Saturday Afternoon Visits: January 30: Kidlitosphere News and Views
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Children's Literacy and Reading News Round-Up: February 1

JkrROUNDUP 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 at Jen Robinson's Book Page. This week Terry Doherty and I have collected plenty of content for you about literacy & reading-related events; literacy and reading programs and research; 21st century literacies; and grants, sponsorships & donations.


The third annual Connor's Courageous Kids Book Fair will be held on February 27 - March 2, 2010 at the Bethlehem Church in Randolph, New Jersey. Connor's House donates books and reading materials to children with life-shortening illnesses. From the website: "If you can't come in person you can still participate through the [Scholastic] One For Books program. Every dollar raised through the One For Books program goes directly towards purchasing books for children with life-shortening illnesses. In addition, for every dollar raised through this program Scholastic Books will donate a book to a national children's literacy program." Learn more at Thanks to Danielle at the Adventures of Two Little Monkeys for the details.

Everybody Wins! reports: "Former Atlanta Falcons defensive back “Big Play” Ray Buchanan, will challenge 250 students at Centennial Place Elementary School to improve reading skills at an event on Thursday, Jan., 28, at 1:30 p.m. The event is in conjunction January being National Mentoring Month." You can find more details here.

Speaking of Everybody Wins!, they've submitted an idea to's Ideas for Change in America program. Rich Greif explained to us in email: "The 10 most popular ideas will be presented at an event in Washington, DC to relevant members of the Obama Administration, and will mobilize its community to support a series of grassroots campaigns to turn each idea into reality. We submitted the idea for a national “Read to Kids” campaign that could engage national and local literacy organizations, schools, teachers, parents, authors, publishers and nearly every sector of business and society that understands that our nation's future depends on our children's literacy skills." To vote for the national “Read to Kids” campaign go here.

It's well-known that Terry and I are both suckers for inventive programs to promote literacy. So, clearly, are the folks at PaperTigers. In a recent post, Corinne said: "To celebrate National Storytelling Week in the United Kingdom, The Donkey Sanctuary,  will be opening its doors to local groups and schools for storytelling sessions in the company of the donkeys!" How fun is that!

The Book Chook also has a post in honor of the UK's National Storytelling Week. She says: "I think storytelling is a great way to develop literacy skills, but it's not something we think of immediately when we think of literacy... When kids listen to stories, they are developing their imagination by creating mind pictures of characters, settings and scenes. The repetition of a story strengthens the neural pathways, enabling them to internalise language, and master its nuances. This all has a kind of cumulative effect, so that the more kids listen to stories, the more they want to hear them, and the more they want to tell their own." She concludes with suggestions for ways to celebrate storytelling this week, wherever you live.

According to Rachel Bailey at Paste Magazine, "Twitter has teamed up with non-profit Room to Read to promote education and literacy worldwide. And what better way to do it than by selling wine? For $20 a pop, plus shipping and handling, you can have a bottle of Fledgling Wine 2009 Pinot Noir or Chardonnay from California delivered right to your door."

Literacy Programs & Research

Breaking the ChainRiley Carney has a lovely guest post at The Pirate's Bounty about why she cares about literacy, and what she's doing about it.  Here's a snippet: "I created my nonprofit for literacy, Breaking the Chain, when I was fourteen, after learning that 120 million children around the world do not have access to basic education. Children are particularly vulnerable to poverty and exploitation. Only through education do they have the chance to make their lives better." She goes on to describe several accomplishments of Breaking the Chain, as well as a great new program. It's well worth a look. [Logo from Breaking the Chain website)

Good Magazine recently ran an interesting feature story by Michael Salmonowicz positing that poor literacy is the common root of attendance, behavior, and drop-out rate problems in schools. The author notes: "As I noted in my recent article on school turnaround in the Phi Delta Kappan, our research team at the University of Virginia learned that of the problematic conditions present in 19 struggling Virginia elementary and middle schools, low reading achievement was the only one found in every school." Link via Everybody Wins!

