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Today's Reading News


Each weekday, Reading Rockets gathers interesting news headlines about reading and early education. Please note that Reading Rockets does not necessarily endorse these views or any others on these outside websites.

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Wall Street Journal
December 7, 2016

One of New York Mayor Bill de Blasio’s most daunting efforts for city children can be seen in a South Bronx classroom where a kindergartner named Jaylen struggled to write the word “me.” Her teacher mouthed an “mmm” sound to help her figure out the first letter. Then Jennifer Aaron, a literacy coach, encouraged the ponytailed 5-year-old to search for the word on a poster so she could copy it. Dr. Aaron is one of 103 literacy coaches dispatched this fall to improve reading instruction in four low-performing districts. They are the first wave in a mission to help teachers get all children in public schools to read by the end of second grade. The mayor set a target of 2026 of 100% literacy when unveiling the plan last year. Skeptics abound. Some say it will be hard to make progress without smaller classes, more consistent quality among teachers, stronger curriculum and more services for the disabled. Some say assigning one literacy coach for kindergarten through second grade in each school isn’t enough.

PBS NewsHour
December 7, 2016

We’ve spent our share of time looking at how kids and teens spend their time with their screens. Now there’s a new survey that finds their parents have some of the same habits. The study, which asked for feedback from 1,700 parents of children age 8 to 18, found adults spending more than nine hours a day themselves looking at video screens. Yet, even as they’re worried about how much time their children spend watching screens, nearly 80 percent of parents felt they were good role models for their kids when it came to this. Hari Sreenivasan talks to Jim Steyer, CEO of Common Sense Media, about parental hypocrisy over media use, different cultural perspectives toward technology and ensuring screen-free time.

Post Bulletin (Rochester, MN)
December 7, 2016

These days, most people are used to typing word that fall outside of their range of vocabulary into a search engine, rather than turning to a dictionary. But one Rochester group is trying to put that basic tool back into the hands of young people. This week, 1,600 third-grade students — every third-grader in the Rochester — will receive a dictionary, thanks to the Rotary Club of Greater Rochester's Dictionary Project. The third-grade classroom was all smiles after the Rotary members presented each student with their dictionary. The visiting Rotary members asked the students to track down the word "chameleon." "The dictionaries really fit in with what we're teaching all third-graders," said Bamber Valley third-grade teacher Allison Whalen. The third graders will also get some training in their media class on how to look up a word because even though we're in the digital age, a physical dictionary as a reference is irreplaceable, Whalen said.

Kojo Nnamdi Show
December 7, 2016

The holidays can be a stressful time, especially if you’re staring down a daunting shopping list. But we’ve got good news: books make an excellent gift for the kids and teens in your life. They’ll get plenty of toys, clothes and gadgets, but a book gives them the chance to use their imagination. Helping them build their own library can inspire a lifelong love of reading, too. We asked some of our favorite experts on children’s and Young Adult literature what they’re excited about this winter. Happy reading!

Phys.org
December 6, 2016

Educators, policymakers, and parents have begun to focus more on children's math learning in the earliest years. Yet parents and teachers still find it challenging to know which kinds of early math skills merit attention in the classroom. Determining how to help children achieve in math is important, particularly for children from low-income families who often enter school with weaker math knowledge than their peers. A new longitudinal study conducted in Tennessee has found that low-income children's math knowledge in preschool was related to their later achievement—but not all types of math knowledge were related equally. The findings suggest that educators and school administrators may want to consider carefully which areas of math study they shift attention to as they develop curricula for the early years.

National Public Radio
December 6, 2016

We live in a world of screens. And in this digital age — with so many devices and distraction — it's one of the things parents worry about most: How much time should their kids spend staring at their phones and computers? What's the right balance between privacy and self-discovery? Research continues to provide some answers on how parents are navigating this world. Just today, for example, there's a new study out that looks at nearly 2,000 parents — who have kids ages 8 to 18. Among the most surprising findings: People with children spend, on average, 9 hours and 22 minutes per day in front of a screen: texting, tweeting, Googling, checking the weather. The report's biggest takeaway? Screen time isn't going anywhere. So let's talk about it.

TES
December 6, 2016

Children’s books do not get much attention from newspapers and magazines. So, in February, a group of children’s authors set up a Twitter campaign using the hashtag #CoverKidsBooks. The aim was to encourage newspapers to increase and improve their review coverage of children’s books. TES responded almost immediately. We’d been talking about setting up a children’s book-review page on our website for a long time, and this was the incentive that we needed. We asked teachers to review books, but we didn’t simply want adults to give their opinions; this seemed to miss the point. Surely it would be far more effective to ask children to review books that were intended for their eyes. So that’s what we did. Here are 10 books that our reviewers − both teachers and students − loved this year.

The Atlantic
December 5, 2016

At first, the playground at Officer Willie Wilkins Park looks pretty standard. There’s a slide to skid down, ramps to climb up, bridges to cross, and nooks to investigate. But there’s also something relatively unusual: words, and lots of them. Mixed in among the bright primary colors of the structure are white panels plastered with whimsical illustrations and phrases like “let’s talk about the sunshine” and “let’s talk about food.” They’re not a random addition; the panels are a deliberate attempt to foster early language and brain development in babies and toddlers. The basic idea is that parents and other caregivers can use the panels (they’re image-heavy so that parents who aren’t literate themselves can still participate) to spark conversations with their kids while they play.

National Public Radio
December 5, 2016

Megan Lordos, a middle school teacher, says she was not allowed to use the word "dyslexia." She's not alone. Parents and teachers across the country have raised concerns about some schools hesitating, or completely refusing, to say the word. As the most common learning disability in the U.S., dyslexia affects somewhere between 5 and 17 percent of the population. That means millions of school children around the country struggle with it. Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), schools are required to provide special services to help these students — things like reading tutors and books on tape. But those special services can be expensive, and many schools don't have the resources to provide these accommodations.

