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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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Ed Central
August 26, 2014

Apps for social communication, learning, and play are a prominent part of nearly every family’s life today. Are they having a similar impact on how families and educators help their children learn to read? And if so, what kinds of apps are they using? We wanted to take a deeper look at the kinds of apps available to families with children 8 years old and younger by coding additional aspects of the app descriptions and content.

PBS NewsHour
August 26, 2014

As the new school year approaches, teachers know that their students may have regressed over the summer. But one program has made strides in preventing summer learning loss by enlisting parents as partners to help teach children. Special correspondent for education John Merrow reports on Springboard Collaborative, a non-profit organization that makes parents and teachers into partners.

The Ledger (Lakeland, FL)
August 26, 2014

As we get closer to the end of another summer vacation, I want to encourage parents to continue reading to your children every day. I believe parents are a child's first and most important teacher. I have been a preschool teacher for more than 30 years. Reading to your children is not only a wonderful way to bond with them, but also to grow their brains. Phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary and comprehension can be taught by you as you read a story, rhyme or sing a song together.

The Cabin
August 26, 2014

Jennifer Hillman of Vilonia describes her 10-year-old daughter, Molly, as a poster child for dyslexia. She’s smart, extremely talented but has low self-esteem. She also has problems with reading and spelling. Molly, Hillman said, struggles daily with self-confidence — a common symptom of dyslexia. Molly was tested in January 2012 when she was in the second grade. Early intervention, Hillman said, is crucial to a child with dyslexia. Hillman is a cheerleader for an education bill that was passed in Arkansas in 2013 and will require school districts to be in compliance by next year. That bill requires a dyslexia specialist in school districts. Also, it requires teachers to receive awareness training and requires schools to screen children in Kindergarten through second grade for dyslexia. Any child identified as having dyslexia will also receive intervention or treatment.

Go Local Worcester (MA)
August 25, 2014

Research continues to show that attendance at all ages is exceedingly important and as mentioned is correlated to student success and graduation rates. Many times parents think my child is only in the kindergarten so if they miss school for a week what’s all fuss about? Well, researcher Hedy Chang found that when students are chronically absent (Absent 10% of the school year or over 18 times during the year) during the kindergarten years that the students perform lower academically in first grade. This is true “regardless of gender, ethnicity or socioeconomic status.” According to the report it is especially strong for Latino children who had a much lower first grade reading scores if they were chronically absent in the kindergarten. The report also showed that children living in poverty suffer more academically when they miss school during the early years. Among poor children, chronic absence in the early grades predicts the lowest levels of achievement at the end of fifth grade. In addition, these same children have trouble mastering reading and math by the end of the third grade. A common sense approach suggests that attending school regularly helps develop a strong foundation for learning and during the elementary years, children are gaining basic social and academic skills critical for further learning.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
August 25, 2014

Julie King, a second-grade teacher at Pittsburgh Colfax K-8, is returning to the classroom this year with new goals in mind for her students. After the students arrive today, Ms. King will focus on helping them read more fluently out loud. She’ll incorporate songs, poetry and partner reading into her daily instruction and monitor her students’ progress along the way. Teaching her students to read is just one part of Ms. King’s job, but according to Brian Smith, Pittsburgh Public Schools’ executive director of strategic priorities, it’s critical. A child’s third-grade reading level is a key predictor of later academic success, and as the school district strives for more of its students to read proficiently by third grade, it’s refocusing efforts on the literacy of its youngest students.

School Library Journal
August 25, 2014

At the Nature Explorium in Centereach, New York, children can taste and smell flowers and herbs, build boats and float them down a creek, and try playing musical instruments from different cultures. This is not an amusement park or a private museum with a pricey entrance fee. Rather, the Nature Explorium is part of the Middle Country Public Library (MCPL) in Centereach and is free to all patrons. The 5,000-square-foot outdoor garden and learning space is a dramatic example of how libraries are creating gardens to expand their mission. A little dirt under the fingernails can go a long way toward teaching nutritional literacy and environmental awareness. Library gardens also provide opportunities for literary tie-ins or a primer on aquaponic farming. Other times, these oases simply offer a place to rejuvenate the soul.

