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Children’s Literacy and Reading News Roundup: End of April and Mid-May—All in One!


Welcome to the latest children’s literacy and reading news roundup, brought to you by  Jen Robinson’s Book Page, Terry Doherty from The Reading Tub and The Family Bookshelf, and me, Carol Rasco from RIF posting at Quietly. For this mid-month roundup that should have been posted at the end of April, I have lots of information we’ve collected regarding literacy and reading-related events; literacy programs and research; and suggestions for growing bookworms.

Without laboring over the issue, I extend a huge thanks of support to my colleagues Jen and Terry for their patience since January when I suffered a fall which resulted in a broken arm that I did not realize was broken for ten days and the story gets more interesting from there…I’ve been spending two days a week in Baltimore in PT and despite a small setback, all is going well. Now if I can ever catch up on work left untended and get back into a routine…and of course I’ll shout so loud you will hear me all over the land when I can fully use this arm again…yes, it’s my dominant arm. (But I have not told my father nor my son, the family worriers, shhh, okay?)

Literacy and Reading-Related Events


Children’s Book Week, it’s this week! A time to celebrate the books we hold dear at The Roundup! In addition to the bookmark above by Grace Lin (complete with activities, also see the Brian Selznick poster for this year as well!) Last evening was the Children’s Choice Book Awards Gala. Not being able to make it in person this year I was thrilled to have a clear, steamed version into my living room…what a fun evening as always. I mean, did you know Meg Cabot raps?  Check out the video of the program yourself, learn the results of the more than one million votes cast by young people! 

London Book Fair back in mid-April was kicked off by the Fifth Digital Minds Conference which in turn was keynoted by Neil Gaiman who as usual had some food for thought to offer. As someone who feels on many a day like I am in a heavy duty tumbler with big rocks crushing my head due to those who want me to say it’s traditional book OR it is digital, make a decision, I appreciated his thoughts.  Another piece distributed by many during April/May on this topic is "The Reading Brain in the Digital Age: The Science of Paper vs Screens" which you might find helpful in thinking about this complex issue as well.

Lots of events over these last six weeks. What if I were to pick five from which I have learned the most this particular year? The varied posts and viewpoints on SCREEN FREE WEEK with Jen’s posts among the most interesting; Jarrett J. Krosoczka’s SCHOOL LUNCH SUPER HERO DAY as it brought back such memories to me of sitting at those tables, speaking to those sweet ladies, the sense of community; LIBRARY WEEK thinking about all the libraries I have known, what each has contributed to me being me;


NATIONAL TRAIN DAY on May 11 because I’ve spent a lot of time on trains since January back and forth to Baltimore as well as a Boston train trip plus there is a new favorite train book among my little guys: STEAM TRAIN DREAM TRAIN (I get to be the caretaker of the refrigerated cars!).


And finally, watching Kareem Abdul-Jabar read and talk with elementary students this week as part of RIF’s GALA week was true inspiration of the “tallest” order for sure. 

More events to come of course! Let’s explore 2 more in May and three to preview for June with a book for each.

MAY 18:  International Museum Day
READ: THE MUSEUM, story by Susan Verde and art by Peter H. Reynolds

MAY 29:  Paper Clip Day
READ: SIX MILLION PAPER CLIPS: The Making of a Children’s Holocaust Memorial by Peter W. Schroeder.

JUNE 6: National Yo-Yo Day
READ: KNOTS IN MY YO-YO STRING:  The Autobiography of a Kid by Jerry Spinelli

JUNE 15: Fly a Kite Day in honor of the anniversary of Ben Franklin’s kite experiment in 1752.
READ: ELECTRIC BEN:  The Amazing Life and Times of Benjamin Franklin by Robert Byrd

JUNE 21: First Day of Summer
READ:  LOOK UP! Bird-Watching in Your Own Backyard by Annette Leblanc Cate.


Summer reading, summer reading, summer reading…just cannot stress it enough.  It is never too late to work with your public library, your community’s schools as well as government officials and other child and youth serving organizations to make sure ALL children in every community have their needs met when it comes to summer reading.  

RIF applauds the Junior League of Washington’s Resolution Read which will go with RIF into 21 local elementary schools to present children choices in books for each child to take two books home (in addition the three books already given by the League to these children this year) along with a bag of activities.

The National Summer Learning Association website is a place to check about summer reading! Keep in mind National Summer Learning Day is June 21, a great day to get the ball rolling in your community for enhanced summer learning for all.

KIPP Schools
ED Week noted in early April: Today, Deborah Meier starts a month-long blog conversation with Elliott Witney, a former KIPP educator who now serves as the executive director of strategic initiatives and innovation in the Spring Branch independent school district in Houston, Texas. Mr. Witney was school leader at the first KIPP—Knowledge Is Power Program—charter school for 10 years.  I found the series of letters between the two stimulating, thought provoking, and good for me.  I hope you will benefit from reading them and thinking about education with them.

