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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 – 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

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