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Jul. 21st, 2009

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Hope it is a super-duper birthday! And that all your wishes come true!!


Jan. 7th, 2009

We're Moving

One of my resolutions for the new year is to "Build on what I Learned about blogging and book reviews in 2008." Well, I've taken the first step ... I am consolidating Scrub-a-Dub-Tub and Tubtalk into a more robust blog over at Wordpress. We'll keep our original name, but I can put in place some things that would have taken eons to do in the "old blogs." This is one of those cases where the cost of remodeling is more than starting new. It also allows me to streamline some functions ... always a good thing.

Head over to this post at the old stomping grounds if you want some additional background. Or, just jump in to the new Scrub-a-Dub-Tub and tell us what you think.

Happy New Year.

Jan. 5th, 2009

Reading Roundup, 5 January

Happy New Year! It feels good (if not a little overwhelming) to be back in the office. Catherine was very excited to head back to school this morning. She thought that since it is a new year, then she must be in a new grade. Oh, to have a first grader's sense of time! Like the rest of us, she is charged by that internal clock that says "it's time for a fresh start."

As I mentioned in my New Year's resolutions post, bloggers within the Lit-blogosphere are energized and posting lots of fresh ideas for reading, reviewing, and blogging about books in 2009. In the kidlitosphere (since I follow that most closely), great things come from the conversations on our blogs. I created a Mr. Linky at the resolutions post as an informal way to pull some of that energy together. So please stop by and add your post.

While we were away enjoying some time with our families, Jen Robinson and I were still collecting news and ideas. The good news is that reading and literacy news was fairly minimal until late last week. Some of the items may be from December, but we kept them because they have a "timeless" quality. So here's the first Reading Round-up for 2009.

Book Your Resolutions - Over at Literacy Learning, Timothy Shanahan offers his recommended "resolutions" for the incoming Secretary of Education. If you're looking for something on a little bit smaller scale, and haven't quite decided on your reading or book goals for the year, you may find some inspiration here:
Raising Readers - Whether you're looking for book ideas or need a few statistics to get you started, here are some places that offer support to your effort to read with your kids.
Inspired Reading - In December, author Sara Lewis Holmes published an open letter, asking us to participate in her effort to build a library of camp and horse-related books for Flying Horse Farms, "a magical, transforming and fun camp for children with serious illnesses and their families." This is a personal story, as Sara's neice has been battling cancer for more than two years, and has filmed a video for Flying Horse Farms. Shelly Burns (Write for a Reader ) posted the full letter, with its ways you can help

Global Trends - With some help from their friends in Cuba and Venezuela, Bolivia begins 2009 as an "illiteracy free" nation. According to the UNESCO standard, if 96% of the population 15 and older can read and write, the country is certified as illiteracy free. Now THAT's a resolution! or was it a revolution?

Teens Read - In Thiells, New York, kids waiting to see a doctor at Haverstraw Pediatrics can enjoy a good story. Amanda Van Ryn (14) organized a community service project where teens from North Rockland Schools will be reading books with preschoolers and giving them books. Amanda organizes the volunteers, Reach out and Read provides the books. Amanda says: "There's a lot of kids that come into kindergarten and prekindergarten without any prereading skills and not much English ... At first, we just wanted to start it so we could give books out to kids, but then we realized the program Reach Out and Read was already started." We saw the post on the International Reading Association (IRA) blog, and read more details in the article Teen Working to link Doctors, Preschool Literacy at
  • If you're thinking about creating your own pediatric literacy program, check out this grant initiative. From the ALSC blog: "Nordstrom, Friends of Libraries USA (FOLUSA) will be granting 20 grants for $500 each to match $1,000 raised by selected Friends groups, women’s groups, libraries, and other non-profit organizations for purchasing Books for Babies kits from FOLUSA." Applications are due by 1 April 2009.
  • Check out the Oce Future Authors project. As a result of this community project, 45 middle and high school students from 15 different School District of Palm Beach County (Florida) schools realize their dreams to become published authors. Their works of poetry, short stories and essays have been published in a book they named Confessions of a Teenage Author. Learn more about the event and the summer writing workshop here.
Screen Reading - Over the past few weeks there have been a few posts about the dynamics of reading on screen. In December, Tricia (Miss Rumphius Effect) wrote Changing Views on Reading, opened the discussion on reading v. digital literacy, by linking to Christine Rosen's article "People of the Screen" in The New Atlantis. Also in December, Anne Mangen, of the Center for Reading Research (University of Stavanger, Norway) published a study about how the mechanics of reading on a screen (e.g., manipulating a mouse) interrupts our reading patterns. [The IRA blog has a summary post of Mangen's report, and you can read the full story in the December 22, 2008 edition of Science Daily.] Yesterday, Trevor Cairney has pulled the analysis of two other researchers [Jakob Nielsen and Mark Bauerlein] in his post Online Reading is Different at his Literacy, Families and Learning blog. Cairney's suggests that discussions about how we read and how computers are changing our reading are important. His thoughts are worth setting out ...

