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1. Scholastic Publishes the ‘Open a World of Possible’ Anthology as a Free eBook

scholasticlogo082310Scholastic has published a free eBook entitled Open a World of Possible: Real Stories About the Joy and Power of Reading to celebrate the launch of its new literacy initiative.

This anthology contains over 100 stories and essays written by literacy experts and authors. The dedication in this book honors the late Walter Dean Myers and features his quote: “Once I began to read, I began to exist.”

Some of the contributors include bestselling author James Patterson, former National Ambassador of Young People’s Literature Jon Scieska, and education expert Karen L. MappFollow this link to download the digital book.

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2. 187 Reasons Why a Teacher Needs Books

Today’s guest blogger, Sarah Kilway, wrote to us after receiving hundreds of new books for her students. We couldn’t resist sharing her story with you.

Davis 9th grade center 7_croppedI teach 187 kids at Ben Davis Ninth Grade Center in Indianapolis, IN. The majority of my students live in poverty. Most have only one parent at home.

Not many of my kids own books, nor were they read to as children. Even as 9th graders, they lack basic common knowledge of fairy tales, fables and iconic book characters.

Our school has many great resources, but when something is lacking, my colleagues and I step in. This often means spending my own money on books and other items for my students, but it’s totally worth it. I also have First Book.

Davis 9th grade centerThanks to First Book, I was recently able to give a new book to every single one of my students – all 187! A few told me it was the first book they’d ever owned. Some said it was the first book they have ever finished. Such a proud moment for me and them – one that I wanted to share with you.

My students now ask me to go to the library on a daily basis.

Please give to First Book today so I can continue helping them discover and enjoy reading, and so other teachers can too. Your support puts a whole new world within their reach.

The post 187 Reasons Why a Teacher Needs Books appeared first on First Book Blog.

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3. Books Strengthen Family Bonds

DSC00616Lydia sat with her two children in the waiting room. Her eldest read aloud from his new book, pausing every now and again to teach his mother and younger sister how to say the words in English. His little sister beamed with pride when he let her turn the page.

Andrea Gatewood of the Nassau County (NY) Department of Health knows that providing new books to families like Lydia’s leads to priceless interactions. For the past ten years, she and her colleagues at the Nassau County Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Program have been giving books from First Book to the local low-income women and children they serve.

Traditionally, WIC programs supply women who are pregnant or recently gave birth and children up to age five found to be at nutritional risk with supplemental foods, health care referrals and nutrition education. But at five WIC sites in Nassau County, families also receive colorful new books.

teen parenting program 3“The books from First Book teach children how to count, the alphabet, the importance of family, other languages, colors, different foods and incentives to promote physical activity,” said Andrea. “They strengthen family bonds, promote diversity and improve literacy.”

Andrea takes great care in selecting books that are both engaging and culturally relevant as nearly 100 percent of the children she serves come from minority households.

“We have distributed books at Christmas, Halloween and to kick off the school year. Our goal is to reach as many children as possible,” Andrea shared. “The partnership between First Book and WIC has allowed thousands of children to receive brand new books and will have a lasting impact on an individual and community level.”

Over the past ten years, the Nassau WIC Program has received approximately 20,000 books from First Book, thanks to grant funding made possible by members of the First Book – Long Island volunteer chapter and the Guru Krupa Foundation. The Foundation, based in Jericho, New York, funds initiatives related to education, health and basic sustenance of underprivileged children in India and the United States, and has helped First Book provide more than 51,000 books to children in need in the greater New York and Los Angeles areas in the past two years.

DSC00612“We at Guru Krupa Foundation believe that education is a cornerstone for future success in life,” said Mukund Padmanabhan, president of the Guru Krupa Foundation. “Supporting initiatives that bring the benefits of education to underprivileged children can lead to enormous future dividends, not only for the children but to society.”

Join the Guru Krupa Foundation in supporting program leaders like Andrea by making a gift to First Book. Just $2.50 provides a brand-new book to a child in need.

The post Books Strengthen Family Bonds appeared first on First Book Blog.

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4. Three Books to Stay Healthy this School Year

Today’s guest blogger Donna Marquardt, a Registered Nurse with the Gaston County Department of Health & Human Services, talks about healthy habits for the new school year.

Olivia croppedBack to School is just around the corner and that can mean a lot of different things to different people — a new classroom, new friends, new books. To me, a nurse at a local health department, it means educating kids on how to be healthy.

Healthy kids are less likely to miss days of school due to illness and better-equipped to learn throughout the school year. By engaging in simple healthy practices, like hand washing and eating healthy meals, and vaccinations, kids stay well, in school and learning.

Shopping 2

Members of Gaston County Health Department with the books that will be given away at their immunization events.

Vaccinations are a big focus for our health department this year. They’re never fun, no matter your age, but are incredibly important. Thanks to a truckload of books we received from First Book this spring, we are excited to offer an incentive to kids receiving immunizations that will also help them be successful readers: a free book to take home!

Approximately 400 children will be receiving a brand new book at one of our major immunization events. Since kids who do well in school are more likely to live healthy lives, we are thrilled to promote literacy and make getting shots a little more pleasant.

It’s important to teach children healthy habits starting at an early age. And books can help kids learn those lessons in a fun way. Check out these great books that teach kids about healthy living, found on the First Book Marketplace:

bb_go_doc“The Berenstain Bears Go To The Doctor” by Stan and Jan Berenstain

It’s time for a routine check-up with Dr. Gert Grizzly. Sister Bear is brave about her booster shot, and Brother Bear is fine, but—achoo!—is that Papa Bear sneezing? A light-hearted approach to the subject with straightforward information.

 

oh_the_things_cith“Cat in the Hat’s Learning Library: Oh, the Things You Can Do that Are Good for You!: All About Staying Healthy” by Tish Rabe and Aristides Ruiz

With the help of the staff and equipment at a Seussian spa, the Cat in the Hat explains the basics of healthy living, from eating right and getting enough exercise and sleep, to having a positive body image, to the distance and speed of a typical sneeze!

germs_make_sick_berger“Germs Make Me Sick!” by Melvin Berger and Marylin Hafner

Germs are all around us every day – in the air, in food, on everything we touch. You can’t see them without a microscope, but they are there. Some germs are harmless, but viruses and bacteria can make you sick. Your body is constantly working to ward off germs, sometimes the germs win, and you get a cold or infection.

We hope you’ll help spread the word about the importance of starting the school year both well and well educated about simple healthy habits. Best wishes for a safe and healthy school year!

Click here to sign upWork at a health center, school, or an after school program serving kids in need? Sign up with First Book* by August 11th to be eligible to receive five copies of each of these healthy living titles.

*All educators at Title I or Title I eligible schools, and program leaders serving 70% or more of children in need are eligible to sign up. One recipient will be selected to receive the set of 15 books (five copies of each title.) The recipient of will be notified the week of August 11th.

Donna Marquardt has been a Registered Nurse with the Gaston County Department of Health & Human Services in Gastonia, North Carolina for 12 years. She is currently the Charge Nurse over immunizations and is passionate about prevention and ensuring that children and adults receive protection against disease through vaccinations.

The post Three Books to Stay Healthy this School Year appeared first on First Book Blog.

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5. Imagine That! How One Girl’s Imaginary Pet Brought Books to Her Whole Class

Karen loves to draw. So when her teacher, Ms. Spezziali, told her class about the Purina® PAWty Challenge, this Garfield Elementary kindergartner was especially excited to participate.

