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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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WAMU (Washington, D.C.)
June 26, 2017

At Turner Elementary School in Southeast D.C., Torren Cooper is the only male of color who works directly in the classroom, even though the student body is 98 percent African American. Cooper is a literacy coach helping some of Turner’s youngest pupils with their reading and writing skills, including rhyming, alliteration, letter sounds and writing their names. He is one of eight young men of color doing this work in D.C. Public Schools through a new program called the Leading Men Fellowship, which is wrapping up its first year. The program trains recent D.C. public school graduates to be literacy coaches in some of the poorest schools in the city. DCPS partners with a local non-profit, The Literacy Lab, to develop the curriculum. The district provided training for the fellowships last summer and hosted weekly professional development sessions throughout the year. The Leading Men Fellowship program was created to address two different problems. First, it increases the number of males of color in early education, secondly — it helps reduce the gap in language development for preschoolers from disadvantaged backgrounds.

National Public Radio
June 26, 2017

NPR Ed reached out to some experts for recommendations and guidelines on helping pick the best apps, for backseat time or any time. These recommendations come with an important caveat. The American Academy of Pediatrics' new guidelines on screen time for kids emphasize the need for balance with other activities. The goal for school-age children is at least 60 minutes of physical activity a day, and meals and other designated family activities should be screen-free time. Joint media use is another best practice that the AAP recommends: That means playing games or watching videos alongside your kids and discussing the content. That said, in a backseat situation, that's not always possible.

Telegraph (U.K.)
June 26, 2017

Happy birthday, Harry Potter. The series that sold 500 million books in 73 languages, and spawned eight movies that grossed £5 billion is 20 years old on Monday. The fantastical story of JK Rowling’s success – an impoverished single mother, rejected by umpteen publishers, who ended up richer than the Queen – has become as familiar as her plots. But what is more impressive even than her sales is the revolution she caused in publishing. In a 2005 survey, taken just before the sixth Harry Potter novel, Waterstone’s found there had been a staggering tenfold increase in the number of new children’s books released every month since 2000. Hardly surprisingly, Harry Potter is also credited with a boom in fantasy. “Fantasy had never been dormant, but there is no doubt that JK Rowling and Philip Pullman brought it massively back into vogue.”

WRAL-TV (Raleigh, NC)
June 26, 2017

Children in South Florida will soon be able to get free books from vending machines. Thanks to a new reading program, four vending machines will be installed Tuesday throughout Broward County to distribute 100,000 children's books. This year the program is adding bilingual Spanish and English books. The program is partnership between JetBlue and Random House Children's Books to help combat book deserts, areas where children and their families have little or no access to purchase age-appropriate books, which can stunt academic development. The machines previously visited Detroit and Washington, D.C.

International Literacy Association Daily
June 23, 2017

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the use of their interactive Family Media Use Plan tool, which takes a step-by-step approach to creating a personalized media use plan for families. Users are asked to consider each family member’s individual needs as they work through questions related to screen-free zones and times, device curfews, digital citizenship topics, and more. Once a plan is completed, it can be printed and shared.

Texas Tribune (Austin, TX)
June 23, 2017

Jill Allor is a professor with the Department of Teaching and Learning at Southern Methodist University. In this interview, Allor talks about the most important aspects of her research as it relates to kids with disabilities and struggling readers. Allor says, "One of the things that’s really interesting about kids with disabilities is the things we know that are effective for teaching kids in general are also effective for them. The differences are in how explicit we need to be and how much repetition is needed. A child with a disability needs more intensive instruction — they need more practice and they need every step laid out very carefully. Research shows if you start out with explicit instruction in kindergarten and first grade, you can address reading problems extremely early. You can prevent many problems and prevent some kids from even needing a diagnosis."

