Literacy

Literacy

A holiday guide to books for kids

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<a href="http://voices.washingtonpost.com/class-struggle/2009/12/a_holiday_guide_to_books_for_k.html?hpid=sec-education">The Washington Post has</a> an article today by Jay Matthews, "A holiday guide to books for kids" [This is his column for the Local Living section Dec. 17, 2009]. I share this secret only with recluses like myself who lack the imagination to conceive of any gift better than a book. If you are buying for a child — particularly if you are in a last-minute Christmas shopping panic — scan this list compiled by a company called Renaissance Learning. It is an amazing document. Parents who keep track of what their children are doing in school, particularly in this area, might be vaguely aware of Renaissance Learning and its famous product, Accelerated Reader, the most influential reading program in the country. It was started 23 years ago by Judi Paul and her husband, Terry, after she invented on her kitchen table a quizzing system to motivate their children to read. Students read books, some assigned but many chosen on their own, and then take computer quizzes, either online or with Accelerated Reader software, to see whether they understood what they read. Students compile points based in part on the difficulty and length of each book and sometimes earn prizes from their schools.

In Afghanistan, our boys are reading from the front

<a href="http://women.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/women/families/article6956510.ece">The Times has an interesting article today</a> on British soldiers in Afghanistan who read stories to their children back home. December 15, 2009. "In Afghanistan, our boys are reading from the front; Fighting overseas doesn’t stop British soldiers telling their children bedtime stories." by Helen Rumbelow. Andi Gray is married to the commanding officer of the 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards.

Information Needs of Communities in a Democracy

The Knight Commission on the Information Needs of Communities in a Democracy is a group of 17 media, policy and community leaders. Its purpose is to assess the information needs of communities, and recommend measures to help Americans better meet those needs.

The Knight Commission sees new thinking about news and information as a necessary step to sustaining democracy in the digital age. It thus follows in the footsteps of the 1940s Hutchins Commission and the Kerner and Carnegie Commissions of the 1960s.

But in the digital age the stakes are even higher. Technological, economic and behavioral changes are dramatically altering how Americans communicate. Communications systems no longer run along the lines of local communities, and the gap in access to digital tools and skills is wide and troubling.

The Commission seeks to start a national discussion – leading to real action. Its aims are to maximize the availability and flow of credible local information; to enhance access and capacity to use the new tools of knowledge and exchange; and to encourage people to engage with information and each other within their geographic communities.

Website of the Knight Commission here.
Full PDF of report: Information Needs of Communities in a Democracy

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Do Nothing But Read Day

Break out the comfy clothes and stacks of books: A UW-Madison SLIS student is initiating the first annual Do Nothing But Read Day, set for Sunday, December 20th. There's even a sign-up option with prizes...a sort of grown-up version of Book-It.

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How our brains learned to read

How our brains learned to read
The brain in its modern form is about 200,000 years old, yet brain imaging shows reading taking place in the same way and in the same place in all brains. To within a few millimetres, human brains share a reading hotspot - what Stanislas Dehaene calls the "letterbox" - on the bottom of the left hemisphere.
(From a review of Reading in the Brain: The science and evolution of a human invention by Stanislas Dehaene)
Thanks Ender!

Jumpstart 'Read for the Record' Will Read Hungry Caterpillar October 8

Here's the website...find out all about how they're raising money for children in low income communities. This is the fourth annual Read for the Record program.

And sign up!! (you DON'T have to buy the book at Wal-Mart although they are sponsoring the advertising and selling 'special edition'/ i.e., flimsy pages/ printed in sweatshops/ copies in both English and Spanish...)

LeVar Burton On The End Of 'Reading Rainbow'

Talk of the Nation on NPR

Actor LeVar Burton has been the host of The Reading Rainbow for more than two decades. The PBS show's run has come to an end. Burton talks about the show's impact, his long-running career, and what he plans to do next.

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Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor in regards to the story “Students Get New Reading Assignment: Pick Books You Like”

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Reading by the Numbers

Essay in the Sunday New York Times Book Review.

Reading by the Numbers

“Reading management” software cannot identify what makes some books so complex and lovely and painful.

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Students Get New Assignment: Pick Books You Like

For years Lorrie McNeill loved teaching “To Kill a Mockingbird,” the Harper Lee classic that many Americans regard as a literary rite of passage.

But last fall, for the first time in 15 years, Ms. McNeill, 42, did not assign “Mockingbird” — or any novel. Instead she turned over all the decisions about which books to read to the students in her seventh- and eighth-grade English classes at Jonesboro Middle School in this south Atlanta suburb.

Among their choices: James Patterson‘s adrenaline-fueled “Maximum Ride” books, plenty of young-adult chick-lit novels and even the “Captain Underpants” series of comic-book-style novels.

Full story in the NYT

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'Reading Rainbow' Reaches Its Final Chapter

Even if you can't remember a specific Reading Rainbow episode, chances are, the theme song is still lodged somewhere in your head:

Butterfly in the sky, I can go twice as high,
Take a look, it's in a book — Reading Rainbow ...
Remember now?

Reading Rainbow comes to the end of its 26-year run on Friday; it has won more than two-dozen Emmys, and is the third longest-running children's show in PBS history — outlasted only by Sesame Street and Mister Rogers.

Full piece on NPR

Get Those Kids Reading!!

