New ALAN Award Launched for Young Adult Fiction
The Boy Book and The Treasure Map of Boys: E. Lockhart

Children's Literacy Round-Up: July 13

Jpg_book008 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. 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; 21st century literacies; grants, sponsorships & donations; and other new resources. And in fact, since we skipped last weekend, this is an extra-large helping of news. We hope that you'll find some tidbits of interest.


Youkhitsforkidslogo I love when my favorite things intersect. Saturday and Sunday this weekend, the Youk Hits for Kids foundation (established by Red Sox player Kevin Youkilis and his wife Enza Sambataro-Youkilis) held a book drive at Fenway Park. Fans were encouraged to bring new or gently used children's books to the park, for donation to Boston Public Schools. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt will be matching the fan donations. The goal of the project is to donate 100,000 books to schools. You can read a full press release about the event here.

BABF_logo Via a recent news release, "Reading Is Fundamental (RIF) and Macy's have teamed up to launch Book A Brighter Future™, a national partnership to raise awareness and support of children's literacy. The Book A Brighter Future campaign is an annual promotion held at Macy's stores during the back-to-school season to help raise money for local RIF programs and to provide reading resources to the children who need them most. This campaign provides an opportunity for Macy's customers to join the effort and have an impact on literacy in their community. From July 1 through August 31, 2009, Macy’s customers can give $3 and receive a coupon for $10 off a $50 in-store purchase at any Macy’s nationwide. Macy’s will donate 100 percent of every $3 to RIF." RIF's Carol Rasco got to ring the closing bell for the NASDAQ, in honor of the launch of the Book A Brighter Future campaign. She says: " I would never have dreamed as I grew up in that small town in south Arkansas, reading in a corner of the basement of the public library on many hot, summer days that I would be at a big city stock exchange many summers later ringing the closing bell!" We say, go Carol!

RIFF_logo Speaking of RIF, their Reading with Kids challenge ended June 30th, and as a huge success. Carol Rasco announced at Rasco from RIF: "The results have been overwhelming as more than 7,000 participants logged 10 million minutes read to children, far surpassing the initial goal of 5 million minutes read!" That is fantastic to see, isn't it? All that reading to children. And, in even bigger news from Carol, "The House Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Subcommittee approved their version of FY10 spending bill for programs under its purview which includes RIF at the level of funding the President requested."

Via a news release, we learned that "Continuing their efforts to promote reading and literacy, the New York Knicks and Cablevision's Power to Learn have kicked-off the third annual "Knicks Read to Achieve" 2009 Summer Reading Program presented by Kia Motors, Official Partner of the New York Knicks. Focused on children aged 6-12, the summer reading program is implemented through 12 participating libraries in Connecticut, New York and New Jersey. The literacy program encourages reading through the use of incentives, and will be highlighted by local book giveaways and "read-aloud" events with Knicks alumni at select locations. Additionally, each library will be giving away 60 tickets to a Knicks game to program participants and their families."

FB_logo During Book Expo America, First Book had 1,500 visitors at its booth! They are donating 1,500 books to readers in need ... one for every visitor. First Book decorated its booth with posters and T-shirts that said “A Book Today, A Friend Forever.” The staff got so many compliments that the organization is now selling products with the logo in their webstore. From an email: "From t-shirts to notebooks, water bottles to tote bags, these pieces make great gifts for family and friends. A designated portion of proceeds from each product benefits First Book. Visit to browse all of our gift options and help children get their first new books."

Raising Readers

At Oh! Just One More Thing, Mel Mason shares thoughts on reaching reluctant readers. She says: "Teaching on a University campus is truly one of the great joys of my life. It has also brought me some surprising challenges. The one that I am continually looking to find the right answer to is how to help my students who HATE to read, particularly the male students." Right now she's looking for suggestions, particularly for the boys, saying: "Any theme is fair game, just needs to be children’s or YA. What could you suggest for my guys in these categories? Non-fiction, fiction, humor, and information".

In this interview with Charles Campbell, Erika K. McCarden tells us how the teacher-turned-author uses literature to inspire urban youth to become successful learners. “I decided to use fantasy as an educational tool to teach the basic tools of creative writing and encourage children in urban communities to step out of their comfort zones.”

At the Book Chook, Susan Stephenson shares some suggestions for encouraging young readers, including the very simple suggestion of sometimes letting the child hold the book. She also shares links to sites that have writing prompts for kids.