Prettier Charts Can Be Harder for Students to Read Sarah D. Sparks starts this particular blog entry withGraphics are often intended to engage children in learning otherwise dry material, such as data on a chart. Yet new research from Ohio State University suggests increasing charts’ artistic appeal can interfere with students’ ability to comprehend the information they represent.”  Read more about this study of 122 middle class 6- to 8-year-old students.

THE NEWS IS IN!!!  The University of Wisconsin-Madison notes Meta-Analysis Shows Learning Impact of Sesame Street Around the World.


GENDER. Gender. gender.  Applause to Betsy Bird for her early April post "Are there any girl bears?"

Back to summer reading and your own bookworms! 
Easy activity calendars for the summer! Don’t forget monthly activity calendars here for two age groups, all calendars in English and in Spanish!  

Family vacation, it’s a go!  Whether it’s a plane trip with carefully crafted passports and potato prints as “stamps” for the various countries visited, a camping trip at a state park or the wild, wild west, or you are planning a series of visits to museums in other cities or states at the rate of one a week…you can do it with the help of your library and perhaps an internet connection with bushels of fun assured. Your trips using books as a foundation are guaranteed winners.  Join William, Charlie and me on that train I mentioned earlier or travel to China with us to retrace Mrs. Harkness’ trip to bring a panda to the US. Start planning now, Reading Rainbow has ideas to offer. And do hare your best ideas with us in the comments.

Magical, yes it is. A big thank you to Susan at The Book Chook for posting a lovely magical piece by Mem Fox, take time to read it.  It’s the best way to end this Roundup —- using Mem’s words: Reading is magical because it brings parents and children together for fun, bonding and giggles.

Thanks for caring about children’s literacy! We hope you enjoy a great remainder of May full of reading just what you wish! 

Posted on Tuesday, May 14th 2013

From the Boston Airport on a Tuesday morning…

I am sitting in the Boston airport on Tuesday morning having spent the last 36 hours in this city where citizens are proudly wearing shirts, ribbons and badges  noting “BOSTON STRONG.”  I have been in several cities over the years that have undergone recent horrific tragedy, but never have I seen a city that is showing the spirit of this one.  What does a week like the one last experienced by Boston really feel like to live?  Based on what I have heard from friends and total strangers over the past day I like Jen and Terry believe the post by Carrie Jones featured in both Terry’s Mid-month Roundup and referenced by Jen  (who brought it to our attention) is a real embodiment of what so many have experienced.  I won’t soon forget what a genuine sense of spring I received from my friends and new acquaintances in Boston where the spring blossoms were literally bursting forth in Sunday afternoon’s bright sun as the whole city was a festival of both fun release and reverent remembrance of all that had passed in the days preceding. 
I am delighted to learn about the BOOK TRAIN from Terry and Jen!  BOOK TRAIN seeks to serve foster children, a population too long given a serious lack of priority by this nation, a high priority deserved by our children in foster care.  I hope more and more states will jump on this “train” and provide what is sorely needed by these children that are not only ‘our children’ in a moral sense but ‘our children’ legally while in foster care. 
Don’t miss the article Terry included about that ever present need for helping parents know the importance of TALKING with babies…go Providence!
Building on the idea of the importance of “talk” to young children, child care facilities and in particular in-home care are places of critical importance in the lives of the children served there. I am determined as many people as possible whom I touch day to day will read the article by Jonathan Cohn recently published in The New Republic and this follow up interview in The Washington Post.  Over twenty years ago I used to force myself to include two pieces in speeches about children’s needs, embarrassing as the points are…and even more embarrassing is the fact we must still make these same points. Are you aware the person who valet parks your car in many situations makes more per hour than the caregivers keeping our most vulnerable children, the poor? Are you aware the person who cuts your hair is too often not required to have more training related to the profession than the person again keeping our most needy children?  Food for thought as the TALK article reminds us of the importance of literacy development in those very earliest years. Sobering.
And as I do so often, I find myself going back to a statement by Dick Allington in 2010: So it’s not a question that we don’t know what to do. It’s a question of having the will to develop full literacy in this country, and to organize schools and allocate money in ways that would allow us to do that. I hear he was discussing that very issue at IRA this week…thank you, Dick, keep it up!
I will be back at the end of the month reporting for Jen, Terry and myself on more of April’s literacy news…see you then!

Happy Reading! 
(collage of Boston Strong images from MSN.CA)

Posted on Wednesday, April 24th 2013



Welcome to the FEBRUARY 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.

GREETINGS as Terry and I face reports of an impending snow storm with a cherry blossom festival only three weeks away!  We are wishing we had some of the warmth outside that Jen has in her area of the country!


Applause to our friends at The Brown Bookshelf’s “twenty-eight days later 2013” for another year of excellent posts throughout the month celebrating Black History Month.  Knowing how much time is involved in those posts we appreciate this labor of love!  Remember, the posts are archived each year; what a treasure than can be used by teachers, parents and students year-round.

We were excited on February 14 to awaken to learn of the CYBILS 2012 winners! It is always a list to use as gift giving opportunities arise, trips to the library and more.  On the site you can also find the finalists to make your “favored list” even longer. And don’t forget that Susan Thomsen of the blog CHICKEN SPAGHETTI keeps an ongoing list of The Best Children’s Books of 2012: A List of Lists and Awards.