The New York Times
August 22, 2014

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced on Thursday that states could delay the use of test results in teacher-performance ratings by another year, an acknowledgment, in effect, of the enormous pressures mounting on the nation’s teachers because of new academic standards and more rigorous standardized testing. Using language that evoked some of his fiercest critics, Mr. Duncan wrote in a blog post, “I believe testing issues today are sucking the oxygen out of the room in a lot of schools,” and he added that teachers needed time to adapt to new standards and tests that emphasize more than simply filling in bubbled answers to multiple-choice questions.

National Public Radio
August 22, 2014

When you think about a sentence, you usually think about words — not lines. But sentence diagramming brings geometry into grammar. If you weren't taught to diagram a sentence, this might sound a little zany. But the practice has a long — and controversial — history in U.S. schools. And while it was once commonplace, many people today don't even know what it is. So let's start with the basics. "It's a fairly simple idea," says Kitty Burns Florey, the author of Sister Bernadette's Barking Dog: The Quirky History and Lost Art of Diagramming Sentences. "I like to call it a picture of language. It really does draw a picture of what language looks like." I asked her to show me, and for an example she used the first sentence she recalls diagramming: "The dog barked."

New Jersey On-Line
August 22, 2014

In the third grade, students take a battery of tests and exams to gauge just how well they read. But according to school officials, there’s a crucial problem with such a scenario: Oftentimes, third grade is too late. The school board next week will consider a proposal to institute a “reading recovery” program for first-grade students, meant to bridge the gap for children who may have fallen behind in language arts and literacy before they reach a critical age. Without extra help, those students could become part of the 44 percent of district third-graders who were unable to read at their expected level, Parla said. “It’s really meant to fill in gaps,” elementary language arts supervisor Kelli Eppley said at the school board meeting.

Education Week
August 21, 2014

Can limited speech silence the better angels of students' nature? In the cartoons, a little angel and devil pop up on the shoulders of a character about to make a decision, arguing in favor of good or evil. In my 2-year-old son, I can eavesdrop on his real decisionmaking process as he talks himself through why he shouldn't hang on his baby brother's swing: "No, mommy says it can fall so I can't swing on the swing, but I want to swing on it a little …"

The Brooklyn Reader (NY)
August 21, 2014

“Literacy prevents violence,” said Betty Davis, a retired educator and Crown Heights resident. “What it boils down to is, most people who commit violence have no hope. Reading develops a person inside so that they have a vision of themselves as something other than hopeless.” Davis, who has a master’s degree in library science and has worked for many years as a principal in the New York city public schools, said that underlying concept is the reason she has formed the Youth Volunteer Literacy Development Project, an intergenerational reading project that pairs teens with preschool-aged children to encourage reading in the home. The teens volunteer to hold reading circles — a way to encourage them to become active contributors to their community as they carve out their own roles in life while also engage children early in the love of books.

School Library Journal
August 21, 2014

When librarian K.C. Boyd first came to Wendell Phillips Academy High School in Chicago in 2010, it was ranked second to last among schools in Illinois. Since then, test scores have jumped, especially reading: 18.2 percent of students are meeting or exceeding state standards, compared with 6.5 percent in 2012, and the school has moved from a level three rating to a level one, (or an “Excellent Standing”). Boyd has transformed the school’s reading culture and pioneered the school’s use of social media. And while she isn’t entirely responsible for the school’s turnaround — the Academy for Urban School Leadership, a nonprofit organization that helps chronically low-performing schools, became involved in 2010 as well — she’s definitely had an impact.

The Guardian (UK)
August 21, 2014

A new study which found that readers using a Kindle were "significantly" worse than paperback readers at recalling when events occurred in a mystery story is part of major new Europe-wide research looking at the impact of digitisation on the reading experience. Anne Mangen of Norway's Stavanger University, a lead researcher on the study, said "the Kindle readers performed significantly worse on the plot reconstruction measure, ie, when they were asked to place 14 events in the correct order." The researchers suggest that "the haptic and tactile feedback of a Kindle does not provide the same support for mental reconstruction of a story as a print pocket book does".

National Public Radio
August 20, 2014

Two new polls this week attempt to quantify the public's feelings for the Common Core State Standards. The K-12 benchmarks in English and math were little known this time last year. But they've since become the subject of a high-profile political fight. Now a majority of the public opposes them. Or do they? Poll No. 1, out today, puts support for the Core at just 33 percent. But Poll No. 2, released yesterday, puts it at 53 percent. That's a big difference. Which one is wrong? Or can they both, somehow, be right?

