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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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Minneapolis Post (MN)
December 17, 2014

We’ve long known that third-grade literacy is a key milestone in a child’s academic career and a strong predictor of later success. It's so strong, in fact, that children who can't read well by the end of third grade are four times more likely to drop out of high school. But according to the 2014 Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments for third-graders, only 34 percent of black and Latino students and 39 percent of low-income learners were proficient in reading, compared to 67 percent of white students. If we’re going to help all Minnesota students reach their full potential, we must close these gaps, meeting them head-on and early on by ramping up early learning opportunities and maintaining a laser focus on third-grade reading.

Pantagraph (Bloomington, IL)
December 17, 2014

Where some might have seen an empty room, Rachel Howard and Kate Owens saw a new world. That new world opened Tuesday, with help from "Goodnight Moon," "Ten Little Ladybugs" and other children's books. A library opened in a former storage area at YWCA McLean County's child care center, called Young Wonders Early Learning and Youth Development. The goal is to get books in the hands of children and their families who have limited access to books and to save busy parents an extra stop at the public library. While the library is open only to Young Wonders families, the potential impact is huge. Young Wonders serves about 400 children through part-time or full-time care for ages 6 weeks through 5 years old as well as through before- and after-school care for elementary schoolchildren from several Bloomington District 87 and McLean County Unit 5 schools.

Daily Local (West Chester, PA)
December 17, 2014

A bored child sits in a laundromat, her fidgeting feet barely touching the linoleum floor as she sits in a chair. Her mother just started their family’s laundry, but the girl is already bored! Suddenly, she notices a colorful box in the corner of the building. The box is filled to the brim with books of all kinds, and the decorations on the side of the box say that some of the books are in Spanish, as well as English. After searching through this box for the perfect book, the girl settles back into her chair and starts to read. Thanks to the Laundromat Library League, headed by Karen Iacobucci and Arlene Rengert, children from all over Chester County will gain access to all kinds of books, from picture books to chapter books, in their local Laundromats.

School Library Journal
December 17, 2014

“Clifford the Big Red Dog” creator Norman Bridwell died on December 12 in Martha’s Vineyard. The author-illustrator was 86. Bridwell’s picture books about Clifford, a cheery red canine who starts off as a tiny puppy but grows to the size of a house due to the love of his owner, Emily Elizabeth, have been charming readers since 1962, with the publication of Clifford the Big Red Dog (Scholastic, 1962). Tons of subsequent books followed: Clifford’s Tricks (1969), Clifford the Small Red Puppy (1972), and Clifford’s Good Deeds (1975, all Scholastic), among others. An additional board book series, “Clifford the Small Red Puppy,” depict Clifford as a young puppy, and Bridwell also penned easy reader stories about the dog.

Education Week
December 16, 2014

Summer programs in large urban school districts showed benefits for mathematics but flat results in reading and social emotional development, according to preliminary findings released today, from the first longitudinal study of such initiatives. The RAND Corporation study, known as the National Summer Learning Project, provides data from the first summer of a six-year, randomized controlled trial of programs in Boston; Dallas; Duval County, Florida; Pittsburgh and Rochester, New York. The study was funded by the Wallace Foundation, which also provides funding to Education Week for coverage of extended learning, leadership, and arts education.

Ed Central
December 16, 2014

Eighty percent of brain growth happens between the ages of zero and three, and according to neuroscientists these years mark a critical period for physical, social, and language development. And because this is also a stretch of time in which children are especially impacted by their surroundings, it is imperative to foster supportive environments nurture children and promote their healthy development. Last week at the White House Summit on Early Education, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced the long-awaited results of a grant competition that aims to do just that. The first-ever Early Head Start Expansion and Child Care Partnership Grants are intended to support working families across the country by expanding access to high-quality child care and home visiting programs for pregnant women and children from birth through age three.

The Guardian (UK)
December 16, 2014

Many storybook apps claim to support children’s budding literacy. The Nosy Crow app received rave reviews and several prestigious awards. Yet ongoing research warns that the very interactive features that make apps so exciting may actually disrupt children’s ability to learn from them. Two recent studies at Royal Holloway University show that with traditional print picture books, learning is facilitated by simple, non-manipulatable stories with realistic illustrations. When books have features that can be manipulated, children are less able to follow the storyline and focus instead on the various features they can play with.

