Encouraging Reading With Dogs...and Cats

Most pets thrive on attention, and kids do too, which is why they make a perfect team for youngsters learning to read. This article is about R.E.A.D. -- Reading Education Assistance Dogs, a division of the mid-Atlantic organization, PAWS for People .

What happens? Kids read to animals. Think about it: Dogs won't laugh if you stutter. They won't correct a mispronounced word. Their loyal attention makes children feel supported as they practice reading. And recently, two cats, including three-legged Luke have been welcomed to join the READ team.

Study Concludes Learning About Art Helps Students Do Better All Around

In these days of educational cutbacks and 'No Child Left Behind', it seems that studying art is practically a luxury. But the Guggenheim Museum has found otherwise; a study to be released today by the museum, and reported in the New York Times suggests that studying art helps students improve skills in other areas. They specifically cited improvements in a range of literacy and critical thinking skills among students who took part in a program Learning Through Art in which the Guggenheim sends artists into schools.


Push for simpler spelling persists

From An AP Story: When "say," "they" and "weigh" rhyme, but "bomb," "comb" and "tomb" don't, wuudn't it maek mor sens to spel wurdz the wae thae sound? Those in favor of simplified spelling say children would learn faster and illiteracy rates would drop. Opponents say a new system would make spelling even more confusing.

Eether wae, the consept has yet to capcher th publix imajinaeshun.

It's been 100 years since Andrew Carnegie helped create the Simplified Spelling Board to promote a retooling of written English and President Theodore Roosevelt tried to force the government to use simplified spelling in its publications. But advocates aren't giving up.


What Effect Reading Has on Our Minds

Martha Brockenbrough Says Reading makes you smarter, and the more reading you do, the better. Why this is so and how the magic happens, though, is quite interesting.

In a paper called What Reading Does for the Mind, Anne E. Cunningham, associate professor of cognition and development at the University of California, Berkeley, makes the case that reading:
* increases vocabulary more than talking or direct teaching;

* substantially boosts general knowledge while decreasing the likelihood that misinformation will be absorbed; and

* helps keep our memory and reasoning abilities intact as we age.


Why D.C. Can't Read

The Washington Post takes a look at the D.C. public schools' misplaced priorities and shortsightedness.The result of this abysmal record is that a third of the city's high school students drop out without graduating. An equal percentage of District adults read at or below the third-grade level. More than half the city's schools -- including seven high schools -- have no librarian.

Sound-bite culture gives books short shrift

Beverly in Illinois writes "Atlanta Journal-ConstitutionWriter Jennifer Moses writes a wonderful story on the value of flexing your reading muscle to make sound decisions in a sound bite world. She Says today's students — like their elders — are in the grip of what she calls post-literacy...."


How do children get the book bug?

One From The UK: 30 years of books for children divide Ion and Lusa Thomas from their children. In some respects the children's choice of stories is similar to that of their parents - right down to the titles in the case of Asterix and Tintin.

But generally today's children have a much broader range of books and authors to choose from. The subjects covered are more diverse than in the early 1970s, when adventure books were the staple fare for young readers.

Keep Living, Keep Learning - A Word A Day

A favorite site of mine is wordsmith, and the e-mail advisory 'a word a day' by Anu Garg.

This week's words are all book-related, as next week is TV turn-off week. Here's what webmaster Anu says in today's e-mail:

So many channels, so little worth watching! Do you sometimes find yourself muttering those words? Next week is TV Turnoff Week
so give that TV a well-deserved rest, and instead say: So many books worth
reading, so little time!

People in the US watch TV for more than four hours a day. That's equivalent to sitting in front of a TV for two full months nonstop every year. It's not for nothing that TV has been called the plug-in drug, the boob tube, and the idiot box. For more, see : factsheets and research.

It's time to redefine television, from Greek tele- (far) + Latin vision- (view), as something that deserved to be seen far, far away. Instead, get
closer to books. Cut your screen time and increase your page time. This week we'll explore a few words from the world of books.

Today's word is

belles-lettres (bel-LET-ruh). noun;

Literary works valued for their aesthetic qualities rather than
information or instruction.

Subscribe for yourself or your entire library at wordsmith.


Better grades? Thank a librarian

The first Canadian study linking school libraries to student achievement indicates that better libraries improve student test scores and add to kids' reading enjoyment.The Ontario School Library Association says the research, released yesterday, is the evidence it needs to make a case for more trained school librarians and better-stocked shelves.

"There's such a clear link between libraries and student achievement I don't know how the minister (of education) can ignore it," said association president Michael Rosettis.

