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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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Fairbanks Daily News-Miner (AK)
January 26, 2015

This month and next, fourth-grade boys from throughout the district have the opportunity to learn about new books and hear a variety of guest volunteers read stories aloud as part of the Guys Read program. “Guys Read is a wonderful opportunity to not only promote literacy but to partner with the community,” said Katie Sanders, Fairbanks School District Director of Library Services. “Having male readers from a variety of professions not only introduce a great book but share why reading is important to them sends a powerful message.” Guys Read is an annual event in which male volunteers read books to fourth-grade male students for 20 minutes during the lunch break.

Brainerd Dispatch (MA)
January 26, 2015

When two moms - both reading advocates - struggled to find books reflecting their own children they decided to do something to make a difference. Valarie Budayr and Mia Wenjen co-founded the nonprofit Multicultural Children's Book Day. The second annual event, to celebrate diversity in children's books, is Tuesday. Budayr and Wenjen reported they want to raise awareness for the children's books that do celebrate diversity and try to get more of those books in classrooms and libraries. Through the event they hope to raise awareness of authors and provide resources. The website features an authors' page to spotlight books. A resource page is aimed at parents and teachers.

Deseret News (Salt Lake City, UT)
January 26, 2015

Reading early on in the home is a big step in the right direction to help children reach proficiency by the third grade. Alarmingly, 91 percent of parents who took a Scholastic survey reported reading less to their children as soon as the child reached age 9, which is about third grade. The main reason parents stopped reading to these children is because the children could read independently by then. But 40 percent of the children of that age group said they wanted their parents to continue reading to them. And the children’s reasons? Because reading with parents provided a special bonding time, and reading together was a fun activity.

National Public Radio
January 23, 2015

After a long stretch as the law of the land, annual standardized tests are being put to, well, the test. This week, the Senate education committee held a hearing on the reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law and, specifically, on testing. The committee's chairman, Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., has released a draft bill offering a lot more leeway to states in designing their own assessment systems. But Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Sen. Patty Murray, the ranking Democrat on the committee, have dug in their heels to say that annual tests should remain mandatory. All this comes as parents, students and educators around the country are asking serious questions about the number of tests children are taking and the reasons they're taking them. I've just written a book on this topic, The Test: Why Our Schools Are Obsessed with Standardized Testing — But You Don't Have to Be, and Steve Inskeep sat down with me to ask me a few questions about it.

The Atlantic
January 23, 2015

Slouching posture, carpal-tunnel, neck strain, eye problems. The negative effects that technology use is having on humans’ bodies are surprising. Kids who spend much of their days in and out of school, their faces glued to digital screens, may be establishing bad habits early. And according to a recent study by a group of Australian education and psychology experts, kids are spending more time with technology than researchers previously thought, far surpassing the American Academy of Pediatrics’ recommendation that screen time should be limited to two hours per day.

Lehigh Valley Live (PA)
January 23, 2015

The Pennsylvania Department of Education selected Pen Argyl Area School District as one of six districts statewide to participate in the Dyslexia and Early Literacy Intervention Pilot Program. The program is designed to implement the latest strategies to diagnose and help children with reading disabilities at the youngest possible age. Up to 20 percent of the population has some degree of reading disability, according to Marilyn Mathis, director at Children's Dyslexia Center of Allentown. "The idea is to identify the students early on," Pen Argyl schools Assistant Superintendent Margaret Petit said. "There are always children with disabilities. We need special programs for them and this is a great research-based program." The new program is based on an approach known as the Orton-Gillingham method that uses a multi-sensory approach to teach students with dyslexia.

The Guardian (UK)
January 23, 2015

Tom McLaughlin, who has always had a weird relationship with words, offers his supportive and beautiful writing tips to dyslexic children everywhere (and those who know them).

ABC 7 (Los Angeles, CA)
January 23, 2015

It's called a Little Free Library and the idea is simple: "It's free. You come take a book, if you want one, leave a book, if you want one," said Sherry St. Pierre of Glendale. Little Free Libraries are popping up not only across the country, but the globe. "It's worldwide, and I see more and more of them as I drive through neighborhoods," said Glendale City Councilwoman Laura Friedman. "Individuals put them in front of their houses and offer them to their neighbors." "This is a great program that brings the library out of the buildings and into the streets and into people's neighborhoods," Friedman said. The movement's mission is to promote love of reading and literacy by building free book exchanges worldwide.

