Literacy

Declining U.S. Newspaper Circulation Potentially Signals Decline In Literacy

Americans are doing less well than global competitors on a key index of literacy, according to a literacy survey by Central Connecticut State University.

From All Headline News: This study attempts to capture one critical index of our nation's well-being -- the literacy of its major cities--by focusing on six key indicators of literacy: newspaper circulation, number of bookstores, library resources, periodical publishing resources, educational attainment, and Internet resources. The information is compared against population rates in each city to develop a per capita profile of the city's "long-term literacy"-a set of factors measuring the ways people use their literacy-and thus presents a large-scale portrait of our nation's cultural vitality," Dr. Jack Miller, CCSU President says.

On Obama's Pick for Secy of Education and Learning to Read

President-elect Barack Obama has chosen Arne Duncan to be the next Secretary of Education.

Gary Stager, "teacher educator, education journalist, speaker, school reformer" is not happy with the choice of Duncan, whose appointment he considers to be just another 'social promotion'.

CEO of Hooked on Phonics, Judy L. Harris, is not happy with what Gary Stager had to say about the appointment; specifically, ""Gary Stager is entitled to his opinions regarding President-elect Obama's selection of Arne Duncan as Secretary of Education and education policy generally. However, it is unfortunate he has tried to trivialize my views by likening my company and its product -- Hooked on Phonics, a product that has helped millions of children learn to read -- to a sponge (with all due respect to the folks at ShamWow). " Here's the rest of her statement.

Reader, Beware

A eulogy for the printed page, and civilization as we know it.

Information literacy- Defending Vaccines: Actress Dispels Link To Autism

A movie star and a prominent scientist have teamed up to reassure the public that childhood vaccines are safe and do not cause autism.

Amanda Peet, who starred in films including The X-Files: I Want To Believe and Syriana, is working with Paul Offit, the chief of infectious diseases at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

Their goal is to counter the assault on vaccines led by celebrities including Jenny McCarthy, Jim Carrey and Holly Robinson Peete.

Full story on Morning Edition on NPR

Fought Over Any Good Books Lately?

Another good one from The New York Times about Book Groups and how they can become a scene of in-fighting, snobbery and recriminations, like "what's wrong with Oprah"?

"It’s a nice, high-minded idea to join a book group, a way to make friends and read books that might otherwise sit untouched. But what happens when you wind up hating all the literary selections — or the other members? Breaking up isn’t so hard to do when it means freedom from inane critical commentary, political maneuvering, hurt feelings, bad chick lit and even worse chardonnay."

"Who knew a book group could be such a soap opera?” said Barb Burg, senior vice president at Bantam Dell, which publishes many titles adopted by book groups. “You’d think it would just be about the book. But wherever I go, people want to talk to me about the infighting and the politics.”"

Reading Can Be a Hair-Raising Experience

Mint Canyon (Santa Clarita, CA) Elementary School Principal Betsy Letzo has come up with some pretty wild ideas. But none have been as hair-raising as her latest reading-enhancement scheme, according to The Signal.

These were the conditions: If students could read and pass comprehension tests on more books that their teachers, the teachers had to sport a Mohawk for a day. Participating faculty lost the heated competition and walked around campus Monday with their hair sprayed into long, stiff, colorful Mohawks. Check out the photo!!

Family Reading Night Coming Up

Illinois Secretary of State and State Librarian Jesse White is urging families in Illinois to spend time together reading on the evening of Thursday, November 20th to celebrate the Secretary of State's annual Family Reading Night.

"This special event is a night when parents and children are encouraged to turn off the television, computers, video games and other forms of entertainment and spend time reading together," White said. "Studies have shown that reading together makes families stronger, creates a positive learning environment, and helps children develop a love for reading that can last a lifetime." QC Online.

How to Read Like a President

The New York Times has an interesting essay by Jon Meacham on Oct. 31, 2008, on what presidents read, and what books influenced their lives.

Andrew Jackson was, to put it kindly, no scholar. When Harvard voted to give him an honorary degree in 1833, a Massachusetts newspaper wrote that he deserved an “A.S.S.” along with his “L.L.D.” From afar, the man Jackson had defeated for the White House, John Quincy Adams, was horrified his alma mater was recognizing a barbarian who could barely spell his own name.

As usual, though, the press and Jackson’s enemies did not have the man exactly right. I just finished five years of work on Jackson and his White House years, and I found that the reconstruction of his literary interests, from youth to old age, illuminated much about the arrangement of his intellectual furniture. His heroic sense of possibility? He loved Jane Porter’s novel “The Scottish Chiefs.” His thunderous rhetorical habit of posing a question and then answering it? He grew up memorizing the Westminster Shorter Catechism of the Presbyterian Church. His provincial obsession with manners, bearing and etiquette? He was a fan of Lord Chesterfield’s letters. His reflexive characterization of enemies like Henry Clay as “Judases” and his dependence on imagery from the Old Testament? He cherished the Bible and his late wife’s copy of Isaac Watts’s translation of the Psalms. His shrewd political sense? He was an unlikely admirer of the French philosopher Fénelon’s “Telemachus,” a kind of Machiavellian guide to ruling wisely. .. -- Read More

Reading Dogs

"Calling All Pets", a radio program on National Public Radio, had an interesting program today on "assistance dogs" who help children read. These are "Reading Education Assistance Dogs (READ)", which permits children to read to dogs rather than to other kindergarten children or teachers. "11/01/2008 on Calling All Pets: There's a new kind of "assistance dog" in town, and it's here to help your child learn to read. After three, on Calling All Pets, find out more about the new "literacy dog" program."

Hear the program at: http://www.wpr.org/pets/index.htm and search for "read" or the program broadcast on 11/01/08. The segment on reading dogs starts about twelve minutes into the program.

See also: http://www.wpr.org/pets/

Bad News on Literacy from the United Nations

Things aren't improving fast enough or far enough, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa and parts of Asia, and particularly among women.

U.S. First Lady Laura Bush was at U.N. headquarters in New York Tuesday to spotlight the need for improved literacy. The statistics are daunting, 774 million people worldwide cannot read and write. Two-thirds of them are women. Seventy-five million children do not attend school. And in Africa, only 61 percent of adults can read and write, compared with the world average of about 82 percent.

More from the Voice of America.

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