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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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National Public Radio
April 24, 2014

Critics of this push on early childhood education point to programs like Head Start, which is specifically focused on lower income kids. And they say that there's little evidence that the benefit of even high quality preschool programs last beyond second or third grade. In Tulsa, the payoff has been pretty conclusive. For every dollar that the program invests, they get $3 in return, mostly because these kids don't need special education remediation, special services down the road. So in terms of that program, that program does have long-term benefits. The bigger debate is whether most programs do.

Chillicothe News (MO)
April 24, 2014

When Central School’s fifth-graders were in the first grade at Dewey School, they were paired with older students with whom they visited as a class several times during the year. Together, they read books, worked on math problems and wrote stories. As first-graders, they looked up to the older students; and, the older students surprised themselves to discover that they had the ability to teach a lesson to a younger student. Today, those younger students are now fifth-graders and they, themselves, are the ones now given the opportunity to share their knowledge with younger students. It’s part of the two schools’ Reading Buddies program.

Albuquerque Journal
April 24, 2014

Gov. Susana Martinez wants New Mexico’s children to read at least 30 minutes a day over the summer. Martinez, along with Mayor Richard Berry, the University of New Mexico men’s and women’s basketball coaches and others, were on hand at the ABQ BioPark Zoo on Tuesday to promote the "New Mexico True" summer reading challenge. Kids who participate must fill out a “reading log” documenting what books they’ve read and write an essay on the topic "Why I love New Mexico."

U.S. News and World Report
April 24, 2014

t is worth noting that no book will single-handedly transform your child into a financial genius. These books focus more on a good story and the love of reading above all else, with financial lessons taught through the actions of the characters and the experiences they share. Good children’s literature makes a story come to life for the reader, while teaching lessons and being highly entertaining. Here are five books that teach valuable money lessons and remain favorites of our children.

National Public Radio
April 23, 2014

Tulsa is known as a national leader in early childhood education. There, preschool means teachers are unusually well-educated, well-trained and well-paid. Educators in Tulsa have worked to make classrooms safe and nurturing, but also challenging. Another key to Tulsa's strategy: It innovates. Case in point is the city's approach to Head Start, the controversial $8 billion federal preschool program that aims to prepare low-income children for kindergarten. Organizers at the nonprofit Community Action Project of Tulsa County run a particular take on Head Start called Career Advance, and the idea behind it is simple: To help kids, you often have to help their parents.

KQED Mindshift
April 23, 2014

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation just released a report detailing the results of 3,100 teacher surveys and 1,250 student surveys on the kinds of digital instruction tools that are useful and effective. The foundation has asked teachers and students what they need when it comes to digital instruction, aiming to close the communication gap between commercial developers and schools. One of the biggest takeaways is that most teachers — 54 percent — don’t find many of the digital tools they use effective. That’s partly because teachers often aren’t making purchasing decisions. When they do have a say in tool selection they often report on its effectiveness more favorably. When asked about free products, teachers reported that free products are just as likely to be effective as the products the district purchased for them.

Babble
April 23, 2014

If you don’t know what this day is about, here’s some information, and don’t worry, you don’t have to be Latino to enjoy children’s day with your kids! El Día de los Niños … is a gift from the Latino community to all children. Many nations throughout the world, and especially within the Western hemisphere celebrate Día de los Niños on April 30th to honor and celebrate children — who represent the hopes and dreams of every community. In the United States, a growing number of cities, schools, libraries, museums, churches and other community organizations are embracing this celebration by planning activities and events. Turn off your screen (ALL screens) and go play! Here are some ways to have some Screen Free Fun for Día de los Niños.

Coloradoan
April 23, 2014

While participating in her Great Book Giveaway, Teresa Funke, a local author and inspirational speaker, began looking for ways to bring not only books but also a comprehensive, educational program to those in need. Funke has expanded her goal of getting books to kids by founding the Read-A-Hero Literacy program in cooperation with the Boys & Girls Clubs of America. It’s a simple and yet effective program that introduces a five-unit curriculum kit incorporating history, reading, writing, vocabulary, math, art and teamwork to at-risk children in communities around the country. Her literacy program encourages the love of reading for kids who may find little or no inspiration elsewhere.

National Public Radio
April 22, 2014

Just what is quality preschool? It's difficult to debate the merits of early childhood education, and to argue that every child — indeed, the nation as a whole — will benefit from better access to preschool, without first defining what exactly constitutes a "high quality" model. NPR's new education team set out to unpack those two words and to understand what separates the nation's best preschool programs from the rest. That journey led us to a surprising place: Tulsa, Okla., where the public school system is now a leader in early childhood education.

The Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)
April 22, 2014

State officials say they plan to use bolstered state funding to hire more literacy coaches and better train teachers as schools seek to meet legislative requirements that all third-graders read at a basic level by next year or be flunked. Lawmakers gave the Mississippi Department of Education $15 million to spend on the program, up from $9.5 million this year. Officials with the department say they intend to use the money to hire 45 literacy coaches and supervisors, up from 31 this year. Those coaches will cover 74 target schools in 50 districts, up from 50 schools in 30 districts. The state has tried to focus on schools with the lowest reading scores.

Real Clear Education
April 22, 2014

You often hear the phrase that small children are sponges, that they constantly learn. This sentiment is sometimes expressed in a way that makes it sound like the particulars don’t matter that much — as long as there is a lot to be learned in the environment, the child will learn it. A new study shows that for one core type of learning, it’s more complicated. Kids don’t learn important information that’s right in front of them, unless an adult is actively teaching them. The core type of learning is categorization. Understanding that objects can be categorized is essential for kids’ thinking.

Chalkbeat Colorado
April 22, 2014

The end of a three week unit on characters, plots, and themes is near in Leslie Fitzgerald's eighth grade reading class at the Pueblo School of Arts and Sciences. The charter school class is using an anthology of short stories to understand the most basic literary techniques. These lessons may seem strikingly similar to lessons of yesteryear, even though this is the first year schools are supposed to be teaching to a new set of standards. For some Colorado districts, the new standards have meant a complete instructional overhaul. But at this Pueblo arts and sciences school, teachers began exploring the standards in 2010 and found that in most subjects they had to make only slight shifts, said Natalie Allen, head of school.

Houston Examiner
April 18, 2014

Houston ISD is taking what administrators call "bold, dramatic steps" to improve literacy at nearly 90 percent of its elementary schools. Called Literacy by 3, the plan targets resources to classrooms and teachers and calls for help from the broader Houston community in its aim to ensure every student is reading at grade level by the third grade. Beginning next year, that framework will involve phonics-based instruction and guided reading in kindergarten through second grade, then balanced literacy with content and genre diversity from third grade forward. Struggling readers will receive intensive support that includes tutoring.

KRWG TV/FM
April 18, 2014

In an effort to help teachers be more effective at teaching reading as well as identifying children who may have dyslexia, the New Mexico State University College of Education has launched a Read to Succeed concentration in the Department of Special Education and Communication Disorders. The specialized concentration involves five graduate courses for students pursing a master’s in special education or for community teachers wanting to increase their skill set. The program also includes a practicum for students to spend time in the field working with children and a free community workshop series scheduled to start later this year.

Tucson News
April 18, 2014

A new summer reading program hopes to help students overcome the 'summer slide', when they seem to lose what they have learned during the school year. ReadOn Arizona in partnership with the Arizona Department of Education will provide unlimited access to a digital library for children three years of age and up. Beginning April 14 and continuing until Sept. 30, students will have access to thousands of digital books that will be available to read on any digital format — computers, tablets and other devices. Books will be available both online and offline during this time period, there is no limit to how many times a student may check out a book, or how many people are reading the same book at the same time.

School Library Journal
April 18, 2014

At its simplest, the playground is where kids can kick at the clouds from the swings, but at its most complicated, it’s a microcosm of the real world, with similar stresses and question marks. Children learn to conduct transactions and navigate relationships with others as they process insights into their own personalities. It can be fun, but it can be scary, sad, and frustrating, too. What are caregivers to do? Sharing similar childhood experiences helps, but the voices of peers, as represented in the titles listed here, can make an even greater impact. These selections are a natural fit for a variety of Common Core State Standards, calling on readers and listeners to contemplate the central message, make connections between images and text, and participate in group discussions of the text. While these “technical” skills are important academically, they can prove personally useful as kids glean information that’s meaningful outside (pun intended) of the books.

Reading Today
April 17, 2014

Differentiation asks teachers to meet students’ instructional needs by providing texts at a variety of reading levels. Equally important, differentiation allows students to choose instructional and independent reading texts, and choice motivates and engages them. To facilitate differentiation, organize instructional reading units around a genre to meet your students’ reading needs. By looking at what happened in a seventh grade inclusion class, you can better understand how the teacher and I restructured instruction.

