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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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New America
April 27, 2017

Imagine these everyday scenes: A father and his two-year-old are in their library’s bookmobile, checking out electronic and print picture books they just enjoyed at story time. Kindergartners select photos and drawings for their school’s annual multimedia slideshow. A grandmother and teacher share a laptop, clicking on videos that demonstrate Spanish-language word games for school and home. Each day, parents, caregivers, and children are building language and literacy skills for the 21st century, perhaps without even realizing it. Every community in the United States has the potential to transform itself into this kind of ecosystem that supports families and promotes digital inclusion. New America's Education Policy Program and the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop released a new report to guide city and community leaders: How to Bring Family Engagement and Early Learning into the Digital Age.

National Public Radio
April 27, 2017

Mayor Bill de Blasio this week pushed ahead with plans to make New York City one of nation's few big cities to offer free, full-day preschool for all 3-year-olds­­. His proposal builds on widespread consensus that high-quality pre-K programs can have a huge positive impact on the lives of children – especially low-income ones – as well as on the parents and family. That's the crux of the study The Life-Cycle Benefits of an Influential Early Childhood Program, co-authored by Nobel laureate James Heckman, a professor of economics at the University of Chicago and the director of the Center for the Economics of Human Development. There's a growing body of research on the value and importance of high-quality early education programs — especially for disadvantaged kids. Heckman and his co-authors examine the many ways in which high-quality programs helped participants thrive throughout life.

School Library Journal
April 27, 2017

United for Libraries (a division of the American Library Association), Centers for the Book, and a library in maple sugar country are celebrating Children’s Book Week (May 1–7, 2017) with dedications of three Literary Landmarks that recognize a variety of beloved children’s literature.

Picayune Item (MS)
April 26, 2017

School districts within Pearl River County took part in a national study, which showed that the literacy training for teachers in grades kindergarten through third. Nicole McCardle, a Poplarville Lower Elementary 2nd grade teacher who took part in the literacy training said it improved a teacher’s capacity by “adding more tools to our tool box,” The Language Essentials for Teaching Reading and Spelling training program was provided by the Mississippi Department of Education to the teachers to better prepare them to help students struggling with reading.

Education Week
April 26, 2017

Contrary to some common stereotypes, parents of all income levels have high expectations for their children, and low-income parents may even dedicate more time than wealthier ones to helping children with homework, according to federal data. Many school outreach efforts to low-income parents center on just that kind of home-focused involvement. But analyses by the Education Week Research Center and others show that middle-class parents often engage in more social involvement at school—participating in school committees, parent groups, and volunteering in class, for example—experiences that can link them to more opportunities and resources for their children and more influence in schools. Those differences in parent involvement can create hidden disparities that are easy for schools to overlook but hard for poor families to overcome.

School Library Journal
April 26, 2017

From the Midwest to Texas, hair stylists are handing kids a book and offering to give them a haircut free of charge … if they read aloud while getting a trim. A program that barber Courtney Holmes started back in Iowa was an impetus. The idea offers more benefits than merely a free haircut. It increases access to books—something greatly needed in low-income communities—and helps to fight the summer slide. “Kids of color and low-income kids aren’t getting the literacy and the reading that they need,” Holmes says. “They need to read 20 or more minutes a day, and in the summer they really fall behind, so it’s just important. Everybody [needs] to get a haircut, so what better place?”

WMGT-TV (Macon, GA)
April 26, 2017

Second grade teacher Jan Anderson and many other teachers at Midway Elementary School use the “Bookworms” program to help students read better, understand what they read and to increase their vocabulary. Teachers read books to students and ask students questions that may come up during the interaction reading period. The students turn to their peers to discuss the answer or answer as a whole.at the end of the story, the teacher chooses words from the story that students may not know the meaning of.