Parenting-n-Families has an article about the scholastic benefits of reading to children. The article includes this gem: "Whatever you do, don’t start thinking of reading as an exercise in your child’s development. First and foremost, reading aloud to your child is a fun, shared activity between you and your children. Pick books that you like to read and that your children like to hear and just have fun - because that’s when children learn their best."

We found a nice article by Seth Roy in the Newark Advocate about a community literacy program working to spread a simple message: "Parents should read to their children 20 minutes each day, starting at birth." Organizers view their work as "a marketing effort", and are working to spread the word across their county.

At The Children's Book Review, Bianca Schulze shares a post by Laura J. Colker with ideas from Reading Is Fundamental and other tips from The Coordinated Campaign for Learning Disabilities. I, of course, especially liked "Read the same book your child is reading and discuss it. This is a great way to use books as a bonding tool." Link found via @book_mommy.

At Moms Inspire Learning, Dawn Morris uses a learning to ride a bike metaphor to discuss kids and advanced reading. She asks: "Would you let your children ride their bikes on major streets when they were 10 years old? Would you let your children read teen books when they were 10 years old?" Dawn shares a variety of links on this topic (some from my own discussion of kids and reading levels at Booklights, some new to me). She concludes: "I like to think of the YA section of the local library kind of like a traffic jam. I wouldn't let my child venture off on his bike onto a major road, so I wouldn't let him head into the YA section of my local library without my assistance. Unless, of course, he had a librarian or a traffic cop to help him!"

And, of course, we once again find various articles about summer reading:

-- At Reading Rumpus, Tasses shares an idea for a summer literacy activity - a scavenger hunt for answers to questions like "how do fireflies glow?"
-- At The Longstockings, Kathryne B. Alfred shares her favorite tips for raising readers. She concludes with: "If you're going away on vacation this year, make picking out vacation books as important a part of the process as buying swimsuits and sunscreen." Sounds smart to me!
-- First Books hosted guest blogger Tina Chovanec, the director of Reading, who talked about nonfiction books for kids. "Great non-fiction books for kids are taking over bookstore displays and library shelves this summer. If children need rich and diverse background knowledge in order to make sense of our ever-expanding world, then this is very good news."
-- The Christian Science Monitor also chimes in with suggested tips on getting kids to crack a book this summer by Stacy Teicher Khadaroo. The article includes several tips from Tim Shanahan, and includes this recommendation: "Sending a child off alone to read is not necessary. Kids are motivated to read "because of the connections it gives them with other people," says Tim Shanahan. Link via @MySchoolToolz.
-- This summer Frontier College is marking its 110th year of helping Nova Scotians improve their literacy skills. The college's 2009 Summer Reading Program runs through July and August, and includes creative literacy ideas you can do in your house, too. Tutors set up reading tents so the kids can read outside; they play alphabet Twister and literacy beach ball; and have grocery-list races and a vocabulary scavenger hunt. Sounds like fun, no? Read all the details in Lindsey Jones' article for Halifax News Net.

Literacy & Reading Programs & Research

The Telegraph reported on an interesting study "Reading children bedtime stories may not be as effective in helping them to learn language as talking to them before they go to sleep, according to new research." Of course, it seems to me that one can talk about the bedtime stories... But conversation with young children has to be a good idea, too. Link via @LiteracyLaunch and @readingrockets.

At the Grampa Said So blog, Grampa Starling offers a personal story about his three kids and their reading interests. He also talks about what he learned about how you teach kids to read, and offers an interesting perspective on how illustrations can help, but also hurt, the reading process. "There is a body of published studies which suggests that during shared parent–child reading, the adult typically fails to draw the child’s attention to features of the print whilst the child most often will only concentrate on the illustrations, ignoring the print. Consequentially, shared book reading often fails to advance children’s early literacy development."

The National Literacy Trust (UK) recently published a new report (link goes directly to PDF) by Christina Clark about why fathers matter to their children's literacy. We found this via Tweet from @EverybodyWins and @JeanetteMcLeod. recently posted the results of a UK study that found "that almost two thirds of children want their parents to read to them more often. The study of 3 - 8 year olds found that it was boys aged 3 - 4 who would most like extra storytime sessions, with 76% saying they wished their mom or dad read them a story more frequently.... The research by Disney/Cars Storyteller’s Collection also revealed it could be in parents’ interests to read a bedtime story if they want a good night’s sleep. Eighty two per cent of children questioned said reading with mum or dad before bedtime helps them to sleep better." Thanks to Farida Dowler at Saints and Spinners for the link.

