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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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School Library Journal
January 23, 2017

The American Library Association (ALA) today announced the top books, video and audio books for children and young adults – including the Caldecott, Coretta Scott King, Newbery and Printz awards – at its Midwinter Meeting in Atlanta, Georgia. Here’s the full list, with links to SLJ reviews and interviews.

Education Week
January 23, 2017

The federal Investing in Innovation program helped new interventions build evidence of effectiveness, but also highlighted how much local education groups need support from regional and national experts to build successful interventions. That was the takeaway from an evaluation of the program, known as i3, released by the Social Innovation Research Center, a nonprofit think tank supported by the national venture philanthropy fund, New Profit. The findings raise concerns about state and local districts' ability to develop and study their own school improvement and other interventions under the Every Student Succeeds Act, which gives districts much more flexibility to implement school improvement and other interventions, but requires them to meet evidence standards modeled after those of i3.

Madison.com (WI)
January 23, 2017

Graduation did not come easy for 25 kids on Sunday. Tasked with reading 1,000 books — or at least having that many books read to them by their parents, and reading along as they can — the graduates finished the Monona Public Library’s 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten program, receiving a certificate of achievement, a stuffed animal and, aptly, a book as rewards for making gains in their early literacy skills. Participants get a booklet after starting the program to track their progress. On their way to graduation, kids receive prizes after milestone 100, 300 and 800 books. For parents, the booklet includes suggestions of how to improve early literacy through activities such as singing, reading, playing, talking and writing.

Iowa Public Radio
January 23, 2017

The Iowa Reading Research Center at the University of Iowa is initiating a new effort to reach older students who are struggling to read. It will begin with four schools where teenagers have become disconnected from their mainstream classrooms. Since its establishment by the Legislature in 2012, the Center has primarily worked to establish learning programs for students from pre-school through third grade. Now it’s going to help plan ways to improve reading for older students in alternative- and reformatory-school settings.

International Literacy Association Daily
January 19, 2017

The International Literacy Association (ILA) has released its annual What’s Hot in Literacy report. Based on responses from more than 1,500 literacy researchers, classroom teachers, librarians, and community leaders in 89 countries and territories, the findings show that what is trendy when talking about literacy is not always the same as what’s most important to discuss. The differences in how topics were designated by respondents—getting a lot of buzz but not necessarily that important, and vice versa—is something Marcie Craig Post, ILA’s executive director, thinks deserves attention. She suggests that perhaps the timing of the survey after the presidential election, as well as the location of respondents and the amount of publicity a subject received, might have factored into how survey respondents rated various topics. The media and the influence of its reporting is, in itself, a hot topic right now, so that might have skewed what respondents perceived as important to focus on.

WBUR (Boston, MA)
January 19, 2017

For a lot of families, read-alouds end once the kids learn to read. I get that. People are different, my tastes are not yours, and your mileage may vary. I ask only this: consider, at least, that you have options. The magic of being read to does not disappear just because it’s no longer a practical necessity. We took the read-aloud game into quadruple overtime. What did we gain? My sons relished books that might have been a stretch for them to handle cheerfully alone. Read-alouds created a shared experience; the laughter, the heartaches, and the wonder united us in a communal road trip of the mind and spirit. Plot points, dialogue and literary devices became household in-jokes; our lingua franca was based on the printed word. Piling onto the sofa under an afghan to read and listen gave us the comfort of cozying up, long after the guys had reached the ages when even a wave from your mom in public is the most horrible thing that ever happened to you.

Garden City Telegram (KS)
January 19, 2017

One of the most important jobs in school today is teaching and learning literacy, according to USD 457 Superintendent Dr. Steve Karlin. And one of the ways the district is doing that is through the Kansas Reading Roadmap program. The district launched its KRR program last summer for struggling students, who qualified based on scores on the AIMS test, which is a reading assessment test. Now, KRR is an after-school program offered at Abe Hubert, Buffalo Jones, Florence Wilson, Gertrude Walker and Victor Ornelas elementary schools that provides additional reading practice for students in their specific areas of deficiency. The program is aligned with the district’s instructional curriculum so tutors know exactly how to target the additional instruction and practice time for the students’ success.