"I don't want to blame the Internet for leading readers away from 'close' reading. This is my point of departure from many who focus only on the dangers of the Web; it's what we do with the web that counts. What is critical is how parents and teachers support children as they encounter and use the Internet. The real challenge of the Internet is that its use both reflects the busy pace of life, while in turn influencing the pace with which we process information and the way we communicate (see my previous post on loss of family time here). There is a real danger that we will read less texts that are rich in language and content and will rely instead on emails, text messages, tweets and so on."
It is particularly interesting to think about reading, literacy, and technology in the context of a new study that concludes that phonological awareness is a strong predictor of reading disability when evaluated in Kindergartners and first graders. The full study is published in the Learning Disabilities Research & Practice journal. We read Brian Scott's excerpt in this post for Literacy and Reading News. There is also an interesting piece about blogs and social networks as tools for collaborative learning in this post at Literacy and Reading News.

Graphic Reading - Laura Hudson's article "Comics in the Classroom" (Publisher's Weekly, 22 December 2008), offers a nice introduction to the evolution of comics books to graphic novels. Although the emphasis of her piece is whether or not comics publishers will be able to capitalize on the growing interest, she offers some anedotal information about visual literacy and what teachers want to use graphic novels in their classrooms.

Everybody Wins! I love that name. Everybody Wins is a nonprofit literacy and mentoring organization with "chapters" in various cities. Everybody Wins! New York, is launching Family Read, a new reading and literacy programs designed to reach the most disadvantaged children in the Ocean Hill-Brownsville area of Brooklyn. "The Family Read project is funded by a generous grant from University of Phoenix, which will also collaborate with EVERYBODY WINS! and the Knowledge Network Learning Support Organization to design and build the programs' training modules, supply online and library resources, and provide community outreach." See more in this Literacy and Reading News post.

Scholarships and Grants

Deadline: April 2009 - American Fire Sprinkler Association, based in Dallas, TX, sponsors the AFSA National Scholarship contest. High school seniors are eligible to win a $2,000 scholarships for reading an essay about sprinklers and fire safety and answering a 10-question quiz. Read more in Brian Scott's post for Literacy and Reading News.

Deadline: unclear - has just launched three new scholarship opportunities for high school seniors. The scholarships are theme based, open to all high school students, and involve video work. Students must create a film that shows their talent and why they are "more than a grade." A new contest, for the best overall video in any category, will award $20,000 to the winner. You can get a quick summary of the contest in this Literacy and Reading News post.

Grant Awarded: The Mattel Children's Foundation awarded a $10,000 grant to Spread the Word Nevada, a children's literacy project. The grant will allow the organization to adopt more elementary schools in the Clark County School District deemed at-risk, in order to serve the disadvantaged children and their families in southern Nevada. Read more at the Literacy and Reading News blog.

Elaine Magliaro (Wild Rose Reader ) put together a post that presents the guidelines, position statements, and blog posts most viewed this year (I mean in 2008). It is worth bookmarking for handy reference and more leisurely reading.

The Book Whisperer listed her five favorite rabbit holes. What are they? Gotta go over to find out. One hint: Jen Robinson's Book Page is one of them. Yeah Jen!

If you're starting the new year by reaching out to new sites/blogs, check out this page of Top Sites in Children's Awards and Bestsellers at You might also check out the January calendar over at ... just 3 days until Elvis' birthday. What shall we read in his honor?

Thanks to Jennifer at Jean Little Library for this post about It's an easy way to learn about new releases of your favorite author, music artist, and actor.

Stop by the Northfield (MA) Public Library blog and its treasure-trove of blogroll links. This recent post takes you to Chorion, a website with lists of links to children's book sites and best-loved characters, like Paddington, and authors, like Eric Carle.

If you're a regular reader at Best Books I Have Not Read, you've already seen this post about Literature Map. This is a really cool tool. If you have a particular author, you can map him/her in relation to other authors. You can also list three authors you like and GNooks can introduce you to a fourth writer based on your input.