Ed Central
August 20, 2014

It’s clear that children of mothers with low educational achievement are at a disadvantage. While providing high-quality educational opportunities can help children overcome such barriers, helping mothers attain higher levels of education may also help to improve children’s outcomes. Higher levels of education are associated with gainful employment and greater economic stability. And since most children spend the majority of their time with a parent, a stable home environment is important for reinforcing the benefits of high-quality early education. It isn’t possible to determine causation in this case, but the strong correlation depicted in the graph between parental education and children’s proficiency suggests that educating parents could improve children’s academic outcomes.

WLBT (Jackson, MS)
August 20, 2014

No more fun and games. Kindergarten through third grade students will have to pass a fundamental test in order to advance. Lawmakers believe a new program could limit the number of students falling behind and it provides a way to get them targeted for help early. Kristen Wells is a regional literacy coordinator. Her job and others were born out of legislation passed in 2013. It's come to be known as the 3rd grade reading gate. The new law won't allow kids to pass 3rd grade if they can't read at or above the grade level. Schools won't wait till that year to test. The state literacy director says they'll test the kids a total of three times throughout the year. Literacy coaches are currently in 67 target schools across the state this year. Those are the schools with a high percentage of struggling readers. But the work begins with teachers.

The Ledger (Lakeland, FL)
August 20, 2014

Gibbons Street Elementary watched its school grade drop each year, starting in 2011. Last school year, it was sitting at a D and on a list of 100 public and charter elementary schools in the state with the lowest reading scores. Students at the Bartow school spent 180 minutes each day working on their literacy skills with a two-hour literacy block and one additional state-mandated hour for reading comprehension — a model 20 other Polk schools have to adopt this year. When scores came out this summer, Gibbons Street's passing rates for FCAT reading increased, and the school climbed to a C grade.Gibbons Street moved off the list of elementary schools with the lowest reading scores.

Education Week
August 19, 2014

Results of a poll released on Tuesday show strong public support for the idea of shared academic standards, but much weaker support for the standards that have been put in place by 43 states and the District of Columbia: the Common Core State Standards. The poll of 5,000 adults, conducted this past spring by Education Next, a journal published by Stanford University's Hoover Institution, shows that more than two-thirds of adults support the idea of shared academic standards. But when they were asked about the "common core" specifically, support dropped by 15 percentage points.

NBC News
August 19, 2014

New gadgets and mobile apps introduced in the past few years are making reading, writing and math more accessible to students with learning disabilities. Text-to-speech apps like Voice Dream Reader and Notability have changed the way students comprehend lessons in areas they normally struggle, said Karen Janowski, an assistive technology consultant in Boston. The apps magnify and "create more white space" around text or recite text to readers. Smart pens like Echo transcribe written word in specialized notebooks or the corresponding tablet app into digital documents and record voice notes the writer may leave. "These gadgets are essential," said Janowski. She believes moving away from paper and into digital formats, where text can be manipulated, is vital for students with learning difficulties.

School Library Journal
August 19, 2014

While you may already be familiar with the free Digital Literacy and Citizenship Curriculum provided by Common Sense Media (CSM) you might not be aware of Graphite, the platform created to provide parents and teachers with unbiased reviews of apps, games, and websites. CSM uses a rubric that evaluates these tools according to their learning potential, rating each product in terms of engagement, pedagogy, and support. If a student shares a new app they’ve discovered and you want to know whether the app is educational, go to the Graphite website and search for the app under "Reviews and Ratings." In need of a fun app to motivate students? Graphite allows users to search by subject, level, cost, and type. Reviewed products are also mapped to the Common Core Standards to help users focus on particular curricular areas. The site also includes reviews from teachers who have actually used the product in the classroom, as well as suggestions of how to incorporate the tool into lessons.

The Notebook (Philadelphia, PA)
August 15, 2014

READ by 4th is an ambitious campaign to have almost all Philadelphia students reading on grade level by the 4th grade. Now, just about half do — a troubling statistic because data indicate that students who don't reach that benchmark are many times more likely to fall behind and drop out of school. READ stands for Ready, Engaged, Able, and Determined. The goal is for all 4th graders here to be proficient in reading in six years — by 2020. City leaders including Superintendent William Hite came to McVeigh Recreation Center for the official launch of READ by 4th, which is Philadelphia's piece of the Campaign for Grade Level Reading, launched by the Annie E. Casey Foundation and underway in some 150 cities and towns and 39 states.

