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Children's Literacy and Reading News Roundup: Early May Edition

JkrROUNDUP We've been a bit delayed by internal technical issues, but the early May children’s literacy and reading news round-up, brought to you by Jen Robinson’s Book PageScrub-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 content for you about literacy & reading-related events; literacy and reading programs and research; and suggestions for growing bookworms. [Well, we lost a few things due to the aforementioned technical woes, but we still have a few tidbits for you.] I also added a short section this week on library funding (which is clearly Reading News, but didn't seem to fit into any of the other categories). Carol also shared an April review and look forward at May/June/July events at Rasco from RIF last week, and Terry will be back later in the month with more news.


This week is Children's Book Week. I posted earlier in the week about the Children's Choice Book Awards. I'd also recommend a quick search of #ChildrensBookWeek on Twitter. You'll find lots of excitement about Children's Book Week, especially from @MrsPStorytime.

Logo Tomorrow is Free Comic Book Day. According to the website, "Free Comic Book Day is a single day - the first Saturday in May each year - when participating comic book shops across North America and around the world give away comic books ...  to anyone who comes into their stores." What a great way to promote literacy (and hook future customers on comic books). I was reminded about this by @BookLovingBoys and @JenniHolm. See also this Parents' Guide to Free Comic Book Day from School Library Journal, via @LinksToLiteracy.

4738-1 Thursday, May 12th is National Doodle Day. According to Publisher's Weekly, "Daniel Pinkwater, Neil Gaiman, Eric Carle, Mo Willems, and Jon Scizezka are among the authors and illustrators joining publishers Albert Whitman & Company, Chronicle Books, Gibbs Smith Publishers, and Running Press in celebrating National Doodle Day on Thursday, May 12. This annual event, which includes an online eBay auction of doodles by children’s favorites, as well as actors Jeff Bridges and Julianna Margulies, and Orioles pitcher Wally Bunker, raises money and awareness for families and individuals affected by Neurofibromatosis, or NF." (Via @PWKidsBookshelf)

Congratulations to Greg Pincus, who reached his funding goal for his Kickstarter project Poetry: Spread the Word. This is an innovative (and experimental) project that Greg is funding through donations. He'll be writing and distributing original poetry, and making school visits to talk with kids about poetry. I've been so thrilled to see his pledges mounting to and past the target, so that the project can go forward. There are currently 95 backers, and 3 days left to participate (more backers means more school visits, at this point).

Red_logo If you would like to help literacy-based organizations like RIF and Reach Out and Read, you might consider buying some artwork in Scholastic's "auction to benefit its global literacy campaign, “Read Every Day. Lead A Better Life.” The auction features pieces created by twelve celebrated children’s illustrators: Norman Bridwell, Bruce Degen, Edwin Fotheringham, Mary GrandPré, Barbara McClintock, Jon J. Muth, Sean Qualls, Stephen Savage, David Shannon, Jeff Smith, Mark Teague, and Raina Telgemeier." Terry suggests bidding on a Mother's Day gift.

Don't miss this Book Fair sponsored by the Kidlitosphere's own Guys Lit Wire. GLW is working with Powells Books to send books to students at Ballou Senior High in Washington, D.C. Book Fair founder Colleen Mondor says: "Ballou is very special to me as school librarian Melissa Jackson made such an eloquent case for her students’ need for more books. Her video, which shows so many empty shelves, really gave me reason to pause. There are probably more books in my house then Ballou has in this video and that is wrong in so many ways that I don’t even know where to begin." Do check out the video, and consider sending some books along to Ballou (via a wish list at Powell's).

Literacy and Reading Programs and Research

This is just cool. A portable Dutch children's library built in a modified shipping container. According to Inhabitat: "Conceived to help support local Dutch schools that lack the funds or space for a library, the BiebBus can pull in, pop up, and let kids participate in a parable or two. The design is also a lot of fun -- with a transparent floor, cool lights, and huge portals for kids to see out, the BiebBus makes kids excited to grab a book, kick back, and explore the written word." Do click through to see the pictures. Via @FirstBook.

The Tenneseean recently shared a piece by Jessica Bliss about the Books from Birth program, a program that sends kids free book in the mail from ages zero to five (affiliated with Dolly Parton's Imagination Library). One of the main points of the article was that the children who are most in need of books are often the ones who miss out on the program, due to lack of permanent mailing address, unwillingness or inability of parents to sign up, etc.). Sad, isn't it? But still a great program. I'd sign Baby Bookworm up in a heartbeat. I think as kids get old enough to understand it, having books arrive in the mail, addressed to them, is a beautiful thing. Link via Jenny Schwartzberg.

