Books for Dessert: club for intellectually disabled

When Jamie Comer graduated from high school at age 21, gone were the in-depth assignments and hours of homework that had long challenged him.

As Comer, who has Down syndrome, began to gradually lose critical thinking skills without the aid of vigorous schoolwork, his mother struggled to find opportunities to keep him mentally sharp.

"People have always assumed that people like Jamie don't really have opinions on anything remotely complex," said his mother, Nancy Comer, 64, of Port Washington. "They're just expected to work and be happy."

But Nancy Comer wanted more for her son, now 29, and other adults with developmental disabilities. Five years ago, with the help of like-minded advocates and the Port Washington Public Library, she formed Books for Dessert, a book club - thought to be the only one of its kind on Long Island - for adults with intellectual disabilities.

Full story here.


Literacy Debate: Online, R U Really Reading?

Books are not Nadia Konyk’s thing. Her mother, hoping to entice her, brings them home from the library, but Nadia rarely shows an interest.

Instead, like so many other teenagers, Nadia, 15, is addicted to the Internet. She regularly spends at least six hours a day in front of the computer here in this suburb southwest of Cleveland.

A slender, chatty blonde who wears black-framed plastic glasses, Nadia checks her e-mail and peruses, a social networking site, reading messages or posting updates on her mood. She searches for music videos on YouTube and logs onto Gaia Online, a role-playing site where members fashion alternate identities as cutesy cartoon characters. But she spends most of her time on or, reading and commenting on stories written by other users and based on books, television shows or movies.

Full story in the New York Times


Giving Away Used Books To a Good Home

David Mazor started his "Reader to Reader" program by trying to determine which town in which state was the poorest; then he called up the school librarian there and offered free books. This was eight years ago, and according to the Christian Science Monitor, the program based on the campus of Amherst College is still going strong and benefiting thousands of students across the U.S.

Dolly Parton Takes Her Imagination Library Program to the U.K.

Bromley Central Library staffer Ian Dodds has been personally picked by the one and only Dolly Parton as one of four children's literature selectors for the UK division of her Imagination Library.

The Bromley Times reports: Mr. Dodds said the star spoke very movingly to the audience in the O2 Arena in South-Easton London about her father, telling them he was the most intelligent man she knew but that he had never learnt to read.

He said: "She told us she decided when she had money that's what she wanted to do with it, make reading accessible for all. I am very passionate about that and have spent my whole career promoting the joys of reading. "I'm not sure people are aware of just how much she has done for literacy in the USA but her scheme is in 40 States and that's quite amazing" said Dodds.

Reading Sets You Free

Karen Schneider on why we’re passionate about “kids” learning & reading:

Reading — deeply, truly reading — is a wonderfully subversive act, one that undermines everything we are told about learning in this society. The world tells us that learning happens in boxes approved by government (school) and business (the commercial world). We are plopped in chairs for twelve or sixteen years and told how to think, and during that time and for the rest of our lives we are bathed in messages designed to shape our thoughts and actions.

Are You a Productive Reader?

Are You a Productive Reader? Here's a good list of tips about reading productively:

Pay attention to structure.
Google it.
Use an index card as your bookmark.
Accept defeat.


Teachers 'not reading children's books'

Research into teachers' reading habits by the Centre for Literacy and Primary Education (CLPE) has found that many do not regularly read children's literature, and tend to choose books from a narrow band of authors.

The research was undertaken as part of the Power of Reading programme, which was launched by the CLPE in 2005 to increase children's and teachers' enjoyment of reading. The schools questioned for the research were among 300 that have been involved in the Power of Reading project.

From 'Love Kitten' to child literacy

At age 19, Yohannes Gebregeorgis borrowed a soft-cover romance novel entitled "Love Kitten" that changed his life forever. Born in rural Ethiopia to an illiterate cattle merchant who insisted upon his son's education, Gebregeorgis had seen a few books in school. But it was the experience of having a book of his own that sparked a lifelong commitment.

Today, at 56, Gebregeorgis is establishing libraries and literacy programs to connect Ethiopian children with books.

Retired from Maytag, He Learned to Read at 61

It's never too late.

This article from the Southern Illinoisian tells the inspiring story of Jerry Mezo who learned to read at age 61.

Mezo was one of ten honored in Springfield a Spotlight on Achievement award from Secretary of State and State Librarian Jesse White and David Bennett, executive director of the Illinois Press Association.

The door to literacy opened late for Herrin resident Mezo; crossing that threshold, the impossible suddenly became so very possible. "When you can't read, you have to depend on everybody else. I was lucky to have gotten on at Maytag when I did because if I had to try to get a job like that now, I wouldn't make it. I couldn't fill out an application, couldn't take the tests. I was always afraid I would get caught," Mezo said. "But now that I can read, I've finally got some independence. I've got confidence that I never had. My life is a lot better. I don't have to hide anymore."


Hawaii Library Reinforces Time To Read With Your Children

Even in this island paradise, it's important to make time for reading...and turn off the TV sometimes.

More than 250 parents and children crowded into Kualapu’u Elementary School’s cafeteria to participate in the final session of the Read Aloud Program (RAP) on Thursday. Jed Gaines, founder of Read Aloud America in Hawaii, hosted the event. This is RAP’s second year on Molokai; the program consisted of six sessions and has helped to improve the quality of family life in the community.

Claudette Ka’ahanui regularly attended RAP and said her children have started reading much more. “It’s unbelievable what this program has done for my kids,” she said.

Ka’ahanui said RAP has encouraged her to read to her children. “I never did,” she said, adding she often found herself too busy with work. “This has really brought me to realize that I need to make time. You have to fit it into your schedule, whether you’re working or not. It’s only to benefit the kids,” she said.

Another parent, Amethyst Tuisamatatele, brings seven of her children to RAP sessions. Tuisamatatele said she hardly went to the library, but because of RAP, she now pays a visit at least once a week. She said a big change in her family is the recent restriction of the television, which has resulted in her children finding more productive activities to participate in.


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