Literacy

Fought Over Any Good Books Lately?

Another good one from The New York Times about Book Groups and how they can become a scene of in-fighting, snobbery and recriminations, like "what's wrong with Oprah"?

"It’s a nice, high-minded idea to join a book group, a way to make friends and read books that might otherwise sit untouched. But what happens when you wind up hating all the literary selections — or the other members? Breaking up isn’t so hard to do when it means freedom from inane critical commentary, political maneuvering, hurt feelings, bad chick lit and even worse chardonnay."

"Who knew a book group could be such a soap opera?” said Barb Burg, senior vice president at Bantam Dell, which publishes many titles adopted by book groups. “You’d think it would just be about the book. But wherever I go, people want to talk to me about the infighting and the politics.”"

Reading Can Be a Hair-Raising Experience

Mint Canyon (Santa Clarita, CA) Elementary School Principal Betsy Letzo has come up with some pretty wild ideas. But none have been as hair-raising as her latest reading-enhancement scheme, according to The Signal.

These were the conditions: If students could read and pass comprehension tests on more books that their teachers, the teachers had to sport a Mohawk for a day. Participating faculty lost the heated competition and walked around campus Monday with their hair sprayed into long, stiff, colorful Mohawks. Check out the photo!!

Family Reading Night Coming Up

Illinois Secretary of State and State Librarian Jesse White is urging families in Illinois to spend time together reading on the evening of Thursday, November 20th to celebrate the Secretary of State's annual Family Reading Night.

"This special event is a night when parents and children are encouraged to turn off the television, computers, video games and other forms of entertainment and spend time reading together," White said. "Studies have shown that reading together makes families stronger, creates a positive learning environment, and helps children develop a love for reading that can last a lifetime." QC Online.

How to Read Like a President

The New York Times has an interesting essay by Jon Meacham on Oct. 31, 2008, on what presidents read, and what books influenced their lives.

Andrew Jackson was, to put it kindly, no scholar. When Harvard voted to give him an honorary degree in 1833, a Massachusetts newspaper wrote that he deserved an “A.S.S.” along with his “L.L.D.” From afar, the man Jackson had defeated for the White House, John Quincy Adams, was horrified his alma mater was recognizing a barbarian who could barely spell his own name.

As usual, though, the press and Jackson’s enemies did not have the man exactly right. I just finished five years of work on Jackson and his White House years, and I found that the reconstruction of his literary interests, from youth to old age, illuminated much about the arrangement of his intellectual furniture. His heroic sense of possibility? He loved Jane Porter’s novel “The Scottish Chiefs.” His thunderous rhetorical habit of posing a question and then answering it? He grew up memorizing the Westminster Shorter Catechism of the Presbyterian Church. His provincial obsession with manners, bearing and etiquette? He was a fan of Lord Chesterfield’s letters. His reflexive characterization of enemies like Henry Clay as “Judases” and his dependence on imagery from the Old Testament? He cherished the Bible and his late wife’s copy of Isaac Watts’s translation of the Psalms. His shrewd political sense? He was an unlikely admirer of the French philosopher Fénelon’s “Telemachus,” a kind of Machiavellian guide to ruling wisely. .. -- Read More

Reading Dogs

"Calling All Pets", a radio program on National Public Radio, had an interesting program today on "assistance dogs" who help children read. These are "Reading Education Assistance Dogs (READ)", which permits children to read to dogs rather than to other kindergarten children or teachers. "11/01/2008 on Calling All Pets: There's a new kind of "assistance dog" in town, and it's here to help your child learn to read. After three, on Calling All Pets, find out more about the new "literacy dog" program."

Hear the program at: http://www.wpr.org/pets/index.htm and search for "read" or the program broadcast on 11/01/08. The segment on reading dogs starts about twelve minutes into the program.

See also: http://www.wpr.org/pets/

Bad News on Literacy from the United Nations

Things aren't improving fast enough or far enough, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa and parts of Asia, and particularly among women.

U.S. First Lady Laura Bush was at U.N. headquarters in New York Tuesday to spotlight the need for improved literacy. The statistics are daunting, 774 million people worldwide cannot read and write. Two-thirds of them are women. Seventy-five million children do not attend school. And in Africa, only 61 percent of adults can read and write, compared with the world average of about 82 percent.

More from the Voice of America.

Another Reading Marathon, this one in Italy

It's not just going on in libraries and bookstores. The Church is now into the reading marathon thing. The text of course is what many call "the Good Book", and the first reader, the Pope (is he Catholic? yes).

AP reports: ROME, Italy (AP) -- Pope Benedict XVI's "In the beginning" started off a weeklong Bible-reading marathon on Italian television Sunday.
RAI state TV began its program called "The Bible Day and Night," with Benedict reciting the first chapter of the book of Genesis -- the holy text's opening verses about the creation of the world.

The marathon will feature more than 1,200 people reading the Old and New Testament in over seven days and six nights. While the pope recited his segment from the Vatican, most of the reading will be done live in Rome's Santa Croce in Gerusalemme, a basilica built in the fourth century.

On a somewhat similar subject, October is Church Libraries Month. Here are two Church Library Organizations National Church Libraries Association and Evangelical Church Libraries Association.

Using Video Games as Bait to Hook Readers

Today in the New York Times:

Publishers, authors and even libraries are embracing video games to promote books to young readers.

When PJ Haarsma wrote his first book, a science fiction novel for preteenagers, he didn’t think just about how to describe Orbis, the planetary system where the story takes place. He also thought about how it should look and feel in a video game.

The online game that Mr. Haarsma designed not only extends the fictional world of the novel, it also allows readers to play in it. At the same time, Mr. Haarsma very calculatedly gave gamers who might not otherwise pick up a book a clear incentive to read: one way that players advance is by answering questions with information from the novel.

“You can’t just make a book anymore,” said Mr. Haarsma, a former advertising consultant. Pairing a video game with a novel for young readers, he added, “brings the book into their world, as opposed to going the other way around.”

Full article here.

In Celebration of Banned Books Week

From Shelf-Awareness today: Among the many volunteer readers, Matt Phillips, a librarian at the Twin Hickory Public Library, Glen Allen, VA and his daughter Sydney read Where's Waldo by Martin Handford (No. 88 on the ALA's top 100 banned and challenged books 1990-2000) in the library's Banned Books Weeks window. Adrienne Minock, teen librarian at Twin Hickory, wrote that the window has "gotten a lot of attention. We hear a lot of 'Mom, what are those people doing in there?' The best part has been hearing parents explain to their kids what the display is all about, which is exactly what we wanted to happen!"

Laura's Last Hurrah

After leaving the White House Laura Bush plans to continue promoting literacy through the United Nations and the George W. Bush presidential library in Dallas.

The AP reports that the first lady, who will host the National Book Festival on Saturday, also said she hopes her signature Washington event becomes a lasting tradition -- and she'll whisper something about that to the next first lady. This is the eighth year for the book festival, which will be covered on BookTVon CSpan-2 all day Saturday.

Will we miss having a librarian in the White House?

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