 million children studying in close to 70,000 government schools in Bihar, a heavily populated northern state of India! See more about the Bihar Reading Improvement Program here.

New Resources

Now this is cool! An exhibit at the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum "will explore the relationship between wallpapers and books created for children through works from the permanent collection and the National Design Library. From their beginning in the 1870s, children's wallpapers have been strongly influenced by literature and popular culture. Works on view will include papers illustrated with nursery rhymes and designs inspired by works of fiction and adventure, such as Peter Rabbit, Alice in Wonderland, and Cinderella." Thanks to Julie's Children's Illustration blog for the link.

Kyra from Black Threads in Kid's Lit suggested " - a visual search engine designed by these two French guys". We tried it by entering "Jon Scieszka", and it brings up a map with sections for books, author, children, illustrator, and links to Guys Read, library thing, etc. When you hover over a word, the pictures that link to the topic light up and lines connect the resources. Worth a look. Kids might really like it.

And that's all for this week. Note that we have not repeated links here that were included in Share a Story - Shape a Future. Please check out the Share a Story - Shape a Future blog for many additional resources related to children's literacy. Thanks for reading!