ChicagoFBNBB 018The rules of the challenge were: Draw a pet (or an imaginary pet) for your classroom, name it and write a story describing the pet. Each child in the classroom also received an animal-related book.

Karen excitedly drew the cat she’s always wanted. Ms. Spezziali remembers Karen being thrilled with her picture. It was the writing element that challenged her.

Like 50% of the students in her South Boston school, Karen’s English was very limited. But she was determined to describe her dream pet perfectly, and worked with Ms. Spezziali to spell and sound out words that brought her drawing to life.

A few weeks later, Ms. Spezziali found out that Karen had won the Purina® Pawty Challenge and shared the good news with her students.

“Guess what? Someone from our class won the PAWty Challenge,” she said as she held up Karen’s picture for the class to see.IMG_4776

Her classmates cheered, and Karen, normally a very shy student, beamed. She was so proud to have won a special reading “PAWty” and new books for her classmates.

Karen’s teacher is amazed by how Karen blossomed through the Purina® PAWty Challenge. “She’s a lot more confident as a student now,” says Ms. Spezziali, “She knows she can do [her schoolwork] and tries really hard. My hope is that every child experiences a boost of confidence when they need it most and continue to work hard as a result.”

Karen PawtyFirst Book and Purina® recently teamed up to host the Purina® Reading PAWty Challenge – a celebration of reading and pets. Participating schools in Boston and Baltimore received new books and other creative activities to engage students in reading, writing and drawing.

The post Imagine That! How One Girl’s Imaginary Pet Brought Books to Her Whole Class appeared first on First Book Blog.

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6. National Book Foundation Partners With NYC For Summer Reading Program

The National Book Foundation (NBF)’s after school reading program for middle schoolers BookUp has partnered with  New York City’s Department of Youth and Community Development (DYCD) to bring summer reading programs to kids in NYC.

The program serves 200 students at 10 locations throughout the city. The reading groups are led by published authors with the idea of connecting young readers with books outside of the classroom. Mitchell S. Jackson (The Residue Years) and Elisha Miranda (The Sista Hood) are among the writers involved in the program this year. Participating authors will be reading to kids as well as taking them on field trips to local bookstores and public libraries.

“At the end of the summer, each BookUp participant will have their own free personal library of 10 age-appropriate books,” stated Leslie Shipman, Assistant Director of the National Book Foundation. “Our students will cherish and benefit from that resource and their summer BookUp experience for years to come.”

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7. The Stupid Country

Destroy the JointI was fortunate enough to attend a literacy forum yesterday at which Jane Caro was the keynote speaker. I’ve long admired her from afar (mostly through my TV as she appeared on The Gruen Transfer and through the recently released Destroy the Joint: Why Women have to Change the World book she steered to great success).

Caro is, as I was discussing with my colleague at morning tea, the kind of woman I’d love to grow up to be. That is, incisively intelligent, pragmatic, and cutting a firm but fair line between warm and fuzzy and necessarily angry (an extreme too many of us are at either end of, rather than combining the two for best effect). Oh, and she’s funny. Just when we were deep into theory, Caro lightened the mood and drove her point home with some brilliantly timed humour.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Caro was there to discuss literacy and, in a wide-ranging speech, managed to blow our metaphorical socks off. I’m still grappling with getting my ahead around much of it, but here were my favourite parts and takeaways:

  • ‘a life live literately leads to a well-stocked mind’ (this may be Caro’s quote or someone else’s, but either way I like it)
  • equity and wellbeing are key to ensuring literacy. Put another way, before children can perform well in school, they need to feel a sense of wellbeing
  • our current system sees children as ‘vases you stuff with information’; the one who regurgitates it best wins. Caro advocates subversion rather than compliance will see people succeed in the long run
  • a ‘user pays’ society is more aptly expressed as ‘youse pays’
  • literacy acts as the ‘keys to the kingdom’ in an increasingly information-led society
  • Australia is the third-lowest funder of public schools (only Chile and Belgium are behind—and Chile’s working to change that now)
  • we’ve created a ‘publicly funded arms race’ whereby private schools must do ever-increasing peacocking to attract desirable parents and students. It doesn’t equate to better education
  • it’s important to know the business you’re in. Her message to the largely librarian audience was that they weren’t in the business of loaning books, but one of providing ideas, imagination, information, learning, and inspiration. She also showed us this brilliant, brilliant add by The Guardian, a newspaper that understands it’s not in the business of selling newspapers, but instead providing the whole story, information, analysis, and more.

The Stupid CountryThat list doesn’t do her eloquence and inspiration justice, and I’d recommend seeking her out to hear her speak on this topic and, frankly, any other. I’m not sure how soon that will come about again for me, but I am inspired to pick up a bunch of her books and devour them, stat.

That includes the aforementioned Destroy the Joint: Why Women have to Change the World and fresh-off-the-printing-press The Stupid Country: How Australia is Dismantling Public Education. Two light reads they won’t be, but invaluable ones that strike the right balance between outraged and incisively witty they will be, I’m sure.

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8. Healthy Minds Mean Healthy Lives

SONY DSCGuest Blogger Chris Dobbins became Director of the Gaston County Department of Health and Human Services on July 1 2013. Dobbins is a 20-year veteran of the US Air Force and is the former Health Director of the Gaston County Health Department.

 

teen parenting program 3Health departments throughout the country work diligently to help communities live healthful lives.  The Gaston County Department of Health in North Carolina is no exception.  Promoting fitness, encouraging healthy nutritional practices, preventing teen pregnancy and helping women during and after pregnancy are just some of the services we provide to promote overall well-being.

But, rarely do we have an opportunity to engage in primary prevention, activities that prevent the onset of poor health, that people both need and want.

Books3Research shows children who do well in school are likely to achieve good lifelong health so we teamed up with First Book under the banner of Literacy is Health, in partnership with Gaston County Schools.

Earlier this year, we distributed a 40,000 books from First Book to nearly 2,000 public school teachers, recreation specialists, volunteers at church-based after-school programs, staff at day care centers, and our own employees.  Each of the books given to these individuals made its way into the hands of a child in need.  While getting books into the hands of children and seeing the smiles on their faces is its own reward, we were also able to provide primary prevention to our community.

Child with bookNow, we’re working with community groups to prepare low-income parents to read to their children so they enter school ready and excited to learn.  We believe this will improve our county’s graduation rates, our residents’ prospects for employment and the health of our community. This is an opportunity our health department simply could not pass up – and one that many smiling children love.

If you serve kids in need in your community be sure to sign up with First Book today—I’m sure glad we did!

The post Healthy Minds Mean Healthy Lives appeared first on First Book Blog.

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9. Quick Little Post of Possibilities

Hi!

Book reviews to write, classes to plan and, another article underway. So, I’m just going to quickly share to really good opportunities that I really hope one of my readers will jump at.

First, The International Reading Association’s 60th Annual Conference, “Transforming Lives Through Literacy”will be held 18-20 July in St. Louis. Proposals are being accept until 14 July. That’s this Monday, folks so turn on the thinking cap, email that librarian or illustrator or author who just might, who maybe could … explore the possibilities! This is our opportunity to shine a light on the fact that #WeNeedDiverseBooks!

Another impending deadline:

One of the principles of the Great Lakes Independent Booksellers Association is to promote literacy in Michigan, Indiana, Illinois and Ohio.  In 2013 The Great Lakes Independent Booksellers Association Board voted to create a program  to provide a $1000 grant  to be awarded annually to a non-profit literacy project, nominated by a GLIBA member store.
 