This past weekend the country celebrated Dr. Seuss’ birthday with the now great tradition of Read Across America kicked off by its “parent” the National Education Association (NEA) at the New York Public Library  with guests Uma Thurman and Jake Austin joining NEA President Dennis Van Roekel.  And this year there were Cat-A-Vans out across the country!


And so we fully move into March and the wonderful, fifth year of Share-a-Story, Shape-a-Future sponsored by Terry…don’t miss a single day of looking at those critical first five years! And there are writing prompts again this year, check it out! (image by ©Elizabeth O. Dulemba. All Rights Reserved.)


The third year of the Kidlit Celebrates Women’s History Month initiative is underway. Interestingly you can read about one of this year’s CYBILS winners (non-fiction picture book) in an early post: Mrs. Harkness and the Panda written by Alicia Potter and illustrated by Melissa Sweet. I had no idea about Mrs. Harkness and her role in our history…and what a beautiful picture book, starting with that rich, red cover!

A contest for kids announced!
The notice read At Honey Maid, we believe in the power of making things. We’ve been fueling the creativity of kids since 1925, and now we’ve decided to take it even further by encouraging more kids and adults to get involved.

That’s why we created Made Co.

Made Co. is a unique contest series through which kids will have the chance to win opportunities to have their ideas brought to life with the help of industry experts. Made Co. was developed to encourage kids to cultivate their imagination and creativity, and inspire them to make things.” And the current contest you might be most interested in is a story contest for students 6-12.  Deadline in April. Children are invited to write a story about a day they will never forget whether good, embarrassing or otherwise. And wait until you read about the prize! Wow!

More on the horizon:
Battle of the Kids’ Books: Starts March 12! 
World Book Night 
Children’s Book Week 


Prison data, court files show link between school truancy and crime: When WILL we learn? 

Lessons from pre-k that works: Will Mississippi’s children finally move ahead? Early in this school year, Cynthia Gordon realized her first grade students were hungry for books. Almost half of her students were ahead of the national curve, showing great ability to sound out words. Why, how? “I have kids that went to pre-k,” she said. (From the Hechinger Report)

Homework or Not? That is the (Research) QuestionAnd your thoughts?

GROWING BOOKWORMS (and you can benefit as well!)


The following post by Trevor H. Cairney is hands down my favorite for the month, I wish I had an award to give you, Trevor! (and maybe I will think of one!):  WHY OLDER CHILDREN SHOULD READ PICTURE BOOKS. 

Why should I continue to read aloud to my older child? Jim Trelease shares a number of reasons, one being your child’s “listening level” as opposed to “reading” level. The post is long but well worth your time. 

February Carnival of Children’s Literature at Instantly Interruptible…always a great source of information, don’t you agree?

PW Talks with Laurel Snyder: Kids’ Books Are Not Just for Kids:
A progression going here, perhaps?  Seriously, this is a great one, thank you, Laurel! 

Your Brain on Books: 10 Things That Happen to Our Minds When We Read: It’s not just young children’s brains that can be affected positively.  How long does it take a brain to adjust to an online reader? Check it out.

National PTA and Amazon Team Up to Support Family Reading: Always good to see that phrase “family reading”! 

We’ll be back soon with a mid-March 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!

Posted on Monday, March 4th 2013



Welcome to the JANUARY 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.

January as always has been a month of great anticipation and excitement as book awards were being announced almost daily with the longest list announced this past Monday, the ALA Youth Media Awards.  The month has been one of reflection on the wide array of great books for children and youth, individual favorites, classroom favorites whether “winners” that have shiny seals now affixed to their covers or “winners” because a group of children found a title to be just the one to click with them, to spark a real understanding of the place for reading in their lives! Students may ask “Just how are decisions made about which books receive those shiny seals?” and you will be glad you’ve read Monica’s post at the NERDY BOOK CLUB about the Newbery. Of course there are many columns spending time on the winners and those books left out and more. But one of my top favorite topics after awards Monday is always to learn about THE CALLS to the winners. Thinking about Jon Klassen (pronounced Claw-son I am told) and the waiting cab driver, and the SECOND call that came from Seattle…what a Chinese fire drill! Now I am wondering, Jon (who prefers a good old fashioned baseball cap himself): did you even try to explain to the driver what had been happening upstairs while he waited?

In the midst of all the excitement, however, I found myself wishing and wishing with each announcement there would be more minority authors, illustrators, characters in books awarded prizes outside the awards so designated.  It is a concern, and clearly I am not the only one by a long shot concerned.  Read Mitali’s Fire Escape and that of Fuse #8 (scroll down to Whitey Whitey Whiteville) on the same issue.

AND, there are MORE awards to come…yes, February 14 the CYBILS will be named! And don’t forget that Susan Thomsen of the blog CHICKEN SPAGHETTI keeps an ongoing list of The Best Children’s Books of 2012: A List of Lists and Awards.


imageIf you have not started clicking through to 28 Days Later 2013 you really must start now; only one day missed in this month of February and of course it is there for you to treasure as well! I relish these posts annually and refer back to them often throughout the year…a great gift the organizers give to us each year. Go on, hit the site, “you’ll be glad you did”!