Los Angeles Times
August 15, 2014

It's bath, book and bed for 5-year-old Nathan Flores. No TV. His parents learned the importance of routine and reading when they began taking him to a local family literacy program two years ago. Now, a sibling is on the way. Leslie Flores, Nathan's mother, said the program would be great for the whole family. "If they're still around, I'll definitely be taking my baby there," she said. Whether the program that Flores knows is still around, however, remains to be seen. Grants for it have expired. The Los Angeles Unified School District plans to foot the bill for the Family Literacy Project but is proposing some cuts in an effort to keep it sustainable. This year, it's expected to serve 144 families, many of which are low-income and learning English, compared with 200 last year. In a district that enrolls about 650,000 students, the program is tiny but its supporters are passionate.

WBUR (Boston, MA)
August 15, 2014

Before the Hunger Games, before Divergent, before young adult dystopia became the next big thing, Lois Lowry published “The Giver.” It’s the story of a seemingly utopian society where there is no suffering, no pain, no hunger. But there is also no love or individual freedom, no color, no emotion. Spouses, children and jobs are assigned. Everything and everyone is the same. In this world, only one man holds all the memories and emotions of the past, until a young boy named Jonas is chosen to become the next person to receive those memories. The book won the 1994 Newbery Medal, and to this day is deeply popular among kids and adults around the world. Now, 21 years after it was published, the first movie adaptation of “The Giver” is coming out.

WJCT (Jacksonville, FL)
August 14, 2014

Under a revised statute, the 300 lowest-performing schools in the state, must add an hour of reading instruction to their schedule next year. The law is an expansion of a previous law requiring only the 100 lowest performing schools to add an extra hour. However, in an effort to improve literacy scores across the county, the district added 11 more schools to the list. It was move met with some highly-publicized resistance from parents at Holiday Hill Elementary, who questioned the merits of the extra hour.

The Hechinger Report
August 14, 2014

In April of 2012, Mark D. Shermis, then the dean of the College of Education at the University of Akron, made a striking claim: “Automated essay scoring engines” were capable of evaluating student writing just as well as human readers. Shermis’s research, presented at a meeting of the National Council on Measurement in Education, created a sensation in the world of education — among those who see such “robo-graders” as the future of assessment, and those who believe robo-graders are worse than useless.

New York Magazine
August 14, 2014

Kids who spend their early years lost in the imaginary worlds of children’s fiction — Where the Wild Things Are, Corduroy, Beatrix Potter’s stories of Peter Rabbit — may be getting more out of the stories than pure entertainment. Narrative fiction seems to make young children more empathetic, according to research presented at this weekend’s American Psychological Association convention in San Francisco. Fiction, of course, lets you see the world through another set of eyes, and that isn’t lost on young children, argued York University psychologist Raymond Mar. Some research has suggested that adults who read narrative fiction also tend to be more empathetic, but so far, the research is inconclusive, Mar said. But between the ages of 3 and 5, kids are just starting to understand the difference between their own thoughts and desires and those of other people. And kids who read fiction with their parents seem to be better at those early stabs at empathy than kids who don’t, the research suggests.

KQED Mindshift
August 13, 2014

Allowing students to bring their own devices to class can be a cost-effective way to quickly get access to the internet and to the many useful tools those devices carry. But students don’t always get the chance to use their devices, especially in low-income schools. As we previously reported, a 2013 Pew study revealed that only 35 percent of teachers at the lowest income schools allow their students to look up information on their mobile devices, as compared to 52 percent of teachers at wealthier schools. And while 70 percent of teachers working in high-income areas say their schools do a good job providing resources and support to effectively integrate technology into the classroom, only 50 percent of teachers in low-income areas agree. The bottom line for any teacher: technology works best as an extension of what’s already happening in class.

Billings Gazette (MT)
August 13, 2014

Twins Ty and Alec D’Aigneau each fingered sets of colored tiles into five-letter words, then counted off each sound as they spoke it, slowly, to their tutor. Their tutor is TerraBeth Jochems, a Billings high school teacher by day who for the past decade has also provided free, specialized tutoring to students with reading disabilities. She takes in the toughest cases, the students who are falling far behind their peers — usually despite other interventions — and are in danger of never catching up. This summer Jochems worked with 10 students, her largest group yet, thanks to a grant from the Downtown Exchange Club. Many of her students have been diagnosed with dyslexia, a reading disability in which the brain has trouble connecting language sounds and symbols, despite normal intelligence levels.