The Washington Post
December 16, 2014

Kate DiCamillo, author of such beloved books as “Because of Winn-Dixie,” “The Tale of Despereaux” and “Flora & Ulysses,” is the Library of Congress’s National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature. She doesn’t wear fancy ambassador clothes (although she does have an official ambassador’s medal) or attend long meetings. Instead, she’s on a two-year mission to get kids excited about reading. KidsPost editor Christina Barron talked by phone with DiCamillo recently from her adopted home town of Minneapolis, Minnesota. She spoke about books from her childhood, her own writing and her first year as ambassador.

University of Oregon (Eugene, OR)
December 15, 2014

A new reading comprehension test for elementary school students being developed at the University of Oregon should help teachers diagnose why youngsters wrestle with comprehension and could inspire new interventions. The tool is the Multiple-choice Online Cloze Comprehension Assessment, or MOCCA. The MOCCA consists of seven-sentence stories with the next-to-last sentence omitted in each. Students infer the missing sentence by choosing the best of four multiple-choice options. MOCCA is built around understanding narrative and so far the research suggests that most readers are paraphrasers or lateral connectors.

National Public Radio
December 15, 2014

Writer and illustrator Cece Bell has been creating children's books for over a decade, but in her latest, she finally turns to her own story — about growing up hearing-impaired, after meningitis left her "severely to profoundly deaf" at the age of 4. The book, a mix of memoir, graphic novel and children's book, is called El Deafo. It's a funny, unsentimental tale that follows Cece from age 4 through elementary school, as she transforms from mild-mannered little girl into full-fledged superhero — the "El Deafo" of the title.

Atlanta Journal Constitution (GA)
December 15, 2014

Twenty-nine public school elementary teachers are about to make a significant difference in the lives of struggling readers in Gwinnett. For eight months, an hour and a half each week — these teachers are receiving highly specialized instruction to improve reading proficiency. They were selected to participate in training through the 2-year-old grassroots non-profit Reading is Essential for All People program. REAP provides 70 hours of Orton-Gillingham Approach training at no cost to public school teachers. The Orton-Gillingham Approach was developed in the 1930s to help dyslexic children learn to read, write and spell. For a struggling reader, it is often the key to the kingdom. Many teachers have heard of it — few have been trained.

The Atlantic
December 12, 2014

I live in a "reviving" neighborhood in Washington called East Capitol Hill. Cab drivers once refused to take passengers here, but now the area is peppered with educated and relatively affluent newcomers, as well as lower-income families who weathered the darker years. About a year ago, I met a single mother from this latter category, roughly 20 years old, and her bright-eyed, 4-year-old daughter. She overheard a conversation between me and my son and was impressed by his vocabulary — or, as she put it, "the way he talks." "Did you read to him?" she asked me. "Should I read to her?" The answer, of course, is yes. The sooner the better. Reading aloud introduces more and different words into the vocabulary of both parent and child at a time when the child's brain is growing at its fastest. Researchers have found that 86 percent to 98 percent of a child's vocabulary by age 3 consists of words used by his or her parents.

School Library Journal
December 12, 2014

December brings with it the close of the calendar year, giving us time to reflect on and celebrate the diversity of our world’s cultures. Audiobooks, especially those that represent common human experiences and examine global heritage and customs, afford listeners an opportunity to hear stories from around the world. From Africa, Asia, the Americas, and beyond, this month’s selections of audiobooks provide armchair travel and glimpses at life in other countries and cultures, an important component to understanding the lives of other people — different, and yet not so different, from us.

Marshall News Messenger (TX)
December 12, 2014

In today's ever-changing technological society, teachers have more challenges than they did even five to 10 years ago. Those challenges aren't scary for Suzanne Parker, seventh-grade reading teacher at Jefferson Junior High School, or for Dina Carroll, eighth-grade reading and writing teacher at the junior high school. Both Parker and Carroll look forward to finding innovative ways to teach the basics to their students. "I bring in clips that are examples of what we are teaching,” Carroll said. "Like if we are teaching poetry, I connect music to it. I try to link text in so that they feel a connection." "When I choose a novel for the kids, I look into one that would grab their interest. The story has to be something they can relate to, and will talk about," Parker said. "When I teach about protagonist, I show the fight scene from 'Gladiator,'" Carroll said. For Carroll, if there is self-interest in the study, her students will pay attention.

