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Children's Literacy and Reading News Round-Up: November 30

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; literacy and reading programs and research; and grants, sponsorships & donations. There's no 21st Century Literacy news this week, for some reason. I think that the holidays have people in back to basics mode, focusing on book drives and book-related gifts. Still, there are a host of fun stories to share.


Santa As in previous years, the Canada Post is accepting letters to Santa Claus, in order to help promote literacy. "More than 11,000 current or retired Canada Post employees (known affectionately as postal elves) volunteer their time to help Santa respond to truckloads of letters in the language in which they are received--27 languages last year, including Braille. In 2008, Canada Post elves replied to more than 1.4 million letters and 63,000 emails." More details are available in this news release. [Image credit: Microsoft ClipArt]

Ncblalogo Episode 5 of the NCBLA's Exquisite Corpse Adventure (a project to promote the joy of reading, courtesy of the Center for the Book and the National Children’s Book and Literacy Alliance) is now available. This episode was written by Gregory Maguire and illustrated by Chris Van Dusen. Monica Edinger has an excerpt at Educating Alice.

Terry_readingtubfinal_1 Terry is starting a new monthly meme at The Reading Tub, rounding up reviews of early readers and chapter books. Terry's ultimate goal, of course, is to "encourage kids working to become successful readers". She says: "In the middle of each month, we’ll collect reviews of easy readers and/or short chapter books. Didn’t read one last month? Not a problem, your review can be from the previous year. So in January 2010, feel free to pull a post going back to January 2009!" She's taken the time to outline the characteristics of easy readers and short chapter books (also a Cybils category for the past two years), too.

ShareAStoryLogo2 And because she is tireless when it comes to promoting literacy, Terry is thinking ahead to the Share a Story - Shape a Future literacy blog tour for March of 2010 (March 8-12). The theme for 2010 will be It Takes a Village to Raise a Reader. I'll be hosting Friday, with a theme of Reading for the Next Generation: "This is the day for talking about how to approach reading when your interests and your child's don't match. It may be that you don't like to read but your child does, how to raise the reader you're not, and dealing with the "pressure" of feeling forced to read." But check out the full post, including ways that you can participate, at Share a Story. [Logo created by Susan Stephenson, The Book Chook]

The National Council of Teachers of English recently held their annual convention. There were many posts about the conference spread about various blogs. One particular post that I wanted to share was from Donalyn Miller at The Book Whisperer, recapping Sarah Mulhern's session about the benefits of reading aloud. There's a nice list of the benefits of classroom read-aloud, as well as a list of websites that Sarah uses to help her to select books for read-aloud (and to which Donalyn has helpfully added links). Clearly, Sarah and Donalyn are kindred spirits when it comes to kids and reading (and kindred spirits of mine, too, though I'm not a teacher). 

Funnybusiness1-660x933 Wired Magazine's GeekDad interviews Leonard Marcus about his new book, Funny Business: Interviews with Writers of Comedy, and why funny books work so well for kids. Here's a snippet: "They want to read funny books more than any other kind — especially kids who don’t think of themselves as readers... It would be interesting if someone just did a “funny shelf.” It would be the most popular shelf in the library."

Literacy & Reading Programs & Research

The Teach Effectively! blog discusses an upcoming American Educational Research Journal article about the different types of early reading instruction needed by children depending on their competency level when entering kindergarten. "
Susan Sonnenschein and colleagues reported that kindergartners who enter school with relatively higher competence in literacy benefit more from instruction that emphasizes extracting meaning from what they read but their counterparts who enter kindergarten with lower literacy competence benefit more from instruction that emphasizes decoding. As children progress through the elementary grades, however, the effects of different instructional emphases lessen."

Education Week shares an opinion piece by Dane L. Peters (subscription required to read the full article) about the benefits of letting students choose what they are interested in reading. I certainly agree with the author's conclusion: "Let young people decide what they should read based on where they are in their intellectual development and maturity. It’s the best way to keep them reading." I found this link via tweet from @DonalynBooks (who got it from @englishcomp).