Also from Jenny, a story from about a woman, Jeannie Freedom, who first started a program to leave boxes of books (nicely decorated) for kids at homeless shelters, and is now donating books to the Butte County Jail.

And speaking of prisons, one more article from Jenny, about a program that promotes family reading in correctional facilities in Baltimore. The Turning Pages program gives incarcerated dads something positive to talk about with their kids, and strengthens both family bonds and reading skills.

I also received an email about a nonprofit that provides postage to people so that they can donate books, which are then distributed to low-income and at-risk kids in the Detroit area. Pretty cool!

In sadder news, USNews reports, in a story by Serena Gordon: "More than two-thirds of daycare centers included in a new U.S. study have TVs available for children to watch, and nearly 60 percent of the centers ignored the American Academy of Pediatrics' guidelines for television exposure in young kids." I think this part summed up the reason that this is a problem quite nicely:

"The thing about television is that if it's developmentally appropriate, it's not evil, but it comes at the expense of interpersonal interaction, which is really how children achieve developmental goals," explained one expert, Dr. Rahil Briggs, director of the Healthy Steps program at Montefiore Medical Group in New York City. She was not involved in the new study. (Via @ReachOutAndRead)

Library Funding

Libraries are clearly under siege these days. Here are a couple of things that caught my eye lately on the topic of library funding. Hopefully this won't need to be a permanent section of the roundups.

  • From my local paper, the San Jose Mercury News, the Santa Clara County Library system is going to start charging people who live outside the district (some 43% of current users) an $80 annual fee to check out books. I can see the tough position that the library system is in, with limited funding, but this is still sad news. There are people who won't be able to afford the $80 fee (the library only expects a 2% conversion rate), who won't have access to libraries near their homes or work. And there's a risk of other Bay Area libraries doing the same thing, so that an area once rich in library access and cross-library-lending will be fragmented. Sigh! This is just one of many pieces of recent bad news from and about public and school libraries.
  • Donalyn Miller, the Book Whisperer, has a must-read piece in defense of libraries (why we need them, and closing libraries actually costs more money than it saves.
  • Author Brad Meltzer recently also wrote an op-ed piece for the Miami Herald in defense of libraries, sharing his personal recollections of getting his first library card, and his thoughts on how libraries are vital to us as a nation. (Link via email from Sharon Levin).
  • And School Library Journal has a piece by Lauren Barack about a third grader who launched a fundraiser to help close a $300,000 funding gap for the Jersey CIty Free Public Library. Now, I think it's great that Paul Valleau has the drive to this, but really, should it be necessary for nine-year-olds to set up their own consignment shops to support the public library? These are dark times for literacy, people. And don't get me started on what's happening to RIF another literacy organizations (well, I'm sure I'll talk about that more at a later date).

Suggestions for Growing Bookworms

On a brighter note, Lindsay at Passionate Homemaking (@PassionateHome) shares a detailed response to Jim Trelease's Read-Aloud Handbook, concluding that "reading aloud to your children throughout their childhood and teenage years can make the greatest impact on their education" and that "you may do nothing else with your children but reading aloud for schooling for the first six years of their life, and they will be well-equipped to jump in, if they haven’t already on their own, to the world of reading, and loving it too!". Link via @ReadAloudDad.

CBWlogo-kid-style-250-1qkbahc The Early Childhood School Library Blog shares a guest post from Chris Singer of Book Dads (@Book_Dads). Chris, stay-at-home dad of a 2-year-old daughter, offers advice for reading aloud, specially written for Children's Book Week. I especially liked Chris' suggestion to offer "small books for small hands", giving toddlers kid-friendly board books, rather than worrying about getting in every award-winning title. I've actually found myself that I turn again and again to our board book collection with Baby Bookworm, and that many of the beloved picture books remain on the shelf, patiently waiting for a time when she won't try to eat the books. I also like Chris' general advice not to force things, but to go with the child's interest level. Excellent stuff! In honor of Mother's Day, Reach Out and Read CEO Earl Martin Phalen suggests on that the best gift that mothers (and fathers) can give back to their children is the gift of time, time spent reading aloud. He says: "Reading difficulty often leads to school failure.  A recently-released study by the Annie E. Casey Foundation found that one in six children who are not reading proficiently in third grade do not graduate from high school on time, a rate four times greater than proficient readers. It’s scary stuff – but incredible to think that it can be prevented with books."

In closing, I'd like to wish all of the moms out there a Happy Mother's Day. I think I'm going to take Earl Martin Phalen's advice, and give myself the gift of some extra read-aloud time with Baby Bookworm this weekend.

Thanks for reading, and for caring about children's literacy!