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Indeed, MATILDA on Broadway was all I had hoped it would be and more!  Since reading Monica Edinger’s reviews from London and then the U. S. production I have wanted to see it; Betsy Bird was with Monica at the U. S. preview evening and her review added to my “I wanna go see it now!” mentality. So worth the wait and to see it with my sisters made it even more special…right across the street from where we saw our first Broadway show in 1964:  HELLO, DOLLY with Carol Channing. Oh, yes, we also celebrated with lunch where we ate with our parents back in 1964, Sardi’s with all those pictures on the wall.

Posted on Saturday, October 5th 2013

Roundup of Children’s Literacy and Reading News – JUNE in Review

Welcome to the June Children’s Literacy and Reading News Roundup brought to you by Jen Robinson’s Book Page, Family Bookshelf and me, writing from my relatively new blog Quietly. June was a packed month and went out here in the “beltway” area with a BIG BANG! Do you know what a “DERECHO" is? Many of us in the DC area did not know the word "derecho" and what it really means.  But we know now!  Check it out. What the article does not convey is the agony of power outages in 100 plus degree weather and all the complications created by power outages. It was a long weekend and continues to be a time of power outage for many households and businesses. And that my friends is also the reason this roundup is a bit later than usual although last month was late due to storms as well! Hold on as the end of August draws near…


Poll results!  Let’s start exactly where last month’s “events” section concluded…don’t miss Betsy Bird’s complete polls on chapter books and picture books; her introductory post on the winners will set the stage for you.  

Read about signing up to receive an email with a link to download the PDF of all the posts for both sets of the complete posts when published. Betsy Bird has done a great service for all of us who revere children’s books through her detailed posts on each winning book.  Thank you, Betsy!
(photo by Joel Benjamin)
A New Poet Laureate. The 19th poet laureate for the USA was announced in early June: Natasha Trethewey, a professor of English and creative writing at Emory University in Atlanta. She is our first poet laureate from the South since the first laureate — Robert Penn Warren — was named by the Library of Congress in 1986. Personally I found the most interesting article about the appointment to be a post by Monica Edinger regarding Trethewey’s time as an artist-in-residence at Monica’s school in 2007 - check out the group poem!

How an athlete focused. For those of us who are NBA fans, June was an “NBA Finals” like we have not seen in a while! And as Valerie Strauss shared through her post in The Washington Post, the Most Valuable Player for the regular season as well as the MVP for the Finals had a very special technique for ”focus” throughout this special year leading to the championship for his team!

June Carnival of Children’s Literature: Posted at Practically Paradise, always a Do. Not. Miss. Event.

BIG meetings in June!
(photo from School Library Journal)
It started with BEA in NYC where part of the “watch” included the wild and crazy cloud patterns throughout each day. If I had time I could make an album just on cloud configurations during BEA! While much has been written, discussed, debated about BEA, my favorite session of all was the School Library Journal’s Day of Dialogue panel led by Betsy Bird on “Pushing the Picture Book Envelope”. You’re going to love the picture books discussed that day. Here’s the tumblr site for Wumbers written by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld along with a review of said book by Betsy and one in the Wall Street Journal titled “The Surprising Fun of Visual Puns.”  The other books discussed were Chloe and the Lion by Mac Barnett; Jon Klassen’sThis is Not My Hat; and D. B. Johnson’s Magritte’s Marvelous Hat. Another great day was the debut American Booksellers Association’s ABC Children’s Institute; I was delighted to serve on a panel and learned so much myself during that panel!

Next up was ALA and while I did not attend this year, I felt as though I re-created  during my “derecho” weekend what I know would have been a favorite part of ALA for me. I read and savored the July/August issue of The Horn Book which is the annual awards issue.  Wow, was I glad to see it in the mailbox!

Happy Birthday to you, Waldo!  Waldo is celebrating his 25th birthday this month. Building on that phrase we all know “Where’s Waldo?”, Indie bookstores are sponsoring a large scavenger hunt to celebrate Waldo and Shop Local. Kids, parents, Waldo-lovers of all ages are eligible to participate.