One of my resolutions for the new year is to stay out of the office on the weekends. I may move the Round-ups to Tuesday to compensate, because I know there are more gems among the 200 posts sitting in my reader. More than likely, Jen will pick up some of those in her mid-week visits. Thank goodness for collaboration!

Dec. 28th, 2008

Yea Books!

Our holidays have been filled with books. Our very thoughtful relatives showered us with mother/daughter tandem cookbooks, daddy/daughter books about exploring stars, a folio edition of The Tales of Despereaux, Fancy Nancy books and doll (very cute), Madeline and Madeleine's Christmas, a couple Nancy Drews to extend my collection, and The Glory Game by Frank Gifford. [We started life as Baltimore Colts fans.]

Interestingly enough, these were all family members who don't read blogs, don't watch morning television, and didn't know about the various give-books-for-the-holidays campaign. With the shelves bulging, I was tickled to get a pair of bookends to help keep them in order. Could these be any more perfect?

Dec. 15th, 2008

Lucky Me

This has been quite a Monday.

We spent the weekend watching repeat performances of the elementary school's version of The Wizard of Oz. My daughter was a munchkin, poppy, and Oz-ian. This is NOT the Somewhere-Over-the-Rainbow version. In this version, the poppies tell Dorothy "Don't talk to strangers and don't do drugs."  It was fun, but it killed the weekend.

Just before lunch, I get a call from school. Dear daughter has caught what everyone else has (and probably shared backstage). Please come get her. End of workday, start of an afternoon reading on the sofa.

Then the mail comes. The Wheat Doll arrives. What a beautiful book. For the first time EVER, II won a book giveaway! THANKS 100 Scope Notes you made my day! How ironic that it arrived on the day you posted about the future of reviewing picture bookse ... and on an afternoon where I needed a new book. Man, you're go-o-oo-oo-d!

Reading Roundup, 15 December

For about a month now (maybe a little more), Jen Robinson and I have been sharing the fun of putting together the previous week's news, literacy, and reading tidbits. When you read this week's Children's LIteracy Roundup at Jen's, it is very easy to see how it's become a two-woman job!  Be sure to scroll through for these items.
  • Jen found some more items that relate to recent rants about gender-based reading patterns.
  • There are a number of great initiatives to connect infants/toddlers with books. Be sure to read the Latrobe Valley Express article about the certificate for a Young Reader's Program bag to be redeemed ... at the LIBRARY!  Very cool!
Last but not least, be sure to read about the recent study in Ireland found that Irish children who are more physically active not only are happier, but have a higher levels of reading literacy. Jen's question is a good one: Do you think that they're happier because they have high levels of reading literacy? "Big muscle" activity is so important to helping kids focus and learn. Twenty minutes of playing hard can give you a non-fidgety, engaged learner for 45 minutes! Now, if f the NFL's Play 60 and the WNBA/NBA's Read to Achieve programs would combine forces, we'd probably get the kids REALLY pumped about reading.

Although we'll still have plenty of time for blogging, we'll be taking a break from the Roundups to enjoy some time with family and friends (and sneak in a couple books). We'll kick off the 2009 Roundups here on 5 January.

Happy Holidays!

Dec. 8th, 2008

Reading Roundup, 8 December

Happy Holidays. We have just about counted up the first twelve. Boy, they're going fast. As you probably noticed in Jen's December 1 Children's Literacy Roundup, we started to see a shift in how the book and literacy communities framed their discussions of reading and literacy. Little less just-the-facts-ma'am, a little more holiday cheer. It continued this week, as we have seen more emphasis on ways to share a love of reading.

Events In the Blogosphere & In Your Community

If you're thinking about giving books as gifts, you'll find great, very thoughtful ideas all around the lit blogosphere. Colleen Mondor is rounding up lots of our book recommendations for holiday shopping at Chasing Ray. Over at Chicken Spaghetti, Susan is keeping us in the know with all of the "Best of" lists. Get a running start with this post. If you're still short of ideas,  MotherReader has more than 100 ideas, broken into nice 21-item bits. So go here, here, here, here, and here. Sarah's posts at the Reading Zone about books for Twighlight-obsessed tweens and struggling readers aren't to be missed. Over at Interesting Nonfiction for Kids, Kathleen Krull is happy to offer nonfiction suggestions for readers on your list.

