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The 2012 End-of-Year Children’s Literacy and Reading News Roundup

Welcome to the End-of-Year Children’s Literacy and Reading News Roundup, brought to you by Jen Robinson of Jen Robinson’s Book Page, Terry Doherty of The Family Bookshelf and me.

In October the Roundup opened with “This month’s Roundup cannot be started before we express our love and concern for all so seriously affected by Storm Sandy; we know in particular our friends in New York and New Jersey and others are suffering significant losses.  We’re here for you and are eager to know of things we might each do as bloggers and friends in this world of kid lit.” 

Sadly we now open this Roundup with mention of the tragic deaths in Newtown, Connecticut at Sandy Hook Elementary. We call on each person reading this Roundup to remember the survivors - individuals as well as the community itself.

Snowflakes and more for Sandy Hook: In light of the recent tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary, the Connecticut Parent Teacher Student Association led an effort to help the students of Sandy Hook have a winter wonderland at the school they will enter to resume their work together. Individuals and groups were asked to cut out snowflakes and send for the faculty to use in the “new” Sandy Hook site.  The response was overwhelming and while the original deadline was January 12, 2013, the following was in a recent e-newsletter from the CPTSA announcing the close of the “snowflake drive” and making suggestions for additional activities of remembrance:

Thank you to everyone who has donated snowflakes on behalf of the children of Sandy Hook  Elementary School and the community of Newtown…We have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of generosity from around not just the country but the world. At this time, we have enough beautiful snowflakes to blanket the community of Newtown. Therefore, with regret we must close the snowflake project to further donations. Please take this idea and your snowflakes and create a winter wonderland of your own in your community as a show of solidarity for our Newtown families. Please share your winter wonderlands with us. We would love to share your pictures with the families of Sandy Hook and all the other participating communities. Also please read the message below from the PTA of the Sandy Hook Elementary School for another wonderful way to help. You can read that message referenced at

As noted in the introduction, each of these communities - Newtown as well as the areas hit by storm Sandy - will need ongoing assistance.  In contacting groups about appropriate ways to continue assistance to storm victims it appears many of these groups are spending the time between Christmas and the close of the first week in January assessing next steps after working to provide holiday items to families.  We will pass along information via social media networks as we learn of ways we can each assist.

Sound the trumpets, strike up the bands! It is Awards
Season! Each morning of late the emails and Facebook and Twitter and more have announced a new category of winners from The Nerdy Book Cluband yesterday on the first day of this New Year the CYBILS shortlist was named with winners to be announced on February 14. And don’t forget that Susan Thomsen of the blog CHICKEN SPAGHETTI keeps an updated listing of The Best Children’s Books of 2012: A List of Lists and Awards.

Guess who is turning 50?
There are new books planned for release and Nephew Herman Parrish who has written Amelia’s stories since his Aunt Peggy Parrish passed away in 1988 shares in a Publishers Weekly post his future plans for Amelia. Amelia Bedelia was a good friend for me when I first taught school; my sixth graders always enjoyed writing “Amelia Bedelia” books in small groups for younger students in the school, great story times followed! When I think about it, Amelia and I have actually been friends since my Girl Scout Camp days when we would sing the campfire song “Have you ever seen a salad dressing, a salad dressing…”  Same concept.

Calendars that will be YOUR friend in 2013!
We all have calendars and list(s) of dates without which we cannot function…one you want to make sure is close at hand is from American Libraries magazine. And for planning blog topics, boards on Pinterest, book talks and more, keep in mind these calendars giving you what each month celebrates as well as listing day by day of special celebrations;  start with January.  

Remember: Coming up is the Presidential Inaugural on Sunday the 20th (private ceremony as the law requires the inaugural on this date) and the public events as usual on a week day, Monday, January 21 which is also Martin Luther King Jr. Day.  Great chance for some research for students on inaugural festivities and ceremonies; start here with the release from the Congressional office chairing the ceremony.