Jim Dana was the founder of the Great Lakes Independent Booksellers Association, and served as the Executive Director until his retirement in 2010, when he joined the Peace Corps.  Jim was always involved in efforts to increase literacy while at GLIBA, and continuing during his time serving in the Peace Corps.  It is in his honor that the award is named.
 
Nominations for the grant must be received in the GLIBA office by July 15, 2014. The award will be presented at the Heartland Fall Forum which will be in Minneapolis, MN September 29-October 2, 2014.
 

Go for it!! #ShineOn!!


Filed under: literacy, professional development Tagged: Call for Proposals, International Reading Association, literacy grant

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10. Donalyn Miller's READING IN THE WILD and THE BOOK WHISPERER

A while back, I read Donalyn Miller's READING IN THE WILD: The Book Whisperer's Keys To Cultivating Lifelong Reading Habits. I enjoyed it so much that I just bought THE BOOK WHISPERER. The books are geared toward educators, but there is so much great info and inspiration for those who help create books for young people. I'm going to be gradually incorporating some of Donalyn's suggestions into activity sheets I create for my FOR THE LOVE OF READING page as well as bonus material for my book projects.

You can find more info about Donalyn Miller and her books at Bookwhisperer.com, and you can follow her on Twitter at @donalynbooks.

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11. Growing Bookworms Newsletter: July 1

JRBPlogo-smallToday I will be sending out a new issue of the Growing Bookworms email newsletter. (If you would like to subscribe, you can find a sign-up form here.) The Growing Bookworms newsletter contains content from my blog focused on children's and young adult books and raising readers. I currenty send the newsletter out every two weeks.

Newsletter Update: In this issue I have four book reviews (board book, picture book and young adult), two posts with links that I shared on Twitter recently, and a tip for nurturing developing readers. Not included in the newsletter, I shared a news release about the Kate Greenway Medal win for Jon Klassen's This Is Not My Hat

Also, just so that it doesn't get lost amid the clutter of my Twitter links, I highly recommend a Summer Reading Tip a Day series that Ali Posner is running on her blog, Raising Great Readers with Great Books. These tips are well beyond your usual: take your kids to the library and participate in summer reading programs. For example, there's Tip #7: Make sure your kids have reading STARs – Space, Time, Access to books, and Rituals for summer reading. This one comes complete with a photo of kids quietly reading in a cozy, tent-like space. My daughter happened to see the photo, and immediately demanded her own reading tent. In short, if you are in need of detailed, out of the ordinary tips for engaging young readers this summer, you definitely won't want to miss Ali's series. 

Reading Update: In the last three weeks I read two young adult and three adult books (helped out by a lot of time spent listening to books on MP3 while walking). I read:

  • Demitria Lunetta: In the After. Harper Teen. Young Adult. Completed June 18, 2014, on Kindle. Review to come. 
  • Charlie Higson: The Fallen (Enemy #5). Hyperion. Young Adult. Completed June 29, 2014. I enjoy the plot twists of this series, and the way the various books connect and overlap. But the violence and gore are starting to get to me ... 
  • Victoria Thompson: Murder in Murray Hills (A Gaslight Mystery). Berkley Hardcover. Adult Mystery. Completed June 21, 2014, on MP3. This series remains one of my favorites, though there is some particularly disturbing content in this installment. 
  • Elizabeth Bird, Julie Danielson, and Peter Sieruta: Wild Things! Acts of Mischief in Children's Literature. Candlewick. Nonfiction. Completed June 23, 2014, ARC. Review to come.
  • Janet Evanovich: Top-Secret Twenty-One (Stephanie Plum). Bantam. Adult Mystery. Completed June 24, 2014, on MP3. Must admit that I am getting a bit tired of the sameness of these books - I may stop here... 

I'm currently reading The Silkworm (A Cormoran Strike novel) by Robert Galbraith (aka J.K. Rowling) on Kindle, The Summer I Saved the World ... in 65 Days by Michele Weber Hurwitz in print, and All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr on MP3. Next up on MP3 is going to be the first Harry Potter book (with thanks to Maureen Kearney, who inspired me to try listening for the first time instead of re-reading this series). 

As always, you can see the list of books that we've been reading to Baby Bookworm here. She's currently obsessed with an old childhood favorite of my husband's, rediscovered on a recent trip to Boston. It's Something Queer is Going On: A Mystery, by Elizabeth Levy & Mordicai Gerstein. She got quite upset when she was unable to find it one afternoon when she had friends over, because she wanted to show it to them. 

What are you and your family reading these days? Thanks for reading the newsletter, and for growing bookworms. 

© 2014 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook

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12. Five Tips for Summer-Long Learning

tchovanecGuest blogger Tina Chovanec is the director of Reading Rockets: the authoritative online source for comprehensive and accessible information about teaching young children to read and helping those who struggle.Reading Rockets is one of five education websites created by Learning Media, a division of WETA, the PBS affiliate in the Washington DC area.

Summer_ReadingWith the call of the swimming pool and the playground, getting kids of all ages to stay interested in learning and reading during the long, hot summer can be a challenge to parents and summer program leaders.  Keeping kids’ minds active during the summer means they’ll be ready for the challenges of the new school year. So, how to rev up the summer learning? Picking one learning activity a week can be a fun way to switch up the normal summer routine.

Try some of these tips and great resources to get kids excited about learning – all are designed to help kids look at some of their favorite subjects in a new way and keep their brains lighting up with new knowledge all summer long. 

Kids in a libraryInvestigate your public library’s summer reading program. Most libraries offer a special program or two during the summer, including lively read-alouds, visits from children’s authors and storytellers, “maker fairs” and science-themed activities. Most are free – plus your child can take home a stack of books to extend the learning!

Listen up! Audiobooks are a great way to engage sometimes-reluctant readers and introduce kids to books above their reading level – helping to build vocabulary and background knowledge. Many libraries have audiobooks available for check out, and an Internet search can turn up several sites, including Speakaboos.com, that offer free audiobooks for children. Learn more about the benefits of audiobooks for all readers.

boy in chairWhere do all the summer thunderstorms come from?  How do fireflies light up?  Summer can lead to all kinds of interesting questions to investigate together.  Pick a question and find an answer!  Visit the library to find fiction and non-fiction books relating to kids’ questions.  Do some Internet research – you can find resources at the American Library Association’s Great Website for Kids.

Go on a learning adventure!  Is your child interested in bugs? Dinosaurs? The Night Sky? Music? Do you have a young detective, explorer or superhero at home? Reading Rockets’ Start with a Book offers 24 kid-friendly themes, with theme-related books, hands-on activities, and awesome apps and website to jumpstart your summer learning adventures.

Write it down. Encourage your child to keep a simple journal or summer diary. Track interesting things like the number of fireflies seen in one minute, the number of mosquito bites on a leg or the different types of food that can go on the grill. Each entry is a chance to be creative.  Your child can record everyday adventures in your local community with Reading Rockets’ Adventure Tracker and log summer reading favorites with Reading Rockets’ Book Tracker!

Sign up to receive more summer learning tips, reading facts and inspiring stories this summer!

The post Five Tips for Summer-Long Learning appeared first on First Book Blog.

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13. Discovering digital libraries

By Ian Anstice


English public librarians don’t get out much. Sure, we’re often dealing with the public every open hour or talking with our teams but, well, we normally just don’t meet librarians from neighbouring authorities, let alone from around the country. Most branch staff stay in their own building and may never talk to anyone from another authority other than on the phone arranging for a book for a customer. So, it was a delight for me to be invited by Oxford University Press (OUP) to an afternoon to meet with nineteen other library professionals, ranging from part-time library staff to at least one head of service. It was also wonderful that the session was in the publishers’ beautiful headquarters in the famous historic town of Oxford, which has to be one of my favourite places in world and, not coincidentally, one of the most book-friendly too.

