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Children's Literacy and Reading News Roundup: Mid-October Edition

JkrROUNDUPWelcome to the mid-October Children’s Literacy and Reading News Roundup brought to you by Jen Robinson’s Book Page, The Family Bookshelf, and Rasco from RIF. Over the month of October so far, 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.

Literacy & Reading-Related Events

Cybils2011First up and most time-sensitive, Cybils nominations close tomorrow (October 15th)!  Don't miss your chance to nominate your favorite children's and young adult books, in categories ranging from picture books to early readers to poetry and graphic novels. Anyone can nominate titles (one per person per category). The resulting nominations will be judged by teams of bloggers in various categories, winnowing through the hundreds of nominated titles to generate high-quality shortlists. So, if there's a book that you thought was well-written AND kid-friendly, and it hasn't been nominated yet, nominate it here. More information is available at the Cybils blog, where you can find eligibility rules, category descriptions, and links to lists of great, not-yet-nominated titles.

ImagesOctober 6th was Jumpstart's Read for the Record day, as millions of people joined Jumpstart in reading Llama, Llama Red Pajamas aloud to kids. The Huffington Post's Michael Yarborough published a nice, short piece about the event, and about Jumpstart's larger goals ("working toward the day every child in America enters school prepared to succeed").

The finalists for the National Book Award for Young People's Literature were announced this week. I was especially happy to see Gary Schmidt's Okay for Now on the list, since I declared it award-worthy a couple of months. Link via @PWKidsBookshelf.

Literacy Programs and Research

In an open letter to Sixth graders, Jim Vanides encourages students to think about their learning in the context of a global society. He calls it global fluency. Although his focus is technology (this is a post on the HP blog), his points really help codify the communication needs of our children.

And now for an uplifting tidbit of international literacy news, I was pleased to see this AP article by Kirsten Grieshaber about how "take a book, leave a book" public bookshelves are spreading across Germany. "In these free-for-all libraries, people can grab whatever they want to read, and leave behind anything they want for others. There's no need to register, no due date, and you can take or give as many as you want." Link via @IrisBlasi.

The OC Register had a lovely feel-good story a couple of weeks ago about a 13-year-old who has collected more than 17,000 children's books and delivered them to needy children, schools, and hospitals. Here's a snippet: "Megan (Mettler) got the idea last year while volunteering in the soup kitchen at the temple her family attends in Santa Ana. There, her eyes wandered to two homeless children. "I thought, 'They need books,'" Megan recalled. "I love books. I can't remember a time when I didn't have a book in my hand."" And so she took action. An inspiration to us all! Link via Jenny Schwartzberg.

The Washington Post recently shared an article by Valerie Strauss about the ways in which early childhood education is currently in the spotlight, and some of the issues being debated regarding how to improve it. Link via @ReachOutAndRead. Personally, I'm becoming a bit concerned about the second issue discussed: "Is there too much focus on academics in early childhood education today?" (at the expense of play). But I certainly agree that "quality early childhood education is vital to the academic success of most children — especially those who live in poverty". I know that Carol and Terry do, too.

Ror.redSpeaking of Reach Out and Read, they just shared this tidbit with me: "Reach Out and Read was featured on NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams! On October 11, our Military Initiative was highlighted as part of the network's "Making A Difference on the Homefront" series, "an effort to shine a light on veterans, military families and the issues affecting them across the country." The segment was filmed last month at Scott Air Force Base in Illinois. Watch the clip here!"

In Detroit, the Free Press and several other organizations have launched a new adult literacy program called Reading Works. The Press' Stephen Henderson talks about how this program will directly lead to improved children's literacy in the future, saying: "Adult literacy is inextricably tied to child literacy. Parents who can't read don't read to their children, don't fill their houses with books, and can't be that all-important first teacher who not only builds young literacy skills but submerges kids in a world of words and sentences, bindings and pages."