Houston Chronicle
April 17, 2014

Piloted this school year with nearly 140 students at six Houston-area campuses, United Way's Learning Together program puts older students in charge of tutoring younger peers — in this case, fourth-graders oversee second graders. All 30 participants started about a grade-level behind, but they have made tremendous gains, educators said. Not only are they reading better, they're raising their hands to speak in class more, they're checking out harder books from the library and they're more confident when reading aloud. "The best way to know you've mastered something is to be able to teach it," explained Terrace Elementary Principal April Blanco.

Education Week
April 17, 2014

North Carolina's state-funded pre-K program for 4-year-olds has produced better-than-expected positive outcomes for participants, new research says. Significant gains were seen across all areas of learning including language and literacy skills, math skills, general knowledge, and social skills, states the report entitled "2012-2013 Children's Outcomes and Program Quality in the North Carolina Pre-K Program," released earlier this month.

Library Journal
April 17, 2014

The schools and the library have merged their databases and determined that roughly 98,000 of the school district’s 136,000 students do not yet have cards for the city’s public libraries. Based on that data merge, the library and the district will now distribute personalized library cards to every student without one. "No matter what your age, no matter what your circumstance, there’s a card that everyone should have," said [Philadelphia Mayor, David] Nutter as he pulled from his wallet a red and white library card, brandishing it for the cameras to see.

Education Week
April 16, 2014

While lawmakers continue to debate the long-range impact of preschool on participants, 62 percent of parents in a new poll commissioned by a day-care and pre-K provider said they believe the skills gained in early-childhood education programs last a lifetime. Such opportunities were seen as "essential" to learning social and emotional skills — and were rated as just as important as traditional academics, states a national poll released April 7 by the Learning Care Group. The company runs 900 day-care operations and schools in 36 states for children ages 6 weeks to 13 years.

KQED Mindshift
April 16, 2014

Gallup recently released a major report on the State of American Schools. Their data paints a picture of schools performing as a complex ecosystem, with the wellbeing, engagement, and performance of teachers, students, and principals all intertwined. The Gallup polls ask students, teachers, principals, and other professionals about their levels of hope, emotional engagement, and well-being at work or school. While these qualities may seem like frills, they’ve been demonstrated over time to have powerful correlations with harder metrics, like a company’s profits or a school’s test scores.

School Library Journal
April 16, 2014

Akron Public Schools is like many public urban school districts in the country — lacking funding to achieve performance goals that need investments in technology. With Ohio’s Race to the Top goal to"“reduce performance gaps by 50 percent in reading," the LeBron James Family Foundation and its Wheels for Education program, started by Akron native and Miami Heat NBA star LeBron James, has given Akron Public Schools one of the largest e-library sites in the country. Completely online, the e-library can be accessed by any Akron student, from elementary to high school, each with his or her own log in information.

Daily Herald (Provo, UT)
April 16, 2014

Books, books and more books is the best way to describe what you see when you enter Stephanie Buhler’s sixth-grade classroom at Wilson Elementary. It is normal to walk into a classroom and see bookshelves, but in Buhler’s classroom she has more than just a few. There are seven, to be exact, and they are stacked solid with books for her students to read and enjoy. Buhler guesses she has about 1,500 books in her collection, and she continues to keep adding to it. The biggest goal for Buhler is to get her students to love to read by exposing them to high-interest books. She conferences with her students on what they are reading and how they are liking a book, and she offers suggestions to them.

KQED Mindshift
April 15, 2014

Could e-books actually get in the way of reading? That was the question explored in research presented last week by Heather Ruetschlin Schugar, an associate professor at West Chester University, and her spouse Jordan T. Schugar, an instructor at the same institution. Speaking at the annual conference of the American Educational Research Association in Philadelphia, the Schugars reported the results of a study in which they asked middle school students to read either traditional printed books, or e-books on iPads. The students’ reading comprehension, the researchers found, was higher when they read conventional books. In a second study looking at students’ use of e-books created with Apple’s iBooks Author software, the Schugars discovered that the young readers often skipped over the text altogether, engaging instead with the books’ interactive visual features.

Sioux City Journal (IA)
April 15, 2014

For the first time, dyslexia has been officially defined in Iowa law in an attempt to improve literacy among young students across the state. Following passage by the Legislature, Gov. Terry Branstad signed a bill this week that effectively establishes a definition for the reading disability in Iowa code and offers support for teachers so they can better evaluate student literacy and intervene as necessary. Decoding Dyslexia Iowa, a group of Iowa parents dedicated to enhancing educational opportunities for dyslexic students and reducing the stigma around dyslexia, brought its cause to lawmakers last summer. Members called for the early detection of dyslexia, more focus on struggling readers and the identification of the best practices to better serve them.