The Chinese New Year this year begins February 10The Year of the Snake!  There are numerous activities, book lists and more at Apples 4 the Teacher


International Book Giving Day:  February 14 - don’t forget!  Where are you going to place books?  To whom are you going to give a book(s)?

.image©Elizabeth O. Dulemba. All Rights Reserved.

Terry has announced the 5th Annual SHARE A STORY - SHAPE A FUTURE blog tour with the theme LiTERACY: THE FIRST FIVE YEARS. Go over now and learn the different ways you can contribute and participate in what is always a special week of learning!


Oooh, the books are announced, the brackets drawn…are you ready for Battle of the Kids’ Books sponsored by School Library Journal?



From National Public Radio came Music, Multivitamins And Other Modern Intelligence Myths based on a paper published in January by John Protzko, Joshua Aronson and Clancy Blair at NYU.  The authors reviewed dozens of studies on a topic of interest to parents, educators, and policy-makers alike: “what, if anything, one can do in the first five years of life to raise a child’s intelligence.”  The comments were numerous and strongly worded.  I particularly liked these closing thoughts as I find them critical to this whole issue of literacy and children (note: I have no opinion on the supplements):

The take-home lessons for parents are relatively modest: consider some Omega-3 supplements and sit down with your toddler and a good book for some interactive reading.

But the implications for voters and policy-makers are profound. Teaching parents to engage in interactive reading and elaborative conversations with their little ones and improving access to high-quality preschool could go a long way towards eliminating economic disparities in intelligence test results in early childhood.

An article I’ve reviewing a great deal recently was written by Thomas Friedman: It’s P.Q. and C.Q. As Much As I.Q.. In noting the world is now not simply more connected but instead “hyper-connected” Friedman states “How to adapt? It will require more individual initiative. We know that it will be vital to have more of the “right” education than less, that you will need to develop skills that are complementary to technology …The winners won’t just be those with more I.Q. It will also be those with more P.Q. (passion quotient) and C.Q. (curiosity quotient) to leverage all the new digital tools to not just find a job, but to invent one or reinvent one, and to not just learn but to relearn for a lifetime.”  It’s something many have been saying for years but oh, is it more true now. And it says a great deal about the importance of the next section: GROWING (literate) BOOKWORMS in this Roundup each month.

For grades 4-12 parents and other interested parties, the monthly newsletter, January 2013 edition, WORD UP! features ‘technology’ this month. 

Among ED WEEK's “10 most viewed articles in 2012" was one regarding the changing roles of librarians: Common Core Thrusts Librarians Into Leadership Role. Similar to the great poster noting “Librarians, The Ultimate Search Engine.” 

Susan from The Book Chook reminded us The New York Times' ROOM FOR DEBATE has a debate/discussion on DO WE STILL NEED LIBRARIES?  Both the columns and the comments are great food for thought. And another reminder of the same ROOM FOR DEBATE hosting of the discussion on “What’s ‘Just Right’ for the Young Reader?" in late December. 


Reading aloud received a lot of ink in January; some favorites of mine include:
Three best places to leave lots of books around your house?
+ Storytelling: How reading aloud is back in fashion (with a surprise twist!)
Great cover and a BIG book in importance!  Get ready, the 7th edition of Jim Trelease's valued book on this topic of reading aloud, due out June 25!
+ Are you familiar with READ ALOUD: The 15 Minute Movement?  15 Minutes. Every Child. Every Parent. Every Day.

imageWant to share the classics with your child? Book Patrol introduced me to The Cozy Classics in January. Board books available now are MOBY DICK and PRIDE AND PREJUDICE; coming this spring are LES MISERABLES and WAR AND PEACE.  Intriguing, eh? Don’t miss the trailer at Book Patrol.

Boys’ books?  Girls’ books? Literaticat writes on the topic, and I say “AMEN”! She also admits as do I that I still like “pink and glittery”—- plus if you are out of it as to “Spikeletz” as was I, you can bring yourself up to date with this post!

Katie Davis’ BRAIN BURPS celebrated its 100th podcast featuring the first three National Ambassadors for Young People’s Literature discussing ”What Is Literacy?”  Katie’s post at HuffPo is a great complication of information about the Ambassadors and will take you to the podcast as well.

We don’t want to feel less when we have finished a book; we want to feel that new possibilities of being have been opened to us. We don’t want to close a book with a sense that life is totally unfair and that there is no light in the darkness; we want to feel that we have been given illumination.
― Madeleine L’EngleWalking on Water

We’ll be back soon with a mid-February 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!

P. S.  Can’t resist sharing this lovely light we really need on our desks, right?image

Lumio is simple and intuitive. The lamp automatically turns on and off as you open and close the cover. A flexible and durable spine design allows you to control brightness by adjusting the angle without a switch or button.

