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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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Education Week
March 23, 2017

The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday issued a major decision expanding the scope of students' special education rights, ruling unanimously that schools must do more than provide a "merely more than de minimis" education program to a student with a disability. In Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District, the high court rejected the "merely more than de minimis" standard set by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit, in Denver. Gorsuch has already faced criticism for his own ruling reflecting the "merely more than de minimis" standard, and he was questioned by the Senate Judiciary Committee about the Supreme Court's ruling before the morning ended. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote the opinion for the eight-member court, and he delivered much of it from the bench Wednesday morning. "When all is said and done, a student offered an educational program providing 'merely more than de minimis' progress from year to year can hardly be said to have been offered an education at all," Roberts said.

The Notebook (Philadelphia, PA)
March 23, 2017

If your child is having trouble with reading, the Philadelphia Free Library may be able to help. The Free Library has launched the Sunday Literacy Program, a free reading assistance initiative for young children in grades K-3. Through the program, children can be tutored each Sunday by volunteers under the supervision of a teacher, or someone with a bachelor’s degree in education and experience in literacy education. The program is a part of Read by 4th’s citywide initiative to get all schoolchildren reading on grade level by fourth grade. The campaign seeks to increase the number of young students reading at grade level from a reported 33 percent to 100 percent by 2020.

School Library Journal
March 23, 2017

An early lesson in empathy inspired Gene Luen Yang. In an original comic for School Library Journal, the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature depicts the inspiration for his Reading Without Walls program, which challenges readers to read beyond their comfort zone.

School Library Journal
March 23, 2017

Reading stories written from the perspective of immigrant and refugee children can challenge privileged tendencies and attitudes that victimize or vilify the “other.” Simultaneously, such texts may present familiar narratives to immigrant youth, particularly titles that address more than just border crossings. Thus, several of the recently published books here focus on controversial issues, such as violent historical and modern events that have forced people to leave everything behind, as well as the topics of documentation, deportation, family separation, and discrimination. These titles were primarily written and illustrated by #ownvoices authors, individuals of marginalized groups. Many present autobiographical or fictional stories based on childhood memories or draw upon their work with immigrant children.

PBS NewsHour
March 22, 2017

In the heart of one of Denver's poorest neighborhoods, parents had hoped a new preschool would be built in. Instead they got much more. The Dahlia Campus for Health and Well-being is a preschool, urban farm, dental office and mental health care center, all in one. William Brangham visits to see how it’s supporting the community.

The Atlantic
March 22, 2017

Economists set out to determine whether healthier school lunches affect student achievement as measured by test scores. The intense policy interest in improving the nutritional content of public-school meals—in addition to vendors’ efforts to market their school meals as good for the body and the mind—sparked the researchers’ curiosity and led to an unexpected discovery: Students at schools that contract with a healthier school-lunch vendor perform somewhat better on state tests—and this option appears highly cost-effective compared to policy interventions that typically are more expensive, like class-size reduction.

Chronicle for Higher Education
March 22, 2017

Internet-literate people are at a funny moment when it comes to digital reading. Just in my own family, for example, I do about 85% of reading on screens of various types, mostly because I just don’t have any room for books. My wife, a full professor of contemporary American literature, is the exact opposite – reads most things in print. Our son *tends* to read books in print and other things via social media links, but there are exceptions. And everyone remembers, or half-remembers, studies that seem to demonstrate lower rates of comprehension for screen reading, so . . . folks worry. Fortunately for all of us, Michael Larkin has written a splendid, research-based post entitled “To Read Well on Screens, Change Your Mindset.”

Morning News (Florence, SC)
March 22, 2017

Following last year’s successful pilot program, Duke Energy and Reading Is Fundamental (RIF), the nation’s largest children’s literacy organization, are partnering for a second consecutive year to minimize the summer slide and improve the reading proficiency of more than 3,000 current second graders in South Carolina.Angela Lisenby, a school reading specialist in McColl reported after last year’s program that the books “definitely motivated” children to read. “The students were very excited,” she said. “I even had one tell me, ‘It feels like Christmas. I’ve never had my own books.’ There was not one child that wasn’t engaged.”

National Public Radio
March 21, 2017

For the first time in a decade, the classic children's television show Sesame Street will introduce a new Muppet on the air. Her name is Julia. She's a shy and winsome 4-year-old, with striking red hair and green eyes. Julia likes to paint and pick flowers. When Julia speaks, she often echoes what she's just heard her friends Abby and Elmo say. Julia has autism. Julia started last year as a character in Sesame's books and digital offerings. Sesame decided on a two-fold mission for the related campaign "See Amazing in All Children," to give children with autism and their families someone to identify with — and those that don't a window into their world. The materials appear on a dedicated site.

Hechinger Report
March 21, 2017

Idaho is one of just six states — the others are New Hampshire, South Dakota, Utah, Wyoming and Montana — that do not offer any funding for preschool. A significant body of research shows that high-quality preschools produce long-term academic and social benefits for children. Nevertheless, resistance to spending on preschool runs deep in Idaho and the other hold-out states, not least because they are home to voters and politicians who strongly believe in family autonomy and minimal government intervention. Those philosophies bump up hard against the reality that 57 percent of Idaho children under age six live with parents who work elsewhere during the day, according to Kids Count, a national survey. Those children have to go somewhere while their parents work.

Huffington Post
March 21, 2017

Reading comprehension has been a challenge for my son, Chase. His reading comprehension challenges are rooted in his autism, and how his brain is wired to learn. When it came to finding effective ways to help Chase strengthen his comprehension skills and make reading fun, I had to keep in mind that Chase is a visual learner. This means that he must first see what he is expected to learn or know; and that he thinks (compares and contrasts new information with existing information; problem-solves; etc.) in images. This also means that he tends to learn better one-on-one, and most of his creativity happens during time alone with his thoughts.