Albany Business Review (NY)
January 23, 2015

Literacy is essential to developing a strong sense of well-being and citizenship. Children who have developed strong reading skills perform better in school and have a healthier self-image. They become lifelong learners and sought-after employees. Reading aloud to children at an early age is the most effective way to help them expand their vocabulary and recognize written words. Reading also stimulates a child's imagination and expands his or her understanding of the world. There are many ways to include reading in all stages of childhood. When children focus on literacy activities they enjoy, reading will be seen as a treat, not a chore. Follow these tips at home.

The Guardian (UK)
January 23, 2015

I was a reluctant reader when I was at school. I think if most of these books this top 10 had been given to me at the right time they would have helped me become a more confident reader. And also to enjoy reading more. Perhaps not Rainbow Fairies. But the rest, certainly. All these books are all great for encouraging a lifelong love of reading to a child, if introduced at the right time. It is knowing when to read what that is the trick. So I hope you enjoy his list!

Los Angeles Times (CA)
January 23, 2015

Picture books are often the primary means through which young children in the United States first learn about our nation's history. Telling stories about traumatic past events can prove challenging, though. How can we inspire young people from all backgrounds while being honest about the pain and the hope of the African American story? Taking up this charge, four new picture books by award-winning authors and illustrators introduce slavery, Reconstruction, the Harlem Renaissance, and the civil rights movement to a new generation.

Minneapolis Star Tribune (MN)
January 23, 2015

It's not like she didn't have anything else to do. Minnesota writer Kate DiCamillo, the Library of Congress Ambassador for Young People's Literature, author of more than a dozen books (with a new novel coming out next year), and in-demand public speaker, has now signed on to be the first National Summer Reading Champion, working with the nonprofit Collaborative Summer Library Program. DiCamillo will appear in a series of public service announcements, participate in a national media campaign, and appear at events across the country. The aim of the program is to encourage families and children to take part in library summer reading programs--and it dovetails nicely with her work as Ambassador, which is also to promote reading.

KELO (Sioux Falls, SD)
January 23, 2015

The State Department of Education says a pilot project to put instructional coaches in reading classes, where students are struggling, is showing results. Dr. Melody Schopp says the goal is to make sure students read well by the end of the third grade. Dr. Schopp says the department could fund only so many school districts but she may ask the legislature next year for more money to expand the program. Schopp says even veteran teachers, some hesitant to having the specialist in their classroom, say they’ve learned new strategies.

Mississauga News (CA)
January 23, 2015

Defined as the reading, writing, listening and speaking that is done before a child actually learns to read and write on their own, early literacy skills are typically developed in children from when they are born to age six. Children raised in homes that promote early literacy can grow up to be better readers, and do better in school. So when and where do you begin? As a baby can hear sounds from 16 weeks in utero and on: reading books, listening to music, and talking to your baby during pregnancy are great starting points! Once your little one arrives, there are additional things you can to do to build early literacy skills.

Tallahassee Democrat (FL)
January 23, 2015

Educators and parents recognize the importance of promoting literacy skills early. Florida declared the week of Jan. 26 as “Celebrate Literacy Week, Florida.” This annual event encourages teachers to explore creative ways to challenge students to read every day. Like the experts advise, many adults read to their children from birth, filling shelves with Little Golden Books, the Berenstain Bears and the brilliant rhymes of Dr. Seuss.

KQED Mindshift
January 23, 2015

The pendulum is beginning to swing back towards an inquiry-based approach to instruction thanks to standards such as Common Core State Standards for math and English Language Arts, the Next Generation Science Standards and the College, Career and Civic Life (C3) Framework for Social Studies State Standards. Transitioning to this style of teaching requires students to take a more active role and asks teachers to step back into a supportive position. It can be a tough transition for many students and their teachers, but turning to the school librarian for support could make the transition a little easier. “This is so new for teachers, whereas librarians have been doing this for ten years,” said Paige Jaeger, a school librarian turned administrator and co-author of Think Tank Library: Brain-Based Learning Plans for New Standards.

