Literary 'crisis' a matter of quality, not quantity

The real literacy crisis has less to do with the number of people reading than with the narrowing range of books that Americans actually read. According to the report, all of ``one in six people reads 12 or more books in a year.'' Half the population never looks at any fiction, poetry or plays. This is, obviously, just pathetic. And what the NEA report fails to say is that most of those people have chosen the very same 12 books, starting with ``The Da Vinci Code,'' followed by a) the latest movie tie-in, and b) whatever Oprah Winfrey has recommended lately.

Read this interesting opinion at The Register-Guard.

100 Most Often Mispelled Words In English

JB writes " you happen to catch the misspelling of MISSPELLED in the title? It is one of the words on the list.LIBRARY makes the cut, too. (Do you cringe as I do when people say LIBERRY?)"Dr. Language has provided a one-stop cure for all your spelling ills. Here are the 100 words most often misspelled ('misspell' is one of them). Each word has a mnemonic pill with it and, if you swallow it, it will help you to remember how to spell the word. Master the orthography of the words on this page and reduce the time you spend searching dictionaries by 50%.""


Detroit parents are paid to teach their kids to read

The Detroit Free Press reports on an experimental program designed to improve reading readiness in disadvantaged inner-city preschoolers. Parents are paid in cash for their involvement, to the tune of $10 per hour.


One City, One Book and voting.

Omaha, Nebraska is starting a One City, One Book program called, Omaha Reads. The library nominating committee narrowed public nominations down to six finalists. The people of Omaha are being asked to vote for the final selection via a ballot that was in the newspaper or on the website. Has anyone heard of another city that actually had people vote for the final book in one of these programs?


Dolly Parton's Book Program Goes Statewide in TN

Entertainer Dolly Parton has succeeded where many legislators and politicos have not. Tennessee has finally granted sufficient funding for a state-wide program entitled the "Imagination Library", which will guarantee that every child in the state will receive one book a month from birth to age five, which has proven to be the most critical time for children to develop an interest in books.

Here's the story from the Tennessean.


Non-Fiction Reading Improves Test Scores

According to reading educators, students can improve their SOL (Standards of Learning) scores by increasing their non-fiction reading.
Story here from the The Virginian Pilot

Douglas Reeves, founder of the Center for Performance Assessment, a national education organization, believes nonfiction reading and writing drives improvement on tests,
and laments an "overexposure" to fiction, that presumably leaves students "ill-equipped to absorb facts."


Reading to Kids: Pointers from Mem Fox

In her capacity as an international reading advocate, beloved Australian children's author Mem Fox shares a few thoughts on how children develop a love of reading.

As the second most literate country (next to Finland), Australia can boast about the number of children reading for pleasure (68%) and the significant number of boys that enjoy reading. Fox discounts the new government regulations that will allow extra reading credits for children that don't pass required tests in primary school as a cart-before-the-horse remedy; instead, she insists that reading aloud from birth to age three is what is most critical in developing a love of books.


Reading isn't taught by the book in N.Y.

A Washington Post Story, via The Detroit News, says the reading wars are heating up again, fueled by a scramble for $6 billion in federal money.
The reading methods practiced in P.S. 172 have won the enthusiastic approval of the chancellor of the New York City school system, Joel Klein, who embraced them last year as a model.

But they have been denounced as “unscientific� by reading experts for the Bush administration, who advocate a much greater emphasis on phonics, the repetitive sound drills viewed by some educators as the key to early reading progress.

The dispute has become a test case for the implementation of President Bush’s ambitious Reading First initiative, which aims to help every child in the country become a successful reader.

Without the federal government’s seal of approval, New York’s reading program is ineligible for federal subsidies.


Informal learning

nbruce writes:

While tracking down something else, I came across an interesting article in the Journal of Industrial Teacher Education, Vol. 40, no.3, and it is on-line at Virginia Polytech. It is on “informal learning� and wasn’t exactly what I expected to find. The study involved analyzing the advice experienced teachers would give first year teachers--i.e., what they had more or less learned from experience, not training.

The simulation work exercise asked participants to imagine that they have won the lottery and are leaving their current position. They have decided to write a memo to their successor containing their best piece of advice on how to survive in the job: what they know now that they wish someone had told them as they began their work in this position. Subjects worked individually and then in a group to place the advice into categories: instrumental, emotional, and political.

Because of the statistical tables and the literature review, this article is a cut above the “how I did it good� articles that we all find so helpful, but which journals don’t want to publish. Although written about and for trade and industrial education teachers, I think it would be useful for anyone in teaching, and in education in general. The political advice in the article is standard, but priceless for a first year person in any field, including librarianship. I wish I’d had something similar years ago in the library field--and perhaps there is something out there about informal learning and librarians. I haven’t searched the LIS literature on this topic.


More books equal better brains

Studies show that FCAT scores up at schools with good libraries.

Good media centers mean better scores on the FCAT, according to a recent study. And yet media specialists are often overworked and inadequately compensated. With either claim, is this really the case? Read the full story and come to your own conclusions. Share them with all of us!



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