So why the nice day out? Well, the meeting was the first one for public librarians in the UK of the OUP Library Advisory Council. The clever purpose of this impressive sounding group is to get together library staff who use and promote online resources so that we can share ideas and learn more about how the publisher can help libraries and their users. I am delighted to say that from the start – and to the great credit of our hosts – it was clear that this was not just going to be a thinly veiled sales day but rather a real chance for us all to hear about what best practice was going on and how we could adapt it for our own purposes.

The importance of online services to public libraries was clear in every presentation and in every conversation. People are more and more using their computer as their source of knowledge for factual information and for what is going on locally and libraries, used for so long to fulfilling that function, need to get with the programme. Further to this, social media is being used by many as a primary way of getting answers. People get their news about what is going on from Facebook and Twitter and will often ask questions online that are then answered by their friends or followers. I recently came across an example of this myself when I tweeted asking for anyone’s experience of using lego in libraries: I got ten replies including from practitioners who have won awards for their work in the United States and Australia. The challenge for public librarians is therefore about how to meet this challenge and how best to serve the public in a world where answers are obtainable without even opening up a new window on the computer. It’s also important for us to provide a professionally-resourced, factually-based, and entirely neutral service to counteract what can often be the biased (and sometimes inaccurate) views expressed by others in social media.

Kids having fun at Cockburn Libraries during the school holidays. Photo by Cockburn Libraries. CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 via cockburnlibraries Flickr.

Kids having fun at Cockburn Libraries during the school holidays. Photo by Cockburn Libraries. CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 via cockburnlibraries Flickr.

How librarians are meeting this challenge is truly inspiring. One city mayor realised early on that libraries are instrumental in improving literacy and sense of community and invested in a special website where e-books, online services, reviews and events all came together. Another library service goes out to schools to let them know about how useful their website (including a fair number of OUP resources) can be for their students, with the visits being such a success that they’re being invited back to deliver classes. Yet another city’s library twitter account is now really embedded in the local community, sharing information on local events, linking to old photographs of the town and chatting to users who need never leave their mobile phone to access their library. It’s even be used as some sort of instant messaging service with the library being tweeted about the wifi having just stopped working elsewhere in the building.

Lots of great ideas then, which got me thinking (perhaps counterintuitively) during the day about how important surrounding and buildings still are in this digital age. The OUP offices in Great Clarendon Street are beautiful and spacious, mixing the old and the new with some skill. In this environment, all of us felt comfortable and happy to talk about our and each other’s experiences. The building had all of the facilities — space, light, refreshments, wifi — that we needed. The same can also of course be equally said of a good public library for our users. Such a library provides the space for people to meet, read, and study with no need to worry about anything else that is going on and with no need to pay. Even for the digital elite, such meeting spaces are not without importance and for those with no online presence, with little money, or even just for those who downright love the printed word the public library building can be absolutely essential. The online resources are an extension of this, promote it and enhance it, but do not totally replace it. This is why the OUP has a headquarters and why there will always be public library buildings.

My thanks therefore to OUP for putting on such a good day, and to all of my highly skilled and motivated colleagues who made the day so useful. I travelled back on the train thinking about how to share what I had learned with my colleagues and how to use the examples and resources to improve the service that I provided. In such ways, the library gets more value for the money it pays for online resources but also, more to the point, the public gets served better and the library continues to be so well-used by everyone, including by those who use Facebook and Twitter.

Ian Anstice is a full-time public librarian working in the North West of England. He also finds the time to run the Public Libraries News website which provides a free summary of international and national coverage of the sector.

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The post Discovering digital libraries appeared first on OUPblog.

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14. A Tip for Nurturing Developing Readers: Take Away A Possible Fear

My daughter just turned four in April. She loves to be read to, and we are in no rush whatsoever for her to learn to read on her own. But I've noticed lately that she's sometimes resistant to even flipping through the pages of a book on her own (say, in the car). She'll say: "I can't read yet, Mommy." And it struck me that there was something defensive about this.

So this morning something came up about books (as is not uncommon in our house), and she remarked that if she was going to read a book it would have to be easy. I was inspired to say: "You know, even if you learn to read, we will still read to you. Whenever you like, for as long as you like." Huge smile, big hug, and, perhaps, a look of relief. 

I may be projecting here. It's not that she came out and said: "I'm afraid that if I learn to read you guys won't read to me anymore. And I like it when you read to me." Rather, I've put together fleeing impressions based on her responses to things (including a diminishing interest when I point out individual words when we are reading together). But it's certainly possible that I'm right, and that she's been cautious about the idea of learning more words because she doesn't want us to stop reading to her. This is a fear that I am more than happy to take away.  

So, that is my tip for other parents of developing young readers:

Take a moment to assure your child that even if he learns to read on his own, you will still read to him. 

Then, of course, stay true to your word. There are so many benefits to continuing to read aloud to your children after they can read on their own. You can read them more advanced titles, thus enhancing their vocabularies and giving them exposure to ideas. You can use the books as a springboard to discussions about all sorts of things. And you can experience parent-child closeness, snuggled up together over the pages of a book. 

© 2014 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook

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15. Teens Today! They Don't Read!

This week's panic about teens is reflected in two articles, NPR's Why Aren't Teens Reading Like They Used To? and Time's Study: The Number of Teens Reading for Fun Keeps Declining. Both are based on Common Sense Media's research, Children, Teens, and Reading.

Disclaimer the first: long time readers of this blog know I'm suspicious of Common Sense Media, dating back to the early, biased reviews. I'm skeptical of a set up that says, if you don't agree with their ratings, or research, you don't have "common sense" and there is something wrong for not agreeing. That said, with the corrections to the earlier reviews, I do pass along the website to those parents who want to count curse words and kisses.

Back to the research and the news stories. I wish there had been more thought put into them.



I have little patience with "the kids, they are not reading like they used to" because any type of dismissal of teens today has to be done by selecting a time period and socioeconomic section that is selected to make today's teens look bad. The article, 120 Years of Literacy (the National Center for Educational Statistics), explains that "However, in the late 19th century and early 20th century, illiteracy was very common. In 1870, 20 percent of the entire adult population was illiterate, and 80 percent of the black population was illiterate." Or let's go up in time a bit, to 1940: "In 1940, more than half of the U.S. population had completed no more than an eighth grade education."

According to the History Channel article on Child Labor, in 1900, 18% of all American workers were under 16.

These types of reports can never go too far back in time if they want today's teens to look bad, because the further back you go, the less literate the population was, the less time teens had for recreational activities, and the less access people had to books. (In terms of access to literature and the cost of books, see The Smithsonian's How the Paperback Novel Changed Popular Literature.) (And then there is the history of public libraries in the US, and reading and literacy.).

So -- yes -- I'm not going to panic when teens today may read less than they did 30 years ago but more than they did 80 years ago or 100 years ago or 150 years ago. Whether that is even true is something Kelly Jensen is examining in her post on this over at  Stacked.

Let's say, for the sake of argument, the thesis is true: kids read less now.

Why?

Common Sense Media reaches the conclusion that the fault is in "reading environments" -- "electronic platforms on which children read also hold a host of divisions that are only a click away."

From NPR: "The studies do not say that kids are reading less because they're spending more time online. But [Jim Steyer, CEO and founder of Common Sense Media] is convinced that's at least part of the answer."