Literacy911 reports that "In New York and across the country, far more men have lost jobs during the current recession than have women, and that's reversing the roles of family breadwinner in some homes. Dr. Ira Wolfe ... says that more women are pursuing advanced degrees, which means more women will continue to become breadwinners in New York." Literacy affects employability, after all. Terry found this item via @Literacy911

According to a 2008 Scholastic Kids and Family Reading study, the Internet is helpful for promoting readers. In her article for the Bismarck (North Dakota) Tribune, Pamela Krueger pulls out the internet-related findings. Here are just three ...

-- children who use the Internet are more likely to read a book for fun.
-- two-thirds of children aged 9 to 17 go online in order to broaden their reading experience.
-- children who are low frequency readers prefer to read online rather than books.
(via @JeanetteMcLeod tweet) has a nice article that pulls together literacy research about learning to read. It is interesting to see that findings from 1981 is still relevant today. Thanks to Dawn Little (@linkstoliteracy) and Jeanette McLeod (@JeanetteMcLeod) for the tweets.

Once More, With Feeling is an article on the Early Education Watch blog that outlines the four teaching practices that play a significant role in 4th graders' reading scores. It says that "by far the strongest predictor of the four was the extent to which teachers integrate readings from other content areas -- such as science, social studies, and the arts -- into their reading instruction."

21st Century Literacies

The Book Chook shares links for using YouTube to encourage reading. Susan has examples for using YouTube to remind kids of some of their old favorite books, and for introducing new books and learning rhymes and songs.

Sometimes going forward means looking back. In the July 4, 2009 edition of The Big Fresh (Choice Literacy Newsletter), editor Brenda Power selected some articles from July 2007. They are as "fresh" today as they were then, so we thought it might be nice to include them for a new audience. First, Franki Sibberson looks at when we become word learners to create the word study envelopes for her students. Looking ahead to school, Brenda linked to the Scholastic website for a collection of features and lesson plans to help educators "build a classroom community during the first days of school."

The lead article in the July 1 edition of Foreword This Week is about book publishers and the iPhone. In the article, Whitney Halberg explains that some content was digital long before the Kindle (think dictionaries!), but the emphasis of her article is "book publishers that have more creatively adapted their products for use on the iPhone and other devices." Although the article doesn't offer links, you can get a good idea of what they're providing and what it costs.

Grants and Donations

According to a report in the Laurinburg Exchange, "The Enterprise Rent-A-Car Foundation recently presented a check to the Scotland County Partnership for Children and Families in the amount of $1,000 to support the Scotland County Reading Is Fundamental program." Via @LiteracyCounts.

As reported by Ashley Smith on, "Pickler Memorial Library at Truman State University recently received a grant to help support the Children's Literature Festival. The grant is in the amount of $10,000 from the Missouri State Library Spotlight on Literacy Fund."

New Resources

Via The Joy of Children's Literature, we learned about a new portal for teachers from the Library of Congress. Denise Johnson says: "The Library’s K-12 mission has now taken another step forward: a web portal bringing together its resources for teacher in a single place at It’s a new, easy-to-find center just one click away from the Library’s homepage. An important feature of the free online site is a new build-it-yourself professional-development tool for teachers called TPS Direct. TPS Direct will offers any educator, at any time, the ability to customize professional-development activities for use at the school, district or state level for delivery in a face-to-face, online or blended format."

Thanks to Carol Rasco's Muse Briefs for sending us to VocabSushi, a website that makes building vocabulary fun and relevant. Carol learned about the site via a tweet from Andres Henriquez of The Carnegie Corporation.

And for a new real-world resource, "The Born Learning Trail is an interactive, playful and visible part of the Born Learning campaign, designed to help parents, caregivers, and communities support early learning. The Trail boosts children’s language and literacy skills, encourages families to get active, and elevates awareness of early childhood education." More details here.

And finally, a link to some useful links: Focus on Literacy: Top Ten Internet Websites

Booklights Terry will be back with the next literacy round-up next Monday at The Reading Tub. I also have a post up at Booklights today about series books featuring adventurous girls (for middle grade and tween readers). Thanks for reading! 

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