Education Week
January 18, 2017

One factor in our students' reading abilities that often gets glossed over is their past experience with reading -- those experiences that drew them toward reading and those that have repelled them. Teachers know that our work with readers depends as much on their reading attitudes as their reading skills, and that these two pieces are intertwined. Too many children are moving through the grades with broken relationships to reading. I don't think there's just one way to change this, but I know we would draw many more students toward books if our main goal was to help them have lots of positive experiences with reading. I think the rest follows much more easily from there.

Syracuse Post-Standard (NY)
January 18, 2017

An initiative facilitated by the Mary Ann Shaw Center for Public and Community Service, the Syracuse University Literacy Corps offers a paid work-study learning experience for college students while providing an enhanced learning opportunity for elementary students who may be in need of some one-on-one attention. An average of 115 college tutors make a one-year commitment to the program and then take part in trainings that help them learn how to facilitate age-appropriate literacy activities, such as read-to, close reading, letter recognition and other activities as advised by SCSD coaching staff. The program is currently at work in 16 SCSD elementary and Pre-K-8 schools, as well as in 4 Pre-K programs and two SCSD partner programs. Teachers say the tutors help add a level of excitement to the classroom that helps students learn.

School Library Journal
January 18, 2017

There are, in my experience, three types of reluctant readers. First, there are the kids who struggle to read, know they are “poor readers,” and hate reading because of it. Then, there are kids who can read competently but prefer to do pretty much anything else, like sports, video games, hanging out with friends, watching movies, etc. Finally, there are the kids who are categorized as reluctant readers, but are actually highly selective readers, often wary of reading books adults want them to read. Naturally, nonfiction is the answer to all three of these problems! Here are specific series and publishers whose titles will tempt each type of reluctant reader.

New America
January 17, 2017

A recent report published by the Department of Education offers promising examples of programs around the country working to sustain pre-K gains by aligning standards, curriculum, and instructional practices from pre-kindergarten through third grade (referred to as PreK-3rd, or P-3, alignment). The idea of PreK-3rd alignment is a simple, yet important one - to more likely sustain children’s gains made in pre-K, pre-K should be followed by kindergarten through third grade classrooms that are well-aligned so that each year’s content builds on the previous year’s. The report examines PreK-3rd alignment efforts underway in five programs across the country: Boston Public Schools, Chicago Child-Parent Centers, Early Works in Portland, FirstSchool in rural North Carolina, and Sobrato Early Academic Language (SEAL) in Redwood City, California.

Cleveland.com (OH)
January 17, 2017

The single most important story time a child can have is with a loved one. That's why Mentor Public Library's newest story time, Read With Me, is designed to teach parents tips to promote early literacy at home. It still has all the reading, songs, and activities that people expect from a MPL story time. But it also gives parents the tools they need to help their child learn to love reading. The library will even provide book recommendations and craft supplies that parents can use at home. Each story time will reinforce six pre-reading skills that are essential in preparing children for school success.

School Library Journal
January 17, 2017

Jason Reynolds has not one but two critically acclaimed middle grade novels that are currently topping many mock Newbery lists: As Brave as You and Ghost. Stepping onto the YA scene with 2014’s When I Was the Greatest, Reynolds was awarded the prestigious Coretta Scott King–John Steptoe Award for New Talent. Since then, he’s found an eager and growing fan base of readers with The Boy in the Black Suit and All-American Boys (coauthored with Brendan Kiely). In 2016, Reynolds expanded his talents into fiction for a slightly younger audience: middle graders. If multiple starred reviews and plenty of buzz are any indication, Reynolds’s ability to craft authentic and compelling characters, weave original stories, and connect with readers will see him taking home many more future honors and awards.

Education Week
January 13, 2017

The latest results of the Program for International Student Assessment give tantalizing hints of the connections between students' early-childhood education and their later math scores. A new international test may provide more insights into what those connections mean for policy, but experts warn that it remains hard to tell what the United States can learn from other countries' approaches to preschool. "Children in young grades who have a strong foundation in numbers, that follows them through the secondary grades," said Matthew Larson, the president of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. "That's entirely consistent with the research, and it does suggest that it's something for school district officials to consider."