Check out Jen’s additional January comments as well as Terry’s extra news!


Posted on Saturday, February 2nd 2013

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!

Posted on Wednesday, January 2nd 2013

The OCTOBER Children’s Literacy and Reading News Roundup


Welcome to the October 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.

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.

We have all watched as well with awe and sadness as the story of brave Malala unfolded; we indeed wish this young girl who fervently believes in education for herself and others a full recovery.


A first assignment for each of us on “What can I do to help in the aftermath of Sandy?” is to check out KidLit Cares organized by Kate Messner. And what is Kid Lit Cares? Check the webpage, all the details for this auction are there for you to study.

Emma Thompson and Peter Rabbit: A recent NPR Morning Edition featured a discussion with Emma Thompson about her new book THE FURTHER TALE OF PETER RABBIT.  I found fascinating the role a little box of radishes played in the request to Emma as the first person writing about Peter since Beatrix Potter.

First Book to give 100 millionth book in November! Check out their TEN BOOKS EVERY CHILD SHOULD OWN and vote for YOUR favorite.  This voting will help First Book choose just what that 100 millionth book will be!

National Book Award Finalists were announced on October 10.  Your favorites?

imageTHE GUARDIAN’s Children’s Fiction Prize went to Frank Cottrell Boyce for The Unforgotten Coat. Boyce was the writer who worked on the opening ceremony for the British Olympics. This winning story was not written for commercial distribution, it was commissioned by a charity with 50,000 copies distributed free.  Read about it, you will be touched.

Two of the Booklist’s “Top Ten Books for Youth” entries I have read so far that I commend to you are the one that is a listing of First Novels and the other listing Arts Books for Youth.

***Late Breaking***
Announced by twitter today and then compiled by The Horn Book, the New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Books of 2012!

Many, many more book lists many sources to come I am sure…very exciting time of year!

imageDigital Learning Day Feb. 6 is a day you will want to start preparing for now.  The website gives you free resources, toolkits, blogs and webinars. Be on alert for this year’s video contest rules, take a look at last year’s winners. The day is sponsored by the American Association of School Librarians and the Alliance for Excellent Education; it is a day of celebration of teaching and learning through the use of digital media and technology.


Stanford Report of October 10, 2012 notes “New research can identify the neural structures associated with poor reading skills in young children and could lead to an early warning system for struggling students.”  The full report can be obtained with a membership from PNAS, Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.

The Role of Early Oral Language in Literacy Development by Timothy Shanahan, Ph.D. and Christopher Lonigan, Ph.D. appears in the latest issue of Language Magazine. Both authors served onthe National Early Childhood Panel (NELP);  the article both gives a good overview of the NELP findings as well as discusses practical applications for home and early childhood settings outside the home.

INVESTING IN KIDS by Dr. Tim Bartik, a Senior Economist with the W. E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, is discussed in his recent TEDx talk as well as further discussed regularly on his blog investinginkids.  This TEDx event organized and held at Miami University of Ohio included a variety of talks on early childhood programs which can be found linked at the event’s website.


Two articles of note related to children with learning disabilities and reading:

Rethinking dyslexia on the Washington Post blog ON PARENTING discusses a recent film "The Big Picture: Rethinking Dyslexia" directed by James Redford (yes, the son of Robert). James is the father of Dylan, a young man who is dyslexic. Redford noted in his interview with Janice D’Arcy this film is the one he wished for when his son was diagnosed

Content-Area Literacy
was the primary focus of a recent LDOnline which is produced by WETA.  And what IS this term we hear so frequently today? This publication notes:

Content-area literacy means that reading and writing occur both inside and outside of the language arts classroom. Science, math, and history teachers also work to integrate important reading and writing skills with their content. Discover resources that can help teachers, parents, and students navigate literacy skills within all content areas.

imageThe Role of Imaginative Re-creation in Literacy & Learningwas the title of a recent blog post by Trevor Cairney which opens with “Imaginative recreation is an essential part of learning, probably even life. It sits alongside ‘story’ as an essential way to relive or enrich narrative experiences. Story in its own right is critical to learning, communication and well-being. Imaginative recreation is one of its essential foundations.”  Trevor not only discusses the idea fully but gives very concrete examples for parents and teachers in three age groupings.  Thank you, Trevor!

Books about Books" was a recent post by Amy at Literacy Launchpad where she gives us all a good “reminder” of the great books available to help us learn more about books for children whether we are studying as a parent and/or a teacher!
Thanksgiving Books : Time to start reading the books about this special time of the year; here’s a list for preschoolers and early elementary students. I am particularly fond of The Thanksgiving Door  by Debby Atwell.

Food for thought: I appreciated so much the thinking I had to do on the issue of setting goals and just what “proficient” really means when I read Heather Rader’s opening piece in The Big Fresh on October 20. Heather, 60% was a great %, and I wished I could have watched some movies with you all!

The Reluctant Readerby Heather Cato was a super post recently coming from The Nerdy Book Club. I was reminded of my own experience with reluctant readers in the library when I was student teaching. My problem was I thought every student in that sixth grade class loved to read like I had always loved to read…goodness I was green.