Time gives a nod to another possibility: "The decline in reading for fun is most easily explained by technological advances (i.e., kids would rather text than read), but education could have something to do with it as well. It’s no surprise that 53% of 9-year-olds read for fun every day, but only 19% of 17-year-olds do. Yes, the teenagers have more Instagrams to post, but they also have more homework to do."

Common Sense Media looks only at studies other groups have done on time spent reading, not on "why". Their report only talks about one possible reason: electronic distractions. (And in talking about ebooks, Common Sense Media does not acknowledge that ebooks have given the print disabled access to books they otherwise wouldn't have.)

Here is a quick list of some of the other reasons teens today may not be reading as much.
  • Increased homework, as Time points out.
  • Increased testing and emphasis on testing in schools.
  • Elimination of school libraries and librarians.
  • Decreases in funding for books for school libraries. 
  • Closings of public libraries.
  • Decreases in funding for books in public libraries.
  • A recession that resulted in less spending money by families (parents and teens) for books.
  • Bookstores going out of business.
  • Increased emphasis on extracurricular activities to get into college.
  • Teen burn out during the school year.
  • Teen employment.
  • A culture that views reading as passive and consuming, rather than active and creating, so doesn't support reading as an acceptable recreational activity.
I'm sure you can add one or two things to this list

What most of these have in common? They are things beyond the control of a family; and they don't have to do with ereading and devices.

One last point. And I say this as someone who loves reading and books.

When it comes to kids and recreational reading, here are the questions I have. Look at those readers from 30 years ago. Look at them now. Do they have better jobs? Are they earning more money? Did they go on to higher education? Are they happy? In other words, does reading for pleasure mean anything other than.... someone likes to read for pleasure?






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© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy

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16. Let's hear it for the kids: more literate and creative than ever - David Thorpe

Who says today's children are being dumbed down? Who says the intelligence, literacy and creative ability is weakening compared to previous generations? (Could it be Michael Gove?)

I personally detest it when people put down children in this way. Any writer or teacher who goes out to meet kids in schools knows how smart they are. I believe that modern technology has made them far smarter than us oldies were at their age. They have a wider vocabulary and a much greater appreciation of the world, brought about by the broadened horizons made available by the Internet, games, books and a smörgåsbord of television channels. They probably also travel much more widely than we did 50 or more years ago.

All of this has had a marvellous effect. This is underlined by the results of BBC Radio 2's and the Oxford University Press' 500 words competition for children announced a few days ago, in which children had to compose an original work of fiction of 500 words.

They received a record-breaking, staggering 118,632 entries. Wow. Oxford University Press dictionary's team has analysed the stories to find out what words kids are using the most and the extent of their vocabulary, etc., all stuff that is of interest to us writers.

The most interesting thing first of all is the gender split. Girls outnumbered boys entering the competition by about 2 to 1. Three quarters of the entrants were in the 10 to 13 age range, the rest being nine and under. That probably means that girls in that age range are more likely to read books than any other children.

Now: how reassuring that the most common noun used in the stories is: 'mum'; and the most common adjective: 'good'.

Despite the fact that girls wrote twice as many of the stories, the main protagonist is more likely to be a boy. Now why do you think that is?

And the commonest name, used 27,321 times, is Jack, closely followed by Tom, Bob and James, all solid Anglo-Saxon names. I was certainly surprised to find that the most common girl's name is Lily/Lilly (17,981), closely followed by Lucy, then Emily and Sophie, also traditional English names.

And the most common historical figure? Adolf Hitler (used in 641 stories) followed by Queen Victoria (258).

I'd like to see Nigel Farage and his ilk use this as evidence for the insidious infiltration of multiculturalism into British culture. Actually it goes to show the opposite: there is no cause for concern, if anyone is concerned, that British culture is being watered down (although the research results are not accompanied by an ethnicity breakdown of the entrants to enable us to determine whether Celtic or Anglo-Saxon-originating Brits are unevenly represented amongst the entrants).

Looking at the keywords used in the stories, children were especially interested by this year's floods, with that single noun being by far the most commonly used (4008 uses), followed largely by non-real-world originating terms, coming from films and computer games: Lego, minion (used in Despicable Me), Minecraft and flappy (from the game Flappy Bird). Other words commonly used derived either from games or recent events such as the Winter Olympics.

What about new words? The research found that popular culture and social media have given rise to new verbs such as 'friended', 'Facebooked' and 'face-planted'. These will no doubt be finding their way into the next edition of OUP's children's dictionary.

Now for the really good news: children know - and are not afraid to use - really long words, including some that you or I may not even know: how about 'contumelious'? As used in the following context:

The girl springs to her feet losing all caution and apoplectic with outrage. "How dare you?" she cries, "Fighting them is bad enough, but capturing one to be slaughtered, as if it were a common boar, is contumelious. They will take their revenge and it will be terrible." (The War Party, girl, 13)
Or hands up who knows what 'furfuraceous' means? As used in:
Folkrinne's crown was placed on his furfuraceous head. The Basilisks applauded and cheered for the corrination of their new king of Malroiterre. (The Basilisk king, girl, 12)
(OK, so there was a spelling mistake in that, but I forgive this author because I think furfuraceous is a lovely word, conjuring up such a beautiful image in my mind).

And what about making up words? Children are not afraid to do this because, as you and I know, it is so much fun. My favourite made-up word quoted from the stories is 'historytestaphobia' because I absolutely used to suffer from that when I was at school. I also love 'Mucaologist', which is apparently a collector of mucus.

Finally, telling stories is not just about the words you know but the order in which you put them, and these children seriously know how to build suspense using perfectly ordinary words. As the report writers say:
If asked to write on a theme of mystery and suspense, one would not immediately think of the words door, house, step, and walk and yet the following example shows clearly how these words can be used to build suspense:
'Something had caught his eye. He turned around and saw an old, creaky house standing on its own in the middle of the woods. He took one step towards the scary house. He got closer and closer until he reached the house. Ben slowly walked up the cracked steps to reach the front door. Ben was scared out of his skin. Although on the outside he was brave. He pushed the rotten door and took a step inside the house.' (Haunted House, boy, 11)
All of this makes me happy, because it shows that there will continue to be a hungry audience for anything we writers produce, and, moreover, in a few years' time there will be more fantastically creative young adults ready to take our place.

Let's hear it for the kids.

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17. First Book’s Summer Book List: Grades 5-6

Summer_ReadingOur favorite picks for summer reading continue this week with a list of the best titles to keep kids in fifth and sixth grade reading during sunny summer days (and cloudy ones, too!)

Sign up to receive more great book lists, tip sheets and summer fun from First Book!

If you work with kids in need, you can find these titles on the First Book Marketplace by clicking on the pictures next to the publisher descriptions of each book.

For Grades 5 to 6

confetti_girlConfetti Girl by Diana Lopez

Apolonia “Lina” Flores is a sock enthusiast, a volleyball player, a science lover, and a girl who’s just looking for answers. Even though her house is crammed full of books (her dad’s a bibliophile), she’s having trouble figuring out some very big questions, like why her dad seems to care about books more than her, why her best friend’s divorced mom is obsessed with making cascarones (hollowed eggshells filled with colorful confetti), and, most of all, why her mom died last year. Like colors in cascarones, Lina’s life is a rainbow of people, interests, and unexpected changes.