Hillsdale Daily News (MI)
April 15, 2014

Why is poetry great for young kids? One reason is because it helps develop something called "phonological awareness." This is the ability to listen for and identify the differences between various sounds that make up our language. Phonological awareness is a fundamental skill that eventually helps children learn to read, write and use language effectively. Nursery rhymes are the perfect type of beginning poem to share with young children, since ages 3-5 is the perfect developmental age for phonological awareness.

School Library Journal
April 15, 2014

Late author of Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile Bernard Waber — who died May 16 of last year at the age of 91 and was the creator of the legendary storybook character Lyle the Crocodile — is being honored with an exhibit of his work "Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile & Friends: The Art of Bernard Waber" at the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst, Massachusetts. The exhibit encompasses 85 of Waber's original picture book art. In celebration of the exhibit, the museum hosted a reception March 29 that brought together authors, illustrators, librarians, and lovers of children’s books. At the event children literature historian and curator of the exhibit Leonard Marcus moderated a discussion with librarian-turned-children’s book author Johanna Hurwitz, 2014 winner of the Sibert Medal for Parrots Over Puerto Rico (Lee & Low, 2013) Susan L. Roth, and Waber’s daughter Paulis Waber.

National Public Radio
April 14, 2014

Preschool is getting a lot of attention these days. President Obama and mayors across the country are touting preschool as an important investment in the economy. As policymakers weigh the costs and benefits of "preschool for all," they're trying to figure out what actually works in the classroom. One of the places they're looking is Boston. School officials say their system of intensive teacher coaching is a key to classroom success. Boston uses coaches as part of its larger push for preschool quality. The district has installed a rigorous curriculum and requires teachers to get masters degrees. Academics have known for some time that quality matters, but much of the research has focused on small-scale programs. The Boston program is different. Last year, a Harvard University study found big gains in math and vocabulary in Boston, where the preschool system spans 68 schools.

Ed Source
April 14, 2014

Uriel Torres, 4, is one of nearly 100 children in East Palo Alto who receive free books and private tutoring through the nonprofit 10 Books A Home, in exchange for a commitment from his mother: She reads with him every day. Programs such as 10 Books a Home, which focus on improving early reading skills by engaging parents, are spreading in California. The programs have different approaches. For instance, the statewide Raising A Reader program and San Diego’s Words Alive! both work with child care centers and preschools to connect with children and parents. But all the programs have the same goal: To get children, and parents, excited about reading.

Education Week
April 14, 2014

As a small but growing number of states adopt the Next Generation Science Standards, science museums and centers are positioning themselves as a key resource for helping teachers adapt to the vision for instruction reflected in the new guidelines. Some educators say that professional-development sessions held at museums — unlike those at conference centers, universities, or districts — give teachers immediate access to the kinds of hands-on activities that the common science standards call for. In addition, such institutions often bring a wealth of expertise on both content and pedagogy, employing a mix of scientists and professional educators.

Citizen-Times (Asheville, NC)
April 14, 2014

Recently, J. Patrick Lewis, the U.S. Children’s Poet Laureate from 2011 to 2013, and veteran children’s author and illustrator Douglas Florian co-authored a collection of poetry for children called, "Poem-mobiles: Crazy Car Poems." From start to finish — or accelerating to braking — the collection is a joyous and hilarious exploration of the most whimsical, fantastical vehicles imaginable. Every aspect of the book, right down to the tire treads on the end papers, pays homage to grease and gears. Each poem celebrates a different vehicle — the mini-mini-car, the Dragonwagon, the High-Heel Car, and so on. Each vehicle has its own set of traits — it flies, it swims, it is edible.

Newark Advocate (OH)
April 11, 2014

Kaleb Smith loves to read. Having just turned 3, Kaleb is already reading on his own. He carries books with him pretty much wherever he goes, and he was the first Licking County toddler to finish the library's new 1,000 Books before Kindergarten program. Basically, the program is just what it sounds like: Kaleb and his parents read 1,000 books together. They logged their progress in a journal, and at the end, Kaleb earned a new book as his reward. He read through the entire stack before choosing his prize, said his mom, Krista Smith, eventually settling on "Just Helping My Dad," one of Mercer Mayer’s Little Critter books.