Columbia Chronicle (Chicago, IL)
December 11, 2014

Reading and language comprehension are more complicated than scientists once thought. Understanding words spoken or read on a page has historically been linked to two places in the left hemisphere of the brain — Broca’s area in the frontal lobe and Wernicke’s area in the cerebral cortex. More recently, research has suggested that the networks responsible for language processing through reading and speech vary widely among individuals. Different and sometimes unexpected parts of the brain are engaged as comprehension takes place. A group of researchers from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh constructed the first integrated computational model of reading, identifying which parts of the brain are active when breaking down sentences, determining the meaning of a text and understanding the relationships between words. Story comprehension itself is a complex process that combines these elements to form a lucid understanding of the text.

Boston Herald
December 11, 2014

With babies, there are a lot of firsts — first steps, first laugh, first word. But what about baby’s first book? According to Maureen Manning, director of Family and Community Engagement in Wareham, it could be one of the most important firsts in a baby’s development. “Reading to your child right from the beginning is essential,” said Manning, who recently brought back the Born to Read program, which provides board books for the nearly 500 babies born each year at Wareham’s Tobey Hospital, part of Southcoast Health. In addition to the book, the program sends new mothers home with a letter from second-grade students in Wareham Public Schools detailing the importance of reading to your child, as well as an invitation to a new-parents Community Cafe, which addresses literary topics of interest like Raising a Reader and How to Read to Your Child.

Reading Today
December 11, 2014

Jennifer is a twice exceptional student, which means she has dyslexia (and dysgraphia) and is intellectually gifted. This means she does three hours of homework when her peers are doing 45 minutes. She writes the same paper three or four times before she lets anyone see it. She chooses smaller words when she is writing to avoid spelling mistakes and receives lower grades because she is unable to showcase her true vocabulary. While we might applaud Jennifer for persevering and becoming successful despite (or because) of her dyslexia, Jennifer would be more successful if afforded the accommodations she needs to level the playing field. Then she could demonstrate what she knows and understands versus what she can write or read in the conventional manner. Her passing grades and good performance does not mean she doesn’t need accommodations under IDEA and we need to think outside the box when it comes to how people with dyslexia learn.

Reading Today
December 11, 2014

Each year bookstore bookshelves are filled with the latest and greatest picture books, and throughout the year many readers try to determine their favorites. Many of the titles contain eye-catching illustrations and deep messages, most that will attract readers of all ages. Some are the creation of perennial favorites, while others provide tantalizing evidence that a new artistic talent has burst on the children’s literature scene. This week’s book reviews of favorite picture books from 2014 from the Children’s Literature and Reading Special Interest Group include ones you may have seen reviewed earlier this year, but these are keepers.

Time
December 10, 2014

Wednesday is set to be a $1 billion day for early education, with the White House announcing major investments in expanding education access for America’s youngest. At the White House Summit on Early Education, President Obama will announce $750 million in federal grants that will support early learning opportunities for over 63,000 children in the U.S. A little over $200 million of those funds will go directly to 18 states looking to improve their early education programs via preschool development grants, a competitive funding program that helps states improve and expand early learning programs in communities with the greatest need. Nearly $500 million worth of grants will go to support Early Head Start and Child Care Partnership programs, that bring together Head Start programs and child care providers to make care and learning for babies and toddlers more readily available.

National Public Radio
December 10, 2014

Since last year, more than 30 states have expanded access to preschool. But there's still a lack of evidence about exactly what kinds of interventions are most effective in those crucial early years. In New York City, an ambitious, $25 million study is collecting evidence on the best way to raise outcomes for kids in poverty. Their hunch is that it may begin with math. There's plenty of evidence on the long-term importance of preschool. But why math? Morris says a 2013 study by Greg Duncan, at the University of California, Irvine's School of Education, showed that math knowledge at the beginning of elementary school was the single most powerful predictor determining whether a student would graduate from high school and attend college. "We think math might be sort of a lever to improve outcomes for kids longer term," Morris says.