In her first novel for young readers, Diana López creates a clever and honest story about a young Latina girl navigating growing pains in her South Texan city.

turtle_paradiseTurtle in Paradise by Jennifer L. Holm

In Jennifer L. Holm’s New York Times bestselling, Newbery Honor winning middle grade historical fiction novel, life isn’t like the movies. But then again, 11-year-old Turtle is no Shirley Temple. She’s smart and tough and has seen enough of the world not to expect a Hollywood ending. After all, it’s 1935 and jobs and money and sometimes even dreams are scarce. So when Turtle’s mama gets a job housekeeping for a lady who doesn’t like kids, Turtle says goodbye without a tear and heads off to Key West, Florida to live with relatives she’s never met. Florida’s like nothing Turtle’s ever seen before though. It’s hot and strange, full of rag tag boy cousins, family secrets, scams, and even buried pirate treasure! Before she knows what’s happened, Turtle finds herself coming out of the shell she’s spent her life building, and as she does, her world opens up in the most unexpected ways. Filled with adventure, humor and heart, Turtle in Paradise is an instant classic both boys and girls with love.

one_crazy_summerOne Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia

Eleven-year-old Delphine has it together. Even though her mother, Cecile, abandoned her and her younger sisters, Vonetta and Fern, seven years ago. Even though her father and Big Ma will send them from Brooklyn to Oakland, California, to stay with Cecile for the summer. And even though Delphine will have to take care of her sisters, as usual, and learn the truth about the missing pieces of the past.

When the girls arrive in Oakland in the summer of 1968, Cecile wants nothing to do with them. She makes them eat Chinese takeout dinners, forbids them to enter her kitchen, and never explains the strange visitors with Afros and black berets who knock on her door. Rather than spend time with them, Cecile sends Delphine, Vonetta, and Fern to a summer camp sponsored by a revolutionary group, the Black Panthers, where the girls get a radical new education.

one_only_ivanThe One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

Ivan is an easygoing gorilla. Living at the Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade, he has grown accustomed to humans watching him through the glass walls of his domain. He rarely misses his life in the jungle. In fact, he hardly ever thinks about it at all.

Instead, Ivan thinks about TV shows he’s seen and about his friends Stella, an elderly elephant, and Bob, a stray dog. But mostly Ivan thinks about art and how to capture the taste of a mango or the sound of leaves with color and a well-placed line.

Then he meets Ruby, a baby elephant taken from her family, and she makes Ivan see their home–and his own art–through new eyes. When Ruby arrives, change comes with her, and it’s up to Ivan to make it a change for the better.

Katherine Applegate blends humor and poignancy to create Ivan’s unforgettable first-person narration in a story of friendship, art, and hope.

lawn_boy_paulsenLawn Boy by Gary Paulsen

One day I was 12 years old and broke. Then Grandma gave me Grandpa’s old riding lawnmower. I set out to mow some lawns. More people wanted me to mow their lawns. And more and more… One client was Arnold the stockbroker, who offered to teach me about “the beauty of capitalism. Supply and Demand. Diversify labor. Distribute the wealth.” “Wealth?” I said. “It’s groovy, man,” said Arnold.

If I’d known what was coming, I might have climbed on my mower and putted all the way home to hide in my room. But the lawn business grew and grew. So did my profits, which Arnold invested in many things. And one of them was Joey Pow the prizefighter. That’s when my 12th summer got really interesting.

Looking for a previous week’s book list?  Click below:
Grades K-2
Grades 3-4

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18. Three Big Ways to Celebrate National Summer Learning Day

Summer_ReadingMark your calendars for June 20th! It’s National Summer Learning Day – an annual celebration dedicated to promoting the importance of summer learning for all children and helping close the achievement gap.

This year, we’ve teamed up with our friends at the National Summer Learning Association (NSLA) to share three BIG ways to celebrate with the kids you serve or your kids at home! You can get involved by organizing your own activities or by joining an event nearby.

Already have something planned? Find local summer learning events on the Summer Learning Day Event Map or add your event to the map to join the fun.

Check out three BIG ways to celebrate National Summer Learning Day.

  • Host a family literacy celebration. Invite the caring adults in your kids’ lives to attend an event focused on the importance of families reading together.

_MG_0131Have kids prepare a performance or a piece of art based on one of their favorite books, or organize fun activities like a healthy cooking demonstrations or a visit from a local storyteller. Consider inviting a local library representative to share information on services the library provides and how parents and kids can get library cards. And be sure to check out First Book’s Best of Summer Book Lists for great summer reading suggestions for kids of all ages.

  • childreExplore new activities, places and cultures. Summer is great time for kids to explore new subjects and develop new skills.

kids in crisisRead a story about gardening and then work with your kids to plant a garden. Research which plants grow best with each other, map out a plan, visit your local nursery and dig in the dirt!

Explore new cultures through the books featured in our Stories for All Project. Make the stories come alive by seeing a play, cooking a dish or visiting a museum exhibit connected to that culture.

  • Truckload of booksBring more books to your community. What better way to share the importance of summer learning than by bringing books to your community?

Set up a Virtual Book Drive to raise funds for your program or programs in your community serving children in need. Simply set up your page, set a fundraising goal and share the page with your community.  A $10 gift brings about four books from the First Book Marketplace to local kids.

For even more ways to celebrate, visit NSLA’s National Summer Learning Day page!

 

 

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19. Where Angels Fear to Tread by Keren David

I took O Level English Literature at a girls' grammar school in 1979. We studied three texts: Flora Thompson's Lark Rise to Candleford; E M Forster's Where Angels Fear to Tread and A Midsummer's

Night's Dream.  A play by the ultimate English writer, and two texts connected only by their utter Englishness.
I found the detailed social history contained in Flora Thompson's memoir of life in rural England completely tedious. Forster's examination of Edwardian snobbery and xenophobia in Forster's novel was somewhat baffling, sixteen-year-old girls not being best placed to appreciate a story about a middle-aged woman's lust for a younger man (Eeeuw, yuck, disgusting). Re-reading it, 35 years later I was surprised to find it laugh-out-loud funny.
 I didn't enjoy English Literature O level, but I was good at it, and that was why I continued on to A level, which I found much more rewarding, with its wider (but still 100% English...not even British) texts.
Around the same time my husband received a reading list from his school. It included 22 plays, including contemporary works (Arnold Wesker's Roots, Shelagh Delaney's A Taste of Honey), four plays by George Bernard Shaw, Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest, and Sophocles' Antigone.  For W Shakespeare the list read 'Any Play'.
The list for prose was longer -  44 books. They included plenty of nineteenth century novels: Jane Austen, Brontes C and E, two novels by Dickens and one by Hardy.
There were many twentieth century texts, British, American and translated : Anne Frank's Diary; Of Mice and Men (and another Steinbeck), To Kill a Mocking Bird. George Orwell's Animal Farm and 1984; Nevil Shute's A Town Like Alice and The Pied Piper, Graham Greene's Brighton Rock, D H Lawrence Sons and Lovers.
The list covered many genres -  science fiction (Day of the Triffids); romance (Pride and Prejudice); historical fiction (Rosemay Sutcliff's Warrior Scarlet); memoir( Gerald Durrell's My Family and Other Animals), dystopian fiction (Fahrenheit 451); mystery (Josephine Tey's The Franchise Affair) a western (Shane by Jack Shaefer) and a thriller (Alistair McLean's The Guns of Navarone).  There were several true-life stories from the Second World War, one by a Polish writer, one by an Italian and Alan Burgess's novel A Small Woman about a British missionary in China.
This list was clearly designed to be as broad as possible, introducing pupils to classic works of literature and inviting them to find out what sort of book they enjoy. It was challenging, interesting, reflecting different social classes and nationalities, as well as ethnic minority groups.
Should schools find this extensive list too short, there was a note: 'Candidates from Schools whose extended lists have been approved by the Board may, of course, refer in addition to texts on these lists.'  My husband remembers that pupils were told to read at least five or six of the 66 texts on the list, but he read at least 20, some in class, some from the local library. The final examination at the end of the course asked generic questions such as: 'Write about strong characters in some of the books you have read.'
This list  fostered a love of  reading in my husband which eventually led him to read English Literature at Oxford University.
The really interesting thing is that he was taking CSE English at a Secondary Modern school, a school to which he had been condemned by failing the 11 plus. CSEs were widely seen as useless qualifications for thickies, but I would contend that anyone who was given that list and had a crack at reading six books on it, would find something  enjoyable and challenging to read which might inspire them to read more in the future.