Renton Reporter (Kent, WA)
December 5, 2016

In addition to providing medical services to the tiny humans in the community, one pediatric clinic is committed to promote early literacy as well. Renton Pediatrics Associates has started to participate in Reach Out and Read — a nonprofit organization that helps to incorporate books into pediatric care and encourages to families to read aloud together. The program allows for medical providers, like Renton Pediatrics, to give free books for kids at each check up. It was founded in 1989 at Boston Medical Center, and is now in all 50 states, with almost 5,500 sites distributing 6.5 million books per year.

School Library Journal
December 5, 2016

Christian Robinson is a relative newcomer to the children’s book world, yet suddenly his name is everywhere, on award-winning books such as Last Stop on Market Street, on distinguished panels, and on best illustrated lists far and wide. Two of his titles, School’s First Day of School and Little Penguins, appear on our Best Books list, and a third, The Dead Bird, was recently named a New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Book of 2016. His work is hip and cool and loaded with child appeal. This San Francisco–based rising star was the unanimous choice to be our December cover artist.

Time
December 2, 2016

Anybody who has watched little boys for even five seconds knows that they are exhausting. At school, they tear around the playground, bolt through corridors and ricochet off classroom walls. According to a new Finnish study, this is all helping them to be better at reading. The study, released Nov. 30 in the Journal of Medicine and Sport, found that the more time kids in Grade 1 spent sitting and the less time they spent being physically active, the fewer gains they made in reading in the two following years. In first grade, a lot of sedentary time and no running around also had a negative impact on their ability to do math.

School Library Journal
December 2, 2016

Conventional wisdom says that students tend to either be drawn to math and problem solving or to reading and language arts. But a program for STEM learning developed at Tufts University has been proving that assumption wrong since 2010. Novel Engineering provides a unique way to get students excited about both reading and problem solving. Through the program, elementary and middle school students read a book, identify what problems the characters face, and work in teams to design prototypes to solve it. The students test the prototypes and receive feedback from their teacher and peers before presenting their creations to their classmates.

Iowa Public Radio
December 2, 2016

The Iowa Reading Research Center is out with the results of a study into the effectiveness of summer reading programs. The report comes as every school district in the state approaches a deadline to enact some form of summer reading program. The study involved 43 school districts and one community organization. The results show the summer programs helped struggling readers maintain their reading skills, but on average did not improve them. The principal investigator of the study and director of the Iowa Reading Research Center, Deborah Reed, says there are challenges ahead as districts implement state mandated summer reading programs.

International Literacy Association Daily
December 2, 2016

A photograph can be a powerful motivator and memory stimulator to retrieve specialized vocabulary and oral language conventions contextualized in an event. Oral retelling embedded within the activity and composed in text next to a photograph scaffolds reading. When photos are uploaded to apps, social media sites, or printed and assembled into personalized books, students engage further in important rereading activities that stimulate reading development.

National Public Radio
December 1, 2016

Dyslexia is a reading problem, but its influence can be felt far beyond the classroom. It often disrupts home life, making dinner time and bedtime a struggle. Experts say there are three things that can help.

International Literacy Association Daily
December 1, 2016

The stage is set for a class action suit seeking redress for children in Detroit public schools on the basis of a denial of their constitutional right to literacy. The plaintiffs in the class action lawsuit, five students from the lowest performing public schools in Detroit, MI, allege they have been denied access to literacy by being deprived of evidence-based instruction and being subject to school conditions that prevent learning in violation of their rights under the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Defendants in the case, filed in September, are the governor of Michigan, eight members of the Michigan State Board of Education, and three other education officials. The plaintiffs contend that decades of disinvestment in and deliberate indifference to Detroit schools on the part of state officials have denied them and other similarly situated school children access to the most basic building block of education: literacy.

Iowa Public Radio
December 1, 2016

'Tis the season for giving. What better gift than a book? During this hour of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with Barb Stein and Sarah Prineas of Prairie Lights Books, and Jerri Heid of the Ames Public Library about the best new books to give this year.

Daily Ardmoreite (Ardmore, OK)
December 1, 2016

In the front hallway of Charles Evans Elementary, a cart full of books, magazines and literature rests at the corner with adventures and stories waiting to be read. Pick Up, Sit Down and Read, a program in its second year at Charles Evans Elementary, is geared toward providing reading material for parents and adults to read at home, which can have a big impact on students and young children. “The primary goal is to get parents reading in the home,” Patti Green, Charles Evans Elementary music teacher, said. “When children see their parents read they’re more likely to read because it’s modeling.”

National Public Radio
November 30, 2016

The human brain naturally picks up spoken language. Not so for reading. "You can think of the reading brain as moonlighting," says Guinevere Eden, director of Georgetown University's Center for the Study of Learning. "Your brain will essentially take other brain areas — that were designed to do something else — and use [them] toward reading." Learning to read requires co-opting parts of the brain and training them to recognize letters, clump those letters together into small units, relate those units to sounds and, eventually, blend those sounds together into a word. For millions of people with dyslexia — the most common learning disability in the U.S. — that process doesn't come easily. In the basement of a medical building in Washington, D.C., Eden and her team of researchers are using brain scans to figure out exactly what makes dyslexic brains different. They also want to know what can be done to rewire the brain, coaxing it to do what it wasn't "designed" to do.

"The things I want to know are in books. My best friend is the man who'll get me a book I [haven't] read." — Abraham Lincoln