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Is access to books enough? Nope.

Far too many children within the U.S. and abroad live in homes with little or no access to books. Among other things, no access means no reading materials for the summer months. Grass roots efforts like summer reading bags and neighborhood book swaps, public libraries, and organizations such as First Book and Book Ends in Southern California all operate with a goal to increase access to reading material for kids in need.

How do you encourage summer learning?

Many teachers find creative ways to keep kids learning over the summer. These efforts are fueled by summer learning loss research whose finding is clear: Children who don't read during the summer can lose up to three months of reading progress and that loss has a cumulative, long-term effect. Summer learning is loss is bad for kids, and it's especially bad news for kids who struggle during the school year.

Scan and learn? QR codes in the classroom

My technology prowess is adequate. Passable. Sufficient. I can manage my own use just fine, and (for now!) can answer most of the questions the girls ask about technology. But there's a ton more out there, and one technology has recently caught my eye: QR codes. They seem to be cropping up everywhere! The new coffee shop here in town has one plastered right on the side of it. And the house for sale down the street has one in the front yard where I might expect to see a For Sale sign. All of this has piqued my curiosity, and prompted me to learn more.

Flat Stanley goes to the gym

A while back, a child mailed a Flat Stanley to me. I took pictures of the intrepid traveler at local landmarks and with college students before mailing the paper thin guy back home.

Even more recently, Flat Stanley made the Sports section of The Washington Post.

Resolutions and readers

While teachers experience their "real" New Year every August when they meet their new class, the mid-point of January also marks a chance to revisit, reflect, and ramp up efforts in the calendar New Year.

As a teacher or parent to a developing reader, I encourage you to think about and develop some resolutions for the New Year that will further the reading skills of the readers you work with. Sometimes that starts with a little more information.

Every week is National Young Readers Week

Today concludes the official celebration of National Young Readers Week. But if the goals of the founders — Pizza Hut and the Library of Congress Center for the Book — are realized, then children will become lifelong readers, making every week one for readers of all ages. (Learn more about National Young Readers Week.)

How to read a report card

In a typical school year, report cards come home every nine weeks or so. The purpose of report cards is to communicate about a child's progress across subject areas. Most report cards also include a Work Habits, Social Skills, or similar section.

Some kids, especially those having difficulty in school, dread report card time. Here are some suggestions for making report card time a little less scary and a little more productive.

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."

Got to or get to?

Do children feel that they've got to read or that they get to read? There is a difference.

Last week I wrote about what Peter Dickinson called "rubbish" and letting kids read a fair amount of it. Adults often feel strongly about what children read. They may love or loathe certain children's books — and adults are generally the ones who put books into children's hands. But their response can vastly differ from children's responses to the same material.

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.

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"The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more you learn, the more places you'll go." — Dr. Seuss