Our daughter took GCSE English recently, studying anthologies of poetry and short stories, a few scenes from Macbeth and Of Mice and Men; a syllabus which seemed to be designed for kids with short concentration spans. Of Mice and Men was the only text she read that ran to any length at all - all 107 pages of it. I have nothing against Steinbeck's classic, and certainly nothing against Macbeth, I am sure that the anthologies contained good material, but I have to admit to a great deal of parental frustration as I watched my daughter thoroughly turned off by this thin fare, and irritated by being asked to compare World War One poetry with Macbeth, an exam question that she found pointless and off-putting. .
I am writing this, of course, because of the recent kerfuffle over GCSE English, a row in which facts got lost to prejudice (for and against Michael Gove, for and against American literature, for and against Dickens and other nineteenth century authors).
Depending on who you read, Gove had personally interfered to ban books, or had bravely intervened to widen the curriculum, or Gove had nothing to do with any of it. As the saying goes, fools rush in, where angels fear to tread: it seemed as though the way the changes to GCSE English were reported and discussed was designed to make everyone look foolish (a Machiavellian plot by Gove himself, perhaps?)
I watched the row develop with increasing frustration, as it had so little to do with the actual crisis facing British children's literacy. Libraries are closing! Schools are being designed without libraries! Reading is being re-defined as deciphering phonics! School library services are closing! Children are spending more and more time glued to screens and less and less time reading for pleasure! These are the real crises, not whether Of Mice and Men remains on the school syllabus.
 When I read that Bailey's Prize winner Eimear McBride wants to spend some of her £30,000 prize money buying copies of Of Mice and Men and To Kill a Mockingbird to give free to teenagers, I want to scream. These books haven't been banned, Eimear! Schools have so many copies that they will, no doubt, find a way of using them, perhaps by teaching them to Y9 pupils.  Instead, please give your money to the Siobhan Dowd Trust which has the simple and essential aim of promoting the love of reading among disadvantaged children and young adults.
Yesterday the review section of The Guardian newspaper asked a select group of authors and academics to pick GCSE texts (no librarians, English teachers or children's writers among them). The choice that make me giggle the most was put forward by Linda Grant: Portnoy's Complaint by Philip Roth. And the one with which I agreed  whole-heartedly was Hilary Mantel:
Should we play the Gove game, by setting up opposing lists? Or should we ask, which Gradgrind thought up the idea of set texts in the first place? Why should students be condemned to thrash to death a novel or a corpus of poetry, week after week, month after month? No novel was ever penned to puzzle and punish the young. Plays are meant to be played at. Poetry is not written for Paxmanites. Literature is a creative discipline, not just for writer but for reader. Is the exam hall its correct context? We educate our children not as if we love them but as if we need to control and coerce them, bullying them over obstacles and drilling them like squaddies; and even the most inspired and loving teachers have to serve the system. We have laws against physical abuse. We can try to legislate against emotional abuse. So why do we think it's fine to abuse the imagination, and on an industrial scale? What would serve children is a love of reading, and the habit of it. I wonder if the present system creates either.






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20. Who Can Sign Up with First Book?

eligibility graphicWhen the school year ends, so do many support systems kids in need rely on. Thankfully there are thousands of organizations working across the country to help kids in need during the summer months.

First Book is here to support all of them. We don’t just work with teachers; anyone working with kids in need can sign up to get books from First Book!

From health clinics to summer camps, museums to daycare centers, we’ve got books and educational resources for any and all folks serving kids in need, ages zero to 18. First Book also supports programs serving children from military families and children with disabilities.

And there’s no better time to reach them than now – while kids are out of school and relying on their services more than ever.

Think about your community. Are there shelters, health clinics, faith-based programs, soup kitchens or other community-based programs that need educational resources? Encourage them to learn more and sign up at www.firstbook.org.

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21. First Book’s Summer Book List: High School

Summer_ReadingIn the last week of our series of great summer reads, we’re bringing you our favorite titles for high schoolers to dive into as the days become ever warmer.

Be sure to check out our summer book lists from past weeks for great reads for kids of all ages!

Sign up to receive more great book lists, tip sheets and summer reading facts from First Book!

If you work with kids in need, you can find these titles on the First Book Marketplace by clicking on the pictures next to the publisher descriptions of each book.

mares war“Mare’s War” by Tanita S. Davis

Meet Mare, a grandmother with flair and a fascinating past.

Octavia and Tali are dreading the road trip their parents are forcing them to take with their grandmother over the summer. After all, Mare isn’t your typical grandmother. She drives a red sports car, wears stiletto shoes, flippy wigs, and push-up bras, and insists that she’s too young to be called Grandma. But somewhere on the road, Octavia and Tali discover there’s more to Mare than what you see. She was once a willful teenager who escaped her less-than-perfect life in the deep South and lied about her age to join the African American battalion of the Women’s Army Corps during World War II.

Told in alternating chapters, half of which follow Mare through her experiences as a WAC member and half of which follow Mare and her granddaughters on the road in the present day, this novel introduces a larger-than-life character who will stay with readers long after they finish reading.

sammy_julianna“Sammy and Juliana in Hollywood” by By: Benjamin Alire Saenz
It is 1969, America is at war, “Hollywood” is a dirt-poor Chicano barrio in small-town America, and Sammy and Juliana face a world of racism, war in Vietnam, and barrio violence. Sammy and Juliana in Hollywood is a Young Adult Library Services Association Top 10 Best Book for Young Adults and a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Award for Young Adults.

 

absolutely_true_diary_part_time_indian“Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” by Sherman Alexie

Sherman Alexie tells the story of Junior, a budding cartoonist growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation. Determined to take his future into his own hands, Junior leaves his troubled school on the rez to attend an all-white farm town high school where the only other Indian is the school mascot. Heartbreaking, funny, and beautifully written, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, which is based on the author’s own experiences, coupled with poignant drawings that reflect the character’s art, chronicles the contemporary adolescence of one Native American boy as he attempts to break away from the life he thought he was destined to live.

maze_runner“Maze Runner” by James Dashner

The first book in the New York Times bestselling Maze Runner series–The Maze Runner is a modern classic, perfect for fans of The Hunger Games and Divergent.

When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his first name. His memory is blank. But he’s not alone. When the lift’s doors open, Thomas finds himself surrounded by kids who welcome him to the Glade–a large, open expanse surrounded by stone walls.

Just like Thomas, the Gladers don’t know why or how they got to the Glade. All they know is that every morning the stone doors to the maze that surrounds them have opened. Every night they’ve closed tight. And every thirty days a new boy has been delivered in the lift.

Thomas was expected. But the next day, a girl is sent up–the first girl to ever arrive in the Glade. And more surprising yet is the message she delivers.