Trussville Tribune (AL)
August 13, 2014

I thought I would delve into an eye condition that affects children in school, and is one that makes learning difficult. A child can have this condition and still have 20/20 vision. The condition is called convergence insufficiency, or CI. Convergence insufficiency is present in one out of every 10 children, suggesting that in a typical classroom one or two children may have this condition. Studies have demonstrated that children with this problem are likely to experience performance-related symptoms (e.g. loss of place, loss of concentration, re-reading the same line, reading slowly, trouble remembering what was read or feeling sleepy) as well as eye-related symptoms (e.g. blur, headache, double vision or eye strain).

School Library Journal
August 13, 2014

Madeline turns 75 this year, though you would hardly know it. Her adventures are as fresh as when the first Madeline book was published in 1939 by Simon & Schuster. It’s a time for celebration — and for some revelations about the old house in Paris that was covered with vines, its smallest inhabitant, and Ludwig Bemelmans, Madeline’s creator. Most wouldn’t assume that Bemelmans and his little Parisian schoolgirl had a strong connection to New York City. But the current exhibit at the New-York Historical Society Museum & Library, Madeline in New York: The Art of Ludwig Bemelmans, reveals otherwise.

Education Week
August 12, 2014

If we want learning technologies to benefit all learners, not just the children of the affluent and technologically-savvy, we need to think about teaching villages and not just children. Ricarose Roque, from the MIT Media Lab's Lifelong Kindergarten Group, has released a fabulous new guide for Family Creative Learning Workshops: an out-of-school program that introduces entire families to creative learning through Scratch and Makey-Makey. Scratch is a block-based programming language for learning to code and creating games, animations, and other cool stuff, and Makey-Makey is a tool for creating novel physical interfaces for computing systems, like turning a bunch of bananas into a piano. The Famliy Creative Learning Guide is a blueprint to help other facilitators run a series of five two-hour workshops, and the guide offers lesson plans, journals, and other resources.

WJCT (Jacksonville, FL)
August 12, 2014

This year, nearly half of Duval County public elementary schools will add an extra hour of reading to their day. Most of these schools are required to do so by state law. Under a revised statute, the 300 lowest-performing schools in the state, must add an hour of reading instruction to their schedule next year. The law is an expansion of a previous law requiring only the 100 lowest performing schools to add an extra hour. However, in an effort to improve literacy scores across the county, the district added 11 more schools to the list. It was move met with some highly-publicized resistance from parents, who questioned the merits of the extra hour. Since then, the controversy over the extended day of instruction has subsided, but the question of its effectiveness still remains.

Daily Comet (Lafourche Parish, LA)
August 12, 2014

As children return to the classroom, the libraries in Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes are wrapping up summer activities intended to keep children active while out of school. The 2014 Summer Reading Program, an annual program motivating children to read and improve their reading skills during the summer vacation, enrolled more than 28,000 children and teens from Lafourche and Terrebonne. According to Trinna Holcomb, youth service coordinator for the Lafourche Parish libraries, about 23,178 children and teens in Lafourche participated in this year’s Summer Reading Program compared to the 12,869 children and teens who enrolled in 2013.

KQED Mindshift
August 11, 2014

Most people agree that implementing game-based learning makes sense for older students, but what about really young kids? Do screens have a place in early childhood education? How young is too young for screen time? If you have small children, you know that this is a hot topic among new parents. Some moms and dads believe that screen time will ruin their children. Others see tablets as an exceptional parenting gadget, a tool that can teach, distract, and educate.

Statesman-Journal (Salem, OR)
August 11, 2014

United Way wants to raise $500,000 to boost early literacy in the Mid-Willamette Valley, organizers announced Thursday at a kick-off campaign. The nonprofit will continue to support existing programs throughout Marion, Polk and Yamhill counties, but this year organizers want to raise additional money for programs that help children ages birth to third grade. "Our goal is to own third-grade reading," said Bud Pierce, major gifts chairman. Four out of 10 third graders do not read at grade level in the Mid-Willamette Valley, said United Way Executive Director Randy Franke, which increases their risk of dropping out. United Way already supports Salem-Keizer Coalition for Equality's literacy program, which teaches parents how to boost their kids' reading skills kindergarten through third grade. But the coalition's executive director, Annalivia Palazzo-Angulo, hopes the new push will help her launch a preschool with the same idea.