1. READ ALOUD SOMETHING EVERY DAY
2. LAUGH A LOT AS YOU FOOL AROUND WITH LANGUAGE
3. ACT OUT STORIES.
4. TELL STORIES.
5. ENCOURAGE DRAWING.
6. LEARN A NEW FACT EVERY DAY.
7. ASK AND ENCOURAGE QUESTIONS.
8. GET OUT OF THE HOUSE.
9. LOVE YOUR BOOKS AND YOUR LIBRARY.
10. LOOK FOR OLDIES BUT GOODIES.
11. LOOK FOR WHAT'S NEXT
12. TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS

Courtesy of James Patterson's Read Kiddo Read, twelve ways to get kids reading...and they don't all involve sitting down with a book. Each link is clickable on the site.

The Family that Reads Together…. (aka What’s in it for ME?)

We often talk about the benefits of reading aloud to our children -- but we usually focus on the benefits <em>to the children</em>. Today, let’s reflect on the ways reading aloud to our children benefits ourselves as parents, our families and our relationships with each other. <b>Read-Aloud Idol</b> I’m no ham and I rarely attempt read-aloud theatrics, accents or voices, but boy-oh-boy do I love the rush I get when I have my young audience shrieking with laughter, swooning, raving and begging for more. Sure, all I’m doing is reading the printed word, the real genius is the author, but I’m the main act at our house and I bask in the glow of my appreciative and enthusiastic audience. Childhood is short -- I treasure the precious moments when reading aloud makes me a star in the eyes of my children. <b>Cuddle Time</b>

Lost Art of Reading

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<BLOCKQUOTE><I>So what happened? It isn't a failure of desire so much as one of will. Or not will, exactly, but focus: the ability to still my mind long enough to inhabit someone else's world, and to let that someone else inhabit mine. Reading is an act of contemplation, perhaps the only act in which we allow ourselves to merge with the consciousness of another human being. We possess the books we read, animating the waiting stillness of their language, but they possess us also, filling us with thoughts and observations, asking us to make them part of ourselves.

One Country (New Zealand), One Story (a Kiwi Tale)

Cross-legged and hushed, 146 children waited for South Taranaki Mayor Ross Dunlop to sit in his throne-like chair and read to them.

The pupils from Hawera and Mokoia Primary schools and other guests had gathered at Hawera Library to hear the mayor read to them as part of New Zealand's Biggest Storytime at Hawera Library.

At 10.30am yesterday special guests in libraries across the country simultaneously read Itiiti's Gift, written by Kiwi author Melanie Drewery.

Librarian Kaye Lally told the eager listeners they were taking part in something really special.

"There are lots of children listening to the same story all over New Zealand." Story about storytime during New Zealand Library Week from Stuff NZ.

Reading One Book Changed His Whole Life

And now he owns one of the few bookstores, independent or otherwise, in an inner-city Philadelphia neighborhood. Hakim Hopkins, who grew up in West Philadelphia and Atlantic City, was 15 and in juvenile detention when his mother gave him a copy of Native Son. "That book just took me out," Hopkins, 37, remembers. "I didn't know that a book could be that good. I became a book lover, and a thinker." Today, Hopkins runs the Black & Nobel bookstore at Broad and Erie that in the year since it expanded to that spot has become a neighborhood hub.

Summer's Coming to a Close @ Your Library

Florida youth have not spent the entire summer at the seaside; in fact, many of them have been participating in summer reading programs!

From the Foster Folly News, an update on the Summer Reading Program at the Chipley Library. Childrens librarian Zedra Hawkins said 18 preschoolers, 114 elementary school students, 68 students from the middle schools, and 31 high school students participated in this year's summer reading program. More than 536 book reviews were entered for drawings for prizes.

Remember Shorthand?

NY Times: Shorthand wasn’t always just for secretaries and court reporters, Leah Price writes in her essay on the history of shorthand in the London Review of Books.

Before the 1870s, it was used more for writing down one’s own thoughts or discretely noting the conversation of others. Samuel Pepys, Isaac Newton and Charles Dickens used it, as did legions of “spirit-rappers, teetotalers, vegetarians, pacifists, anti-vivisectionists, anti-tobacconists,” and other members of a “counter-culture of early adapters” who generated something of a shorthand craze in mid-19th-century Britain. Isaac Pitman, creator of the wildly successful “Stenographic Soundhand” method still used today, made arguments that don’t sound so different from the tweeting techno-evangelists of our age. When people correspond by shorthand, he declared “friendships grow six times as fast as under the withering blighting influence of the moon of longhand.”

I remember my mother with her spiral top notebook and two columns of lines writing down what seemed to me to be completely indistinguishable marks. Anyone out there know shorthand? Is it of any value today?

So What's the Problem?

Lebanese Librarians Publish Book to Encourage Children to Read

BEIRUT, LEBANON: The Monnot Public Library just celebrated its first anniversary; a year dedicated to the promotion of reading among children. A textbook was released for the occasion, intended for librarians and teachers, “99 Recipes to Spice Up the Taste of Reading” (in Arabic I presume?).

The book aims at sharing a librarian’s experience with students. “I quickly realized that the sole presence of books wasn’t enough to get the pupils to read. The librarian plays a crucial role, [they are] the indispensable link between books and children,” explained Nawal Traboulsi, one of the authors.

But at first, it was difficult for her to find her place in the school’s hierarchy. “Librarians don’t have a defined role. They are neither teachers nor parents. Their relation with children is fundamentally different.”

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