Growing Bookworms Newsletter: December 6
Children's Literacy and Reading News Roundup: Mid-December Edition

Children's Literacy and Reading Roundup: Early December Edition

JkrROUNDUP The early December children’s literacy and reading news round-up, brought to you by Jen Robinson’s Book Page, Scrub-a-Dub-Tub, and Rasco from RIF is now available here. Over the past couple of weeks Terry Doherty, Carol Rasco, and I have collected plenty of content for you about literacy & reading-related events; literacy and reading programs and research; and suggestions for growing bookworms.


WBBT-2010 The 2010 Winter Blog Blast Tour is going on this week, hosted by Colleen Mondor of Chasing Ray. The WBBT is a week-long series of in-depth author interviews, spread across a collection of blogs. Colleen and the other interviewers work together to ensure a diverse pool of participating authors and genres. I think that the WBBT represents the best of what blogging can be. Do check it out. Colleen will be maintaining direct links to all of the interviews, with quotes, here. [WBBT logo to the left designed by Sarah Jamila Stevenson]

I-can-read-meme2 Also ongoing is the December I Can Read Carnival | Celebrating New Readers, hosted this month by Zoe @PlayByTheBook. The I Can Read carnivals celebrate early literacy, easy readers, and short chapter books. Zoe says: "The I Can Read carnival is all about sharing finds, approaches, successes and more when it comes to books aimed at those just beginning to read for themselves, or those consolidating their reading skills. If you’ve a review, commentary, or an experience you want to share on this topic, please leave a comment on this post including a link to your piece and I’ll add you to the carnival." Posts can be up to one year old.

GORhmgraph10 Various programs out there are working to bring books to kids this holiday season.

  • I always donate boxes of books to the Mercury News Gift of Reading Program here in San Jose, a program that gives new and like new books directly to kids in the community.
  • I was also pleased this year to see that Readergirlz and First Book are partnering to provide more than 125,000 (!) free books to low-income teens. If you are involved with any programs that work with young adults–schools, after-school programs, church youth groups, community centers, etc.—please let them know that these books are available now (more details at Readergirlz).
  • On December 6th, Reading Is Fundamental (RIF) and First Book "announced a partnership to keep the current "Grinch economy" from spoiling the future for many children this holiday season. Together, the organizations are giving the gift of reading by providing 500,000 new books for children in RIF programs nationwide." More details in this news release.
  • And while they aren't donating books directly, we always like to mention the Toys for Tots programs, since many toys obviously have literacy-enhancement potential. This year, Touchdown for Tots is a partnership with the National Football League.  According to the news release, "Now through December 24, football fans across the country can spread the joy of the holidays while cheering on their favorite team, either at the stadium or when watching the game at home."

Speaking of sports and philanthropy (and as I am a big baseball fan, as regular readers know), Terry thought I might enjoy this story ... the Seattle Mariners have two seasons every year: the playing season and the holiday season. The team's owners have a very active team-affiliated foundation that works within the community to help those in need. This year, they raised more than $800,000 for various charitable programs in the Northwestern US. The one that caught Terry's eye was this: PACCAR (a global technology company) donated $100 for every Mariners RBI during the season to Page Ahead Children's Literacy Program, with the third-year program raising $75,000. You can read all about their activities (with video) here.

ShareAStoryLogo-color Looking forward a bit, Terry and a whole team of literacy advocates have been thinking about the 2011 Share a Story, Shape a Future Literacy Blog Tour (March 7-11). Terry just announced a contest to design logo buttons for this year's theme - Unwrapping the Gift of Literacy. And, as I mentioned the other day, you can now follow @ShareAStory on Twitter. [Share a Story logo to the right designed by Elizabeth Dulemba.]

Literacy Programs and Research

Terry has recently struck up a conversation with Spectrum Mom, who blogs at Books for Children with Autism.  Spectrum Mom describes how her son engages (or doesn't) with books of all sorts. She recently wrote a piece for the Toon Books blog about how and why graphic novels are so valuable for kids on the Spectrum.  "Every reader with autism is different, and no one program could address all their needs. Many are reluctant readers, some are dyslexic, and some are hyperlexic (where the ability to read outstrips the ability to comprehend). Still, readers with autism do share common traits. These include literal thinking, a need for structure, and a tendency to repetitive behaviors."

Jenny Schwartzberg recently brought to our attention a blog post at Books and Adventures about an Australian literacy program that gives books to babies before they leave the hospital, and continues to teach families to celebrate literacy right up to the start of school.

And for a much more local program, I found an article by Shelly Meron in the San Jose Mercury News (via @RIFWEB) about a Richmond program that will provide stock bookshelves at places kids end up waiting, like laundromats. Kids will be able to read the books there, or take them home. I love it!

Medallion I was very pleased to see a CBS News article today (link via @AnitaSilvey) in defense of picture books. The article extensively quotes Dr. Deborah Pope, executive director of the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation, on the continued relevance, and joy, of picture books for kids. ""If a parent pushes a child through their developmental stages too quickly, the child often ends up frustrated and behind later on," she said. "What's sadder is that they miss out on something they can never get back -- their childhood." She added, "Picture books nurture a child's ability to conceptualize."" Hear, hear!

Suggestions for Growing Bookworms

Not a suggestion, exactly, but certainly further motivation for growing bookworms, @MrsPStorytime (aka Kathy Kinney) has a lovely post about how the books we read as children become a part of us for life. This is something that I've always believed. My daughter is only 8 months old, and I already find myself referring back to books that we've read when I talk with her. I look forward to building on that for a lifetime, so that when she is my age, she won't even know which of her cultural references are from books - it will all be part of one rich tapestry.

I'm also trying to talk to my daughter as often as possible. I was already doing this, and felt spurred even more to action by this Huffington Post article by John Medina (link via @ImaginationSoup). Medina discusses research results on talking to your kids, how the number and variety of words matters, and how talking to your young children can actually raise their IQs.  I liked this quote: "Few interactions with children are as much fun as learning to speak their language. As they learn to speak ours, heaping tablespoons of words into their minds is one of the healthiest things parents can do for their brains."

I was taken by an article by Julie Williams about how kids who learn to read early don't always end up bookworms, and that kids will, and should, learn to read when they're ready and not before. Pushing kids to read before they're ready can lead to self-esteem problems and stalling out early, according to reading specialist Joanne Rossi. So, "what should parents do? Rossi, like many researchers, recommends a focus not on skills but on a love of reading and books."

And for more on what NOT to do if you want to grow bookworms, School Library Journal recently wrote, in an article by Lauren Barack, about how "bribing children to read and do well on tests isn't an effective way to increase their academic achievement in school... Even teachers are being bribed with pay incentives to help get student test scores up. Yet a recent report from the National Center on Performance Incentives at Vanderbilt University says that tactic doesn't raise student achievement either."

Elephant And finally, my friend Alex, who blogs about nature at Outside In, shared with me an article from my hometown (Lexington, MA), about a local woman who co-authored a new book about reading with kids.  Ashley Dowse reports in the Lexington Patch on "Help Me Get Ready to Read, a how-to guide giving parents and caregivers an approach to reading with children from birth to age 5", by Susan Marx and Barbara Kasok. Also from Lexington, this happy news about the upcoming opening of a new children's bookstore downtown (via @PWKidsBookshelf). I would have loved that when I was living there (especially when I was working downtown right after college).

That's all we have for you today. Terry will be back soon with a mid-month smattering of literacy and reading news. Thanks for reading, and for caring about growing bookworms!