Orlando Sentinel (FL)
December 10, 2014

Behind rows of wood-grain desks and bookshelves filled with teen fiction and classics, four exercise bicycles sit at the back of Jeannette Quintana's intensive-reading class at Glenridge Middle School. When reading time begins, students grab books and hop on. The pedals whirr to life. Pages turn. Quintana said the students, who rotate taking turns on the bikes, are getting more reading done while burning off extra energy. "Anything that gets them excited about reading makes my day," Quintana said.

Publishers Weekly
December 10, 2014

The main branch of the New York Public Library provided respite from the drizzle and crowds of umbrella-carrying holiday shoppers, as children’s book professionals gathered on Saturday, December 6, for a panel discussion on the state of the publishing industry. The speakers were Neal Porter, editor, Neal Porter Books at Roaring Brook Press; Susan Roth, artist; Leonard S. Marcus, children’s literature historian; Caroline Ward, librarian, Ferguson Library, Stamford, Ct.; Laurent Linn, art director, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers; and Elizabeth Harding, v-p, Curtis Brown Ltd. Author-illustrator Jane Breskin Zalben served as moderator. The speakers focused specifically on picture books and how the stories of today are being discovered, published, marketed, and consumed by readers.

Ed Central
December 9, 2014

A new study from Chloe R. Gibbs at the University of Virginia holds some preliminary good news for proponents of full-day kindergarten. Though many of the most important implications of the study won’t be clear until the students studied are much older, the first-of-its-kind randomized trial of full-day kindergarten shows sizable learning advantages for full-day students at the end of the kindergarten year. Most notably, the advantage for Hispanic full-day students over other Hispanic kindergartners is nearly twice that seen in the overall sample.

NewJersey.com
December 9, 2014

Poor testing, difficulty sustaining attention, confused by letters, numbers and words … Dyslexia. It’s one of a host of reading disabilities one in every five students face each day as they go to class. Now, more than 500 students across all 11 schools in the Bridgewater-Raritan NJ school district – through a partnership with Princeton based national nonprofit Learning Ally – have access to a tool that is changing the game for these struggling readers. Audiobook technology – 80,000 books strong to each participating student. These audiobooks include textbook and literature titles, downloaded and read on students' computers, tablets, smartphones, iPods and other devices.

Times Recorder (Zanesville, OH)
December 9, 2014

This week, I am at Elgin Elementary to see how educators are teaching the new Common Core standards in their classrooms. I will take third-grade math and language arts for four days with Furniss and with Elizabeth Markham (who I did not meet today). Elgin Elementary School has a one-to-one ratio for Google Chromebooks, so each student has a little computer to work with every day. Monday morning, Furniss directed her students to work on word problems on a website called "Math Playground." They would read the word problem, and decide how to write an equation based on the information provided.

School Library Journal
December 9, 2014

Ask any person in an urban setting, and they will tell you that the oldest street dream is to rise from the ashes of poverty, and build yourself up with powerful resources in order to be respected. This same adage holds true for inner-city school libraries like the one at P.S. 54, a New York City public elementary school just off of Fordham Road in the Bronx. Fast forward to 2014, and the school library is living proof that the oldest street dream can come true. It has become a real library media center. By quickly forging alliances and building partnerships with community-based organizations that have similar goals and dispositions, I’ve been able to build resources and create learning opportunities that few inner city children have ever heard of, let alone get the chance to experience.

The Washington Post
December 8, 2014

Why don’t more kids love (or even like) to read? This post by Alfie Kohn explains all the ways that school actually kills a desire to read in many kids, and how that can be remedied. Alfie Kohn, who gave me permission to republish this piece, is the author of 13 books, the most recent titled “The Myth of the Spoiled Child: Challenging the Conventional Wisdom About Children and Parenting.” This piece first appeared in the Fall 2010 issue of English Journal, but it remains as true today as it did then, perhaps even more so with the advent of the Common Core State Standards.

