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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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The Atlantic
January 30, 2015

The objective of a new study, The Engagement Gap: Social Mobility and Extracurricular Participation among American Youth, was to examine trends in extracurricular participation among kids in the U.S. from the 1970s until today through long-term data and conversations with 120 young adults across the country. What the researchers found is, as they note in the article, "alarming." Income-based differences in extracurricular participation are on the rise, and these differences greatly affect later outcomes. This disparity exacerbates the already-growing income achievement gap that has kept poor children behind in school and later in life. While upper- and middle-class students have become more active in school clubs and sports teams over the past four decades, their working-class peers "have become increasingly disengaged and disconnected," particularly since their participation rates started plummeting in the '90s, the study found.

The Hechinger Report
January 30, 2015

Doctors are the newest group of proselytizers to join the national Too Small to Fail campaign encouraging parents to talk, read, and sing to their infants and toddlers as a key precursor to literacy. Working closely with doctors in Oakland, Calif., and Tulsa, Okla., leaders of the nonprofit effort hope to prove that medical professionals can provide parents with the tools and information they need to improve their child’s vocabulary and early-literacy skills. Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, will be tracking the results of the program, which is rolling out at two hospitals in Oakland right now.

National Public Radio
January 30, 2015

What if you could drink the elixir of life — sip from a magical spring that would make you live forever? Would you do it? That's the question at the heart of Natalie Babbitt's Tuck Everlasting, a celebrated book for young readers that's marking its 40th anniversary this year. In the book, 10-year-old Winnie Foster stumbles upon a secret spring and the family the spring has given eternal life to. The father, Angus Tuck, takes Winnie out in a rowboat to explain how unnatural it is to live forever; how the great wheel of life has to turn.

School Library Journal
January 30, 2015

Should libraries offer programs geared to one culture? After I spoke with youth librarian Kirby McCurtis, who started “Black Storytime” at Multnomah County Library (MCL) in Portland, OR, it was clear that the answer is a resounding “yes.” Back in 2012, MCL kicked off its first Black Storytime program. Focus groups with parents and community leaders had revealed that patrons wanted more books and services that would reflect and promote the richness of African American culture and experiences. In addition, a 2011 MCL study showed that the library was underused by the black community. Fast forward three years, and Black Storytime is thriving. When it comes to advertising and outreach for the program, McCurtis explained, MCL has a directory of local black-owned businesses, and she regularly sends flyers and updates to them. Residents learn about the programs at hair salons, barber shops, real estate offices, a local bookstore, and other places around the city.

Education Week
January 29, 2015

As part of a wide-reaching effort to bring more consistency to services for English-language learners, a group of state education officials and ELL experts has unveiled a new set of recommendations on how states and school districts might improve how they identify and initially classify English-learners. Classification policies and evaluation tools can vary widely from state to state, and even district to district, leaving widespread opportunity for misclassification of students. As a result, students may be correctly classified as English-learners in one district or state, but may not get the support and services they need in another.

The Notebook (Philadelphia, PA)
January 29, 2015

Possibly nothing is more challenging to a child than to struggle in reading. Starting in early kindergarten, there are differences between the kids on the “smooth road” (those who start learning to read without difficulty) compared to those on the “rougher road” (those who show signs of early struggling). Children on the smoother road start to learn their letters in preschool and make progress in kindergarten with letters, sounds and sight words (words that appear with high frequency in the text). They start to read easy Dr. Seuss books and receive lots of recognition from parents and teachers. As these kids move into 1st grade, they start to internalize the “code,” meaning they begin to get how words are made of subunits of sounds and syllables. Soon they are taking good guesses at more difficult words. Reading fluency starts to develop.

Daily Herald (Provo, UT)
January 29, 2015

For many of us, literacy is something we take for granted. But for those of us who struggle with reading, achieving literacy is a constant challenge. While there are many resources in our community that can be used to support struggling readers, including tutoring and reading programs, some of the best help comes from family and community members. One of the simplest — and most effective — ways to help is to read together every day for at least 20 minutes. After all, as Coombs said, “The best way to get better at reading is to read more.” Other practices that parents and neighbors can do to help support reading include listening to audio books, creating a reading-centered environment and rereading books with children. Each of these practices helps build reading fluency.

School Library Journal
January 29, 2015

Starting January 29, We Need Diverse Books (WNDB) is inviting submissions from diverse authors in young adult literature for the first-ever Walter Dean Myers Award, also known as “The Walter,” named after the celebrated children’s book author who passed away in 2014. The inaugural Walter Award will be given to a winner in the young adult category (with up to three other submissions recognized with honors). Submissions for The Walter must be written by a diverse author (person of color, Native American, LGBTQIA, person with a disability, or marginalized religious or cultural minority in the U.S.), and the submission must be a diverse work (a YA work written by a diverse author featuring a diverse main character). The submission must be an original work published in the U.S. for the first time in 2015. The deadline for submissions is November 1, 2015, and the winner will be announced in February 2016.

