Killer Pizza: Greg Taylor
Growing Bookworms Newsletter: April 7

Children's Literacy Round-Up: April 6

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 here or at the Reading Tub. This week Terry Doherty and I have collected plenty of content for you about literacy & reading-related events; raising readers; literacy and reading programs and research; grants & donations; and other new resources.


Book WhispererDenise Johnson from The Joy of Children's Literature announced an upcoming chat at Education Week: Awakening the Inner Reader in Every Child, with Donalyn Miller. I'm mentioned Donalyn's book on this topic, The Book Whisperer, and I think that the chat will be both useful and interesting to reading teachers. As Denise said: "not every child has a mother or caretaker who loves to read and knows how to support him or her to blossom as a reader. That's why the job of reading teachers is so important." 

Did you think you were finished with office pools and tournaments? Nope, not yet. School Library Journal has announced its first Battle of the (children's) Books, a tournament that pairs great books from 2008 in a head-to-head competition. The First Round begins Monday, 13 April (a week from today), and there are two matches each day. Brackets are posted for this NCAA-style tournament featuring the best children's books of 2008 competing against one another, and trying to win over judges Lois Lowry, Jon Scieszka, Linda Sue Park, and John Green. You can follow along at Twitter, too:

The theme for Kids @ Your Library this year is “Worlds connect @ Your Library.” This event is part of National Library Week (April 12-18 2009), and it focuses on the many connections library users make at their local libraries.

Although the CPSIA law has been covered extensively already, we thought that this post at The Common Room offered a helpful perspective on the impact of CPSIA on the neediest children. In a nutshell, this homeschooling mother says: "the CPSIA harms the poorest children directly for the sake of pretending to preventing dangers that are more imaginary than real. ... There are NO known cases of children harmed by lead in a book. There are thousands and thousands of case of children harmed by lack of access to books."

Librarychallenge Librarian Ms. Yingling (source of many of my favorite book recommendations), is hosting a Library Design Challenge. She says: "I have become obsessed with optimizing my library and am curious about where others work. I'd like to take a virtual tour of some other school or public libraries and get some ideas for my own!" She asks a series of questions, including "List one BEST feature and one worst feature of your library", and she has a prize to offer... Please do share your knowledge and ideas with her - lots of people could benefit.

We somehow missed celebrating this, but PaperTigers reported that April 2nd was International Children's Book Day. Corinne explains: "Started in 1967, International Children’s Book Day takes place on or around Hans Christian Andersen’s birthday, April 2nd, and is celebrated to inspire a love of reading and to call attention to children’s books. The event is sponsored by IBBY, The International Board on Books for Young People, a non-profit organization which represents an international network of people from all over the world who are committed to bringing books and children together."

300x250_rwk We mentioned earlier that this was coming, but I wanted to report that RIF has officially launched the 2009 Read with Kids Challenge, which runs from April 1st to June 30th. Carol Rasco explains that RIF and US Airways invite everyone to be part of a national effort to collectively log 5 million minutes spent reading with kids to raise awareness about the importance of reading. There are cool prizes available, too, including a family vacation to Disney World.

RT7 Jennifer Donovan (of Snapshot and 5 Minutes for Books) just launched Read Together 2009. Jennifer explains: "Read Together is a challenge to use reading as a way to connect with your kids. I am inviting each of you to set a specific goal in regards to reading with your child(ren)." And yes, there are prizes. You can find the sign-up post here.

And, rounding out this enormous events section, we direct you to Just One More Book, where Andrea and Mark have launched their Rock Stars of Reading video series. Andrea explains that there is a promotional video about the event. It is "an extract from Part 1 and features some of our car travel as well as photographs and video clips from the entire trip, all cut to the amazing song Animus Girl by savium. Look for the faces of Richard Michelson, Paul O. Zelinsky, Jane Yolen, Jeanne Birdsall, Mo Willems, Jane Dyer, Jarrett Krosoczka, Diane de Groat, Lane Smith, Corinne Dumas, Jeff Mack and MANY MORE!" Exciting stuff!

Raising Readers (and Writers)

The Itty Bitty Bookworm is the place to go if your looking for literature-based preschool curriculum. In April, if you visit the site and subscribe to the newsletter, you will receive their April curriculum absolutely FREE! Thanks to the Bookworm's Booklist for the lead.

Education News Services shares a nice summary of New Jersey Library Association conference programs of interest to educators.

Ketchup on your storytelling ... The Art of Storytelling is an interactive website sponsored by the Delaware Art Museum. If you miss stories with "daintily lifted pantaloons," you will love these short stories (to read or have read to you) that are built around famous pictures. We found this link in Meg Ivey's Literacy Voices Round-up April 3.

We were heartened by this post from Dana Zakrzewski at the ALSC Blog. Dana commented on a news story about how "8 year-old Maria Keller started the Read Indeed campaign to get books into the hands of underprivileged children. Her ultimate goal is to get a million books into kids’ hands by the time she’s 18", saying "Frankly, I’m surprised and impressed that a person this young realizes the importance of Early Literacy and had the vision and drive to initiate such a campaign. It gives me hope for the future of books and reading." We agree!