WAMU 88.5
April 11, 2014

Ask pretty much any teacher, and she’ll tell you that mastering your ABCs is the foundation of a good education. And these days, reading is a huge area of focus for the D.C. Public Schools, which are in the midst of completely revamping their reading curriculum, to make sure that that foundation is a bit sturdier for District students. See how DCPS is getting better books in the hands of students and teaching close reading, how to find evidence in text, how to build an argument — and how these strategies are helping struggling readers.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch
April 11, 2014

Sandy Bowles waited years for someone to explain why her son struggled with reading. So did Kelli Unnerstall, who wanted to believe teachers who said her son would catch up. The mothers now know their sons have dyslexia. But the relief they felt in finding a root cause didn't last long. Now, she and Bowles are part of a fast-growing, national, grass-roots movement to raise the status of dyslexia as a learning disability within public schools. The effort, fueled by a network of organizations called Decoding Dyslexia, has inspired bills that could lead to increased screening and services in Missouri and Illinois.

School Library Journal
April 11, 2014

I'm just back from taking some of my graduate students to the Bologna Children's Book Fair — a truly eye-opening event and experience. I often refer to the United States as "Flatland"; in Edwin A. Abbott's 1884 seminal novella of that title, he imagines what a two-dimensional world would be like, and how three-dimensional objects would appear there. In this country, we often treat the rest of the world as if it exists only when it crosses our borders. That happens in the way we teach and in the books we select and share with K-12 readers. Think about it — few works in translation make it into our libraries. And then you go to Bologna.

The New York Times
April 10, 2014

Mr. Letizia, a reading specialist, discovered that his students loved reading The New York Times Magazine’s weekly "Who Made That?" column — and that the articles made wonderful models for teaching them how "informational text" works. He wrote, "They provide the perfect mix of high-interest topics with sophisticated sentence structure and vocabulary, but also make it easy to teach the key elements of nonfiction since the format mirrors the format of many textbooks."

Herald Star (Steubenville, OH)
April 10, 2014

There are six early literacy skills that every child should know before they start school, and the Public Library of Steubenville and Jefferson County has purchased interactive, touch-screen computer stations that support these skills. Early Literacy Station is a computer for children ages 2-8. It contains preloaded games and activities that cover all the curriculum areas in reading, music, science and art. The six early literacy skills that it supports are letter knowledge; narrative skills such as the ability to describe things; phonological awareness or the ability to hear and play with the sounds in words; print motivation such as a child's interest in books; vocabulary; and print awareness, such as following the written word on a page.

Education Week
April 10, 2014

When my high school's only reading teacher retired last year, my principal offered me a challenge: to create a Common Core State Standards-based reading class for struggling students. While I wasn't fully prepared for this opportunity, I dove headfirst into the professional literature and supported my students as best as I could. I was ecstatic this year when my principal connected me with a colleague to work on improving the scaffolding for instruction. My new colleague introduced me to a cross-age teaching program called Teens as Teachers — and it has completely transformed my students.

Huffington Post
April 10, 2014

Whether it was your beloved bedtime storybook your parents read to you as a child or the inspiring novel you read in your high school literature class, books have a way of transforming our lives. While there are plenty of incredible books for grownups, sometimes you just want to revisit your childhood by perusing old favorites. Dr. Seuss' "Oh, The Places You'll Go" is a go-to graduation gift, a timeless (and ageless) reminder that growing up is hard to do. Similarly, the "Harry Potter" and "Lord of the Rings" books have drawn adult fans as well as children. We asked some of our own friends and Facebook fans which books from their childhood they still adore as adults. Here are their favorites.

The Atlantic
April 9, 2014

16 years after enjoying a high school literary education rich in poetry, I am a literature teacher who barely teaches it. So far this year, my 12th grade literature students have read nearly 200,000 words for my class. Poems have accounted for no more than 100. This is a shame — not just because poetry is important to teach, but also because poetry is important for the teaching of writing and reading. Poetry enables teachers to teach their students how to write, read, and understand any text. Poetry can give students a healthy outlet for surging emotions. Reading original poetry aloud in class can foster trust and empathy in the classroom community, while also emphasizing speaking and listening skills that are often neglected in high school literature classes.

National Public Radio
April 9, 2014

The new Common Core State Standards for English have stirred plenty of controversy. In a Vermont classroom full of 8th graders, they are working on a cornerstone of the core: close reading.