The Notebook (Philadelphia, PA)
January 28, 2015

Research shows that early literacy is a key predictor of adult success, and the cost of falling behind is clearer than ever, particularly for low-income students and students of color. Ralph Smith, head of the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, calls 3rd grade a “make-or-break year” that “essentially predicted what would happen to far too many students.” More is at stake than student success. Also at stake is the success of classrooms, schools, and entire school districts. None can function effectively when students don’t act as responsible citizens – an incentive that fades quickly for struggling readers, Smith said. “The kids who don’t read begin to band together,” he said. “When you get a critical mass of those kids, that makes it enormously difficult to teach. Before you know it, you’ve got a highly dysfunctional environment for everybody.”

Ed Surge
January 28, 2015

In second grade, Jose Alvarez struggled to read. He had fallen behind early in school. His older brothers and mother are dyslexic, and the family feared that Jose might have a learning disability too. Shortly after attending a third grade class taught by Ann Henkels, a dyslexia teacher in Frisco Independent School District in Texas, Jose’s reading abilities began to improve. His teacher had given him a reading assignment with an accessible book that he read on an iPad. Jose’s reading ability went from a second grade level to a fifth grade level. His mom credits Ms. Henkels, his teacher and accessible books for the joy her nine-year-old now experiences in the learning process.

School Library Journal
January 28, 2015

Rain, Reign by Ann Martin has received the Charlotte Huck Award for Outstanding Fiction for Children, and The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion & the Fall of Imperial Russia by Candace Fleming (Random) has received the Orbis Pictus Award for Outstanding Nonfiction for Children from the National Council of Teachers of English. Both awards promote and recognize excellence in children’s literature. The Charlotte Huck Award recognizes fiction for children that has the potential to transform their lives, and the Orbis Pictus Award recognizes excellence in the writing of nonfiction for children. Each year, one winner, up to five honorable mention books, and a list of recommended titles are selected for each award.

Education Week
January 28, 2015

The growth in after-school programs, especially those focused on academics and enrichment activities in the arts, computer coding, and hands-on science, all have at least one challenge in common — funding. The price of running high-quality, out-of-school-time programs ranges from an average of $3,450 to $3,780 per student, according to a 2009 study by The Wallace Foundation. But those are somewhat blunt figures. Costs can vary considerably based on such factors as location, grade level, whether the program is run by a school or community group, the length of the program, and how often each student attends.

Education Week
January 27, 2015

A new report from Excelencia in Education, an organization that advocates for higher educational achievement for Latinos, provides a snapshot of enrollment and educational achievement for the fastest-growing population in K-12 public schools. The report, "The Condition of Latinos in Education: 2015 Factbook" pulls data from a number of sources to give a state-level look at Latino K-12 enrollment and shed light on national advances and challenges.

The Town Talk (LA)
January 27, 2015

A report issued earlier this month by two early childhood education advocacy groups concluded that Common Core reading requirements for kindergarten are inappropriate and not well-grounded in research. Under the standards adopted by Louisiana and more than 40 states, students are expected to be able to read before entering first grade. To achieve that goal, reading and pre-reading skills are beginning as early as pre-kindergarten in many areas. Defending the Early Years and Alliance for Childhood issued "Reading in Kindergarten: Little to Gain and Much to Lose" on Jan. 13, stating that requiring students to read before they are ready can be harmful. But an elementary curriculum specialist for Rapides schools said a standard explored in the report — "Read emergent-reader texts with purpose and understanding" — has more to do with exposing kindergarten students to the texts rather than reading them "with accuracy," which is part of the first-grade standard.

Toronto Star (CA)
January 27, 2015

Alongside vaccines and medications, family physicians at St. Michael’s Hospital are adding something new to their tool kits: Books. The hospital’s new Reach Out and Read program, an initiative between its Department of Family and Community Medicine and the Toronto Public Library, is promoting childhood literacy by encouraging kids to read with their families.During regular checkups, children 6 months to 5 years of age will be given a developmentally appropriate book and participating physicians and nurse practitioners will talk to their parents about the benefits of reading. “It’s important to address literacy in the first five years of life. That’s when 90 per cent of brain development occurs,” said Dr. Katie Dorman, a second-year resident at St. Michael’s, who spearheaded the project alongside family physician Dr. Laurie Green. It’s based on the Reach Out and Read literacy promotion program in Boston, MA, founded in 1989. St. Michael’s is the first Canadian hospital connected with the program, Dorman said.

KSL TV (Salt Lake City, UT)
January 27, 2015

Utah-based author Shannon Hale celebrated her birthday Monday, and she has just one birthday wish from her fans. Hale, author of “The Goose Girl”and “The Princess in Black,” among others, is inviting fans to donate funds to Kids Need to Read, an organization that gifts “inspiring books to underfunded schools, libraries and literacy programs across the United States,” according to Kids Need to Read. “All research shows that having age-appropriate books in the house, kids are more likely to read. And the more children read, the better they do in every subject in school and the better chance they have at success in life,” Hale said in an interview with KSL.com. “Access to books and reading is fundamental for success as an adult.” Hale has been involved in a variety of fundraisers with Kids Need to Read for the last five years, and her desire to promote childhood reading has extended to multiple charities, including a local organization she founded, Writing for Charity.

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.

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