Okay, so that's lots of new books. What about those barely-been-used books we've been reading, reviewing, and collecting all year? Donate them! Gently used books are the perfect item to re-gift ... especially children's books, because they can help a child grow as a reader. Here are some book events that may be of interest. If you have an event or know of one, be sure to tell us about it in the comments.
  • 10 December, Beverly Hilton - Trader Vic's Lounch. Everybody Wins! Los Angeles, a literacy non-profit, is sponsoring its Holiday of Hope Book Drive. Read this post on the Everybody Wins! USA blog to learn more.
  • Until 22 December, Charleston, SC. The Steinberg Law Firm is accepting new and gently used books to donate to Trident Learning's literacy centers. You can read this article on the Charleston and Islands News website to learn more.
  • Until December 12, Baltimore, MD Two local organizations that support youth are selling personalized books to promote reading and fellowship. Learn more in this announcement at
  • Whitney M. Young Jr., Health Services, Albany, NY. In addition to medical-based services for families, this organization also runs pediatric literacy program. The organization needs new or gently used books for children. Read Tom Keyser's article for the Time Union (online) for more details.
  • Brandie Ahlgren let us know in this post (with sneak peeks) at the City Dog Magazine blog that $1.00 from every sale of the 2009 City Dog calendar goes to Reading with Rover, a nonprofit for literacy that combines, dogs, kids, and reading. 
  • Ernie Garcia wrote an article about a program in Yonkers (NY) that gave 9,000 books to kids Kindergarten to third grade. The package also included materials for parents about the importance of reading. They are raising money to buy more books. You can read more details in his article on We found this via
All Wrapped Up Wrapping an empty display case didn't start out as an event, but it has gotten everyone (read: kids) talking. Head over to Bookends to see Cindy Dobrez' post about the Holiday-wrapped display case and see how it's creating buzz. Very clever.

New Places to Visit

Easy Readers Blog - Anastasia Suen, author, educator, Cybils Easy Reader panel organizer, and blogger extraordinaire (6 blogs!), has created a blog just for Easy Readers. Visit Easy to Read to find books for developing readers. You'll LOVE her blogroll categories! She helps you with fiction v. nonfiction, as well as grouping them by reader type:  early, emergent, and transitional. Be sure to stop by Kid Tested, Librarian Approved for Maureen's interview with Anastasia.

News, Views, and Interesting Tidbits

A Gift from Both Jen and I have talked about, a website for children that celebrates reading and books, in previous Literacy Roundups. Here's something new: Stop by the site to hear Mrs. P. read a version of O. Henry's The Gift of the Magi. From their publicist to Jen: "We hope that the story brings a message of hope during this recession-heavy holiday season. Children can access the book by simply going to the site and clicking on the small pile of books at Mrs. P’s feet. Understanding the importance of reading and children, I thought you might be interested in this information." Note: If you're starting from scratch, it takes a couple of steps to get from the homepage to Mrs. P. reading by the fire with her pile of books.