Denver Post (CO)
January 23, 2015

Third-grader Skylar Avilla had a blue streak in her hair and a magenta marker in hand as she carefully crafted letters forming the vocabulary words she was studying. Skylar meets three times a week at the Martin Luther King Jr. Library in Aurora to participate in Colorado's Children's Literacy Center — a free tutoring group aimed at kids with reading levels from first-grade through sixth-grade. The organization uses community volunteers to help struggling children read at grade level. "A lot of times, it's nothing to do with the kids having a reading disability," said Rebekah Gans, the center's development director. "Sometimes it just takes someone to sit down with them and say, 'I see you, and I'm going to help.' " Students show a 95 percent increase in reading skills of one or more grade levels after 12 weeks in the program, Gans said.

Atlanta Journal Constitution (GA)
January 23, 2015

For many readers, nothing compares with getting lost in a good book. But despite their desire to do so, many special needs students face challenges that make reading a pain instead of a pleasure. Not only are they locked out of the world of Harry Potter; they’re also apt to be behind in their classes. “Most of school is reading, so many students with comprehension or expression problems - particularly those with dyslexia - are locked out,” said Jennifer Topple, director of assistive technology at the Howard School on Atlanta’s Westside. “The decoding part - sounding words out - is very difficult because their systems are not set up to do that smoothly.” Topple spends most of her time interacting with 117 students who can benefit most from the school’s assistive technology program. She connects them with software that reads printed material word by word. Works of fiction as well as science texts for class are read to the students as they follow along.

Ball State Daily (IN)
January 23, 2015

A group of about 14 children sat noisily in a classroom. They were told to sit "criss-cross applesauce" as Grace Ferguson, Ball State President’s wife, and some football players read them Maya Angelou’s “My Painted House, My Friendly Chicken, and Me.” The group reading was the launch of the semester-long program called “I Read… I Rise” modeled from Maya Angelou’s poem “Still I Rise.” The program is built as a community tribute to Maya Angelou's focus on building literacy. The launch took place at the Boys and Girls Club as a part of several Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration events.

The Washington Post
January 16, 2015

D.C. Council member Charles Allen (Ward 6) plans to introduce a bill that would send a book each month to the home of every child in the District under the age of five. The early literacy initiative aims to address an achievement gap that begins at birth. By the time students are in third grade, less than half of public school students in the District are on grade level in reading. Allen’s proposal aims to address the problem early on, by tackling a large word gap that’s been documented in research. By the time they enter school, children from advantaged backgrounds often know thousands more words than children from poor families.The program would be run by the D.C. Public Library system. A selection committee would identify a diverse range of developmentally appropriate books. The packages would also include information about programs or services available at the library for parents and their children.

Hattiesburg American (MS)
January 16, 2015

With thousands of Mississippi third-graders at risk of flunking this year because they can't read at a basic level, State Board of Education members are likely to vote today to award $1.47 million in grants to help 34 public schools meet the reading requirements. The state is already providing reading coaches to 87 low-scoring schools to help improve teaching methods. The schools getting money can hire their own coaches or hire teachers to tutor struggling readers. They can also pay for supplies, teacher training, after-school programs or summer school.

Boston Globe
January 16, 2015

Boston teachers overwhelmingly approved a proposal Wednesday that would more than double the number of public schools with an extended school day — a measure pushed heavily by city, school, and union officials to boost student achievement. The extended time would likely be used for a variety of reasons, such as providing more academic interventions and opportunities to participate in the arts, robotics, and other subjects. It would also provide time for teachers to develop lesson plans together, analyze student data, and mentor one another.

School Library Journal
January 16, 2015

Today, more than 20 million people in the U.S. practice yoga (8.7 percent of the total population). That’s a 29 percent increase since 2008, according to a 2012 study by Yoga Journal. So it’s hardly a wonder that the activity has found its way into school and public libraries, championed by librarians and other educators who themselves practice yoga and are using the discipline to enhance well-being and literacy among their patrons, children and adults alike. Yoga has grown so popular in Oklahoma City’s Metropolitan Library System (MLS) that the library now offers classes at seven locations, including programs for kids, from preschool to age 12.