Oregonian
December 8, 2014

Talk about a tough role. Reading to little ones takes energy, enthusiasm and patience. But the payoff is better than applause. Just ask actor John Tufts, who has played "Romeo" to "Robin Hood" on Oregon Shakespeare Festival's stages over 10 years. And ask Christine Albright Tufts, an OSF actress and teaching artist with the festival's School Visit Partnership Program. The Tufts family offered suggestions on how best to read aloud Clement Clarke Moore's poem "A Visit from St. Nicholas" (also known as "The Night Before Christmas") with emphasis and humor to keep a child interested. Experts agree that kids benefit from being read to while cuddled in their parents' arms. Hearing well-crafted stories is a calming, bonding experience, and babies learning the sounds and rhythms of speech grow up to have enhanced language development and vocabulary.

Huffington Post
December 8, 2014

After the last fantastic year in picture books, it was hard to imagine 2014 reaching the same heights. And indeed, my initial impression was that this year's offerings fell short of 2013's stellar crop. However, as I sifted and sorted through the piles of books to put this end-of-year post together, the list of quality books kept growing. By the end, I was as convinced as ever that we are living in a new golden age of picture books. Many of the wonderful titles below could stand shoulder to shoulder with the best of any year, and leading the charge is a marshmallowy fellow with a scotch-taped crown determined to do the unimaginable.

School Library Journal
December 8, 2014

For the second consecutive year, we saw more nonfiction apps, from introductory surveys to rich, immersive products providing hours of engagement for a range of ages. Whether that’s because of a trend or the tablet’s capacity to provide a nonlinear approach and deep content, the result has been works of unquestionable educational value. These productions allow students to jump into content where they will, to follow their interests, and to make discoveries, all while providing hands-on experimentation or interactivity that enhances understanding and clarifies concepts. It’s a fluid, multimedia approach to subjects, enabling meaningful and inspired connections between ideas and concepts. The approach is also responsive to today’s educational goals. You’ll find a few of these nonfiction apps on the list (and more great ones in our weekly online columns), as well as titles featuring work by some of our favorite authors and illustrators.

School Library Journal
December 5, 2014

n Nashville, a revolutionary program called Limitless Libraries (LL), a collections partnership between Nashville Public Library (NPL) and Metro Nashville Public Schools (MNPS), is helping students succeed. In fact, a 2014 report by a well-known researcher, Keith Curry Lance, tied students’ use of LL to increased test scores. While LL has helped improve student performance, it has also inspired another important mission: transforming our school libraries into the coolest spaces at our schools, for students to gather, explore, learn, read, and build 21st-century technology skills. LL is a collaborative program between the Nashville Mayor’s Office, MNPS, and NPL. Through it, Nashville’s students access NPL’s best learning resources without ever leaving campus. From their school libraries, students order books, movies, and music from NPL’s catalog and pick them up following daily school deliveries. Students can also use laptops, e-readers, ESL materials, and academic databases from NPL.

School Library Journal
December 5, 2014

Many parents have concerns about digital media’s educational value for children and wonder about best practices and setting limits. Now, a new Cooney Center guide for parents, “Family Time with Apps: A Guide to Using Apps with Your Kids” discusses the ways that apps can be used to foster communication and “support children’s healthy development” and learning while turning “screen time into family time.” While encouraging adults to trust their “old-fashioned instincts,” the 20-page booklet in comic book format asks parents to consider the type of experiences they are looking for when purchasing apps.

Understood
December 5, 2014

Have you heard about the Dyslexie font? The font has been around for several years. But it recently received a lot of attention at an international design conference that highlights creative and revolutionary ideas. Dyslexie is designed in a way that makes the letters of the alphabet more clearly different from one another. Some letters are tilted, or have wider openings or thicker bottom halves to make them less likely to confuse the reader.

Chelsea Standard (MI)
December 5, 2014

If you’re a frequent visitor to the children’s area at the Chelsea District Library, then you’ve probably noticed the red bags hanging across from the entrance to Kidspot (the playroom). We call these bags Lit Kits, and they can be checked out and enjoyed at home for three weeks at a time, just like books.
One of the goals of the Lit Kit collection is to help our youngest patrons gain literacy skills — to help them get ready to learn to read and write. Research studies show that play is the “work” of toddlers and preschoolers, and that children can pick up pre-reading and pre-writing skills through play. Children with a strong literacy foundation do better overall in school. That’s why many of the items in our Lit Kits look like toys: They are toys… with a purpose.