In her Friday Afternoon Visits: December 5 edition, Jen pulled together some wonderful discussions and ideas about how we select books, gender issues and books, and reading with kids over at Jen Robinson's Book Page. Several of the posts she mentioned are especially valuable when it comes to transforming emerging readers into highly successful ones. They're worth repeating...
  • LiteraBuss has some advice about how to quickly determine the reading level of a book when you don't have explicit "I Can Read" levels on the cover. The post mentions the "5 Finger Rule" (and variants) which we talked about here. Here's the bottom line: "All the book levels in the world won't do you any good if that child can't pick up the book and read it." The LiteraBuss discussion of measuring fluency (speed) v. comprehension is interesting, particularly when you read it in conjunction with this OpEd piece in the Savannah Morning News.  Author Michael Moore (no, not the director, a professor at Georgia Southern) cites a Reading First study that says "kids know phonics, but not meanings."
  • Everyone loves to have stories read aloud, and it is a great way to engage kids in reading. Head over to the Reading Zone, to see Sarah's ideas for books for Tweens
  • Over at The Well-Read Child, author Maxwell Eaton presents 10 Tips for the Parents of Ricky the Reluctant Reader. He use comic strip form to set out each point. [That is so Alexander Pope ... which, I know, no reluctant reader would get, but it is always cool.]
  • In a guest post on the First Book blog, Tina Chovanec, manager of Reading, recommends pairing the book with a promise (or two): a promise to read together, a promise to learn together, a promise to your child's teacher, and a promise to make the world a better place. You can read all the details (and shout-outs to great bloggers like Miss Rumphius and the PBS bookfinder) here.
  • In her newest Book Whisperer post for Education Week, Donalynn Miller uses the Twilight book/movie relationship to remind us that we're selecting books the kids will like. Listen to their preferences, don't superimpose yours. Two great points (connected by elipses): "If we want to encourage students to read, we must validate some of their less-than highbrow reading choices when they do ... Teenagers arguing the merits of a book on a Friday night—how can we not celebrate that?"
Write On! Anabel Marsh reminds us that the National Year of Reading is coming to an end.  Read her National Year of Reading - December post at Anabel's Children's Literature blog to get ideas that match this month's theme: Write the Future.
  • Look no further than Sarah's post at the Reading Zone to learn about how writing influences a student. She cites a National Survey of Student Engagement study about how writing leads to deeper learning. Here's a quote from the USA Today article: "The NSSE report found [that] students engage in a variety of positive activities. They are more likely to analyze, synthesize and integrate ideas from various sources. They grapple more with course ideas both in and out of the classroom. And they report greater personal, social, practical and academic development."
  • Be sure to stop by A Year of Reading , to read Franki and Mary Lee's post about the future of reading. They introduce us to some of the tech-oriented literacy blogs they've been following, and give us their thoughts on 21st Century literacies. "We love books and children's literature. And it will always be the anchor of our work. But we can't be comfortable being literacy teachers today without expanding our notion of what it means to be literate in the 21st Century and to learn from experts who have a different set of expertise." Mary Lee posted an update yesterday.
  • Looking for a reading-writing gift? Then read Tricia's post about Gifts for Readers and Writers at the Miss Rumphius Effect.
Open for Discussion Tim Shanahan had an interesting post on his Literacy Learning blog that looks at what he thinks are the gaps in President-elect Obama's education plan. The value of the post is in the facts that it brings out about the state of literacy and education. Here's one: "For the first time in U.S. educational history, increases in numbers of years of schooling have not led to gains in literacy attainment." To add to the discussion, you can read about John Corcoran's new book The Bridge to Literacy at this post on the International Reading Association blog. Maybe they should check out Susan Israel's upcoming book about Vocabulary Lists and activities for the Pre-K to 2 classroom. We found the library card at the University of Nevada (Reno) library.

Book Safety Over at Literacy and Reading News, Brian Scott has an article about how poor literacy levels are a safety hazard for Canadian workers. He cites analysis from a Canadian Board study which concludes that "four in 10 Canadians in the working-age population do not have the literacy skills needed to perform most jobs well."

Holiday Boredom We haven't even wrapped gifts yet, but someone out the International Reading Association blog is already anticipating holiday boredom. In this post last week, Louise Ash suggests we keep in mind when the kids start searching for something to do.

Recent Grant Awards
  • The National Center for Family Literacy has received a $300,000 grant from the MetLife Foundation. The grant will give the NCFL a chance to "explore, enrich and create partnerships between family literacy efforts and community colleges. The goal of this new project, made possible by MetLife Foundation, is to help provide a smooth transition for students from literacy programs to higher education." There are plenty of statistics on how graduating high school students are not ready for college and need to take remedial reading classes. We read the announcement on the NCFL blog.
  • Spread the Word - Nevada received a $10,000 grant from the Mattel Children's Foundation. From the press release: "[This grant will allow us]to continue the mission of adopting elementary schools in the Clark County School District deemed at-risk, in order to serve the disadvantaged children and their families in southern Nevada. After the adoption, new and gently used books donated by individuals, community organizations, local businesses, and corporations are distributed to the at-risk youth. At this time, sixteen elementary schools benefit from monthly book distributions." Read the full press release here.
Yum! Yum! The last word this week goes to Natacha Poech. The National Children's Book and Literacy Alliance blog had a post about finding just-the-right book for kids. Natacha, a librarian and bookbuyer offers advice on selecting books. This says it all: "Think of books in terms of chocolate mousse and a Hershey Kiss. There are moments for both!”

Have a great reading week ... and if you've got reading or book ideas, we'd love to hear them. Just leave a comment.

Dec. 2nd, 2008

Reading Round-Up, 1 December

Regular readers know that Jen Robinson and I are blog-pooling to produce the weekly literacy news and reading round-ups. Yesterday, Jen posted an incredibly comprehensive Children's Literacy Round-Up, with blurbs that link you to litearcy studies, reading ideas, new resources, and award-wining programs. Here are two of the things I learned this week. In the spirit of the holiday, be sure to read ...
  • Jen's summary of a post about audiobooks that she found at Let the Wild Rumpus Start. If you know a reluctant  or struggling reader and are afraid to select books, pairing a book with an audio recording might make a perfect gift.
  • The quote from a UK-commissioned study that concludes that 30 minutes of one-on-one lteracy time can help "students with serious reading difficulties" make two years' worth of gains in five months. Wow! Thirty minutes is a gift for a lifetime!
My thanks to Jen ... We'd love to know what you think, so be sure to leave a comment at Jen Robinson's Book Page.