We’ll be back soon with a mid-November 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!

Posted on Thursday, November 1st 2012

The SEPTEMBER Children’s Literacy and Reading News Roundup

 Welcome to the September 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.  


Thank you! Thank you! Yesterday was READ FOR THE RECORD day sponsored by Jumpstart with great online materials still available!  Thank you, Jumpstart, for this great annual day of reading which creates such great awareness nationally and even around the globe as noted in posts and tweets yesterday!

The Boxcar Children turns 70…and what will the celebration highlight? A prequel by an award winning writer! I can still hear my late grandmother Mid’s voice reading that grand series to us girls.  As far as I am concerned the opening lines of the original series are some of the best ever: One warm night four children stood in front of a bakery. No one knew them. No one knew where they had come from.  

Jen posted some Quick Hits earlier this week and I remind you of her links to the obviously TERRIFIC KidLitCon12.  Congratulations to Betsy Bird, Monica Edinger and Liz Burns for quite the event! Jen also discusses CYBILS (with nominations closing October 15) and the book fair sponsored by Guys Lit Wire for Ballou Senior High School in DC.  As a resident of the “beltway” myself and working in DC, I can attest to the daily reminders of the serious need for books in the DC school libraries/classrooms…buy a book or two or three today, won’t you?

Banned Books Week is completing its 30th year; if you have not been able to keep on top of all the great articles this week, check out  A useful site year round in my opinion!
Don’t miss this great site celebrating 50 years of all things Clifford!                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 
Looking ahead to events still to come in OCTOBER: In addition to preparing for Halloween with lots of great books old and new to share, other events upcoming in October include the full month being celebrated as National Children’s Magazine Month and National Reading Group Month. Special days include among many others Columbus Day (8), The Count's birthday (9), first aerial photo in the U. S. taken in Boston from a hot air balloon, 1860 (13), the Star Spangled Banner was first sung in 1814 as well as Thomas Edison demonstrated  Electric Light successfully in 1879 (19).  I see some great writing prompts in these events as well as some super books called to mind (and/or waiting to be written)!

And finally, on the events front it is only 219 days until Children’s Book Week 2013! Check out the countdown clock!


It’s one of those times I can’t pass up the chance to share exciting news about Reading Is Fundamental!  RIF has been awarded a $4.18 million first-year research grant from the U. S. Department of Education’s Innovative Approaches to Literacy Program.  Check it out, we’re excited about looking more closely at scalable summer learning strategies for early elementary students.  This is also a great time to again thank each of you who worked so hard with us to have this competitive grant program included by Congress in the FY12 budget.  Our project will utilize our recently released STEAM-themed Multicultural Book Collection highlighted in the September mid-month roundup by Jen. Stay tuned, much more to follow!

What’s Wrong with Reading? read the title of the article.  It began:

Recently I was “caught” reading at McDonald’s by a group of kids at my school. I say “caught” because many of my peers consider reading to be a lame activity. They think it’s something that only geeks do.

It is powerful, it is written by the teen who was “caught” and it sure made me stop in my tracks despite knowing the truth of the matter.  Take a moment to read it and another moment to absorb it. Perhaps the most important article I have read in a long time, it continues to haunt me.


At Unpacking the POWER of Picture Books a recent column is a succinct set of tips the blogger gleaned from a new book for parents and teachers…with cute pictures of some very young relatives getting into books. A great refresher for all of us, some well worded tips to use with audiences of all types.

How to teach your child to love reading by Susan Elkin in The Independent was a follow up article to the recent study released in England showing fewer children and teens reading independently of school “have to read materials.” Elkin reminds everyone of us “The most useful thing parents can do to encourage children and teenagers to read is to be seen reading a lot themselves. Parents who say they are “too busy to read” simply convey the message that reading is beneath the attention of important grown-ups. “Do as I say but not as I do” cuts no ice with children. They will quickly stop reading because not reading will be seen as “cool” and “adult”. ”  This reminded me of the great image I had recently when Jen wrote she reached a milestone with Baby Bookworm recently; Jen read her own book, Bookworm sat in her little chair and read.  And as Jen noted, maybe it was only for two minutes; but it is a start, a critical one for all children.

Another article of note: Why reading by third grade is critical, and what can be done to help children meet that deadline.

It’s election season; and I am heartened by the discussions being reported on preschool education as a “hot topic” as well as the articles reporting on the states contemplating budget changes - up or down - for preschool education. Some I commend to you for review…and don’t miss the discussion/debate in the comments:
Start them early, The Atlantic, September 22, 2012.  Looking at San Antonio, important ballot question for November.
Smart Start?  Will Preschool Budget Cuts Damage a Generation, Huffington Post, September, August 29, 2012 (updated).  Looking at North Carolina’s Smart Start program among other preschool topics/sites in the state.
Mississippi Pre-Kindergarten:  Will A New Conversation About Funding Take Hold? , The Hechinger Report’s HechingerEd blog, August 27, 2102.
China Aiming for the Gold in Starting Kids Early, US is Late to the GameAnn O’Leary on Huffington Post Education blog, August 23, 2012.
My view: Obama, Romney need to know one thing about early childhood education - start overNancy Carlsson-Paige, CNN Schools of Thought blog, August 29, 2012.

