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Changes in the way the federal government plans to allocate money to increase and improve literacy pose a severe threat to one of the country’s best-known nonprofit groups, Reading Is Fundamental.
Known commonly as RIF, the organization, which provides free books to needy children and has been promoted in memorable public service announcements by celebrities like Carol Burnett and Shaquille O’Neal, stands to lose all of its federal financing, which accounts for roughly 75 percent of its annual revenues.
“We are looking at having to completely reinvent ourselves,” said Carol Rasco, chief executive of RIF, which has received an annual grant from the Department of Education for 34 years.
Story from the New York Times.
In the video embedded above (via MediaBistro), a two-and-a-half year old girl gets her first experience with an iPad. The video gives us a glimpse of how the next generation of readers will read--reminding publishers that this generation will take interactivity for granted.
Here's more from Telstar Logistics' YouTube account: "A fascinating UI experiment. My daughter likes playing with my iPhone, but this was her very first encounter with an iPad. As you'll see, she took right to it... although she too wonders why it doesn't have a camera!"
What do you think? Anybody else sharing their iPads with kids? (Via Kim Werker)
From School Library Journal: Q & A by recently laid-off librarian Sara Scribner, a (former) school librarian for the Pasadena Unified School District.
Scribner had recently penned a Los Angeles Times op-ed piece, "Saving the Google Students" which went viral and talked about how critical media specialists are in this digital age. We asked Scribner how her students—and society—would fare if librarians didn't exist.
When will you know if your position is terminated?
Right now, Pasadena has a parcel tax measure that is going up for a vote throughout the month of April and early May. It has to pass by a large margin, something like two-thirds of the people voting need to say yes to it. On May 5, we should know if it has passed or not. The word is that the librarians will go if it doesn't pass and that they will be saved if it does pass. That's the district speaking. What will happen in the end is anyone's guess. We might not know for sure until we leave for summer break, or even later.
What would the fate be of school libraries in Pasadena without librarians?
No one is willing to discuss what will happen if all of the district librarians are laid off. Since our school will be going through a major renovation next year, I'm going to guess that the library will be "mothballed." Lights out. No librarian. No books. No media lab.
Young Learners Need Librarians, Not Just Google
In the libraries of old, the Dewey Decimal System got you started on research. But there is no card catalog 2.0. To use the Internet as a library you need new research skills: the ability to pick out reliable sources from an overwhelming heap of misinformation, to find relevant material amid an infinite array of options, to navigate the shifting ethics of creative commons and intellectual property rights and to present conclusions in a manner that engages modern audiences.
From The Star: Toronto Public Library is pulling its part-time librarian from the Reading Room at the Hospital for Sick Children.
"We’re worried, but we understand that Toronto Public Library has been hit with a budget that doesn’t allow them to continue their services across the city at the same level,” says Dr. Bruce Ferguson, the hospital’s director of community health systems. “The first thing we (will) do is talk about how we can maintain services for patients and families.”
Sick Kids is one of three Toronto hospitals losing its part-time library staff because of city budget constraints.
The reading room has a collection of 13,500 materials that includes books, CDs and curriculum material that supports schoolchildren from kindergarten to Grade 12. Some Toronto public board teachers work permanently in the hospital, holding classes for students of the psychiatric ward, epilepsy patients, and kids in the substance-abuse program. Teachers also school patients who are at the hospital for more than five days to ensure they don’t fall behind.
“The Toronto Public Library is an incredibly valuable contributor and we will miss that librarian,” said Ferguson. “But we will sit down with our partners and the woman’s auxiliary and volunteer services and figure out how they’ll cope without the part-time staff member.”
Boys prefer to read simpler books, survey suggests
Boys choose to read less challenging books than girls and this gets more pronounced as they get older, according to a UK-wide survey of reading habits.
The study of 100,000 five to 16-year-olds found for most age groups the difficulty of books chosen by girls was "far ahead" of those chosen by boys.
Shelf Awareness children's editor Jennifer M. Brown is working with Readeo's CEO and founder Coby Neuenschwander to launch the new service, which promotes shared reading over the Internet.
Readeo (try it for free) allows two people who are separated geographically (such as a grandparent and grandchild or a military parent and his or her child) to share books together in real time while connected in a BookChat (in which they can see each other via a video connection). On the screen, they see the same digitized picture book and turn the pages together.
Readeo is launching with well-known titles from four publishing partners: Blue Apple Books, Candlewick Press, Chronicle Books, and Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing. In her role as editor on the site, Brown works with Readeo's publishing partners to select the titles she believes best enhance the read-aloud experience.
Dewey was a great one, but he will not be the only cat to be remembered in a book. Such a fellow was Plymouth U.K.'s Casper, who sadly was run over by a car while crossing the road to queue up for his daily bus ride last month.
Casper was an amazing cat who fancied himself a daily commuter. His life on the buses came to international attention last year. It turned out that for four years he had been riding the no 3 bus, passing the Devon city's historic dockyard and naval base, en route. He tended to curl up on a seat or sometimes purr around fellow passengers' legs, all the way to the final stop, stay on and make the return journey. Drivers got used to letting him off at the correct stop.
Owner Susan Finden, 65, said she would be donating any money she makes from the book to animal charities. She said: 'It's lovely to think he will go on in memories - and with this book his story will live on forever. The book will be published by Simon & Schuster next summer.
Bigger kids striving to get their younger peers to read
The K is for Kids Foundation was started by Karen Clawson as a county-wide spin-off to Laurel Oak Elementary School’s Bring a Book, Bring a Friend Fun’raisers. Parents and supporters of the school would bring books to an event to help stock the school’s media center.
“We started by telling our friends and telling our families and it grew from there,” said Clawson. “What we did for one school, we were able to do for eight school libraries last year.”
Check out The Huffington Post's Press Freedom Page ("some news so big it needs its own page"), with stories on how schools in Culpeper County VA have decided to stop assigning The Diary of Ann Frank; and several other stories on banned books and censorship.