WAMU (Washington, D.C.)
June 23, 2017

The Simon and Schuster imprint, Salaam Reads, was founded in 2016 to introduce readers to Muslim characters in children’s books. Earlier this year, Salaam Reads published its first book, “Amina’s Voice,” by Rockville, Md., author Hena Khan. How are children’s books becoming more representative of their readers? Kojo Nnamdi explores the approach to these stories with local book lovers and writers.

International Literacy Association Daily
June 22, 2017

Preschool should be a time of learning through varied experiences that expose all children to rich content as well as integrated and relevant curriculum. Preschool should not be a period of frustration, where fears are created and abound in young minds and where their cries for help are misconstrued as acts of defiance. However, children of color, especially boys, often experience repeated failure during the preschool years. Thus, the achievement gap starts early. We can combat this early-onset issue by following the three Es: (1) experience and expose; (2) engage and integrate; and (3) evaluate and inform.

Education Week
June 22, 2017

Can project-based learning help close the achievement gap? New research focused on young elementary schoolers suggests that a well-designed and well-taught project-based-learning curriculum can help make a difference for students living in poverty. Researchers Nell K. Duke, a professor at the University of Michigan, and Anne-Lise Halvorsen, an associate professor at Michigan State University, investigated whether a project-based social studies curriculum could help improve the literacy and social studies skills of 2nd graders. They wrote about the findings of the project, which they called Project PLACE: A Project Approach to Literacy and Civic Engagement, for Edutopia.

Wicked Local (North Andover, MA)
June 22, 2017

This summer at the Stevens Memorial Library in North Andover, it’s all about keeping kids reading and having fun. It’s not about having something for library staff to do with the kids while school’s out, but rather it’s about keeping kids reading during a two-month gap so they don’t fall behind come September. The library has partnered with North Andover Superintendent Jennifer Price in crafting a summer reading theme based on the schools’ RAISE (Respect, Achievement, Inclusion, Service, Empathy) initiative. There’s a reading list – organized by grade level – full of RAISE-related books, and kids are invited to read them and then go to the library to discuss them. It’s not all about reading books. It’s also about getting kids into the library daily so that it’s part of their everyday life all year.

School Library Journal
June 22, 2017

How are your students/patrons building a better world this summer? Many public libraries are using the Collaborative Summer Library Program “Build a Better World” theme this year, which offers opportunities to emphasize the many ways that children can make a difference in their world—be it on the local or global level. The following books are about kids building character and/or working to make their communities stronger. Each one is paired with lesson plan tie-ins, ideas for educators, and empowering activities that kids can do this summer and fall.

Education Week
June 21, 2017

Norway and Sweden spent nearly 2 percent of their gross domestic product on early-childhood programs and education in 2013, while the United States spent 0.3 percent—well below the 0.8 average of all of the countries included in an analysis released Wednesday from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Starting Strong 2017 presents an overview of the early-childhood systems in 30 counties, along with trend data and recent reforms. It's the first time OECD has published. Starting Strong V: Transitions from Early Childhood Education and Care to Primary Education focuses on how children can move to primary education in a way that maintains the positive impacts of early learning.

International Literacy Association Daily
June 21, 2017

Getting students to read during the summer months can be a challenge. Our aim should not be to force them to read; it should be to develop their motivation to read. Voracious readers are almost always the highest performing achievers in school. Reading, like any other hobby, must be a year-round activity for optimal academic development and eventual career success. A number of strategies can be used to capitalize on students’ existing attitudes and interests and to promote summer reading.

School Library Journal
June 21, 2017

The new generation of science graphic novels is designed as much to entertain as to educate. “We certainly hope science comics will find their way into classrooms and be useful,” says Dave Roman, editor of First Second’s Science Comics line, “but not as replacements for traditional texts or lessons so much as the most fun supplement possible.” Roman, the creator of the “Astronaut Academy” fictional graphic novels, remembers his own childhood experience of watching a cartoon called Donald in Mathmagic Land, starring Donald Duck. “[It] not only visually explained difficult concepts for my brain to keep up with, but also incorporated a lot of humor that helped keep me from stressing out,” he says. Many of the new breed of science graphic novels wrap the science into a story, and Natalie Layne, supervisor of children’s services at the Public Library of Brookline, MA, says the most popular science comics in her collection are story-driven titles such as Maris Wicks’s Human Body Theater; Primates (Square Fish, 2013) by Jim Ottaviani and Wicks; and Gene Luen Yang and Mike Holmes’s “Secret Coders”.