Nov. 24th, 2008

Reading Round-Up, 24 November

It is nice to see that even with Thanksgiving just around the corner and the mad-dash to the holidays upon us, the world of reading, books, and literacy is still very busy. It has been another "bountiful" week for Jen and me as we gathered newsworthy, interesting, and fun items. The  news Round-up is here this week, but be sure to stop by Jen Robinson's Book Page, too. Jen will have her Growing Bookworms newsletter, afternoon visits, and reviews. Check out the review of Tennyson, which Jen describes as "one of the best reads of the year."

Events & New Places - Virtual and Otherwise

Webinar: Libraries and the Bilingual Child, Monday, 8 December 2008 Webjunction is sponsoring this forum to answer the questions "how can librarians honor and respect parents’ efforts to keep the home language alive while their child acquires a second language, and why does this matter?" We saw this at the L2 [Libary Learning] blog. You can go to the event post to link to the Web conference room.

Read More Blogs
Thanks to MotherReader and Lee Wind's 21 Days to Community Comment Challenge, I am becoming a more engaged blogger. I still stop by some favorite places, but I'm also stretching myself and exploring new ones. The Comment Challenge Participants post makes it easy to find new places to visit. Many bloggers link to other posts, so you can expand that way, too. This week I found ...
  • Book Chook. Susan Stephenson, who created the Book Chook blog, is a Kindergarten teacher. Her blog "shares snippets from the wonderful world and words of kids’ literacy and literature." I could tell you what a chook is, but why spoil the surprise? Head on over.
  • Nancy Arruda and Kim Baise, the queens of Bees Knees Reads, introduced me to Books Together, "a blog for kids and their grownups." I'm not sure why I hadn't seen it before, but it is in the reader now.
  • Thanks to Shelly Burns' Wednesday Wanterings at Write for a Reader, Deborah Sloan's The Picnic Basket is on the list. The tagline says it all: "a delicious blog for librarians, teachers, and other gluttons for good books--all you can read (and write) about forthcoming children’s literature!"
Family Literacy Survey At the NCFL Literacy Now blog, Meg Ivey posted a survey about Verizon's ThinkFinity Literacy Network. Take the survey by 1 December 2008 and you are entered to win a $100 gift certificate from Better World Books. The ThinkFinity Literacy Network site offers teachers, librarians, parents, and students access to free online tools: lesson plans, homework help, interactive activities.

New Children's Choice Award for YA Literature Michael Sweet, teacher and founder of Learning for a Cause, has created the Pearson Prize for Young Adult Literature. It is a chance for authors and publishers to get their books to students -- and schools to build their YA libraries with quality material. The deadline for entry is 1 May 2009. This is no entry fee, you just have to send two copies of your book. Visit the Pearson Prize website to learn more about the award and application process. Learning for a Cause is currently accepting entries for a 2009 Poetry Anthology. Deadline: 31 December 2008.

Studies, Ideas, and Other News

Barbie has educational value? Victoria Carrington's blog has a fascinating "5 minute interview" with Professor Jackie Marsh. Together, Mdes. Carrington and Marsh are involved in research that is looking at "young children's use of popular culture, media and new technologies and their literacy practices both in- and out-of-school." It is clear from the interview and posts on Professor Marsh's Digital Beginnings blog that the research looks at the ideas in very new ways. For those already addicted to technology, the Second Life website is your next thing. It's beyond me, but you can probably get those avatars to tweet.

