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 (with particular emphasis on holiday-related events); literacy and reading programs and research; 21st century literacies; and grants, sponsorships & donations.
We recently came across two different contests that we thought might be of interest to roundup readers. First, Asset Based Thinking for Teens and Read Kiddo Read have a contest for teen librarians, with a $2500 grand prize. "Librarians will be recognized and rewarded for creating and conducting outstanding programs to engage teens and ignite the spark that will fuel their passion for reading." You can find more details here. Also, Candlewick Press and School Library Journal have a contest for elementary school teachers. The grand prize is a paid trip to the International Reading Association Conference in April. You can find more details here. Both contests close December 31st.
Holiday-Related Events and Activities
If you are looking for space on your kids' bookshelves, you might consider donating some of the books your kids have grown out of to children who need books. For instance, here's the announcement for the Kilbourn Public Library News: Literacy Council Book Drive. I'm sure that there is some local program in your area. In my area, the San Jose Mercury News Gift of Reading program is reporting (in a column by Patty Fisher) annual donations at roughly 30% of last year's levels. They've had to extend the deadline, but are worried that this isn't going to be enough. Me, I donated five boxes of books, but I'm wondering if I should round up some more...
And of course we recommend giving books as gifts. The National Children's Book and Literacy Alliance has a nice post with tips for finding the perfect gift book, rounded up from a couple of other articles. I especially liked this suggestion, from librarian Natacha Luzzi : "No one is ever too old for a picture book!!". I also linked to several posts about giving books as gifts in my Friday Visits post here, and in last Monday's post at Booklights.
As some of you may recall, Terry and I have mentioned several times the need to support literacy for blind readers. Jenny Schwartzberg brought to our attention an opportunity to support the teaching of Braille, while buying a unique holiday gift. "Your purchase of the U.S. Mint's 2009 Louis Braille Bicentennial Silver Dollar will advance the National Federation of the Blind's efforts to end the Braille Literacy crisis in America." You can find more details on the National Federation for the Blind website (which says that 90% of blind children are not currently being taught to read). The coins can only be purchased until December 31st.
Literacy & Reading Programs & Research
WBUR recently reported, in All Things Considered by Jon Hamilton, that reading practice can strengthen the pathways in children's brains. More specifically, "Intensive reading programs can produce measurable changes in the structure of a child's brain, according to a study in the journal Neuron. The study found that several different programs improved the integrity of fibers that carry information from one part of the brain to another." Pretty cool, I think. This story was sent to me by friend A. Dohan, who blogs at Outside In.
Also on the science side, ScienceDaily reported back in October that "Chinese-speaking children with dyslexia have a disorder that is distinctly different, and perhaps more complicated and severe, than that of English speakers. Those differences can be seen in the brain and in the performance of Chinese children on visual and oral language tasks". This popped up on Twitter this week, at @analomba.
This one is for my mom, a dedicated quilter. School Library Journal recently ran a feature story by Rocco Staino about former school librarian Muriel Feldshuh, who has spent the past 13 years piecing together literary quilts, to promote children's literacy. A host of talented illustrators have contributed squares, with both illustrations and pro-reading messages. Four quilts will be on tour early next year.
At Paradise Tossed (a blog about poetry AND technology) you'll find an interesting post suggesting that technological literacy is as important as any other skill we teach kids. Terry loved this opening: "Few things are as inspiring as watching a kid soak up information. They can process new ideas and concepts at a staggering velocity ... Despite the positive or negative influence of these large-scale educational efforts, there's a much deeper education going on behind the scenes. Both implicitly and explicitly, kids learn on their own, and they teach each other what they know." A lot to think about.
The Detroit Free Press reports, in a column by Rochelle Riley, that 52% of Detroiters 16 and older are functionally illiterate. Riley says: "Parents who do not or cannot read cannot prepare their children to learn. So they are sending them to school to fail. Those children, many of whom eventually drop out, grow up to become people who have a hard time finding a job, or whose job becomes breaking the law." Tragic, that's what that is. See also a related Free Press editiorial.
This is actually from July, but I just ran across an article from NeuroLogica Blog (thanks to @TaraLazar) debunking marketing claims by the "Your Baby Can Read" program. For example, regarding the claim that "Studies prove that the earlier a child learns to read, the better they perform in school and later in life" they point out that "this might have something to do with smarter kids being able to learn to read earlier. Also, smarter parents, or just parents in a more stable and nurturing environment, may be more likely to read to their children early. What we have is correlational data with lots of variables. None of this necessarily means that forcing kids to learn to read early has any advantage." Interesting stuff!
21st Century Literacies
Psych Central News recently profiled, in an article by Rick Nauert, the National Center for Family Literacy's interactive online tool for helping parents "to transform routine daily activities like meal preparation and bath time into rich learning experiences for their children."
I really do think that in the 21st century, the definition of what's considered acceptable reading material for kids has broadened immensely. National Ambassador for Children's Literature Jon Scieszka has a great article in the December 13th LA Times about the state of children's and young adult books in 2009 (found via @MitaliPerkins). He says: "My platform has been to reach reluctant readers. And one of the best ways I found to motivate them is to connect them with reading that interests them, to expand the definition of reading to include humor, science fiction/fantasy, nonfiction, graphic novels, wordless books, audio books and comic books. Librarians and teachers have embraced all of these new kinds of reading." He then gives lots of examples. This is an encouraging post for fans of children's literature and advocates of children's literacy. It's also a great source of ideas for holiday gifts. Don't miss it!
In a related LA Times opinion piece, journalist Susan Carpenter shares her experiences in choosing books for her reluctant reader son. My favorite line: "When it comes to getting a child to read, snobbery gets you nowhere". She also gives examples.
Grants and Donations
Lois Lenski, author of Strawberry Girl and many other beloved children's books during the 1920s through 1960s, established the Lois Lenski Covey Foundation to assist organizations in their efforts to provide books to children who might otherwise lack access to children's literature. The Santa Clara City Library Foundation & Friends (for which I'm a board member) was one of three grant recipients in California to receive a grant this year. Funds will be used to purchase children's books for a revolving book bag collection at the Sobrato Transition Housing Shelter and HomeSafe (domestic violence shelter); making sure that even the children living in shelters in Santa Clara will have access to high quality children's literature. Literacy outreach staff currently teach several story times a year at each shelter.
You all know that we love events that pair sports and literacy. And, as a Duke alum, I have a special place in my heart for college basketball. So of course I must bring to your attention this story from the University of Vermont athletics department (via @TheUPSStore_PR). "Thanks to the generosity of the local community, the Vermont men’s basketball team and the local The UPS Stores raised over $500 for the Shoot for Literacy Program during the 2008-2009 season. One-hundred percent of the proceeds donated locally benefited children in both Vermont and New Hampshire."
For still more literacy ideas, Terry has December's round-up of new literacy and reading news resources at the Reading Tub. Do check it out - she's found lots of interesting sites. And for more literacy links, check out yesterday's Weekend Wander round-up at Book Dads.
Terry will likely have a few last-minute links this morning at the Reading Tub. In light of the holidays, this will be our last literacy and reading round-up of the year. However, we'll still be posting links on Twitter and in our Between the Roundups widget as we run across them.
Whatever and however you celebrate this time of year, we wish you all a joyous and book-filled holiday season.