Hechinger Report
June 21, 2017

Traci Chun, a teacher-librarian at Skyview High School in Vancouver, Washington, is all done with shushing. “When my library is quiet, that’s a red flag,” said Chun. In fact, the busier it is, the better—whether it’s kids experimenting with the Makey Makey circuitry or uploading designs to a 3D printer, or a class learning media literacy or a student seeking advice on a video she’s editing at one of the computer workstations. Chun’s district is at the forefront of a national movement to turn K-12 librarians into indispensable digital mavens who can help classroom teachers craft tech-savvy lesson plans, teach kids to think critically about online research, and remake libraries into lively, high-tech hubs of collaborative learning — while still helping kids get books.

Forbes
June 20, 2017

As parents and grandparents, you want your kids to succeed and thrive, but you can also get really sick of constantly nagging them. “Put down the cell phone; turn off the TV, stop texting, read your book.” You may need some extra support to avoid the summer slide. Keep the kids active and thinking and to avoid the “couch potato syndrome.” A great way to prevent the “slide” is turning your kids into summer entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurship is not only an opportunity to encourage learning, but possibly earn a little money, too. Here are three creative possibilities to engage kids in learning for the summer.

Watertown Daily Times (NY)
June 20, 2017

“Summer slide,” or “summer learning loss,” refers to the knowledge a child forgets or loses during the summer vacation. It’s a phenomenon first thoroughly documented in a 1996 study analysis led by a University of Missouri professor. The analysis found that students are most at risk of losing math and spelling skills over their summer break, though the extent of this loss and the subject areas affected vary greatly by socioeconomic background. Instilling a lifelong love of reading and exploration is something parents can do to make sure children are always learning.

The 74
June 20, 2017

For years, my school, Washington Elementary in Big Spring, Texas, struggled to meet all our students’ literacy needs. We group students in tiers, as in the “Response to Intervention” model, but each year we were still left with extremely large groups in Tier II and Tier III — struggling students and chronically struggling students. Each year, we tried to reinvent the wheel to increase our student success, but to no avail — until last year. That’s when I saw the value of my new role as a multi-classroom leader. As an MCL, I no longer had my own classroom all day; instead, with the time to co-plan, collaborate, co-teach, and track and analyze students’ data, I could lead my teaching team in using strategic student placement and monitoring to finally find success.

School Library Journal
June 20, 2017

How are your students/patrons building a better world this summer? Many public libraries are using the Collaborative Summer Library Program “Build a Better World” theme this year, which offers opportunities to emphasize the many ways that children can make a difference in their world—be it on the local or global level. The following books are about kids building character and/or working to make their communities stronger. Each one is paired with lesson plan tie-ins, ideas for educators, and empowering activities that kids can do this summer and fall.

Education Week
June 19, 2017

An education advocacy group based in Connecticut has profiled five early childhood education providers around the country in an effort to learn how to improve ECE in its own state. The study found four common threads among the programs it studied, including effective strategies for recruiting and retaining a high-quality workforce, an intentional focus on learning and development, a wide variety of structures, and a reliance on data to help drive continuous improvement. Based on these case studies, ConnCAN is making several policy recommendations, including that the state provide more funds for early childhood education programs so that teacher salaries become competitive and that the state create alternative pathways for teachers with bachelor's degrees to earn early childhood credentials.

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"The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more you learn, the more places you'll go." — Dr. Seuss