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Common sense confirmed: books + access = young readers

It's something that makes perfect sense. Those who work with children have seen it time and time again. But now there is actual data to support what common sense has told us all along: "Giving children access to print materials is associated with positive behavioral, educational, and psychological outcomes."

Books in the home

When I was growing up, we had lots of book. Looking back, I know that they were mostly mass market books (remember the Little Golden Books?) and lots of the books my mother read as a child and subsequently gave to us.

My sister and I both grew up to be readers — and so did our children who also have lots of books at home.

Libraries and cupcakes

My 6-year old niece Michaela knows her way around the library. She should! After all, she's been visiting libraries with her family for most of her life. It shows, too. She's filled with ideas, stories, and words.

My 10-year old friend, Laura — the Newbery book reader I've blogged about — also knows libraries. You may remember that Laura and her mom attended the annual conference of the American Library Association where Laura got to meet the authors of the books she has read so avidly.

Gulping down books

We've been on a road trip for a while, combining visits with family and friends with college tours. I'm amazed that my son's time in high school is going by at such breakneck speed. It seems to speed up exponentially once kids begin numbered grades.

And my niece is starting first grade this fall.

What a joy it's been to share books with this just-turned-6-year old child! She's just starting to read independently — and wow! Has she ever taken off — reading well beyond most kids her age.

Summer book swap

What do you do when a child wants to read a book that's too sophisticated or you feel is plain inappropriate for them?

That's the dilemma a friend of mine confronted when her six-year-old son wanted to read a book that he could easily decode but that is probably most appropriate for upper elementary to middle school children. So she called me. (She knew her son — like most kids — would probably listen to a neutral but trusted third party more than he'd listen to his own mom.)

Inspired by the Newbery

Last week I had the chance to meet with a special visitor from Indiana. Laura, her grandparents, and I met at the Central Arlington (VA) Library (an attractive and hospitable place with welcoming staff).

So long, Mr. Ambassador

This December marks the last month of Jon Scieszka's tenure as the first National Ambassador for Young People's Literature. For two years, Mr. Scieszka (the author of several children's books and founder of Guys Read) has worked to promote a love of reading and books. He's been particularly focused on helping parents and teachers reach the reluctant reader, one he describes as "that's the kid who might be a reader, who could be one, but just isn't that interested in reading."

Forty years strong

Are awards for children's books useful? What can they do in a real sense?

Children's publishing is a crowded field and for many, awards can help identify not only critically valuable books but help identify new and interesting work.

When it first started some 40 years ago, the Coretta Scott King was intended to recognize the work of African American authors and illustrators. It continues to do so and since 1995, the John Steptoe New Talent Award encourages and recognizes new authors and illustrators.

Share a Story — Shape a Future blog tour

There are lots of blogs about teaching, children's literature, and raising readers. This week there's a new way to see some of what is out there: a blog tour of practical, usable, everyday ideas for working with readers.

The Share a Story — Shape a Future blog tour event begins March 9, 2009 and lasts one week. There's a specific theme each day, and each day a group of bloggers will sharing ideas around that theme.

Newbery or not? That is the question

The Newbery Medal has been awarded once again. This year, it was given to Neil Gaiman for The Graveyard Book (HarperCollins, 2008), a deliciously creepy book about a boy brought up by ghosts after his parents' murder. (Clearly this is not a bedtime tale for the young or faint-hearted.)

The book meets the specified criteria used by the Newbery Committee in order to identify the "most distinguished contribution to American literature for children published in English in the United States during the preceding year."

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"Books make great gifts because they have whole worlds inside of them." — Neil Gaiman