The Rutland Herald recently published a feature story by Christina Kumka about a Rutland school's Annual Literacy Night, as well as their Everybody Wins!-sponsored mentoring program. What I especially liked about the article were some statistics about the mentoring program: "A survey of more than half of the mentors involved in the program last year showed that nearly all the students said their reading mentors helped them read better. Of the parents that responded to the survey, 71 percent said their child's vocabulary skills improved or improved greatly. And of the teachers who responded, 90 percent said because of their mentoring relationship, their students felt that more adults cared about them." Nice!

BBC News reports, in an article by Sean Coughlan, "School improvement in England is being held back by a "stubborn core of inadequate teaching", says the annual report of education watchdog Ofsted." The BBC article cites some questions about the report, and about Ofsted, from various government representatives, however, so the results appear a bit in dispute.

Grants and Donations

FB_logo According to a recent press release, "Holiday shoppers will have the opportunity to give the gift of reading through the Verizon Foundation's annual Season's Readings campaign. The public is invited to take part in the campaign, from Nov. 25 through Dec. 31, by logging on to and making a donation to First Book, a nonprofit organization that provides new books to children in need by distributing the books through local schools, libraries and other nonprofit children's organizations throughout the country. A contribution of just $2 buys a new book. For every donation to First Book through the Web site, Random House Children's Books will make a matching donation of new, free books to First Book (up to 300,000 books)."

Here's a neat little fundraising idea for a literacy program. "Katie Doyle Myers and her 4-year-old son, Finn, love to read together. So when her son asked her what it would be like to read 100 books in a day, she decided to turn that idea into a way to raise money for a Boulder nonprofit called Reading Village. Reading Village promotes literacy in Guatemala... She`s planning to read 100 books, heavy on the super-hero stories, to Finn on Saturday at various locations around Louisville." I love it! You can find more details in this Daily Camera article by Amy Bounds.

Then there's this Sydney Morning Herald story by Debra Jopson about a city school whose children donated more than 2000 books to a tiny school in a poor Aboriginal community. "The Australian Literacy and Numeracy Foundation, which organises Share-A-Book, took 8000 books from Sydney and Melbourne to Tennant Creek, ... where about 120 people live in a cluster of houses, the must-haves of city children's lives are absent. There is no mobile phone connection, no home internet, no TV, no library and certainly no book shop. School is a single classroom where all ages learn together." The article quotes children from both ends of the exchange.

Lots of organizations and communities are holding holiday book drives (which is great). There are too many stories for us to link to them all. But I did think that the one from the Statesman Journal and the Marion County (Oregon) Children and Families Commission was particularly compelling. A variety of groups are working together to try to collect 12,000 books in 12 days. The article says things like "Reading is the fundamental skill that opens doors to success in school and in society. Kids who spend their idle time reading for pleasure, as well as reading for learning, are less likely to fall into negative behaviors and to become an economic drain on society" and "Books are as important for nourishment of a child's mind as food is to a child's body." Nice to see a community banding together over these ideas. (Another heart-felt article about the same book drive is here).

Bgca_posplace_logo The Observer (Dunkirk, NY) reports that "With generous support from the Dollar General Literacy Foundation, BGCA (Boys & Girls Clubs of America) has teamed up with Developmental Studies Center to implement AfterSchool KidzLit, a proven reading enrichment program for young people in grades K-8. Boys & Girls Club of Northern Chautauqua County is one of 18 organizations across the country selected to benefit from essential after-school educational assistance that emphasizes literacy. Each Club is receiving a $5,000 program implementation grant and an AfterSchool KidzLit kit, including grade- and age-appropriate books and leader's guides."

Booklights That's all I have for you here this week. I also have links to a few articles specifically geared towards parents at Booklights, in my Literacy 'Lights from the Kidlitosphere column. I suspect that Terry will also have some last-minute literacy links at The Reading Tub, too. Thanks for reading, and for caring about children's literacy.

© 2009 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. All Amazon links in this post are affiliate links, and may result in my receiving a small commission on purchases (with no additional cost to you).