Weapons of Knowledge
Baltimore County schools are about to benefit from a joint effort by US military contractors Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin to develop high-tech simulations to boost or science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education. You can read a blurb of Andrew Trotter's article for free. Subscribers to Education Week can see the full article Schools Enlisting Defense Industry to boost STEM Lost - Not Anymore Technology connects us in ways that some of us thought could only happen on The Jetsons . Today's kids are living Elroy Jetson's life. Here's proof ...
More Reading Research There has been a flurry of reports analyzing the impact of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) on various aspects of learning. Education Week has devoted a complete issue to analysis and commentary in its NCLB Alert. Here are some items of interest that go beyond the NCLB discussions.
  • The Center for Public Education released its new report, From beginner to stellar: Five tips on developing skilled readers. The report itself focuses on the core elements: stages of reading development, components of skillful reading, teacher preparation, how well students are reading, early diagnosis, and what the research means for schools. What makes the report valuable are all the online tools that go with it. There are lots of very practical reading ideas, and handouts for phonic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension with "recommendations for effective instruction." We found this through John Micklos's post for Reading Today Daily.
  • Unfortunately, there is a trade-off between academic development and unstructured playtime. Read Linda Jacobson's article Playtime Valuable - and Under Seige, Experts Warn in this week's edition of Education Week. The article quotes authors Kathy Hirsh-Pasek and Michael Thompson, a psychology professor and pyschologist, respectively, as saying kids need free play not only to learn collaboration but also to develop their critical thinking skills.
  • Brian Scott interviews Jan Hasbrouk, PhD, a nationally-recognized education consultant and trainer, about the importance and keys to reading fluency for students. Read Tackling Reading Fluency Issues at the Literacy and Reading News blog. Some things aren't new (if you suspect a problem, find out the source), but she has done some work to help evaluators differentiate and assess types of fluency.
  • Donalyn Miller has a very interesting piece in her Book Whisperer column this week. "Lowering the Bar" offers her observations about the forgotten readers. They aren't the struggling readers, these are the kids who devour books. She points to recent studies that suggest strong readers are not a priority for schools trying to raise test scores. Her conclusion: "While strong national support exists for fostering the talents of gifted math and science students, it seems we need an educational movement that develops the talents of verbally-gifted people." 
  • Maria Gold wrote a Washington Post article about the results of a Congressionally-mandated study of the Reading First Program. The study found that overall, students who use the Reading First program "scored no better on comprehension tests than students in similar schools that do not get the funding." There is some good news: "First-graders in Reading First classrooms were better able to decode, or recognize, printed words than students in schools without the program. Decoding is a key step in learning to read." Kathleen Kennedy Manzos also has an in-depth article in this week's edition of Education Week. Go to No Effect on Comprehension Seen from 'Reading First' and you'll also get links to additional coverage.
  • A study funded by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) concludes that academic achievement and developing social skills are not mutually exclusive priorities in preschool classrooms. For the study, researchers compared students in two types of Head Start classrooms. One classroom followed the traditional curriculum; the other used an enhanced curriculum that included "social and emotional learning and pre-reading skills." We read Brian Scott's article New Program Teaches Preschoolers Reading Skills, Getting Along with Others at the Literacy and Reading News blog. If you want the full scoop, you can read the NIH press release. The study itself is available in the current issue of Child Development.
Sing, Sing a Song At Literacy and Reading News, Brian Scott wrote The Connection Between Preschool Literacy and Music Introduction. Although there is a product promotion at the end, most of the article focuses on the research/literature review described by Assistant Professor Jonathan Bolduc of the University of Ottowa. According to Professor Bolduc, "children who participate in musical and first-language interdisciplinary programs develop phonological awareness, word recognition, and invented spelling abilities more efficiently than their classmates who do not participate in such programs."
  • If you're looking to integrate music into your storytime, check out the Musicians Shows by State blog. According to the blog's mid-November post: "most children's musicians offer shows according to themes such as animals, multi-cultural, holidays, transportation, self-esteem, drug awareness, environment, bugs, marine life, literacy, music history, history, seasons, special needs, character building, etc."
Let's Get Happy In this  post, Louise Ash (Reading Today Daily) links us to a Reuters article about a University of Maryland study about TV watching, reading, and long-term happiness. After studying 34 years of data collected from 45,000 participants, researchers conclude that people who read more (and watch less TV) are happier. TV brings you short-term enjoyment, but "it is more likely to lead to overall unhappiness." Wow. We can be happy AND save electricity at the same time.