The New York Times
January 15, 2015

The New York City Education Department plans to expand dual-language programs offered in public schools, using the orchestra of local languages to spread bilingual little symphonies across the five boroughs — and perhaps to attract more middle-class families to poorer schools in the process. Carmen Fariña, the city’s schools chancellor, announced the plan on Wednesday, saying that citywide, 40 dual-language programs for elementary, middle and high school levels would be created or expanded for the 2015-16 school year. In each of the programs, which aim to teach students to read, write and speak in two languages, half the students will be English speakers and half will already speak the other language of the classroom. A vast majority of the programs will be in Spanish, but there will also be some in Japanese, Hebrew, Chinese, French and Haitian-Creole.

The Atlantic
January 15, 2015

As schools across America experiment with adding more hours to the school day and more days to the school year, the Netherlands offers examples of what extra time looks like in a largely successful education system. Last fall, I traveled there to see firsthand what lessons the United States could learn and found that several aspects often dictated by law or by district policy in America are decided at individual schools across the Netherlands.

Reading Today
January 15, 2015

Experts taught me that writing is of major importance to early reading progress. Furthermore, a writing workshop is the best structure to use for writing, because it is based on and promotes Cambourne’s Seven Conditions of Learning: immersion, demonstration, approximation, time, responsibility, feedback, and expectation. This structure and these conditionsprovide fordevelopmental learning and individual guidance during the process of writing which is important for all children, but absolutely critical to the child who is falling behind, as many scholars know. I began implementing writing workshops in kindergartens. In the past 20 some years, every students in every classrooms where I’ve served as a consultant have passed Clay’s Dictation with flying colors. All these children can read and write.

Cola Daily (SC)
January 15, 2015

Those looking for a new way to “pay it forward” in 2015 can do so with a few simple purchases that could make a big difference in the lives of kids growing up in the Midlands. Palmetto Health’s Reach Out and Read network is starting another year of putting books into the hands of children beginning with their 6-month-old well visit. The national program was expanded into Columbia in 1998 when leadership at Palmetto Health Children’s Hospital saw the need to promote literacy from the start of a child’s life.

The Patriot-News (PA)
January 14, 2015

According to a new survey by venerable kids-book publishers Scholastic, when left to their own devices and allowed to read books of their own choosing during the school day, middle and high school students are also more likely to read for fun outside the classroom too. In fact, 78 percent of students who seriously read for fun (at least five days out of seven), said they had time to read a book of their own choosing during the school day, The Washington Post reports. That's compared to 24 percent of infrequent readers (less than one day a week) said they had "time to read a book of their choice during the school day," The Post reported. "For us, choice is key," Kyle Good, a spokesman for Scholastic, tells the newspaper. "When you let kids choose the books they want to read, they'll be voracious readers."

Ed Central
January 14, 2015

Last week Scholastic released the Kids and Family Reading Report, its annual survey of children’s reading, and some of the results run counter to conventional wisdom about how much children love electronic books and desire independence. The responses provide hints of nostalgia for cuddling up on the couch turning pages of paper with their parents by their side. The results are packed with interesting nuggets for parents and educators alike. They show a decline in “reading for fun” at home among some age groups (see more below), while they also show the importance of school to low-income children as a place for reading. A new section of the report provides insight into reading habits among parents of infants, toddlers, and preschoolers. And many of the children’s responses throughout the report point to the power of allowing children to choose what to read.

KQED Mindshift
January 14, 2015

Art has long been recognized as an important part of a well-rounded education — but when it comes down to setting budget priorities, the arts rarely rise to the top. Many public schools saw their visual, performing and musical arts programs cut completely during the last recession, despite the many studies showing that exposure to the arts can help with academics too. A few schools are taking the research to heart, weaving the arts into everything they do and finding that the approach not only boosts academic achievement but also promotes creativity, self-confidence and school pride. What does art integration look like? Recently, a fourth-grade lesson on geometry examined the work of the famous Russian artist Wassily Kandinsky. The class talked about his work and then created their own art using angles in the style of Kandinsky. Students had to be able to identify the angles they’d used and point them out in their art.