Aiken Standard (SC)
August 11, 2014

Vernon Williams has long enjoyed his career as an elementary school teacher – first at Busbee-Corbett Elementary-Middle School and, until this spring, East Aiken School of the Arts. Now he’s heading to Ridge Spring-Monetta Elementary School — this time in a new reading coach position. The new reading coaches attended a workshop at the District office last week — led by Ashley Young, previously an instructional coach at Clearwater Elementary School. Young will now coordinate aspects of the Read to Success program. Instructional coaches have collaborated with classroom teachers in all content areas. Young said she’s excited about a new opportunity to work with coaches specifically on reading. “Our reading coaches will analyze data and help teachers with forming instruction,” Young said. “They will also model lessons.”

Philadelphia Inquirer
August 11, 2014

A trip to the bookstore can make one believe that children's books are only for white people and animal lovers. Don't believe me? Take a trip to your local bookstore and look around. Exhibits A through Z can be found most obviously in the children's section. Many covers there feature animals, both imaginary and real. Prehistoric and present day. Mythical or cuddly. Another image you'll see is white (cuddly) children. There are some exceptions. Ezra Jack Keats' popular picture book Whistle for Willie is usually prominently displayed, even though it's 50 years old.

The Washington Post
August 8, 2014

One method that has been shown to work with at-risk readers is one-on-one tutoring. It’s expensive to have professional tutors work with all the students who need help. What about using volunteers? According to a recent rigorous study, at least one program that uses volunteers actually works. Students got the equivalent of one-and-a-half to two months of growth in sight-word reading over the course of a school year, as compared to a control group. The study also found statistically significant results for comprehension and fluency. The program, called Reading Partners, is active in seven states and D.C. It works with about 600 students in kindergarten through fifth grade in the District, and deploys about the same number of volunteers.

National Public Radio
August 8, 2014

Imagine you're playing a computer game that asks you to design a poster for the school fair. You're fiddling with fonts, changing background colors and deciding what activity to feature: Will a basketball toss appeal to more people than a pie bake-off? Then, animal characters — maybe a panda or an ostrich — offer feedback on your design. You can choose whether to hear a compliment or a complaint: "The words are overlapping too much," or, "I like that you put in the dates." You can use their critiques as guides to help you revise your poster. Finally, you get to see how many tickets your poster sold. This little Web-based game isn't just a game. It's a test, too. "In our assessments we make little fun games, and to do well at the games you need to learn something," says Dan Schwartz, the director of the AAA Lab at Stanford University. "So they're not just measures of what the student already knows, but attempts to measure whether they are prepared to continue learning when they're no longer told exactly what to do."

The Digital Shift
August 8, 2014

A year ago, Superintendent of the Weslaco Independent School District (WISD) Ruben Alejandro signed up his district for a pilot program with digital learning company myON—which provides access to e-libraries for schools — because he wanted students "to have access to reading 24/7, anytime, anywhere." Alejandro had a vision to accelerate early learning across the community and empower every student within the district with the necessary technological tools for a competitive 21st–century education. By providing access to books and reading before a child enters the school system, Alejandro hopes to reach very young students in order to provide the opportunity to accelerate the student’s fluency, comprehension, and critical thinking skills.

Reporter-Times (Martisville, IN)
August 8, 2014

Dr. Seuss' stories have been a mainstay in children's literature since they were first released in the 1950s. Experts have oftentimes commended Dr. Seuss' works for their readability and enduring qualities. Ann Neely of Vanderbilt said the rhyme schemes and repeated sentences seen in Dr. Seuss books are often good for kids while their brains are developing. "Children in the stages of early literacy need to develop strong foundations in phonological awareness," Neely said, according to Vanderbilt's website. "I think the rhyming can be used in a variety of ways in this regard." So which of Dr. Seuss’ books should your child be reading? Here’s a list of five Dr. Seuss stories that you might want to introduce to your kids. Oh, the places they will go.

National Public Radio
August 7, 2014

Education is historically considered to be the thing that levels the playing field, capable of lifting up the less advantaged and improving their chances for success. "Play by the rules, work hard, apply yourself and do well in school, and that will open doors for you," is how Karl Alexander, a Johns Hopkins University sociologist, puts it. But a study published in June suggests that the things that really make the difference — between prison and college, success and failure, sometimes even life and death — are money and family. Alexander is one of the authors of "The Long Shadow," which explored this scenario: Take two kids of the same age who grew up in the same city — maybe even the same neighborhood. What factors will make the difference for each? To find the answer, the Hopkins researchers undertook a massive study. They followed nearly 800 kids in Baltimore — from first grade until their late-20s. They found that a child's fate is in many ways fixed at birth — determined by family strength and the parents' financial status.

