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

Welcome to the April 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. It’s been an action-packed month for literacy for sure!


National Poetry Month: As always, there were many exciting and educational activities (for me personally at least) throughout the month. My two favorite things this year were (1) reading a former, two-time U.S. Poet Laureate’s self-critique of his poem and then regularly reading posts in (2)100 Scope Notes Book Spine Poem Gallery. Such fun! I do think Dan’s was my favorite, at least for making me giggle (on tumblr you may need to click on photos to see what you need)! Thanks, Travis Jonker! And for those not familiar with this poetry form, you’ll actually find three years of collected “book spine poetry” at the site given here.

Peter Sis: He’s won many awards over his lifetime with the two most recent ones being the Non-Fiction Award by the Children’s Book Guild of Washington, DC where he spoke to the group and as you’ve read I am sure he was named the 2012 recipient of the Hans Christian Andersen Award by the Board on Books for Young People.  In speaking to the DC group, he talked of three telephone calls that changed his life and very impressive calls they were occurring in 1982, 1992 and 2003.

Australia Celebrates National Year of Reading: Susan of The Book Chook sent a link to a competition being run as part of this special year; children are invited to name her/his Reading Super Hero. Some examples of answers received thus far:

• Mum is my superhero. She does very good princess voices. I think she could be even be a princess in her spare time.

• I believe I am the greatest reading super hero because I use my reading abilities to fight off my evil arch-nemesis ‘Bad Grades’.

• My teddy bear. I give him a book to read every day and he is always still reading when I get home from school.

I love that last one!


Summer Reading: Donalyn “The Book Whisperer" Miller has stirred the summer reading juices and many read and tweeted and posted recently after her excellent article Launching Summer Reading. Donalyn also points to the Roundup on Preparing Students for Summer Reading at Choice Literacy. Today I read about The New York Times Summer Reading Program which they will sponsor for the third year. While the paper’s program is for students starting with age 13 due to the privacy policy of the paper for commenting, there are some great ideas that could be easily modified locally to use the same concept as The Times in summer classrooms, activity programs and even by parents in your homes as it is a great exercise where you can oversee and assist your children in learning about using the web. I also like the suggestion to teachers who give summer reading assignments to use this particular program as an approved one. Another summer reading resource for those not already aware of it is the Collaborative Summer Library Program.

(image from home page of Common Sense Media)

Kids’ Digital Media Products: Pam Abrams writes: Here at the Cooney Center, we have seen the need to provide research-based guidance to help sift through the mountains of kids’ media that is out there (see our reports Always Connected and D Is for Digital) - so we are thrilled that Common Sense Media (CSM), the almost 10-year-old organization known for smart guidance and reviews of kids’ media, has beta-launched a new “ratings” system that deepens the appeal of their already appealing website.

STEAM: At RIF we are looking at children’s books that are sure winners with children of all ages and also convey the elements of the oft-referenced STEM or STEAM. (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math with RIF believing strongly  the A for Arts is critical to the equation.) How exciting recently to have a request by a large urban library system to do workshops for early childhood educators, parents of preschool children to interact with their children and an all day session for area librarians to explore looking at STEAM for preschoolers. I was pleased to see an article outlining the process used by a research faculty member in the Department of Environmental Sciences of the University of Virginia College of Arts and Sciences when art teachers were brought together to explore with scientists the integration of environmental sciences into art classes.  Equally exciting was the note the program can hopefully be expanded both in size as well as including dance sculpture and photography.  Do you have favorite children’s books you are using in STEAM exploration?


Author Visits: At RIF we find one sure motivator is an author visit. And guess what? In celebration of the 40th anniversary of Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, a Skype visit by Judy Blume to a fourth grade class is offered as the sweepstakes prize! Deadline, May 15, fun times ahead!

Book Trailers: Starting in early April I have found it fascinating to follow Monica’s series of posts on Educating Alice taking us as readers through her fourth grade class project making book trailers.  The first post was Book Trailer Project: Before We Started; you’ll easily follow along with the other posts.  The trailers are now completed and I’m waiting now Monica’s promised post on her reflections. It’s been a great learning experience for me. And as I prepared this Roundup I received another great link from Susan of the Book Chook; Susan pointed to a site where students can post book trailers to share. And of course, if by chance you’ve missed Mr. Schu’s great work in the field of book trailers, hurry over to Watch. Connect. Read. Exploring Children’s Literature through Book Trailers.  Whether in school, enjoying extracurricular activity based organizations or as a family, book trailers - watching those made by others or making your own - are a great way to stimulate and energize readers! If you are new to the concept of a Skype visit, be sure to visit Kate Messner’s site that will be quite helpful to you I am sure!

Providing A Highly Trained Workforce Where It Matters Most
: On Early Years, an Education Week blog, a significant post by Julie Rasicot earlier this week begins: A new social policy report makes the case that improving the quality of early education and child care requires aligning the two as a single profession with a unified definition, standards and professional development. The report referenced is “Building the Workforce Our Youngest Children Deserve" from the Society for Research in Child Development and edited by the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute and is built on an earlier 2012 report from a session held by the Institute of Medicine and the National Research Council. This report is good news - now we must find the will to move aggressively on the issue if we are serious about building strong foundations for our young children’s ongoing education.

Posted on Tuesday, May 1st 2012