In homage to the Horn Book article "Unlucky Arithmetic: Thirteen Ways to Raise a Nonreader", by Dean Schneider and Robin Smith, S. Rebecca Leigh shares two new tongue-in-cheek "unlucky arithmetic" lists, about raising non-writers and raising non-artists. We found this link via The Big Fresh from Choice Literacy (a weekly email newsletter, chock-full of literacy-related links).

For a more straightforward approach on tips for young writers, check out this post by Susan Beth Pfeffer. She starts with the basics (read a lot, write a lot, and learn grammar and spelling), and moves on to content. This is a nice, concise article, aimed straight at kids.

At Literacy, families, and learning, Trevor Cairney continues his series on key themes in children's literature, this week discussing the importance of humour. He discusses the different types of humor that children respond to at different ages, and the benefits of humor for literacy. Trevor notes: "Humour has enormous positive benefits for early literacy learning. It helps children to engage with stories and the language that is used to create stories. This in turn helps them to listen to story reading longer, and to want to read books for themselves. This is particularly the case with boys." He gives many examples.

At The Book Chook, Susan Stephenson talks about how to foster early literacy without turning kids off from reading (in response to a reader question about a daughter's resistance to phonics workbooks). Not surprisingly (for anyone who followed the recent Share a Story - Shape a Future literacy blog tour), Susan recommends reading aloud with children, starting from infancy. She says: "The great thing about sharing books like this with your kids, is that it teaches them almost unconsciously. They learn to love stories... Read aloud time is an opportunity to have a beloved parent close and all to oneself, while being entertained by the magic of reading." (Do click through for the full quote - Susan, Terry, and I are kindred spirits on this subject.)

BBC News has an article about the Literacy Trust program that uses sports figures to inspire kids to read. I found this part especially interesting: "This year's list of Premier League Reading Stars was published as a study, commissioned by the National Literacy Trust, suggested sports stars were among the most inspirational figures for young people. The research, which questioned 2,176 primary and secondary school pupils aged seven to 15, examined how role models can influence children's reading habits. After family members, sports people were the public figures most likely to inspire reading, the figures suggested."

Literacy & Reading Programs & Research

Terry learned about an interesting article via the Child-Lit Listserve: A Synthesis of Reading Interventions and Effects on Reading Comprehension Outcomes for Older Struggling Readers, by Meaghan S. Edmonds, Sharon Vaughn, Jade Wexler, Colleen Reutebuch, Amory Cable, Kathryn Klingler Tackett, and Jennifer Wick Schnakenberg, from the journal Review of Educational Research. "This article reports a synthesis of intervention studies conducted between 1994 and 2004 with older students (Grades 6–12) with reading difficulties. Interventions addressing decoding, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension were included if they measured the effects on reading comprehension."

Tim Shanahan had an interesting post last week at Literacy Learning about whether the persistence of early reading problems in later life is "research-based fact or urban myth". He finds that "though early reading success or failure translates into later school success or failure is the pattern more than 80% of the time, there are always a few outliers who manage to overcome their initial limitations (again, because they are really smart or live in really smart environments that are arrayed to address the problem). This last point is really important, because it says that redemption is possible."

The Early Ed Watch Blog has a follow-up post about a study that we previously mentioned here, about the benefits of play in elementary school. While agreeing on the need for play time for kindergarteners, Lisa Guernsey suggests that the original report, by Alliance for Childhood, "goes wrong in its reliance on hyperbole. It has chosen to start the sirens based on observations and interviews in just three cities, conducted by researchers who were paid by the Alliance. Until we have a large, national study using independent observers and employing sound, consistent methodologies for collecting information, using words like "crisis" only blurs the picture".

Science Literacy and Reading News shares information about a "new resource for teachers (and the) public on how to recognize science when you see it". Brian Scott explains: "A new University of California, Berkeley, Web site called "Understanding Science" ( paints an entirely new picture of what science is and how science is done, showing it to be a dynamic and creative process rather than the linear – and frequently boring – process depicted in most textbooks."

Education Week reports, in an article by Christina A. Samuels, that "Advocates for early-childhood education are taking President Obama at his word that the billions of dollars for programs like Head Start included in the recent economic-stimulus package are merely a “down payment” on future expansion, (and) are ramping up for expansion after years of being underfunded". Another Education Week article, by Alyson Klein, finds that "policymakers in some states hit hard by the economic downturn, such as Nevada and Tennessee, appear to favor increasing, or maintaining, funding for K-12 schools over higher education."

Grants, Sponsorships & Donations

Meg Ivey brought to our attention this FOX News Memphis story about "a $600,000 grant (that) was awarded to three Memphis City Schools as part of Toyota's and the National Center for Family Literacy nationwide effort to promote literacy."

New Resources

Via Jeannette McLeod on Twitter, Terry uncovered an interesting new resource. is an online site for e-books. You can purchase books, but there are also a few to view or download for free. A highlight is that you can have the book read aloud to you (the words are highlighted as you go along). You can also use the cursor to point to specific words and the narrator will say them aloud.

Jenny Schwartzberg told us about a fascinating article by Doron Halutz at about the response in Israel to the character Pippi Longstocking (or Bilbi Bat-Gerev, as she is known there). Terry and I both grew up as Pippi Longstocking fans (I was Annika in my second grade play, to my more adventurous friend Holly's Pippi), and we both found this article intriguing.

That's all for this week! Happy Reading!

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