School Library Journal
January 14, 2015

What better way to celebrate Mock Newbery season than by announcing the 16 candidates in School Library Journal’s Battle of the Kids’ Books (BOB)? The first match of the virtual book elimination tournament doesn’t start until March 9, but these contenders are rearing to go. Now in its seventh year, the winner-takes-all contest continues to pit stellar kids’ and teens’ books from the previous year against one another in a March Madness-style format. Some of this year’s hopefuls include National Book Award-winner Jacqueline Woodson’s Brown Girl Dreaming (Penguin), master storyteller Gregory Maguire’s Egg and Spoon (Candlewick), and the graphic novel memoir, El Deafo (Abrams), by Cece Bell. A roster of acclaimed and bestselling authors will have to deliberate between two books (often of different genres, formats, audiences) to decide which title will compete in the next round.

National Public Radio
January 12, 2015

The classroom of the future probably won't be led by a robot with arms and legs, but it may be guided by a digital brain. It may look like this: one room, about the size of a basketball court; more than 100 students, all plugged into a laptop; and 15 teachers and teaching assistants. This isn't just the future, it's the sixth grade math class at David Boody Jr. High School in Brooklyn, near Coney Island. Beneath all the human buzz, something other than humans is running the show: algorithms. The kind of complex computer calculations that drive our Google searches or select what we see on our Facebook pages. Algorithms choose which students sit together. Algorithms measure what the children know and how well they know it. They choose what problems the children should work on and provide teachers with the next lesson to teach. This combination of human capital and technology is called "blended learning." And regardless of whether it makes you uneasy, the program, Teach to One, seems to be serving Boody Jr. High well. A recent study of the 15 schools using Teach to One, had mixed results, but showed they are outperforming their peers nationally on average.

The Atlantic
January 12, 2015

English-language instruction, basic computer skills, parenting classes, and infant and toddler care — all during school hours — are services that Briya Public Charter School offers for free to adult students and their children. Entire families can enroll, with parents participating in the adult program and their 3- and 4-year-old children attending the preschool. The school also offers care for babies and toddlers. The school has three campuses, each of which are located within Mary's Center, a D.C. social-service and health clinic. In fact, many of Briya's students enroll in the school through referrals from the clinic, where they might have visited for health or welfare services. Briya prides itself on being a one-stop shop for education and public assistance for disadvantaged adults, embracing the "two generation" approach to fighting poverty

Chalkbeat (CO)
January 12, 2015

Amy Dusin sometimes takes advantage of the quiet time when she nurses her seven-month-old son Hunter to review the parenting tips she got via text message that week. They remind her to play peekaboo with her baby or describe facial expressions to him when they look in the mirror together. Dusin, who works part time as a convenience store manager in Greeley, said the texts provide nice reminders about learning activities. The weekly text messages come from Bright by Three—formerly Colorado Bright Beginnings– a Denver-based non-profit that provides language and literacy resources to parents of children ages 0-3.

Toledo Blade (OH)
January 12, 2015

It’s a startling statistic: One-third of Toledo children do not have the literacy skills to enter kindergarten. To turn that tide, the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library Legacy Foundation has equipped a van with literature and librarians to increase literacy in underserved communities. Librarians Lauren Boeke and Cristin Brown present Ready to Read workshops designed to help parents understand and use the skills that will help their nonnative English-speaking children to read. After talking about the five skills that go into making a better reader — talking, singing, reading, writing, and playing — the women suggest several bilingual children’s books and related materials that families can take home. They can also apply for a library card for themselves and their children, and check out books from the Ready to Read van.

Baltimore Sun
January 9, 2015

There has been a big void in the world of teacher training standards that have not been aligned with scientific research and which are not rigorous and measurable. In 2012, the American Federation of Teachers called for a "more rigorous threshold to ensure that every teacher is actually ready to teach. All prospective teachers should meet a universal and rigorous bar that gauges mastery of subject matter knowledge and demonstrates competency." The foundation of knowledge in reading is comparable to teaching anatomy to medical students so that they can better practice medicine. It is not a curriculum, but it is what a curriculum needs to be based on.

School Library Journal
January 9, 2015

The divide between frequent and infrequent readers is marked in Scholastic’s “Kids & Family Reading Report, 5th Edition” survey. The report found that while 51 percent of children ages 6-17 are currently reading a book for fun, 97 percent of frequent readers (FR), or children who read books for fun 5-7 days a week, say they are currently reading a book for fun or have just finished one (from the same age group). Meanwhile, an overwhelming 75 percent of infrequent readers (IR), or children who read books for fun less than one day a week, say they haven’t read a book for fun in a while. According to the report, the three most powerful predictors for frequent reading in children ages 6-17 are when kids are more likely to rate themselves as “really enjoying reading,” have a strong belief that reading for fun is important, and have parents who are frequent readers. Other predictors among ages 6-11 include reading aloud early and often and spending less time online using a computer.