Education Week
January 13, 2017

Can students' time in reading class be spent as profitably with a bowl of popcorn and a movie as with a novel and notebook? In central New Jersey, a former school board member and parent are raising questions about the Hamilton Township School District's policy of allowing teachers to use movies for instructional purposes and teaching students reading skills through short excerpts instead of whole books or stories. While the awards-season critique of the role of movies in the classroom is certainly intriguing, this dispute is, at its heart, part of a long-running debate about the increased emphasis on "close reading" that's come along with the Common Core State Standards in English/language arts and how teachers should approach it.

Daily Herald (Provo, UT)
January 13, 2017

Teaching our children how to read is just as important as teaching them how to love reading. The ability to read has lasting effects not only on a child’s educational life, but it also has lasting effects on enriching other aspects of their life. While the brain is wired to speak, it is not naturally wired to read and write. As a result, it is important to instill these skills early in our children’s lives. According to Reading Rockets, “With teaching, children typically learn to read at about age 5 or 6 and need several years to master the skill. Sophisticated reading comprehension is the goal of eight to 16 more years of schooling.”

International Literacy Association Daily
January 13, 2017

Writing fanfiction — creative works that fans write based on storylines and characters in existing books, movies, or other media — has moved from the fringes of fandom activity to having more mainstream visibility. Literacy teachers can connect their classrooms to these online communities to foster their students’ development as writers. As a literacy activity that requires authors to become experts on the original source material, fanfiction has opportunities to practice reading and writing skills valued by the Common Core State Standards, including close reading and writing narratives. Sharing their work in an online fanfiction community further provides youths with authentic opportunities to produce and distribute their writing with the help of technology (also covered in Common Core) as they collaborate with others and receive feedback, though not always very helpful feedback, from the online audience.

The Wall Street Journal
January 12, 2017

For as long as this country has been committed to providing a basic education to all its children, we have been arguing about the best way to teach reading. In the 1800s, Horace Mann posited that we learn by coming to understand whole words: We read for meaning, and words have a content unrelated to how they are spelled out. By the middle of the 1900s, researchers were arguing, on the contrary, that we learn to read by sounding out words through their basic components—phonemes—and that it is through building phonetic skills that reading capacity is best developed. The two sides have been going at it ever since. The temptation for an author coming fresh to the topic today is to take the cultural historian’s synthetic approach and show how each side has contributed positively to how we teach literacy. This is not Mark Seidenberg’s approach. In “Language at the Speed of Sight,” he develops a careful argument, backed by decades of research, to show that the only responsible way to teach children to read well is to build up their abilities to connect reading with speech and then to amplify these connections through practice, developing skillful behavioral patterns hand in hand with the neurological networks that undergird them. “Language at the Speed of Sight” begins with the paradox that people become good at reading without having any idea of how they go about it

KTLA 5 (Los Angeles, CA)
January 12, 2017

Daliyah Marie Arana likes to read. A lot. The 4-year-old Gainesville, Georgia girl has read 1,000 books and she hasn’t even started kindergarten, the Gainesville Times reported. Daliyah joined Georgia’s “1,000 Books B4 Kindergarten” program at the age of 2 and completed the challenge, her mother told the newspaper. On Wednesday, the pint-sized bookworm donned a stylish pink dress and matching hair bow, visited the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. and was named “Librarian For The Day.”

The New York Times
January 12, 2017

In a case that could affect the education of 6.7 million children with disabilities, the Supreme Court on Wednesday struggled to decide whether it should require public schools to do more under a federal law that calls for them to provide a free education that addresses the children’s needs. Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. said the court was being asked to choose among several finely shaded formulations. “What is frustrating about this case and about this statute is that we have a blizzard of words,” he said. The court appeared uneasy with a standard used by many appeals courts, which have said that providing a modest educational benefit was enough. But some of the justices indicated that they were concerned about the costs that any changes could impose.

"Fill your house with stacks of books, in all the crannies and all the nooks." — Dr. Seuss