We’ll be back soon with a mid-October 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!

Posted on Friday, October 5th 2012

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

Welcome to the August Children’s Literacy and Reading News Roundup brought to you by Jen Robinson’s Book Page, Family Bookshelf and me at Quietly. Well, this is actually a review of July AND August…July’s review was the victim of RIF’s move…by the time the review finished its journey to never-never land, we decided to combine it with August. We’ve gathered some great items that caught our eyes…it was another period full of exciting literacy efforts!


Ben Bernanke: Investment in Early Childhood Programs Promise Big Returns
Listen to Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke’s address at the Children’s Defense Fund National Conference in Cincinnati Ohio. In his own words “early childhood programs are a good investment with inflation-adjusted annual rates of return on the funds dedicated to these programs, estimated to reach 10 percent or higher. Very few alternative investments can promise that kind of return.”  For me,  seeing and hearing this statement while sitting in the audience with other child advocates was a very special experience…goose bumps, tears of joy and the desire to scream with joy at the top of my lungs (which I did NOT do, at least not until I got back to the hotel and in the shower).  Inch by inch we make progress, but a statement by the Fed Chair?  More than a few inches.

The Olympics
As noted by so many bloggers and other in the literacy world, the opening ceremony was not only the usual excitement, but what a tribute to literacy and literature!  Harry Potter, Mary Poppins and more…extraordinary and a milestone as well.  In addition there are the arts and literature events held that we’ve noted in previous Roundups and which will continue through the Paralympics with extraordinary displays and performances on the schedule. Of note also in the Paralympics currently underway in London is that athletes with learning disabilities are again allowed to compete. Movement forward, exciting times.

Calling all BOOK SPINE POETRY aficionado’s! 

Kate Messner has shared the announcement of THE BOOKSTORE PLUS which is holding a World Championship Book Title Poetry tournament. And as the rules state, since the gift certificate prizes are good on phone orders, they welcome and encourage entries far and wide.  Watch this one for public judging to start. Then there is another such contest at the LIBRARY THING which also ends on September 7; this one has a guest judge.  Start stacking those books, the deadlines are September 7. A fun, long weekend activity for parents and children perhaps?

Armchair Travel
I love to travel and when summer’s trips were over, I found some delightful “armchair” travelogues to enjoy…the best has been Monica of EDUCATING ALICE as she talked about her trip to IBBY and other special events and places surrounding London.  Don’t miss it!
 (Monica’s photo of all country’s IBBY honorees on stage at presentation ceremony.)
And speaking of IBBY (International Board on Books for Young People) which meets every other year, The IBBY Honour Books from the US this year were Author Jennifer Holm for TURTLE IN PARADISE, Illustrator Brian Floca for BALLET FOR MARTHA: MAKING APPALACHIAN SPRING, and Translator Kathryn Mahaffey for EIDI: THE CHILDREN OF CROW COVE series.  Congratulations to all three!

A Cash Mob?
I must admit I had no idea what a “cash mob” is until I read this story from Publishers Weekly regarding the World’s Only Curious George Store in Harvard Square.  I must say, it sounds fun to me; I mean, I love to shop in bookstores, only place I do like to shop! Have you been to a “cash mob”?

It’s Complicated! 
Did you share in the Children’s Book Council’s (CBC) first dialogue in their new “It’s Complicated” diversity initiative? The second dialogue which will feature “book covers” starts THIS Monday, September 3.  Check it out, and thank you to CBC for the sponsorship of this great addition to the world of children’s literature.

Never too early to prepare!
Are you participating in Jumpstart’s Read for the Record on October 4? Learn more if you haven’t participated previously. And start thinking ladybugs…

An election is on the way
Mr. Schu recently reminded us on twitter of the materials provided by Scholastic on teaching Election 2012


Simon Says Don’t Use Flashcards
Two quotes from this article point out the critical nature of its content:

"But a growing body of research suggests that playing certain kinds of childhood games may be the best way to increase a child’s ability to do well in school. Variations on games like Freeze Tag and Simon Says require relatively high levels of executive function, testing a child’s ability to pay attention, remember rules and exhibit self-control — qualities that also predict academic success."

Ellen Galinsky, a child-development researcher and author of “Mind in the Making: The Seven Essential Life Skills Every Child Needs” notes “But focusing on the how of learning, on executive functions, gives you the skills to learn new information, which is why they tend to be so predictive of long-term success.”

Do students learn, retain more in year-round schools?
By early July 25,000 North Carolina students had returned to school for more than “summer school” but instead are enrolled in year-round schools. The debate continues on this concept.

The Casper Project
This fall researchers at the University of Wyoming will study how students in several Casper, Wyoming, Title I schools are responding to a program presented to their parents on helping children succeed. One to watch…

Report: States Can Harness Technology to Improve Early Education
Check out a new report on this topic for the Education Commission of the States by Lisa Guernsey, director of the New America Foundation’s Early Education Initiative.