(image by Luc Melanson for NYTimes)
OLYMPICS! I love the Olympics, always have, both summer and winter versions.  And did you know that “In ancient Greece, literary events were an indispensable part of athletic festivals…”?  And that “For much of the 20th century,poetry was an official, medal-winning competition in the Games.”?  Check out Champions of Verse in a recent New York Times to learn more about the history of poetry and most particularly about poetry at the London 2012 Olympics…including a massive air drop! Read on the London 2012 website the plans for celebrating all arts during the 12-week London 2012 Festival surrounding the period of the Olympic Games.

(photo and logo image from RR website)                     
It’s back…and I’m so glad!
LeVar Burton has brought back Reading Rainbow: Take a Look. It’s in a Book. And it’s an APP! Head to the site now, you’ll feel better just seeing and reading LeVar’s posts, I sure do! 

And what question have I been asked most as I have shared this great news with family and friends? Here is it with the answer that is given on the website.
Does the new App just play the original Reading Rainbow TV series?

No! This is a completely new multimedia experience, with hundreds of new books to read, original video field trips and much more. Some segments from the Classic Reading Rainbow series can be found in the App …they were just too nostalgic and fun to leave out.

The Brain: More flexible?  Researchers at Harvard University’s Mind, Brain, and Education Program released a report in June noting they are increasingly finding the brain to have more plasticity than previously thought, that different parts of the brain are not necessarily hard-wired for specific tasks and are capable of change in response to experience and training.  These findings have implications for teaching and in turn for teacher training which are being further studied by educational neuroscientists. (Both articles cited are from Education Week and reported by Sarah D. Sparks)

The Buzzword Is Digital Literacy" is the title of a post by American Libraries detailing a session at ALA where Jordan Usdan, director of public-private initiatives at the Federal Communications Communication (FCC) discussed Connect2Compete which is a national nonprofit formed with the goal of helping Americans access technology needed to improve their lives “regardless of their age, race, geography, income, or education level.”  It appears to me this is an organization about which we all need to be aware and help our communities benefit from the initiative.  A National Ad Council awareness campaign is expected soon.

Pew Internet and American Life Project. Do you regularly receive updates from this project?  I recommend you do so, I find the reports quite helpful in studying this “buzzword digital literacy.”  This project “explores the impact of the internet on children, families, communities, the work place, schools, health care and civic/political life.” One example from a recent library report posted in the library section of the project: It is noted 12% of e-book readers have borrowed from a library but of individuals surveyed ages 16 and older as to whether they knew if they could “check out” e-books from a library? 62% did not know.

ReadyNation. You may have known them previously as The Partnership for America’s Economic Success; the group is now at America’s Promise and are defined as “A business partnership for early childhood and economic success.”  It’s a hardworking group that has clearly shown it is serious and it is effective in initiating change.  You are encouraged to study the ReadyNation Pledge; and at the top of each web page you will find a space to enter your email for updates.


10 Important Life Lessons From Children’s Books. The Atlantic, June 21, 2012. I think it is always fun to see this type magazine featuring children’s books old and new…another reminder to all the importance of these books! Perhaps I liked the article as they chose so many of my very favorites?

Don’t forget this free monthly service for parents in English and in Spanish from WETA’s Reading Rockets, ColorinColorado and LDOnLine. See past articles on which this email newsletter has been based and learn all the ways you can use this publication in your community.

Trending Topics for June. Two major topics dominated the information I studied this month for these bookworm suggestions:  (1) Summer Reading and (2) Play.  Here are some articles I considered as highlights and of potential benefit for each of us:
(photo from Reading Rockets website)
Who Else Wants to Motivate Their Kids? by Melissa Taylor who discusses extrinsic, intrinsic motivation and the whole issue of rewards.
Summer Reading incentive programs from Sound It Out by Joanne Meier (Thank you, Jen, for your new listings of “Links I Shared on Twitter This Week” where I found this article!)
Start with a Book is Reading Rockets new website for summer discovery (and all year long in my opinion) for ages 3-9 has a special feature I sure like: when parents sign up for the Reading Tips to Go, ideas are sent righ to their mobile phones…in English and in Spanish, 3-4 messages arrive per week.  Simply text READING to 41411 or visit the web sign-up.  Exciting!
School Family Reading Nights? Morris Elementary in Des Moines, Iowa has a series of seven sizzling summer literacy evenings, each on a different theme for students and families. Two evening’s topics that first caught my attention were “pigs, fiddle and banjo” with another night featuring ”race car and hot air balloon.”