Science Daily
April 25, 2017

The reading skills of children with reading and spelling difficulties (RSD) lag far behind the age level in the first two school years, despite special education received from special education teachers. Furthermore, the spelling skills of children who in addition to RSD had other learning difficulties also lagged behind their peers in the first two school years. The follow-up study was carried out at the University of Eastern Finland and the findings were published in the European Journal of Special Needs Education.

Greenville Journal (SC)
April 25, 2017

Seventy-eight percent of third- through fifth-grade students who participated in Public Education Partners’ Make Summer Count reading program maintained or increased their reading levels during summer break in 2016. Through Make Summer Count, Public Education Partners and Scholastic allowed 18,000 students at the 29 participating Greenville County elementary schools to select 11 books for their home libraries. They also hosted 23 Family Reading Night events to foster family engagement. A RAND Corporation report released in 2011 showed that the average summer learning loss in math and reading for American students is equivalent to one month per year. But the report also showed that summer learning loss disproportionately affects low-income students. Low-income students, who often don’t have books of their own at home and frequently do not have the transportation to get to a public library, lose an average of two months of reading skills while their peers from higher-income families, who have plenty of reading material at home and may attend learning-focused summer camps and go on educational vacations, make slight gains.

Wahpeton Daily News (ND)
April 25, 2017

Confidence was the name of the game when Shana Remily and Laurie Stiller, teachers with Wahpeton Public Schools, brought nine “Shelter Buddies” to the Humane Society of Richland/Wilkin Counties. All first graders, the students read to the Humane Society’s animals with the goal of not only improving their reading fluency, but gaining confidence in their reading abilities. “The class was excited to choose good fit books they were able to read independently, and for practicing fluency,” Remily said. “The students had to use calm reading voices, as they were reading to a variety of animals with different personalities.”

Erie Times-News (PA)
April 24, 2017

Scholastic recommends that students read every day with books, magazines, newspapers, weather reports, recipes — almost anything. And, reading just six books during the summer will help struggling readers maintain skills. Reading out loud is also critical to learn pronunciation and accuracy. It also improves comprehension skills. United Way of Erie County wants to prevent the summer slide of children losing interest in reading and the resulting decline in skills when school starts again in September. The nonprofit started the Summer Slide Book Drive, a twofold program that collects donated books and distributes them to 14 schools in the region.

The Atlantic
April 24, 2017

Harvard University’s Center on the Developing Child emphasizes the need to start offering early-childhood supports at birth—if not sooner. Prenatally, researchers say, is even better. According to Al Race, the deputy co-director of the center, the importance of prenatal and 0-3 services is one thing that isn’t getting enough attention in the nation’s renewed push for expanded access to high-quality preschool. “A lot of people feel like they’ve got their early-childhood box checked off if they do pre-k,” Race said. Programs that start sooner, though, are likely to have greater long-term effects and for good reason. “There’s a lot of learning and development that happens in the first three years of life.”

International Literacy Association Daily
April 24, 2017

Expectations about the knowledge and skilled use of digital literacies, texts, and technologies are integrated throughout the July 2016 draft of the International Literacy Association’s 2017 Standards for the Preparation of Literacy Professionals. This shift from the 2010 standards that focused much less on digital literacies reflects the changing definition of literacy in the 21st century. So, what types of knowledge and experiences do specialized literacy professionals need to meet students’, teachers’, and schools’ literacy needs in the 21st century?

School Library Journal
April 21, 2017

Part of navigating childhood means searching for role models of all kinds, whether they’re in the music industry, on YouTube, or at the movies. Books, of course, are the classic example, but it can be a challenge to find stories in public and school libraries featuring diverse characters and experiences. Kaya Thomas, who’s currently a senior at Dartmouth College in Hanover, NH, found herself in this exact position when she was growing up on Staten Island in New York City. In August 2014, Thomas launched the free iOS app We Read Too that allows users to tap into hundreds of books for kids in elementary through high school starring characters of color written by authors of color. Selections can be viewed by title, author, or genre. So far, 15,000 people have downloaded Thomas’s app—and kids aren’t the only fans. Parents, librarians, and educators have flocked to it, happy in the fact that these books are smartly compiled in one place.

