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By Lonnae O'Neal Parker and David Montgomery, Published: April 23. The Washington Post
The odds of being handed a free book out of the blue were much higher Monday night than any other night of the year, thanks to the legions of volunteers and booksellers celebrating World Book Night. The event, which began last year in England and added the United States and Ireland this year, aims to spread the love of books by giving away 500,000 free paperbacks to those who might not otherwise have access or resources, or to those who just look like they could use a good read.
Volunteers in the Washington area and across the country — some 25,000 in all — scattered about pressing one of 30 mostly contemporary titles into unsuspecting hands. Among the books being given away were “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian,” by Sherman Alexie, Khaled Hosseini’s “The Kite Runner” and rocker Patti Smith’s memoir, “Just Kids.”
Opinion piece in the NYT
FRANZ KAFKA wrote that “a book must be the ax for the frozen sea inside us.” I once shared this quotation with a class of seventh graders, and it didn’t seem to require any explanation.
We’d just finished John Steinbeck’s “Of Mice and Men.” When we read the end together out loud in class, my toughest boy, a star basketball player, wept a little, and so did I. “Are you crying?” one girl asked, as she crept out of her chair to get a closer look. “I am,” I told her, “and the funny thing is I’ve read it many times.”
But they understood. When George shoots Lennie, the tragedy is that we realize it was always going to happen. In my 14 years of teaching in a New York City public middle school, I’ve taught kids with incarcerated parents, abusive parents, neglectful parents; kids who are parents themselves; kids who are homeless or who live in crowded apartments in violent neighborhoods; kids who grew up in developing countries. They understand, more than I ever will, the novel’s terrible logic — the giving way of dreams to fate.
How We Will Read: Clay Shirky
“Social reading,” the way I’ve always interpreted the phrase, is reading that recognizes that you’re not just a consumer, you’re a user. You’re going to do something with this, and that something is going to involve a group of other people. Read a book. The very next thing you’re going to do, if it was at all interesting, is talk to someone about it. Book groups and discussion lists are social reading. Because so much of our media in the 20th century was delivered in real-time, with very little subsequent ability to share, save, shift, store, we separated the consumption from the reproduction and use of media. We don’t actually think of ourselves as users of media, when in fact we are.
NYT article on kids and reading.
Excerpt: But is it better than a book? It may take a generation to ever know for sure, and even 10 or 20 years from now it will be debated as the effects of television or video games are still discussed today.
Julianna’s teacher, Kourtney Denning, sees e-books as essential. “Old books don’t really cut it anymore,” she said. “We have to transform our learning as we know it.”
“Early literacy has gotten increasing attention, which is really important because it points out the role public libraries play in helping children get ready for success in school,” said Mary Fellows, president of the Association of Library Service to Children. “Public libraries in many communities are the only game in town for these children.”
But the move comes as libraries budgets are being slashed, and the programs — deemed by some librarians as the most important work they can do, especially in disadvantaged communities — are limited.
In the District, for example, where the library budget has been slashed so much that last year the system considered closing its main facility on Sundays, branches drastically cut back the number of visits to day-care centers and classrooms, from 2,444 in fiscal 2010 to 1,100 last year, according to a spokesman.
In January, during the run-up to Russia’s March 4 election, the front-runner, Vladimir Putin, proposed “a canon of 100 Russian books that every school leaver will be required to read at home . . . and then write an essay about one of them.” Reading, according to Putin, is not just an elective individual activity, but one that has decisive implications for the nation. “State policy with regard to culture must provide appropriate guidelines,” he wrote in an essay in the Nezavisimaya Gazeta newspaper, and culture shapes “public consciousness and . . . patterns of behavior.” The Kremlin’s duty, Putin explained, is to counter the decline in literacy and restore Russia as “a reading nation.”
Read more about it at: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/18/books/review/russias-leader-proposes-a-new-canon.html?_r=1
Reading nonfiction writing is the key component of the Core Knowledge curriculum, which is based on the theory that children raised reading storybooks will lack the necessary background and vocabulary to understand history and science texts. While the curriculum allows children to read fiction, it also calls on them to knowledgeably discuss weather patterns, the solar system, and how ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia compare.
The curriculum may have a particular appeal for city schools beginning to adopt the Common Core standards, which emphasize nonfiction reading and will go into effect in 2014. The Education Department plans to solicit bids from companies interested in creating textbooks, for students of all grades, that will be based on the standards.
Read more about it at The NY Times