Brazil-A Nation of Non-Readers

C. Miller writes "

MANY Brazilians cannot read. In 2000, a quarter of those aged 15 and older were functionally illiterate. Many simply do not want to. Only one literate adult in three reads books. The average Brazilian reads 1.8 non-academic books a year;less than half the figure in Europe and the United States. In a recent survey of reading habits, Brazilians came 27th out of 30 countries, spending 5.2 hours a week with a book. Argentines, their neighbours, ranked 18th. More here: More at"


Check it out Guys...Jon Scieszka's Cool Site

is called "Guys Read". The author introduces the site as follows: GUYS READ is a web-based literacy program I've made it to help boys find stuff they like to read. Get started by checking out recommendations from other GUYS READ visitors. Or go ask GUY what he thinks you might like to read."

So guys...check it out!

Searching for Dummies

Anonymous Patron writes " New York Times: Beginning in the early 1990's, schools, libraries and governments embraced the Internet as the long promised portal to information access for all. And at the heart of their hopes for a cultural and educational breakthrough were superbly efficient search engines like Google and those of its rivals Yahoo and MSN. The new search engines not only find more, they are more likely to present usable information on the first screen.

Higher education is fighting back. Librarians are teaching "information literacy" and establishing alternative Web indexes. Graduate students, in the front lines as teaching assistants, are starting to discuss joining Wikipedia rather than fighting it, as many instructors still, quixotically, do."


High schoolers and the never-opened book

Interesting column from the Detroit Free Press, in which a community college instructor offers her observations regarding the epidemic of non-reading in her state and nationwide.

Over and over, my students -- all adults -- tell me that too many school districts neglect to include provocative selections within their curriculum. The collection of choices made and the way reading materials are handled fail to inspire. Why educators would undertake such a questionable course is murky, but the results are not. Michigan community college students struggle to speak in complete sentences and are challenged when asked to write coherently. Will they perform any better during job interviews? Is this next generation of workers prepared to create cutting-edge products and services?

She also comments:

It's easy to buy picture books featuring the gentle antics of big red dogs, but it's much more difficult to pick out thought-provoking selections for a 16-year-old when a parent hasn't read a book since high school -- if ever.

Thanks to Reading Today Daily for the link.

Spending on books dwarfed by Computers

The BBC Reports Schools spend more than five times as much on computer-based resources as on books, an analysis suggests. The figures, reported by the Times Educational Supplement, also suggest schools spend two and a half times more money on exam fees than on books.

Ministers said numeracy and literacy hours had led to a rise in standards.

Woman helps fill new jail's library shelves

Amanda Allen is quite the super patron. She is the founder of Motor City Kids Book Drive, a nonprofit group that brings books to inner-city kids.

Allen, a Port Huron native, wants to expand the organization into St. Clair County. She decided to start by bringing books to the jail after hearing inmates didn't have many reading choices.
"It will help us because we have plenty of time on our hands while we're here," he said. "I'm not just sitting around, I'm trying to better myself. It would help if we got a couple of books to better ourselves."

Exam measures students' 'information literacy'

Darla writes "The Educational Testing Service (ETS) administers
a test
to determine a person's 'information

Students "really do know how to use the
technology," said Dolores Gwaltney, library media specialist at
Thurston High School in Redford, Michigan, one of a handful of high
school trial sites for the test over the next few weeks. "But they
aren't always careful in evaluating. They go to a source and accept it."


Reading is for the Dogs

The Reader's Shop writes " reports Whitehall Library in Pittsburgh, PA is participating in a program sponsored by a local dog obedience club. The program is aimed at children who need help with reading skills and is based on "the idea is that children will read to an unbiased listener who can't correct them or make fun of them." Participating as part of the "Reading Education Assistance Dogs" or READ program, Whitehall Library joins 750 programs in 45 states. More Here Or @ The National Geographic"


Pew Report on College Graduate Literacy Skills

According to a recent study conducted by the American Institutes for Research (funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts), "twenty percent of U.S. college students completing 4-year degrees - and 30 percent of students earning 2-year degrees - have only basic quantitative literacy skills." More on this study can be found in the press release, including links to the fact sheet and final report.


The grubby literati in America

Fang-Face writes "An interesting look at the state of literacy in the U.S. and a recent movement decrying the slipping standards thereof. Titled
Who Reads in America?, By Mark Schurmann, Pacific News Service, and posted to, this article intimates that literacy is becoming an underground counterculture."

Starbucks Canada Announces Second Annual Lattes for Literacy Day

From A PR Newswire: On Thursday, January 19th, 2006 Starbucks
cafes across the country will be hosting the second annual Lattes for Literacy
On Lattes for Literacy Day, 100% of all Starbucks latte proceeds will be
donated to ABC CANADA Literacy Foundation and Frontier College, two important
Canadian charities that are working to ensure that all Canadians have the
literacy skills they need to succeed. The charities will use the funds to help
support youth literacy programs in Canada. The programs address statistics
that show that many Canadians lack the skills needed to meet everyday reading


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