Yeah, Dad In her most recent Literacy Voices Round-up, Meg Ivey not only highlights Jen's Reviews That Made Me Want the Book Column, she links us to Lindsey Gemme's article for Casa Grande Valley Newspapers, Inc. (online). Gemme introduces us to three of 130 imprisoned dads who read to their kids via digitally-recorded CDs. "Fathers Bridging the Miles" is a program sponsored by  Read-to-Me, an international literacy nonprofit based in Hawaii. It was hard to pick just one quote that captured the spirit of the article. So I have two.
  • Randy Konohia , serving his sixth year of a 10-year sentence, admits that before entering the Read-to-Me program, he wasn't a big fan of books. But since his own children, between 6 and 9 years, have been getting the books and his recordings, he himself has gotten more enthusiastic about reading..."For a guy that don't read, and now I'm reading, it's making me broader, too.'
  • Borges has been participating in Fathers Bridging the Miles for just over a year. And with three kids, he's taken full advantage of the program, having read almost 80 books so far. "My wife had to buy a new bookshelf, just for all the books I send them," he laughs.
Booking through School MotherReader let us know that Book is the New Cool, with an excerpt from a Times Online article.
  • If you're a regular listener at Just One More Books, then you probably listened to the episode with Andrea and Mark's conversation, about read-a-thons. The podcast is great, and so are the comments. Andrea commented that her daughter LOVES to read with younger kids and that this seems so much more worthwhile than a contest. Comments continue to come in. Heidi Estrin's comment earlier this week captured it: "Selling kids on reading can be so easy, really - all it takes is a good amount of reading time spent with one or more enthusiastic adults -- so it's strange that we dream up all these complicated schemes to achieve those ends when it's really not necessary."
  • Also, Jeanne Jackson Devoe has some interesting observations in her article "Taking a Reading on Literacy" for the Times of Trenton (NJ) (online). Louise Ash's post Think of boys as readers, says Journalist is what called our attention to the article.
Football Hero The National Federation for the Blind announced that Hall-of-Fame Quarterback (and Fox NFL Sunday Co-host) Terry Bradshaw is going to be the National Ambassador for Braille Readers.  In a press release, the NFB says that Bradshaw will promote the "Braille Readers are Leaders campaign, a national initiative to promote the importance of reading and writing Braille for blind children and adults." We saw this in Louise Ash's post for Reading Today Daily.

The Last Word Over at the Well-read Child, Tanya has a wonderful post about reading wordless picture books out loud. In her words: "I have found that, with a little thinking ahead and attention to detail, you can draw listeners in to the book and make the story last longer than the time it takes to flip through the pages." You can find wordless picture book ideas in Tanya's post, and also in Reading Wordless Books at Eva's Book Addiction.

Happy Thanksgiving! 

clipart courtesy of

Nov. 17th, 2008

Reading Round-Up, 17 November

As promised and hot off the (virtual) presses, is this week's edition of Children's Literacy Round-up at Jen Robinson's Book Page. There are lots of great items, and one of the themes of the past week seems to be reading aloud for kids. There is also plenty of chatting about selecting books as gifts. You'll want to head over to Jen's to read "How to Choose a Children's Book (For Grandparents, the Childless, and the Clueless)," an article by Teri Schlichenmeyer for the Midwest Book Examiner. [It's the fifth item down.]

In other news, The November Carnival of Children's Literature is now available at Mommy's Favorite Children's Books. Karen's theme is "The Gift of Reading," and she has pulled together a great carnival. Whether you're looking for ways to share a love of reading or a new book, you'll find some wonderful ideas.

The 2008 Winter Blog Blast Tour launched today. Colleen Mondor hosts the event at Chasing Ray. Here is this week's list of author and the blogger hosting the interview. You can always go to Chasing Ray to get the links of the day all in one place.

Lewis Buzbee at Chasing Ray
Louis Sachar at Fuse Number 8
Laurel Snyder at Miss Erin
Courtney Summers at Bildungsroman
Elizabeth Wein at Finding Wonderland
Susan Kulkin at The YA YA YAs

Ellen Dalow at Chasing Ray
Tony DiTerlizzi at Miss Erin
Melissa Walker at Hip Writer Mama
Luisa Plaja at Bildungsroman
DM Cornish at Finding Wonderland
LJ Smith at The YA YA YAs
Kathleen Duey at Bookshelves of Doom


Ellen Klages at Fuse Number 8
Emily Jenkins at Writing and Ruminating
Ally Carter at Miss Erin
Mark Peter Hughes at Hip Writer Mama
Sarah Littma at Bildungsroman
MT Anderson at Finding Wonderland
Mitali Perkins at Mother Reader


Martin Millar at Chasing Ray
John Green at Writing and Ruminating
Beth Kephart at Hip Writer Mama
Emily Ecton at Bildungsroman
John David Anderson at Finding Wonderland
Brandon Mull at The YA YA YAs
Lisa Papademetriou at Mother Reader


Mayra Lazara Dole at Chasing Ray
Francis Rourke Dowell at Fuse Number 8
J Patrick Lewis at Writing and Ruminating
Wendy Mass at Hip Writer Mama
Lisa Ann Sandell at Bildungsroman
Caroline Hickey/Sara Lewis Holmes at Mother Reader
A.S. King at Bookshelves of Doom

Happy Monday. It is already shaping up to be another busy, informative week for reading and children's books.

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