The Washington Post
March 21, 2017

As a child, Hena Khan loved bringing home a grocery bag filled with books from the library. As an aspiring writer and second daughter of four children, Khan especially connected with Jo March in “Little Women.” But few of the books she read reflected her life experience. This month Khan’s own book, “Amina’s Voice,” is a step toward changing that. The novel, about a Pakistani American Muslim sixth-grader who struggles to stay true to her family’s culture while fitting in at school, is the first title in a new imprint, Salaam Reads, from Simon& Schuster. The imprint, whose name means “peace” in Arabic, focuses on stories featuring Muslim characters.

International Literacy Association Daily
March 20, 2017

Transmediation refers to “student’s translation of content from one sign system into another.” Writing a story based on a photo or creating an iMovie book trailer about a novel are two examples of transmediation. transmediating print-based text into digital multimodal text, by introducing the benefits and some evidence-based transmediating tasks for use in K–12 classrooms. Research studies report at least three positive impacts of transmediating a print-based text into digital multimodal text on students’ learning: deeper understandings of content, creative expressions of ideas, and promoted analytic conversations.

KQED Mindshift
March 20, 2017

Educators often look for classroom inspiration from instructional strategies that “work,” focusing on how many students improved based on a given strategy. While that’s important and helpful, focusing only on how a strategy works, without examining why it didn’t work for some learners, is a missed opportunity. Examining the conditions when a strategy is ineffective or unintentionally misleads students doesn’t necessarily mean teachers should abandon that strategy altogether, but it does help them plan ahead for how it might backfire.

School Library Journal
March 20, 2017

In recent years, libraries in the U.S. and around the world have been hosting stuffed-animal sleepovers for their youngest patrons. Kids come to the library with their plushy toys in tow, and after a read-aloud, say goodbye to their pals. Japanese researchers were curious to see if these programs had any lasting effects on kids. After organizing a book-night party for 42 preschoolers, researchers were surprised to see that the children not only gravitated more often to the picture books in their preschool classroom but read more often to their plush playthings in the days after the sleepover. When researchers came back a month later to remind children of the event by showing them the photographs again, the kids showed a renewed interest in reading aloud to their stuffies.

Atlanta Journal-Constitution (GA)
March 20, 2017

In celebration of 20 years of service within the community, Everybody Wins! Atlanta kicked off the year with a major goal in mind: distribute 20,000 books across the region in an effort to increase literacy and encourage lifelong learning in children one book at a time. The nonprofit was founded by Arthur Tannenbaum and his wife Phyllis, who read aloud to their children instilling a lifelong love of reading. Serving the students of Hope-Hill Elementary School, the Tannenbaums visited a neighborhood school once a week during lunchtime to read with a child, and make a positive impact.

The Washington Post
March 17, 2017

Jennifer Garner, the actress and a member of the Board of Trustees of the nonprofit Save the Children, which promotes children’s rights, testified Thursday on Capitol Hill about the importance of early-childhood education for children who live in poverty. Appearing at a hearing of the House Appropriations labor, health and human services, education and related agencies subcommittee, Garner explained in moving testimony how living in poverty affects the ability of young children to learn. She appeared before the committee on the same day that President Trump released his new budget proposal that cuts Education Department funding significantly and does not prioritize early-childhood education. While the president proposed adding $1 billion for Title I, a $15 billion grant program for schools with high concentrations of poor children, the money would be used to encourage districts to adopt a controversial form of school choice.

The Atlantic
March 17, 2017

Although President Trump stayed mum on his plans for the U.S. Department of Education, one policy has been clear: Trump plans to cut nonmilitary spending. The administration’s new “America First” budget, released Thursday, follows through on this promise by slashing funds for the Education Department by 13.5 percent, or $9.2 billion. To start, Trump’s budget plan would remove $2.4 billion in grants for teacher training and $1.2 billion in funding for summer- and after-school programs. It also curtails or eliminates funding for around 20 departmental programs “that are not effective, that duplicate other efforts, or that do not serve national needs. Although decreased funding for the Education Department will have repercussions for students and educators across the country, low-income students are particularly vulnerable.

KBIA (Columbia, MO)
March 17, 2017

If you Google the terms “boys and reading,” you will find thousands of results laying out the state of the gender gap between boys and girls when it comes to reading and literacy. But that’s not stopping 11-year-old St. Louisan Sidney Keys III who, six months ago, started a reading club for boys his age to band together in their love of books. He calls it Books N Bros, and the club has an emphasis on making reading fun while lifting up African American literature and culture. “Books N Bros is a book club for boys and we read books and African American literature because every time I go to the library at my school, there aren’t many African American literature books there,” said Keys in an interview on St. Louis on the Air. “I already love to read and since we don’t get that much time to read in school, we just discuss in groups. I wanted to read a book but I also wanted to discuss it with other people.”

National Public Radio
March 17, 2017

Kwame Alexander believes that wonder lies between the lines of poems. His new book Out of Wonder, is a collection of original poems for children written in the style of some of the world's most famous poets — Rumi, Robert Frost, Pablo Neruda, Maya Angelou. The poems were written by Alexander, Chris Colderley and Marjory Wentworth and illustrated by Ekua Holmes. There are three aims for the book — to encourage kids to read poetry, to introduce them to great poets, and to inspire them to write poems of their own.

"The man who does not read good books is no better than the man who can't." — Mark Twain