September is Library Card Sign-Up Month

Many libraries have been busy over the summer preparing for this special push. I sure like this piece I received from my home library in Little Rock, Arkansas…great added benefits on top of books, community involvement and support…and one of the best ways to grow bookworms, a library card of her own!

A special place to read in the house…yes!
We tend to talk more as school starts about special places in the house to read when it is important year round…but given the days in some areas start becoming much cooler after school and looking ahead to winter, it is natural I assume to think now: Do the children have a good place to make reading special? Over a year ago a friend sent me the column from the Thrifty Decor Chick sharing how to make the neatest reading nook I have seen without serious expense. And as the Chick found, she could fit, she loved it too. 
Jonathan Kozol and Lily who has that plastic purse in purple
I read everything I can written by Jonathan Kozol.  He usually makes me uncomfortable but in a way that motivates me.  Goodness, how exciting then to see his comments recently on kid’s literature…all nicely summarized by Stacey Loscalzo. And yes, if only more children could savor the joy of reading without associating it with the questions they will be asked on a test…sigh.

Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhoood debuts Monday, September 1
The word “neighborhood” is key…this new show in the fall PBS Kids lineup is produced by the Fred Rogers Company and Angela Santomero, cofounder of Out of the Blue Enterprises and the creative force behind the PBS KIDS literacy series SUPER WHY!. Friends with young children report to me the preview app has become a real favorite of their children…watch on Monday!

In closing…as Jen said it on twitter earlier, have you seen the fabulous schedule for KidLitCon in NYC on September 29?  Check it out!

Thank you for your support of children’s literacy and literature…we’ll see you mid-September. Enjoy your Labor Day weekend…oh, are you reading a special book?

Carol, Jen and Terry

Posted on Saturday, September 1st 2012

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

Have you checked out the mid-May edition of the Children’s Literacy and Reading News Roundup brought to you by Jen Robinson’s Book Page, The Family Bookshelf, and myself?  Don’t miss it; Jen Robinson has a jam-packed edition waiting for you!
Highlights include:- Tributes to Maurice Sendak and Jean Craighead George- Reminders about summer reading; have you made summer reading plans?- Results of a new international study: oral language development and reading- Laurel Snyder’s wonderful “meditation on my fierce love of picture books.”- And SCRABBLE Junior Cheez-Its!  I want some of these!
A couple of additional items:  I am not sure what measure is used to determine “gone viral” and I have a feeling this next suggestion has met most measures, but it is all the more reason I want to make sure YOU have seen and heard and experienced the recent commencement address delivered by Neil Gaiman at The University of the Arts in Philadelphia. Thank you, Neil, for a speech that is far more than an address for the class to which you delivered it.  As one person commenting said: I want to keep this near me to listen to frequently to give me a boost!  And another said simply:  This is for far more than “artists.”
Schools are beginning to close around the country for the summer vacation period.  This often means the puzzle of what to give as an appreciation gift to a teacher or teachers. A recent column in Parenting has some great tips, but the closing said it best: Remember, a nice handwritten note about what they (the teachers)  mean to you and your child is a super nice bonus!Thank you for caring deeply about children and literacy and books…I’ll be back at the end of May with a round-up looking over the full month and looking ahead to June! For now, scurry over to Jen’s place to read the full Mid-Month Roundup!Book People Unite!Carol
(opening image from itssl)

Have you checked out the mid-May edition of the Children’s Literacy and Reading News Roundup brought to you by Jen Robinson’s Book Page, The Family Bookshelf, and myself?  Don’t miss it; Jen Robinson has a jam-packed edition waiting for you!

Highlights include:
- Tributes to Maurice Sendak and Jean Craighead George
- Reminders about summer reading; have you made summer reading plans?
- Results of a new international study: oral language development and reading
- Laurel Snyder’s wonderful “meditation on my fierce love of picture books.”
- And SCRABBLE Junior Cheez-Its!  I want some of these!

A couple of additional items: 
I am not sure what measure is used to determine “gone viral” and I have a feeling this next suggestion has met most measures, but it is all the more reason I want to make sure YOU have seen and heard and experienced the recent commencement address delivered by Neil Gaiman at The University of the Arts in Philadelphia. Thank you, Neil, for a speech that is far more than an address for the class to which you delivered it.  As one person commenting said: I want to keep this near me to listen to frequently to give me a boost!  And another said simply:  This is for far more than “artists.”

Schools are beginning to close around the country for the summer vacation period.  This often means the puzzle of what to give as an appreciation gift to a teacher or teachers. A recent column in Parenting has some great tips, but the closing said it best: Remember, a nice handwritten note about what they (the teachers) mean to you and your child is a super nice bonus!

Thank you for caring deeply about children and literacy and books…I’ll be back at the end of May with a round-up looking over the full month and looking ahead to June! For now, scurry over to Jen’s place to read the full Mid-Month Roundup!

Book People Unite!

(opening image from itssl)

Posted on Thursday, May 24th 2012


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