Ed Central
December 4, 2014

Prominent voices across the spectrum of government, academic, and non-profit sectors have raised concerns about the connection between increasing income inequality and decreasing opportunity for low-income families, especially in terms of educational opportunity. This paper makes the case for leveraging new mapping tools to spark fresh conversations and spur collaborative action. Spatial analysis and data visualization can be a powerful first step, enabling policymakers and the public to better understand the whole, interconnected network of learning opportunities within their communities.

Hechinger Report
December 4, 2014

The summer of 2012 was a dizzying time for Lori Butterfield, the principal of the Guilmette Elementary School in Lawrence, Massachusetts. A new school year loomed, and Guilmette students were 20 points below the state average in literacy proficiency. The school district had empowered Butterfield, and all of Lawrence’s principals, to make the changes they believed were necessary to improve achievement. Expanded time, and a full year to plan for it, would prove critical for Guilmette Elementary. Through the planning year, the instructional leadership team was able to set instructional priorities for a redesigned and expanded school calendar. The instructional priorities included reading comprehension, experiential learning, and teacher collaboration. Butterfield and her team determined that the only way they would be able to build a new schedule that met those goals would be to add 300 hours across the year.

Medical Xpress
December 4, 2014

The boy is delighted. You can see it in his eyes — his enthusiasm for the task, his pride in his ability. Indeed, Max has good reason to be proud: At age three, he is reading. And at this precise moment, he is reading a story about the Disney character Elsa with his speech-language pathologist, Jessica Caron, a Penn State graduate student in communication sciences and disorders. Max is a participant in the Literacy Program (Maximizing Outcomes for Individuals with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Down Syndrome, and Other Disabilities) at Penn State. Directed by Janice Light, the Hintz Family Chair in Children's Communicative Competence, the program helps kids with complex communication challenges develop literacy skills including reading, writing, typing, and speaking.

School Library Journal
December 4, 2014

Three new graphic novel reading lists intended for children from kindergarten through eighth grade have been released by the Association of Library Services to Children (ALSC). The lists are divided into three grade levels — K–Gr 2, Gr 3–5, and Gr 6–8. The book lists are available online in full-color and black and white and are free to download, copy, and distribute. The reading lists are available online and “are full of engaging titles that are sure to excite children,” according to Ellen Riordan, ALSC president. Graphic novels on this list are defined as a full-length story told in paneled, sequential, graphic format.

Education Week
December 3, 2014

NASA is doing its bit to keep students' heads in the clouds — and beyond — with several out-of-school-time programs, highlighted in a new report from the White House Council on Women and Girls, that focus on attracting underrepresented girls to science. As the name indicates, Afterschool Universe is an astronomy program developed by the space agency to strengthen middle school students' natural fascination with the stars and the cosmos, which is often overlooked due to budget and scheduling constraints.

KQED Mindshift
December 3, 2014

For student reflection to be meaningful, it must be metacognitive, applicable, and shared with others. Although it’s something of a buzz word, “metacognition” is a state of mind that can be useful for all the core values presented in this book. If students are metacognitive about inquiry, then they’re thinking about exactly how they are going to phrase that question; if they’re metacognitive about collaboration, then they’re considering how their introvert or extrovert personality will affect the group. Metacognition is essentially reflection on the micro level, an awareness of our own thought processes as we complete them.

WDBJ7 (Roanoke, VA)
December 3, 2014

It's mischaracterized, miscommunicated and misunderstood, but some estimates say fifteen to twenty percent of people have some form of it. There's a lot more to dyslexia than meets the eye, and that's exactly what one Roanoke school is trying to get across. North Cross has the Crosswalk program which aims to help students with language-based learning disabilities like dyslexia. Since dyslexia is often misunderstood, they're having an open house to let the general public see how much of a challenge it can be. It's called Experience Dyslexia.

Hechinger Report
December 2, 2014

More than a decade ago a company called Renaissance Learning developed a computerized way for teachers to track students’ reading outside of the classroom. But there are now almost 10 million students in the United States using the program, called Accelerated Reader, in more than 30,000 schools. It might be the biggest survey of reading in the country. This year, the director of educational research at Renaissance learning, Eric Stickney, mined the data, not just to see which books are the most popular*, but to gain insight into how kids become better readers as they progress from first grade through 12th. Which students showed higher rates of reading growth than everyone else? Stickney found accelerated growth for students who read challenging books that were above the students’ designated reading level. “These students really do grow,” he said. “They have even higher gains.”