Does the lantern above bring back memories of early grades for you?  It sure does for me although I don’t remember celebrating the Chinese New Year long, long ago in a small southern town. The Chinese New Year this year begins February 10…The Year of the Snake!  There are numerous activities, book lists and more review at Apples 4 the Teacher

Do you know how many emails are sent daily? How many on mobile devices?
What does this tell us about teaching that needs to occur? How does this relate to books for our children? Thoughts? It is a serious issue and needs thorough discussion.

Studies of interest:
Background Television in the Homes of US Children
In recent years studies have shown the negative consequences of background television on young children, but significant studies had not been made regarding the amount of background television to which children 1 - 8 years of age are regularly exposed. In this study parents were asked to keep 24-hour diaries on television exposure; they were also asked to report on children’s bedroom television ownership, number of TVs in the home and how often television was on in the home. It was learned the average US child was exposed to 232.2 minutes of background television on a typical day. With the use of multiple regression analysis, researchers found that younger children and African American children were exposed to more background television with the poorest children’s exposure reaching regularly six hours per day. Leaving the television on with no viewers and whether the child had television in his/her bedroom were significant factors in increased background television exposure.  /via PEDIATRICS, The Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Third Grade Follow-up to the Head Start Impact Study
In this final phase of the multi-phased Head Start Impact Study, results showed Head Start participation positively affected children’s learning and development during the years spent in the federally funded preschool program, but those advantages had mostly vanished by the end of 3rd grade. /via the HHS Office of the Administration of Children and Families, Office of Planning, Research & Evaluation.

Early Growth of Mexican–American Children: Lagging in Preliteracy Skills but not Social Development

Mexican-American children between the ages of 2 and 3 demonstrated language and cognitive skills that were seven months behind those of white peers, a gap that lasted through the beginning of kindergarten. Simultaneously researchers found that the social skills of these same children equal those of their white peers.

Those findings are similar to other recent research showing immigrant mothers—particularly those of Mexican heritage—provide stable, loving parenting that leads to the strong social-emotional skills for their young children. But these Mothers are less likely to read to their young children than their white counterparts. Significant lessons for early childhood educators, pediatricians and others serving these families.   /via Maternal-Child Journal.

Television. Mothers Talking to Children
From the studies noted above, it is clear television turned on in the house simply as background noise is a time instead to “turn off” the television.  Further, we learn we must all focus on ways we can better encourage more mothers and caregivers to read to children, particularly individuals who perhaps do not feel confidence in their own reading.
Digital. Digital.
Growing our bookworms today means understanding the power of “digital” and guiding the growth patterns within that realm.  There is no better “go to” source than the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop which celebrates their fifth anniversary with the launch of a new website which in my opinion is one of the most easily navigated sites available.  Be sure to check out the exciting new reports and upcoming plans for the Center…and Happy Birthday to the Center, and congratulations to Michael H. Levine, Executive Director of the Center and all our friends who make up this valuable resource!
Nonfiction and Common Core                                        
A significant topic in the reading world currently of course is “nonfiction” in light of the Common Core Standards.  I commend to you a post by Maria Salvadore on her blog PAGE BY PAGE at WETA’s Reading Rockets; Maria writes on Strong, vivid narratives inspire, in nonfiction, too!”

We’ll be back soon with a mid-January Roundup. And in the meantime, we’ll be sharing reading-related news on Twitter @CHRasco@TheReadingTub, and @JensBookPage. Thank you for your passion and advocacy for children’s literature and literacy!

Tags Amelia Bedelia American Libraries CPTSA CYBILS Children's Literacy and Reading Roundup Chinese New Year Herman Parrish Jen Robinson Jen Robinson's Book Page Joan Ganz Cooney Center for MLKJr Day Maria Salvadore Michael H. Levine Newtown PEDIATRICS Page by Page Peggy Parish Presidential Inaugural Reading Rockets Sandy Sandy Hook Storm Sandy The Family Bookshelf The Nerdy Book Club WETA Year of the Snake background television joan ganz cooney center snowflakes for sandy hook terry doherty