Science Daily
April 21, 2017

Research published today in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General has shown that learning to read by sounding out words (a teaching method known as phonics) has a dramatic impact on the accuracy of reading aloud and comprehension. Researchers from Royal Holloway, University of London and the MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit tested whether learning to read by sounding out words is more effective than focusing on whole-word meanings. In order to assess the effectiveness of using phonics the researchers trained adults to read in a new language, printed in unfamiliar symbols, and then measured their learning with reading tests and brain scans. Professor Kathy Rastle, from the Department of Psychology at Royal Holloway said, "The results were striking; people who had focused on the meanings of the new words were much less accurate in reading aloud and comprehension than those who had used phonics, and our MRI scans revealed that their brains had to work harder to decipher what they were reading."

Education Week
April 21, 2017

Scientists and educators across the country will converge on the National Mall tomorrow for the March for Science, an event meant to highlight the importance of science to society and advocate for evidence-based policymaking. The march has special relevance for K-12 science teachers, who will be well-represented in Washington and in 374 satellite marches across the country, said David Evans, the executive director of the National Science Teachers Association, which is partnering with the march. "Teachers are marching because they want the public to recognize that science is important," said Evans, whose organization has 55,000 members. "Science is important to our life; science is important to our governance." The day's schedule kicks off with a rally and series of teach-ins around the National Mall, and culminates in a 2 p.m. march from the Washington Monument to the U.S. Capitol.

International Literacy Association Daily
April 21, 2017

Lego is much more than a building toy. For example, offer a collection of random Lego blocks to a group of students with the daunting and challenging task of creating a new written language system. They can come up with their own Lego alphabet, where each specific block or piece represents a sound or sounds in speech. As a storytelling device, Lego can also enhance visual and multimodal literacy skills. I often ask students to create scenes or illustrations for the stories they explore in the classroom. Sometimes they will use Lego blocks to create a version or adaptation of an existing story or to build scenes from new stories they've created. In addition, Lego's visual building manuals are among the best guides to aid the process of assembly. They function as a universal language without the need for one's ability to read written text.

International Literacy Association Daily
April 20, 2017

Environmental literacy is the key to preserving the Earth's natural resources, creating laws and jobs that help protect them, and understanding out why it's so vital that we, as a global community, are proactive in doing so. Project-based learning, innovative technology, and texts that are both informative and fun help us become greener global citizens. Use the following ILA resources and tips to help you bring these issues into the classroom as you celebrate Earth Day on April 22.

New America
April 20, 2017

New America conducted an interview with Shelley Pasnik, director of the Center for Children & Technology and vice president of the Education Development Center. Pasnik has served as the principal investigator for multiple studies on the the impact of the Ready to Learn (RTL) program. The following interview dives into the evidence base and explores the uncertain direction of the RTL program, as well as the future of public media research and development as a whole. Ready to Learn has this history of asking big important questions about the role that digital media in general, and public media in particular, can play in supporting children’s healthy development. [Grant programs like Ready to Learn ensure] there is a commitment to a high quality production that has underneath it a strong research base.

KQED Mindshift
April 20, 2017

Students in Finland normally take a fifteen-minute break for every forty-five minutes of instruction. During a typical break, the children head outside to play and socialize with friends. I didn’t see the point of these frequent pit stops. As a teacher in the United States, I’d usually spent consecutive hours with my students in the classroom. And I was trying to replicate this model in Finland. Once I incorporated these short recesses into our timetable, I no longer saw feet-dragging, zombie-like kids in my classroom. Throughout the school year, my Finnish students would, without fail, enter the classroom with a bounce in their steps after a fifteen-minute break. And most important, they were more focused during lessons.

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"I feel the need of reading. It is a loss to a man not to have grown up among books." —

Abraham Lincoln