Phys.org
December 2, 2014

When it comes to education in reading and writing, many think of burying their noses in books or English composition assignments. One might not consider a trip to an art museum as a way to bolster students' literacy, but a University of Kansas professor has shown that art can be a highly effective way to engage students in literacy, especially those who struggle with it otherwise, and that it can apply to subjects as varied as math, science, social studies and, of course, English.

School Library Journal
December 2, 2014

Penguin Random House announced its November 29 launch of a new social media book donation campaign, #GiveaBook, to benefit children’s nonprofit, Save the Children, to benefit children in need. For every use of the hashtag #GiveaBook on Facebook and Twitter before December 25, Penguin Random House will donate a book to the Save the Children organization, up to 25,000 times.

Journal Gazette (Ft. Wayne, IN)
December 2, 2014

Long before young readers can embrace the joy of Harry Potter or any other literary treat, they must discover the magic of books themselves. Author Jan Brett’s work offers one of the stepping stones to that special world opened with pictures and words. Her visit to Fort Wayne this week and an ongoing display of her artwork highlight the importance of cultivating early literacy skills. Children aren’t born with the ability to read, of course. But the groundwork for reading and other skills necessary to earn a degree must be set well before grade 3. Pamela Martin-Diaz, Shawnee Branch manager for the Allen County Public Library, said early literacy skills are the foundation children need to learn how to read as well as understand what they are reading.

Time
December 1, 2014

New research suggests that young kids could benefit from more time around their peers in a classroom setting. A new study released Wednesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that children are better prepared for learning and social interaction in full-time preschool than in part-time programs. Researchers looked at 1,000 low-income and ethnic-minority 3- and 4-year-olds enrolled in Chicago’s Child-Parent Center Education Program and noted improvement in four of six measures of school readiness. Children placed in full-day programs showed higher scores in social development, language, math and physical health than their part-day peers, according to the study.

National Public Radio
December 1, 2014

Listening. Sharing. Following directions. Making friends. Managing big emotions. Planning for the future. A high-quality preschool program helps children develop in all these ways. But, a new report argues, such matters of the heart shouldn't be left behind just as students are learning to tie their shoes. Melissa Tooley and Laura Bornfreund of the New America Foundation write that schools should focus on these same skills, habits, attitudes, and mindsets with older kids. They say research shows they're just as important as academics. That bears repeating. Though public schools are currently held accountable for students' scores in math and reading proficiency alone, evidence from both psychology and economics shows that a wide range of non-academic skills play a big role in determining success later in life.

Northwest Indiana Times
December 1, 2014

Camille Gales remembers one of her college professors encouraging her to become a lawyer. But she had her mind set on "teaching little children to read." Gales, of Chicago, is one of two reading teachers at Hoover Elementary School in the Hoover-Schrum Memorial School District 157. Hoover Principal Shernita Mays said hundreds of students have improved their reading scores, and Gales has been a contributing factor. Over time, Gales said she learned it takes a lot more than determination to teach children to read. Gales works with students individually and in groups. She connects with them in the hallway and in the lunch room. Mays said during professional development with teachers and meetings with parents, Gales is her reading expert. Gales also works with other teachers on how to include reading in classes like physical education, music and art.

School Library Journal
December 1, 2014

In 2014, more than 250 titles received an SLJ star; after much passionate discussion, the following titles were selected by the review editors as the very best of the best. These 70 books distinguish themselves with excellence in writing, art, design, storytelling, originality, and appeal. From raucous read-alouds to off-the-wall adventure, there is something for everyone on this list; dig in and happy reading.

Health 24
November 26, 2014

Training teachers to promote structured play among kindergarteners yields improved reading, vocabulary and maths scores that persist into first grade, according to a new study. The technique, called "Tools of the Mind", seemed to be particularly effective in high-poverty schools, the authors write. "The active ingredient is children are taking responsibility for their own learning," said Clancy Blair of the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development at New York University, who led the study. "The key aspect is children planning what they're going to do and making a plan for it and executing that plan," Blair said. "They're practicing all the cognitive skills that are important for learning."

"I have always imagined that paradise will be a kind of library." — Jorge Luis Borges