Literacy

Why Johnny, or in this case Mr. Johnny, Can't Read

Ever heard of Scotopic Sensitivity Syndrome (also known as Irlen Syndrome)? It is not a vision problem, but a problem caused by the brain incorrectly processing what the eye is seeing. People with SSS are highly sensitive to particular wavelengths of light which causes them to see print in a distorted fashion. For some, words seem to swim across the page. For others, they swirl in a circular motion. Others have what is called the “rivers” effect, where the words on the printed page run together. Standard vision exams and educational assessments do not detect this condition.

Though he never learned to read as a child, Del Kennedy somehow managed to get through high school and into adulthood. Now in his late 50's, Kennedy has conquered this form of dyslexia partly with the help of the Muskogee (OK) Public Library’s Adult Literacy Services, and will speak about his voyage at a meeting at the library later this week. Report from the Muskogee Phoenix.

Chilean President Michelle Bachelet Gives Poor Families Books

As reported in The Economist, the President of Chile, a medical doctor and breath of fresh air after the cruel rule of Gen. Augusto Pinochet, has instituted a project to give a box of nine books to over 400,000 impoverished families. Her choices, among others, are Kafka's "Metamorphosis" and Salinger's "Catcher in the Rye".

In today's The Lede (blog) from the New York Times...If You Had to Pick Nine Books...you are welcome to view other reader's opinions, and offer your own choices if you so desire. What would you choose?

Who says teens don't read?

A Disturbing New Trend! Despite the Internet, video games and technological pastimes, teens are still reading. In fact, from 1999 to 2005, teen book sales increased 23 percent, said Albert Greco, a Fordham University marketing professor and publishing expert.

The average Barnes & Noble Booksellers, he said, has 74 shelves dedicated to young adult literature. Religion, meanwhile, averages 110 shelves.

"It's growing and will continue to grow for the foreseeable future," he said.

Boys & Books...Making It Work

From the Seattle Post Intelligencer, an analysis of issues affecting how much, or how little boys read.

There is plenty of blame to go around -- disengaged parents, uninterested publishing houses, distracting video games and teaching styles -- but not as many clear answers.

"I would say there is a crisis," said Walter Dean Myers, a children's book author. "Too many parents have walked away from this idea ... that education is a family concept, is a community concept, is not simply something that schools do."

"A lot of times, when boys get to middle school they are feeling sort of disenfranchised from the educational" experience, said Pamela LaBorde, children's librarian at the Seattle Public Library's Ballard branch.

The problem isn't necessarily that boys don't read, it's that they are often practical readers, LaBorde said, reading magazines and even manuals.

"I think we feel like boys just aren't good readers because they aren't curling up with 'Little Women,' " LaBorde added.

Dr. Librarian: Physician adds literacy to health care mix

Pediatric resident Dipesh Navsaria has a novel way of measuring his young patients' development during checkups: He puts a book in their hands and watches their reaction.

Navsaria, a resident at American Family Children's Hospital, says the child's response speaks volumes. If the patient shows interest and curiosity, he can tell if books are a natural part of their life. At a certain age, if the child holds the book right-side up, opens it and turns the pages, the doctor gets a quick read on motor skills.

Reading is For...and To...The Dogs

What do you get when you bring children, dogs and books together? You get happy, confident children who love reading books.

The Beaverton Valley Times paints this cozy picture for its readers: If you've spent much time in the Beaverton Library in recent years, you may have noticed children huddled comfortably in small-sized chairs reading aloud to fluffy dogs resting nicely on the floor.

Eager to sit at the feet of these youngest of readers, the lucky dogs completed a rigorous screening and training with their handlers (owners) in order to earn this privilege. The kids doing the reading need only to sign up and choose a text they are able to read independently, and make sure they show up on time to read to the dogs. This program was coordinated by children's librarian Ginny Watt.

Thousands of hyphens perish as English marches on

About 16,000 words have succumbed to pressures of the Internet age and lost their hyphens in a new edition of the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary.

Bumble-bee is now bumblebee, ice-cream is ice cream and pot-belly is pot belly.

And if you've got a problem, don't be such a crybaby (formerly cry-baby). "People are not confident about using hyphens anymore, they're not really sure what they are for," said Angus Stevenson, editor of the Shorter OED, the sixth edition of which was published this week.

How judging a book by its girlie cover is putting boys off reading

How judging a book by its 'girlie' cover is putting boys off reading: Attempts by parents and teachers to persuade boys to read more are being undermined by publishers whose insistence on using lurid "Barbie" pink covers on books is turning away young male readers in their droves.

The Nation's Report Card is Out, Please Sign & Return it to Washington DC

National Assessment of Educational Progress results, or what is known as "the Nation's Report Card" came out today, and the results were...mixed. Math scores were up, but reading scores were marginally better, and worse in some grade categories.

Of "No Child Left Behind" and the results of the NAEP finding, Senator Edward M. Kennedy, the Massachusetts Democrat who as chairman of the Senate education committee helped the Bush Administration pass the law in 2001, called the results "encouraging," but said they would have been better "if President Bush had invested in school reform instead of investing in a failed war in Iraq."

The American Federation of Teachers congratulated its members for the improvements in math and in fourth-grade reading, but noted that "many scores were rising faster before No Child Left Behind was enacted." Fair Test, a nationwide anti-testing group, made a similar argument. The New York Times reports.

Coming to a School Near You? Meet Billie Book

I might be tempted to run if this guy came to my school, but...

Meet the large and light green Billie Book, a.k.a. Bob Miller (wonder why he's not Bobby Book?)who recently visited Hayes Elementary School in Marion, Ohio. He's one of several characters offered by Millrow Educational Characters of Columbus; his job was to encourage kindergartners and first- through third-graders to visit the school library and develop a joy of reading.

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