The True Loss of Recess by Peter DeWitt on “Finding Common Ground” at Education Week.
Sunday Dialogue: How Children Play An interesting set of letters sent to The New York Times.
Imaginations More Active Despite Less Play Time, Study Shows by Sarah D. Sparks in Education Week.
The Way We Play, a guest post by Zoe Toft at The Book Chook.

Happy Summer Reading from Jen, Terry and Carol.  We thank you for your interest and advocacy for great literacy experiences for ALL children!



Posted on Wednesday, July 4th 2012

Roundup of Children’s Literacy and Reading News – May in Review


Welcome to the May Children’s Literacy and Reading News Roundup brought to you by Jen Robinson’s Book Page, Family Bookshelf and me, Carol, writing from my new blog Quietly.  There is much literacy-related material on which to report and some previews to give! (And alas, yes, this is a bit later than I like to post the “end of month” but I keep ending up over the last four days in places where storms are seriously affecting connectivity!)


Poll results on “favorites”: No, for once in this season it’s not political poll results! In case you need to do some catching up on Betsy Bird’s latest polls on chapter books and picture books, her introductory post on the winners will set the stage for you.


May 2012 Carnival of Children’s Literature: Great material submitted by participants, well organized by the host at Hope Is The Word - it’s a super carnival which means “Don’t miss it!” If you do not participate in the Carnivals, never have and/or perhaps feel a bit uneasy posting for the first time, read the information at the Carnival information site and make plans to submit.  Come on in, the water is fine!

With gratitude to friends remembered. May was a month of sadness for many in the children’s literacy world as we lost a number of friends; for many it was the loss of personal friends of longstanding. For others of us, it was the loss of friends whom we knew through their stories and their illustrations. Rest in peace Maurice Sendak, Ellen Levine, Jean Craighead George, Peter Sieruta, Leo Dillon. You enriched our lives, you inspired us.


A long word. So many of us loved watching the movie Mary Poppins if for no other reason than to hear and then let roll off our own tongues that long, long word: Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious! No one was EVER able to satisfy my inquiry of “where did it come from?” I have now read this article and one man’s journey to research this word! Could be a fun classroom or family experience to see what a history this single word has and the digging that had to occur to learn the full story as it is currently known.

Story Time Changes Needed? A recent study carried by numerous media outlets has of course created the usual “dust up”…change is tough. The April 2012 issue of the journal Child Development  carries a study “Increasing Young Children’s Contact With Print During Shared Reading: Longitudinal Effects on Literacy Achievement.” I encourage all interested and/or concerned to read the full article.  To me of note is the concluding statement noting: The long-term impacts of print referencing during preschool shared reading indicated a sizable, positive shift in the literacy trajectories of children for whom social and economic circumstances place them at substantial risk for later reading difficulties. Such impacts suggest the feasibility and power of primary prevention models that subtly enhance existing early childhood routines or activities to bring about meaningful impacts to children’s developmental trajectories.

I added the emphasis to “subtly” above as I feel having read the full article it is a key piece to this study as well as the notation about “social and economic circumstances place them at substantial risk for later reading difficulties.” With little improvement showing over twenty years in reading achievement among poor children, I believe we must continue to have studies like this to help us in turn assist the children falling most behind, dropping out, unable to make a living wage and worse.

Print and Digital Books. So I may be setting myself up for a meltdown here by putting a toe or more into the water, but please note I did not say one vs the other in the opening phrase. So few things when carefully considered do I find either/or; and this is one yet again where I believe strongly we must take deep breaths and make sure we’re looking at all angles.  I started thinking about this seriously again as I sat in the audience when the 2012 National STEM Video Game Challenge student winners were recognized. 28 middle- and high-school student winners from 11 states and the District of Columbia were praised by an impressive array of leaders in this field…praise for the students’ accomplishments in design and their creativity.  This annual competition is held by the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop and E-Line Media in partnership with a number of corporate partners.  Enjoy a video about the competition. So why did I start thinking about digital and print books in the midst of this? Simple. The afternoon reminded me there are so many ways to learn, to enjoy various topics and never would I want kids who love digital games to be missing this opportunity…and similarly, I don’t want children held from a form of book from which s/he might most learn or obtain enjoyment because at the adult level we’re having a debate that tends to go in circles. I was then absolutely delighted to see that Michael Levine, Executive Director of the Cooney Center, posted an article No More Reading Wars! Getting Ahead of the Transition From Print to Digital Books. I hope you will read it and will do as I try to do and read articles about this issue regularly; I believe it is critical for our nation’s children we do so. Here are five May articles I also found helpful in thinking on these digital-infused issues:
New ALA report explores challenge of equitable access to digital content

