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Libraries and the achievement gap

Is the growing gap in children's achievement primarily fueled by economics? What other factors may have a role in it — and how can the apparent trend be reversed?

A recent piece in The New York Times reports studies that indicate a widening fissure in educational achievement between rich and poor. But it also suggests other factors may be at play.

Dreaming of school libraries

What does your school library look like? For many schools, it looks just like it did when the school was built, maybe 20, 30 or even 40 years ago. Heavy wooden tables and chairs, a "reading rug" for the read aloud portion of library time, and a big circulation desk for check out. Sound familiar?

No summer slide for these book buddies

I remember when I was a kid, summers were filled with free time, playing with friends, and reading lots of books. I read everything from horse stories and fantasy to Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden mysteries and tons more that were borrowed from friends or from the library.

The end of the year

Wow! Hard to believe that it will be 2011 in just over a week! 2010 seemed to fly by particularly quickly.

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).

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"I used to walk to school with my nose buried in a book." — Coolio