Hechinger Report
January 9, 2015

When the New York City middle school Quest to Learn welcomed its first class of sixth-graders in 2009, it hailed itself as “the school for digital kids.” Its founders from the Institute of Play promised a technology-rich environment that would parlay children’s passion for video games into riveting educational experiences and authentic engagement. By delivering curriculum through the medium of games — some digital, some not — Quest hoped to bridge the chasm between what kids enjoy and value in their lives, and what they need to learn in school. While technology is still at the core of the model, the kernel in the center of that core is games and “game-like” learning. In the process of finding its feet, Quest ditched the “school for digital kids” tagline and replaced it with “Challenging students to invent their future.”

Time
January 9, 2015

We’re living in a golden age of young-adult literature, when books ostensibly written for teens are equally adored by readers of every generation. In the likes of Harry Potter and Katniss Everdeen, they’ve produced characters and conceits that have become the currency of our pop-culture discourse—and inspired some of our best writers to contribute to the genre. To honor the best books for young adults and children, TIME compiled this survey in consultation with respected peers such as U.S. Children’s Poet Laureate Ken Nesbitt, children’s-book historian Leonard Marcus, the National Center for Children’s Illustrated Literature, the Young Readers Center at the Library of Congress, the Every Child a Reader literacy foundation and 10 independent booksellers. With their help, we’ve created two all-time lists of classics: 100 Best Young-Adult Books and 100 Best Children’s Books. Vote for your favorite in the poll.

The New York Times
January 8, 2015

Cue the hand-wringing about digital distraction: Fewer children are reading books frequently for fun, according to a new report released Thursday by Scholastic, the children’s book publisher. In a 2014 survey of just over 1,000 children ages 6 to 17, only 31 percent said they read a book for fun almost daily, down from 37 percent four years ago. There were some consistent patterns among the heavier readers: For the younger children — ages 6 to 11 — being read aloud to regularly and having restricted online time were correlated with frequent reading; for the older children — ages 12 to 17 — one of the largest predictors was whether they had time to read on their own during the school day. The finding about reading aloud to children long after toddlerhood may come as a surprise to some parents who read books to children at bedtime when they were very young but then tapered off.

Medical News Today
January 8, 2015

Over the past holiday season, some children may have been fortunate enough to receive a gift in the form of a smartphone or another device with a small screen. However, a new study reports that children who sleep with a small screen nearby are more likely to get inadequate sleep. The study, published in Pediatrics, found that children who slept near a small screen experienced shorter sleep duration and reported they did not get enough sleep. Inadequate sleep is potential risk factor for health problems such as obesity, coronary heart disease, hypertension and stroke. For children, improved sleep can also have a positive impact on psychosocial health and school performance. Unfortunately, studies have shown that the sleep duration of children has declined steadily over the course of the past century.

Ed Central
January 8, 2015

The number of dual language learners in the United States is growing extremely rapidly. And there’s strong evidence that identifying and supporting these students early in their educational process can make a big difference for them in the long run. Yet, according to a recent webinar by the Center on Enhancing Early Learning Outcomes (CEELO) and the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) on Young Immigrants and Dual Language Learners: Participation in Pre-K & Gaps at Kindergarten Entry, few states require early language screening in early education programs. In fact, of the 40 states with pre-K programs, a mere 40 percent require language screening and assessment of enrolled children.

School Library Journal
January 8, 2015

"I worked on Brown Girl Dreaming for close to three years I think. I started writing it when my mom died suddenly, but I didn’t know what it was going to be. I just knew that I wanted to deeply understand my past and my mom’s past. And I wanted to understand the world that made me a writer. I started this book as a means of getting answers to questions I had not had a chance to ask my mom and ended it knowing that even though I hadn’t asked those questions, they had always been getting answered. All of my life, my family has been giving me the gifts of books and story and experiences that helped me write not only Brown Girl Dreaming but everything I’ve ever written. So the book feels like an ode to family — to the people who showed me how the ordinary is quite extraordinary and that our history is what buoys us and keeps us moving forward."

