Literacy

Literacy

'Early Literacy on the Go' Kits Help Win Award for Bernardsville (NJ) Library

Bernardsville Public Library was recognized at the State House in Trenton by Senate Resolution as a winner of the New Jersey State Library's contest on Best Practices in Early Childhood Literacy. Youth Services Librarian Michaele Casey and Library Director Karen Brodsky were on hand to receive the honor and a check for $500. At the ceremony, the library was cited for its "dedication and commitment to the early reader experiences of preschool children in its community." Only four New Jersey libraries were so honored.

Early Literacy on the Go Kits, developed by Ms. Casey and her staff, were key to winning the award. The kits, in colorful boxes, contain books, toys, sound recordings and information on how to practice early literacy. The acronym SHELLS (Start Helping Early Literacy Learners Succeed) was created to help direct parents, teachers and caregivers to the importance of early literacy. My Central Jersey has the story.

Books with Flava: Street Lit in Libraries

Stay cool this summer with street lit...

Last fall four early career librarian-trainees from the Brooklyn and New York Public Libraries chose to investigate current public library practice in collecting and offering street lit to teens. They cannily developed a survey using SurveyMonkey.com and distributed it widely among youth materials and public library list serves. They collected and highlighted their findings in an article in School Library Journal (”What Librarians Say about Street Lit“) this past February, and presented a more ‘formal’ review to a packed-house panel at BookExpo America this past weekend. They shared their knock-out power point primer on the development of Street Lit as a genre and the results of their survey.

Thanks to Barbara Genco, Director of Collection Development for the Brooklyn Public Library for the link!

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Librarian Transformed into Human Popcorn Ball

I was hoping this one had a photo with it, but sorry...you'll have to use your imagination. It's another one of those "I'll do thus and such if you kids read X number of books" stories.

Report from Jackson, MS : Children's librarian Melissa Strauss laughed, "I'm here because I want to make good on a promise at the beginning of the school year." The promise: she would become a human popcorn ball. Before she got into the plastic pool filled with popcorn, the principal poured sticky syrup all over Strauss. Then it was time to jump in and roll around.

Why is this happening? This librarian challenged her students to read 10 million words from library books. "They read 10.5 million."

The pure joy of this mess thrilled the students. "I love the way she dived into the pool." "A little like something I want to do to somebody." " I think it was funny." " I love it."

Strauss apparently picks a new 'treat' for the kids each year, and thus far, they haven't let her down.

Once a country of fervent readers, Iraq now starving for books

In Iraq, a country where so much has been leveled by decades of dictatorship, international embargoes and war, few things are easy. Here, students often can't find the books they need. Libraries and schools are understocked, and many bookstores are closed. At those that are open, academic selections are usually limited.

Obama Knows Storytime

At the White House Easter Egg Roll this past Monday, President Obama read Where the Wild Things Are to a large audience. While reading, he stood, projected, moved around, asked kids questions about and engaged them in the text, and generally performed as though he'd passed Early Literacy-Focused Storytime training with flying colors. Click here to view Obama's "storytime"--his wild rumpus sound effects (more cute than wild) are not to be missed.

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Meet the Author Junot Diaz

Junot Diaz is in Baltimore to read from his novel, The Brief, Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.

Blogging in the Baltimore Sun, Mary McCauley asks him about his development as an author.

His introduction to his lifelong love of literature was at his school library. Diaz says, "Mrs. Crowell, the librarian of the Parlin Elementary School in New Jersey, encouraged my love of reading. When I found the library, I felt as though I'd stumbled onto Ali Baba's cave. I'd walk four miles to take out books. She's even let me photocopy lists of books in print, so I could find new titles by my favorite authors."

Fiftieth Anniversary of 'The Elements of Style'

This article will most likely outrage legions of old English teachers, including mine.

Here is commentary from Geoffrey K. Pullum in The Chronicle of Higher Education about why the author is not celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of The Elements of Style.

He softens his commentary by adding that the authors of this chestnut, Strunk and White, "won't be hurt by these critical remarks. They are long dead."

William Strunk was a professor of English at Cornell about a hundred years ago, and E.B. White, later the much-admired author of Charlotte's Web, took English with him in 1919, purchasing as a required text the first edition, which Strunk had published privately.

Pullum comments, "The Elements of Style does not deserve the enormous esteem in which it is held by American college graduates. Its advice ranges from limp platitudes to inconsistent nonsense. Its enormous influence has not improved American students' grasp of English grammar; it has significantly degraded it."

Bonus Miles for RIF Donation

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Getting a corporate sponsor for your program is always helpful. US Airways has become the official airline partner of "Reading is Fundamental," and will donate bonus miles for donations to the RIF. "US Airways, the official airline partner of Reading Is Fundamental (RIF), invites you to support RIF's mission to help children discover the joy of reading.

Iowa Students Pass On the Love of Reading

First-graders at Riverside (IA) Elementary are getting a little help in developing a love for reading.

The industrial manufacturing class at Highland High, along with sixth-graders at Highland Middle School, donated bookshelves and books they each made in class to the 37 first-graders. They presented the gifts at an assembly at the school Friday morning.

Each of the first-grade students received their own small bookshelf made by the high school students and a book written and published by the sixth-graders to take home. Great idea, story from the Iowa Press Citizen.

Women more avid readers of books than men, survey says

A study of reading habits showed almost half of women are 'page turners' who finish a book soon after starting it compared to only 26 per cent of men.