Speaking of problems in schools, we were dismayed to see a School Library Journal article this week about how the Dearborn school system is eliminating the positions of 13 school librarians, leaving parent volunteers to fill in the gaps. Many other people were dismayed, too (you can see many comments here). We'd also recommend that you read Camille's response at The Book Moot. She says (strongly, citing research on this topic) that eliminating school librarians is going to harm test scores in Dearborn. It's real food for thought.

As reported by Tricia from The Miss Rumphius Effect, a recent study found that "First- and second-graders whose teachers were anxious about mathematics were more likely to believe that boys are hard-wired for math and that girls are better at reading... What's more, the girls who bought into that notion scored significantly lower on math tests than their peers who didn't." Sigh!

Teacherninja (aka Jim) has a detailed post about reasons that schools should avoid Accelerated Reader (AR) programs, referencing an article by Mark Pennington. Jim offers a point by point list of "ammunition" for people looking to resist AR programs.

The Palm Springs Desert Sun reports that "A new literacy program at the President Gerald R. Ford Boys & Girls Club of La Quinta hopes to boost the literacy rates in the Coachella Valley one computer game at a time. The Waterford Program began Monday thanks to a donation by the Waterford Institute, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to use technology to supplement student learning."

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch has a nice feature story by Kalen Ponche about a program by which senior citizens tutor young readers, and show them that reading is enjoyable. "The Oasis Intergenerational Tutoring program pairs adults, typically over age 50, with elementary school students who need extra help."

21st Century Literacies

We ran across a post this week (with thanks to Doret from TheHappyNappyBookseller) in which a librarian speaks out in favor of 21st Century Literacies, while faced with a couple of teachers determined to tie students to print resources. Both teachers are requiring students to cut out print articles from newspapers and magazines, and forbidding them to look at online resources. Edi from Crazy Quilts says: "I want to react in some way to these assignments that ignore the vast resources on the Internet that would not only include a plethera of articles, but would allow students to collect,share, discuss and research these articles in a much more contemporary fashion. RSS feeds could be collected on Newser, PageFlakes or Google Reader. Reader’ comments would expand the original story.  There are so many ways students could be engaged in technologies which are so much more meaningful to them and to the 21st century work space!!"

On a brighter note, Sarah has a positive report about e-Readers in the classroom, at The Reading Zone.  She says: "I had been waiting for an e-reader to pop up in my classroom this year. I was a little worried that if/when it happened, it would cause a disruption. But after students got an explanation, they settled right back into their own books. It was awesome!"

Grants and Donations

At the close of her post about That Magic Age, Rebecca explained that she is working with Women In Need "doing storytelling/ narrative-building in their shelters with children 5-8. If you live in the New York area and would like to get involved please stop by their website. They are a truly wonderful organization doing great things in the city." Do also read Faraway Places, her post at Nurturing Narratives about spending the afternoon reading with the children in the shelter. "When we expose children to books we not only enhance their literacy skills but we also cultivate their own abilities to dream beyond themselves. I was amazed during that class that two picture books [How I Learned Geography and Where the Wild Things Are]  had the power to transport these children outside their circumstances and into another reality, a different way to live."

According to a recent news release from Albany State: "The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) recently announced that Albany State University is one of 269 community organizations and institutions of higher education nationwide to receive grants to host Big Read celebrations between September, 2009 and June, 2010. The 2009-2010 Big Read grant recipients represent 44 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands, and these municipalities collectively will receive grants totaling $3,742,765."

Wrapping Up ...

Nonfiction MondayToday's Nonfiction Monday round-up is at Wild About Nature. I also have some additional links for parents about children's literacy and raising readers in my latest Literacy 'Lights from the Kidlitosphere post at Booklights. Next week's children's literacy and reading news roundup will be at The Reading Tub. Thanks for your interest in children's literacy!