Education Week
August 7, 2014

As we prepare to mark the 50th anniversary of Head Start, it's a good time to ponder the current state of preschool in the United States. Are early-learning opportunities reaching enough children? Are they quality programs? Those were among the questions considered by participants Tuesday at what was billed as the first Preschool Nation Summit, co-hosted by Los Angeles Universal Preschool and Scholastic Inc. The three panels at the summit included leaders of various advocacy and nonprofit groups, as well as local, state and national education leaders. Much of the conversation centered around the theme: How does the U.S. become a "preschool nation," or a country that believes all children deserve high-quality early-learning opportunities?

School Library Journal
August 7, 2014

In a recent Education Week article Andrew Ujifusa (“Common Core May Persist, Even In Opposition States”;) discussed the Common Core standards and what reassessment means in states that have chosen to go that way. The article’s conclusion matches my own impressionistic sense; political opposition left or right may peck at aspects of the CCSS, and mistakes, limitations, weaknesses in the rollout and/or the assessments may cause states to make valid adjustments and corrections, but the heart of the Common Core is here to stay.

Nashville Scene
August 7, 2014

It’s both the blessing and the curse of children’s books that adults remember them so fondly — a blessing because this fondness creates demand, and so the great ones keep getting reprinted and read; a curse because the rose-colored glasses of adult nostalgia can mask many of the most interesting and challenging aspects of these classics. The subtitle of Wild Things! Acts of Mischief in Children’s Literature — by Nashville writer Julie Danielson and her co-authors, Betsy Bird and Peter D. Sieruta — promises that the book will shatter those rose-colored lenses and shine a light on the often controversial aspects of children’s books, their creators and the people who read them.

Education Week
August 6, 2014

Changes in the American economy pose enormous challenges for America's public schools and the dream of socioeconomic mobility for low-income families. By upgrading the skills required by hundreds of middle-class occupations, technology has increased what the nation asks of its schools. At the same time, growing income inequality has affected where families live and how much money they can spend to nurture their children's abilities. These changes have placed great strains on America's decentralized approach to public education, particularly in schools serving large numbers of children from low-income families.

National Public Radio
August 6, 2014

When it comes to brain development, time in the classroom may be less important than time on the playground. "The experience of play changes the connections of the neurons at the front end of your brain," says , a researcher at the University of Lethbridge in Alberta, Canada. "And without play experience, those neurons aren't changed," he says. It is those changes in the prefrontal cortex during childhood that help wire up the brain's executive control center, which has a critical role in regulating emotions, making plans, and solving problems, Pellis says. So play, he adds, is what prepares a young brain for life, love and even schoolwork. But to produce this sort of brain development, children need to engage in plenty of so-called free play, Pellis says. No coaches, no umpires, no rulebooks.

Ed Central
August 6, 2014

It may sound strange to put the word "technology" in the same sentence as home-visiting programs for mothers, infants, and toddlers, but over the past few years, many of these programs have started using multimedia and digital tools to engage parents. Their success could open up new ways of thinking about technology to promote the early cognitive and social skills in children that lead to reading proficiency and a host of other positive results. A Texas-based program called Play and Learn Strategies (PALS), takes video to another level by employing hand-held video recorders to capture moments between parents and children. Home visitors and mothers view those moments at home together to open up dialogue about why children respond in various ways depending on how their parents communicate with them.

WDRB (Louisville, KY)
August 6, 2014

Learning to read shouldn't wait until children reach school age. Teaching children the importance of literacy can start when they are babies. Erica Labar, M.D., the Medical Director, UofL Pediatrics Kosair Charities, explains the effort by local doctors to supply books to encourage parents to start children on the path to reading early. Research has shown that reading regularly with young children stimulates brain development, strengthens parent-child relationships and builds language, literacy and social-emotional skills that last a lifetime. Yet, two-thirds of U.S. children are not proficient readers by the end of third grade. The University of Louisville Department of Pediatrics actively promotes early literacy at its general pediatric practices to encourage school success. Working in partnership with Half Price Books and Carmichael's KIDS, the department is holding a month-long book drive to supplement its supply of books for patients.

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