The survey 2,000 adults also found those who take a long time to read books and only managed one or two a year were twice as likely to be male than female.

Dysfunctional Reading Quiz

Find out how messed up your reading habits are by taking this therapeutic quiz about some of literature's most remarkably messed-up characters, including Jane Eyre, Oedipus Rex, Anna Karenina, Phèdra and more.

From Guardian UK.

Mini-libraries to foster book-reading culture in city

ISLAMABAD: Establishment of mini-community libraries in different sectors of the federal capital is a novel idea to foster a lifelong habit of learning among youths, Education Ministry’s Libraries Department Director General (DG) Muhammad Nazir told this news agency on Sunday.

He said the ministry had initiated the concept of reading rooms in the city to quench the thirst of booklovers for knowledge.

Full story here.

What About the Readers?

To get the right answers, you have to ask the right questions.

Book publishing has many conundrums to solve in the coming decade, and not a week goes by without a long, thoughtful article in some major magazine about the impending collapse of the industry and its myriad causes: ebooks, Youtube, greed, television, gaming, big advances, returns, amazon, pirates, the Decline and Fall of Civilization.

The articles all revolve around this central and troubling question: "How can publishing maintain its financial viability when fewer people are reading books? Especially when everyone wants everything for free?"

This is going to be a tough question for publishers to answer, but it misses a more fundamental question, which is: "What do readers want, and how can we best provide it?"

I don't mean: "What books do they want to read," but rather, "What can we do to help people read more books?"

Full article here.

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Children's Author Rosemary Wells Salutes Librarians and Teachers

Author Rosemary Wells made a lot of people feel good about themselves at the Staten Island Historical Society Literacy Leadership luncheon at the Excelsior Grand, New Dorp.

The creator of beloved characters such as sibling bunnies Max and Ruby stressed the importance of reading to children every day and praised the people who help make that possible.

"Without teachers and librarians, our world as writers would be very small. Because of you, the world of ideas is open to all children," she said. The author of some 60 books lauded the society's honoree, Robert (Bobaloo) Basey, for his work as a storyteller.

"When you go around to schools and libraries, you are a living book and that is a wonderful life to live," she said.

Telling a story about building bridges, and performing his own exit music on a flute, Basey, a teaching artist and Stapleton native, expressed his gratitude for "getting a boost to hang in there. It's a challenge with arts funding being cut."

A major Max and Ruby fan, Robyn Busan, 7, was there to meet Ms. Wells. She is also a child who is being given, in Ms. Wells' words, the "gift of thought and language" by being read to.

"I like that he [Max] doesn't really talk much," said the first-grader at PS 65.

"And he doesn't listen," said her father, Robert, who was obviously benefiting from the daily reading sessions he and his wife share with their daughter.

Did Rap, Crack or TV Kill Reading?

Opinion piece in the Washington Post

Book mentioned in opinion piece: Steady Gains and Stalled Progress: Inequality and the Black-White Test Score Gap

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Reading Creates 'Simulations' In Minds

A study provides new insights about what's going on in your head when you crack open a good book. Jeff Zacks, associate professor of psychology at Washington University in St. Louis, talks about the study.

Listen to full piece on NPR

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The Word of the Day Is Ex Libris

Today's Word-of-the-Day from Wordsmith.com is ex libris (from the library), but there's also a mention of spam and where it's heading (it would be nice if it was heading in the opposite direction of our inboxes...surely you've heard from Mariam Abachha in the last few years).

Here's the link to subscribe to A.Word.A.Day.

The real reason Americans don't read

The real reason Americans don't read
The truth is that the decline of reading for pleasure has little to do with the things that teachers, librarians and parents seem to think are causing it. The majority of American adults are literate, and high school English curriculums are meant to teach them to analyze literature, not enjoy it. (It's a wonder even as many as half of Americans still enjoy reading after being subjected to "The Scarlet Letter.") The reasons are more complex than that, and it's not at all clear that better education or higher literacy would change Americans' reading habits.

Unlike, say, watching a movie, reading a book is necessarily a private experience.

Adults Reading More Fiction

For the first time since 1982, "the proportion of adults 18 and older who said they had read at least one novel, short story, poem or play in the previous 12 months has risen [to 50.2%]," according to a National Endowment for the Arts study being released today, reported by the New York Times.

The increase was most notable among 18-24 year olds and involved novels and short stories more than poetry or drama. Literary reading also increased among Hispanic Americans.

For the first time, the study included Internet reading, which some thought might have helped boost rates, although the AAP's Pat Schroeder suggested that some people don't count reading online or on e-readers as "book" reading.

Other possible explanations for the jump: one community, one read programs; the popularity of the Harry Potter and Twilight series; and "individual efforts of teachers, librarians, parents and civic leaders" to promote literature and reading. Booksellers, too, we'd think.

The study is called "Reading on the Rise: A New Chapter in American Literacy" and is based on data from the Census Bureau compiled last year.

Donkeys boost Ethiopian literacy

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It may be low-tech (and decidedly green) but it works, according to <A HREF="http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/7777560.stm">this BBC story</A> about donkey powered mobile library sevices. "If you leave them practising their letters and walk out through the garden gate, you will find another group of children, clustered under a shady tree, absorbed in their books. Parked alongside them is a brightly painted wooden cart, with sides which fold down to display the shelves of books. The two donkeys which pull it are resting in another patch of shade.

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