Print Books, Basic Ebooks may Top Enhanced Ebooks at Fostering Literacy, Says Study

Forecast: 80% of Tablet App Downloads Will be from Games, Digital Publishing, Social Networking, and E-Commerce Categories in 2016

For Young Readers, Print or Digital Books?

5 Opportunities For Ed Tech To Amplify Children’s Curiosity, Not Destroy It
Summer Reading: You read often in our Roundups about summer reading issues.  I hope you are aware of the invitation issued by The New York Times Learning Network for you to “take to twitter” on this Thursday, June 7 to discuss your plans, your questions, your students’ and children’s ideas about #summerreading!  Let’s make the twitterworld well aware of this important period in the education of our children!

Military Families.  Recently RIF and United Through Reading visited the USS Bush and produced a fun event for children of parents who had been deployed and/or were to deploy soon after the reading celebration where Doro Bush read to the children. Later Jen came upon this article about one woman’s successes in sending comic books to soldiers and how much it has meant to the troops; her own medical emergency convinced her of the power of books for healing, passing time constructively. The article includes how you can assist her in this effort.  We’re including it as we believe for sure growing of bookworms includes assisting parents!

Best Books for Babies
: The list has been released, and goodness, what fun is waiting there on that list. The website also has other useful information about books and babies together. And I have already found it is a great list for selecting newborn gifts among other uses! [The Fred Rogers Company supports Best Books for Babies along with The School of Information Sciences at the University of Pittsburgh and the Pittsburgh Association for the Education of Young Children (PAEYC).]

10,000 Ways It Won’t Work. In the February Roundup I wrote: 

An article caught my eye back in January that I failed to include in that roundup; it is critical enough I share it now a month late with you: Don’t Prevent Students’ Mistakes, Prepare for Them. I particularly liked for starters the poster headlining the article, a quote by Thomas A. Edison: I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work. Enough said I believe, a strong reminder for all of us parents and educators.

It was interesting then to read in “By the Book” in the May 27, 2012 New York Times what Harvard University President Drew Gilpin Faust answered when asked “Is there any book you wish all incoming freshmen at Harvard would read?” Check out her answer! Similarly, our colleague in literacy, Kyle Zimmer, President, CEO and co-founder of First Book, was interviewed for “Corner Office” in that same edition of The New York Times, and she has an interesting award sometimes given to those who formulated promising ideas and failed.

Great apps for all book lovers to explore! That was the title of the May 26 Nerdy Book Club blog.  Mary Ann Scheuer has given us some great apps to explore and summer would be a fun time to do so! (Ah, surprised you, found another way to insert summer learning!)

Have a great beginning to your summer…and a sincere thank you for your dedication to children’s literacy. We hope to see you on twitter on June 7!  And then Jen will be back in mid-June with new literacy and reading items for you.

Book People Unite!

Posted on Monday, June 4th 2012

GREENWritten and illustrated by Laura Vacarro SeegerA Neal Porter Book-Roaring Brook (an imprint of Macmillan)
Mesmerized. Yes I am! I knew this book was going to be a special treat when I read pre-publication from Betsy Bird “We children’s librarians sit and wait for true beauty to fall into our laps. The last time I saw it happen was Jerry Pinkney’s The Lion and the Mouse. Now I’m seeing it again with Laura Vaccaro Seeger’s Green.” It is. Share with every young child you know. 

Written and illustrated by Laura Vacarro Seeger
A Neal Porter Book-Roaring Brook (an imprint of Macmillan)

Mesmerized. Yes I am! I knew this book was going to be a special treat when I read pre-publication from Betsy Bird “We children’s librarians sit and wait for true beauty to fall into our laps. The last time I saw it happen was Jerry Pinkney’s The Lion and the Mouse. Now I’m seeing it again with Laura Vaccaro Seeger’s Green.”

It is. Share with every young child you know. 

Posted on Saturday, March 31st 2012