The New Yorker
January 7, 2015

One morning in September, Lissette Castrillón, a caseworker in Providence, Rhode Island, drove to an apartment on the western edge of town to visit Annie Rodriguez, a young mother, and her two-year-old daughter, Eilen. Castrillón and Rodriguez sat down on a worn rug and spoke about the importance of talking to very young children. They discussed ways to cajole a toddler into an extended conversation, and identified moments in the day when Rodriguez could be chatting more with Eilen, an ebullient little girl who was wearing polka-dot leggings. Rodriguez is enrolled in a program called Providence Talks, the most ingenious of several new programs across the country that encourage low-income parents to talk more frequently with their kids.

Education Week
January 7, 2015

Children who attended Head Start showed strong positive short-term effects on a measure of vocabulary compared to children who stayed at home, according to a recent analysis of data that was gathered as part of a major Head Start impact study, funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. In addition, the analysis shows little difference in results between children who attended Head Start and those who attended another form of center-based care, an indication that Head Start was no better — but also no worse — than other child-care options available to parents who were a part of the impact study. The analysis, published Dec. 30 in the online journal Social Science Research Network, represents a deeper examination of data collected by the impact study.

Huffington Post
January 7, 2015

It's that time again. New commitments and new resolutions to make...and hopefully keep. As educators and children's advocates we are involved in many initiatives whose goals are reimagining education and providing equal opportunity to all children. We are board members of some nonprofits that are doing remarkable work with kids -- Sesame Workshop, Creative Commons, The Forum for Youth Investment, We Are Family Foundation, Learning Matters, Vroom and Journeys In Film -- to name a handful. These organizations are inspiring hope and change, but we need to make an even stronger social commitment in order to give each child a decent shot at fulfilling their potential. Here are 10 ways education leaders can take stock of progress and chart a new course in 2015.

School Library Journal
January 7, 2015

Electrocuting pickles at the library?! This was one of the many demonstrations on light brought to the Mamie Doud Eisenhower Public Library through collaboration with the library’s own Science Task Force (STF) and the University of Colorado-Boulder. Once a month, the teen department and a dedicated group of volunteers, the STF, hosts a STEM-based program for young people ages 9–14. These events focus on hands-on activities that investigate topics in science, technology, engineering, and math.

Education Week
January 6, 2015

Alot has been written about the importance of reading proficiently by 3rd grade. We've heard the familiar debates about whether it's sound practice to retain students who don't meet that mark. But now some states are taking another approach toward 3rd grade reading proficiency: one that focuses on the teacher rather than the student. A new report from the Education Commission of the States details the work of 14 states that are requiring teachers to demonstrate mastery of reading instruction before they are licensed.

The Hechinger Report
January 6, 2015

More than a dozen third-graders were doing squats on a snowy Monday morning, followed by punches and push-ups, but they weren’t in gym class — this was math. They counted in unison by threes, then by fours, fives and sixes to the tune of “Oh My Darling Clementine.” his isn’t a scene you would have encountered a few years ago in this small rural school in upstate New York. Lockwood has been buffeted by many of the same educational sea changes as other New York schools over the past decade. A new math curriculum would start out with promise but end with confusion. Test scores would tick up, only to plunge the following year. But something remarkable happened last spring. The close-knit school located across from a potato field in Wyoming County was one of a dozen in the state to go from floundering on state tests in 2012 to scoring better than most on the more difficult exams administered in 2014. They did it, in part, by ignoring Albany and the dictates of the state education department.

St. Louis Public Radio (MO)
January 6, 2015

A new program aimed at promoting early childhood literacy is giving free books to newborns, starting in January. Through its "Born to Read" program, St. Louis County Library plans to give the new parents of as many as 8,000 babies born at four participating hospitals in 2015 a gift bag, including: a board book, a bath toy, a milestone marker describing where children should be developmentally, instructions on how to get a library card, and a calendar of literacy activities. According to Library Director Kristen Sorth, the goal of the program is to encourage new parents to start regularly reading to their kids as early as possible. Sorth said hearing their parents read helps babies develop language skills that will help them succeed later on in school.

"So please, oh PLEASE, we beg, we pray, go throw your TV set away. And in its place you can install, a lovely bookshelf on the wall." — Roald Dahl