Thomas might be more important than he could ever guess. If only he could unlock the dark secrets buried within his mind.

tall_story“Tall Story” by Candy Gourlay

Andi is short. And she has lots of wishes. She wishes she could play on the school basketball team, she wishes for her own bedroom, but most of all she wishes that her long-lost half-brother, Bernardo, could come and live in London where he belongs.

Then Andi’s biggest wish comes true and she’s minutes away from becoming someone’s little sister. As she waits anxiously for Bernardo to arrive from the Philippines, she hopes he’ll turn out to be tall and just as crazy as she is about basketball. When he finally arrives, he’s tall all right. Eight feet tall, in fact–plagued by condition called Gigantism and troubled by secrets that he believes led to his phenomenal growth.

In a novel packed with quirkiness and humor, Gourlay explores a touching sibling relationship and the clash of two very different cultures.

 

The post First Book’s Summer Book List: High School appeared first on First Book Blog.

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22. New Survey from RIF Finds Only 17% of Parents Make Reading a Top Priority for Summer

News Release from RIF: Kids Spend Nearly Triple the Time Playing Video Games or Watching TV vs. Reading

Macy's and Reading Is Fundamental Launch Be Book Smart Campaign June 18 to Support Children's Literacy

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WASHINGTON - (June 18, 2014) - Despite research that indicates the importance of summer reading in preventing children from losing literacy skills, only 17 percent of parents say reading is a top summer priority, according to a new survey from Reading Is Fundamental (RIF) and Macy's. The survey, conducted by Harris Interactive, also finds that children spend nearly three times as many hours weekly watching TV or playing video games as they do reading in the summer. More than 1,000 parents with children ages 5-11 completed the survey online in April.

Results of the survey are made public as Macy's and RIF launch the 11th annual Be Book Smart campaign to support children's literacy. Be Book Smart begins June 18, and invites customers nationwide to give $3 at any Macy's register in-store, to help provide a book for a child andget $10 off a purchase of $30 or more. Macy's will donate 100 percent of every $3 to RIF. The campaign ends July 13.

"Many families think of reading as eating your vegetables--good for you but not necessarily a treat. Reading is the best vacation. It takes you places you never dreamed you would visit, and summer especially is a time when kids can immerse themselves in the topics they like best," said Carol H. Rasco, CEO of Reading Is Fundamental. "Thanks to our partnership with Macy's, we are bringing more books to children who need them most and starting them on a journey to a lifelong love of reading."

More than 60 percent of parents in the survey said they do not believe their child loses reading skills over the summer. However, existing research shows that summer learning loss is a major problem, particularly for low-income children who can lose up to three months of reading skills because of limited access to books and learning opportunities while out of school. The key to helping children maintain and even improve their literacy skills over the summer is providing access to quality books that they can choose based on personal interests. 

Full survey results are highlighted in an executive summary by Harris Interactive. Key findings include:

  • On average, parents say their child spends 17.4 hours/week watching TV or playing video games, 16.7 hours/week playing outside and only 5.9 hours/week reading.
  • Parents who consider reading to be extremely or very important are twice as likely to have a child who reads every day.
  • Children who were involved in a reading program last summer were up to two times more likely to read every day. Yet, over half of parents said their child did not participate in a reading program at all last summer.
  • Last summer, children who read because they wanted to were twice as likely to read than children who read because they had to.
  • Despite the proliferation of e-books and digital formats, 83 percent of parents said their child preferred print books for summer reading, compared to 7 percent preferring tablets and 4 percent preferring e-readers.

"We are committed to RIF's mission of empowering children through literacy and inspiring them to embrace the joy of reading during the summer," said Martine Reardon, chief marketing officer, Macy's. "Be Book Smart offers our customers the opportunity to give back to their local community, and thanks to the collective generosity of our customers and associates, we've given 10 million books to kids since 2004."

The survey sheds new light on the importance of summer reading, as advocates across the nation gear up for National Summer Learning Day, on June 20.

To celebrate the launch of the campaign, select Macy's across the country will host Reading Circles, featuring storytelling and photos with popular book characters. Customers can also help spread the word about the campaign by entering the Be Book Smart Summer Instagram photo contest. One winner will be selected each week  of the campaign to receive a $500 Macy's gift card. Visit rif.org /macys  for more details.

 Since 2004, Macy's has helped raise nearly $30 million for RIF. Through customer-supported fundraising campaigns, in-store events and volunteer activities, Macy's has donated funds and resources to further the message of literacy for future success. Macy's longstanding support has enabled RIF to promote literacy at all levels, from buying books for children, training educators, and providing resources to parents.

Methodology

This summer reading survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive on behalf of Reading Is Fundamental between April 7-18, 2014 among 1,014 parents of kids ages 5-11. No estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables, please contact Olivia Doherty at Olivia@thehatchergroup.com or 410-990-0824.

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23. I Pledge Allegiance

Today’s guest blog post is by Libby Martinez, co-author of the new children’s book “I Pledge Allegiance,” on teaching kids to be proud of the place they were born while being a proud American.

Libby’s book is available at deeply discounted prices on the First Book Marketplace to educators and programs serving children in need.

MoraMartinez-7502“I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America….” Every time I say those twelve simple words, I smile because of all the unspoken things they represent—abstract concepts like community, safety, freedom and the American Dream. But how do you explain these concepts to a child who is five or six years old? How do you explain what it means to be an American in a concrete and real sense?

IPledgeAllegianceMy mother and I felt that the answer to these questions was through story—in this case, the story of our aunt who came to the United States during the Mexican Revolution of 1910.  By putting a name and face to the Pledge of Allegiance and by talking about words and phrases like “indivisible” and “liberty and justice for all” in simple and kid-friendly terms, we hope that children will understand more fully this special promise we make as Americans.

We hope they will also understand that they can be proud of the place they were born (even if that place is not the United States) and still proud to be an American at the same time. One of the wonders of picture books is that they allow for the creation of a rich, visual narrative to accompany sometimes complicated and complex topics.

As July 4th approaches and flags are raised across our nation, we are called to ponder what individually and collectively we can all do to continue to “lift [our] lamp beside the golden door“—our enduring legacy as Americans.

If you work with kids in need, sign up with First Book by June 27 and you’ll be eligible to receive a free classroom set (25 copies) of “I Pledge Allegiance” for your students.

Click here to sign up*All educators at Title I or Title I eligible schools, and program leaders serving 70% or more of children in need are eligible to sign up. The recipient of the  classroom set will be notified the week of June 30th.

The post I Pledge Allegiance appeared first on First Book Blog.

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24. Writers and Libraries: An Ame Dyckman Quote

A while back, I interviewed children's book author Ame Dyckman about her writing process. If you haven't read it yet, you should! I loved her quote about libraries so much that I decided to turn it into an illustration. :-)

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25. Keep Resources Flowing This Summer

Keep Resources Flowing This Summer

Keep resources flowing this summer!  Whether you serve kids in need, want to encourage summer reading in your own children or are concerned about the issue of summer slide, there are many great ways to keep kids reading and learning all summer long.

  • Work with kids in need?  Sign up with First Book to get access to low-cost books and resources for your summer program or to prepare for the school year to come.
  • Want tips to get your kids reading all summer?  Sign up to receive books lists, learning tips and inspiring stories from First Book.
  • Want to help get books and resources to kids in need?  Give to First Book today.  Each gift of $2.50 brings a new book into the hands of a child in need

Click on the graphic to see a larger version.

The post Keep Resources Flowing This Summer appeared first on First Book Blog.

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