Toledo Blade (OH)
April 9, 2014

What's the best way to teach preschool children how to read? asks Nancy Eames, youth services coordinator for the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library. The answer: Train parents to teach their children how to become better readers. That's the theory behind “Plan-ting a Seed to Read,” an early-literacy program to be unveiled by the library and the Library Legacy Foundation. The $2.2 million program includes buying a 25-foot van that will take library staff to underserved communities where they can help parents develop skills to help make their children better readers, Ms. Eames said. The van, which will operate like a small version of the more well-known library bookmobiles, will allow children to borrow books and be equipped with early-literacy kits designed for parents and child-care teachers. Parents will also be given free books and materials that can be used at home with their children.

School Library Journal
April 9, 2014

I stand before 100 or so fourth and fifth graders and ask how they conduct research. Hands shoot up. It’s no surprise when the first student answers, "the computer." It takes a bit of digging to elicit more detailed responses: the Internet, Wikipedia, the web, Google, and then; books, newspapers, and videos. I ask them what they think the words displayed on the screen behind me might mean. It reads: History Must be Seen. And we're off. For the next 50 minutes or so, we explore historical thinking from a variety of angles. While I always encourage students to think beyond the computer, it's perfectly natural that young people — and probably most of us — turn to the Internet as our first source of information. But what do we find there, and how do we evaluate it?

Language Magazine
April 8, 2014

The American educational system has a difficult time understanding dyslexia and an even harder time identifying children with dyslexia in order to provide the correct intervention for students who are native English speakers. When a school has the added challenge of identifying struggling English language learners (ELLs), the task becomes an even more complicated process, and often, these kids are completely missed. But that does not have to be the case. Children who are learning English are just as likely to have dyslexia as their native-English-speaking counterparts, and there is a way to identify dyslexia in these children. The difference is that dyslexia might appear in the native language quite as vividly as it will when they attempt to learn English.

Education Week
April 8, 2014

As public schools move headlong into teaching new, more rigorous standards in reading, math, and science, English-as-a-second-language teachers must become more involved in the central enterprise of teaching and supporting academic content for ELL students than has traditionally been the case, a new paper argues. Making that work for ESL professionals will require some major shifts in how these teachers are prepared before they ever enter the classroom.

Blue Ridge Times-News (Hendersonville, NC)
April 8, 2014

Smart Start of Henderson County is sponsoring an early literacy program to give free books to local children ages 4 and under. Designed to encourage parents to read with their children, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library mails age-appropriate books each month to registered children from birth until their fifth birthdays. The program also sends along activity sheets with each book, with tips for parents reading with their children. The goal of Imagination Library is to help kids develop their pre-literacy skills at home before heading to kindergarten.

School Library Journal
April 8, 2014

This inviting selection of exquisitely illustrated titles introduces the physical characteristics, life cycle, and ecological role of trees while also celebrating their awe-inspiring wonder. A perfect supplement to elementary-level studies of life science, these books can also be utilized to complement units about environmental conservation and stewardship, investigations of local ecosystems, seed-planting activities, and nature-based creative projects, and the celebration of Earth Day and National Arbor Day later this month.

New Orleans Advocate
April 7, 2014

In the early elementary school grades, Zachary Davis and his classmates at Belle Chasse Primary School in suburban New Orleans wrote almost entirely from personal experience: describing their ideal vacation, trying to convince readers that a longer school year would be a good (or bad) idea, penning a letter about their adventures during summer break. That all changed this school year. As a fourth-grader, Zachary rarely writes stories or essays based solely on his experience or imaginative musings anymore. Instead, it’s all about citing "textual evidence." "In third grade, they would just ask us to, like, describe your dream store. It was easy to me," said Zachary, adding that he enjoys the new challenge. Much to the delight of writing enthusiasts, the curriculum standards known as Common Core stress the importance of students putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) across all subject areas. The standards also specify that students — even those in the youngest grades — should cite evidence from readings as they write and not just invent stories or opine based on prior knowledge.

National Public Radio
April 7, 2014

Right now, across the country, parents are in the midst of trying to get their children enrolled in bilingual classrooms for next September. The motivation is usually straightforward. Parents want their kids to learn a foreign language. The thinking is that a second language will bring significant cultural and economic advantages. But for many Latino parents (and others as well) there is something more at play; namely, it can feel like the family language is at stake. (The loss of Spanish-language fluency among native-born Latinos is a widespread phenomenon.) Bilingual classrooms are seen as a way of ensuring children will be able to read, write and speak Spanish.

"A book is like a garden, carried in the pocket." — Chinese Proverb