Carol found a fascinating piece by Dr. Perri Klass in the New York Times Health section about the way that babies, particularly bilingual babies, process language. What I found especially interesting was this bit: "Dr. (Patricia) Kuhl calls bilingual babies "more cognitively flexible" than monolingual infants...Previous research by her group showed that exposing English-language infants in Seattle to someone speaking to them in Mandarin helped those babies preserve the ability to discriminate Chinese language sounds, but when the same "dose" of Mandarin was delivered by a television program or an audiotape, the babies learned nothing."

Suggestions for Growing Bookworms

The Book Chook shares suggestions for developing children's literacy with fingerplays, in a post aimed at parents and caregivers of babies and toddlers. She says "Not only will you find that a little one loves to have your undivided, loving attention, but you'll know that you're laying a foundation for reading, writing and communication skills when he's older."

Front_of_box1_5g5iAnd speaking of literacy-based play, I received an email this week from the developers of Little Librarian, "the first personal library kit made just for kids!" Here's the product description for this library-based game: "Little Librarian provides book lovers with everything they need to transform their book collection into a library. Kids can practice the important skills of organizing, sharing, borrowing, and returning. Book pockets, check out cards, library cards, and bookmarks are just like the ones from the real library. Little Librarians will issue overdue notices and awards. Favorite books can be stored in the reading journal and shared with friends." We haven't actually seen this game, but "Disney Family Fun Magazine selected Little Librarian as a finalist for the Toy of the Year Awards for 2010". If the idea of playing home library with your child sparks your enthusiasm, this game is probably worth a look.

This list is a couple of years old, but it's the first time I've seen it. Maya Frost at Converge shares, from a teacher's perspective, 10 Wishes for Student Success. The wishes are things that she wishes parents would do for/with their kids at different ages, to help ensure success in school. I, of course, liked #1: "I wish that parents of preschoolers would cancel one of those weekly must-do activities (swimming, gymnastics, soccer) and take their kids to the local library instead." Link via @AnIowaTeacher.

Terry recently came across this list of Teachers' Top 100 Books for Children at the NEA website. The list was compiled from an online survey in 2007, and, while heavy on the classics, does include relatively recent titles like Inkheart and Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus. The list mixes picture books and middle grade, but it's still a nice reference for parents looking for read-aloud or gift ideas.

Speaking of useful lists, ALSC just released a Children's Graphic Novels Core Collection, organized by age range. ALA News explains: "In recognition of the importance of these books for children, the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) directed its Quicklists Consulting Committee to create a list of titles for public librarians serving elementary school-age children (kindergarten through 8th grade). The result is the Children’s Graphic Novel Core Collection from ALSC." Carol found this link.

IMG_1950-6-squarepreviewWhile looking at io9's list of 10 Amazing Science Books that Reveal the Wonders of the Universe, Terry found a fun list of Geeky Gifts for Kids. I especially liked this: "Mad Scientist alphabet blocks. Mwah-ha-ha! (io9 takes no responsibility for your child growing up to be an evil overlord.)" (Via StumbleUpon)

I found this column by KJ Dellantonia at the NY Times Motherlode blog thought-provoking: Putting Down the iPad So My Kids Can See Me Read. The author explains that although she loved her iPad Kindle app, her kids didn't perceive her as reading when she was reading on the iPad. In the interest of having her kids unquestionably see her reading books, she dropped the app, and made a trip to the bricks and mortar bookstore. Kinda made me want to reassess my use of iPad and smartphone when in the presence of Baby Bookworm. Link via @PWKidsBookshelf.

Myra Garces Bacsal shared a related story with me in response to the above (which I had posted on Google+). A father living in Paris took a video of a toddler who "seems totally flummoxed at how to manipulate the paper page" of a magazine, wanting it to work like an iPad. Now, if you ask me that's a toddler who hasn't been read to enough, rather than a sign that "the future of print media is in trouble." But there is certainly no doubt that kids find touchscreens very, very intuitive. 

Thanks for reading, and for caring about children's literacy. Carol will be back at the end of October at Rasco from RIF with the next roundup, but I'm sure that Terry will have tidbits for you in the meantime at The Family Bookshelf. You can also find us all talking literacy on Twitter and Google+. Have a great weekend!