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Disturbing news out of the Big Apple. It seems that a large number of third graders may be held back because they can't pass the city's standardized reading and math exams. According to the article, "city spent $8 million preparing for the exams, 11,700 of the 80,000 third-graders in New York City public schools failed one or both of the tests." Read More.
Here's a neat story from Colorado about children and dogs (leashed and highly trained, i.e., "therapy dogs") at the library.
"Paw to Read" Program participant Sandy Sekeles, said "research shows that kids who are learning to read can become nervous about looking dumb around their friends. But with a dog nearby, they start to relax and the act of reading becomes easier."
"Most of the time they just sit there," said Chris Kostelecky, 11, explaining what the Paws to Read dogs do when he reads to them. "Sometimes they stare into space. But they do help you get used to reading aloud. And since we don't have a dog at home, my brother Kasey and I like coming here and reading to the dogs at the library."
Anonymous Patron shares this news item from newkerala.com, "Naughty children in Hyderabad, India, now do not pester their parents for the latest toys in the market. They can play with them in a nearby library, which is providing toys to them. Brainchild of Panna Mehta, an ordinary housewife, this extraordinary idea has come as a boon for not only children, but also for the parents. Mehta thought of this idea when she realised that parents had to spend a huge sum of money almost every month to meet the demands of their children for the latest toys."
I wonder if this could translate to United States public libraries?
The Huddersfield Daily Examiner Reports on Christopher Marsden, a former librarian, turned magistrate who thinks reading could be a key to a new life out of trouble.
Marsden has drawn up a list of 80 suitable titles for Kirklees Youth Offending Team. They say Magistrates have been giving out referral orders to young people pleading guilty to first offences for the past two years.
"Most address topics such as racism, bullying and arson and are about a young person who's having a hard time, and how they learn to cope. Then it's up to them to put together a response - a written review, an audio recording, even prose or poetry.""Getting stuck into a book can give them new confidence. They might surprise themselves about what they can achieve."
nbruce writes "The sub-headline in today's Columbus Dispatch looked a bit startling, "no pets or children under 7" but the story was about unattended children in the Columbus Public Library system. New rules. No children under 7 without a parent or caregiver.
The reporter included a story about a child young enough to have dirty diapers left with siblings and a sack of McDonald's hamburgers while Mama went off to the shopping center.
Now, if the staff can't find the parent within 30 minutes, they will call the police. One mother interviewed for the story said her own limit for leaving children alone at the library is age 14. Other parents (and staff) thought the age limit for unattended children should be set higher."
CNN has a
look into the recent phenomenon of "Poop fiction." Books such as "Walter the Farting Dog," the Captain Underpants series, The Day My Butt Went Psycho," and its sequel, "Zombie Butts from Uranus!" have become a big hit with kids (Can't imagine why). Some quotes below:
Glenn Murray blushes a hearty shade of red when a cashier at a Chicago deli recognizes him: "Heyyyyyy!" the young man shouts gleefully -- and loudly. "You're the fart-man!"
"For many, many kids, this is the first book they read that starts them on a path of reading," says Barbara Marcus, president of Scholastic's children's books division.
Librarians call such stories "book hooks," says Barbara Genco, immediate past president of Association of Library Services to Children.
Gail Glover, a mom from Port Crane, New York, bought the latter book for 9-year-old son Robbie, but later wondered if she'd made a mistake.
Among her objections were "descriptions of bodily functions that made my hair curl."
"But of course, they solicited howls of laughter from my son," Glover says, chalking it up to "a rite of passage in the development of his sense of humor."
nbruce writes "Yesterday's Wall Street Journal (April 27) had 2 articles about reading and children in the health section. Those interested in either might take a look.
One reported on a story that poor readers show changes in brain activity after highly intensive reading intervention. Underuse of the left hemisphere results in poor reading skills. After 105 hours of tutoring, the children read more accurately and fluently.
The other reported on a parent training program, designed to save Medicaid costs. The parents of children in HeadStart programs were taught to use research material instead of the emergency room for help for minor illnesses. Prior to training, 69% chose ER as a first source; after training, that was down 32%.
The research training gave the parents confidence to 1) first go to a reference book, 2) learn to define symptoms in reporting it, 3) taught them to use a thermometer, 4) taught them to use OTC medications, fluids and sponge baths, and 5) to call to consult with a medical person.
What to do when your child gets sick is a book designed for readers with low literacy. The goal of the pilot project is to educate 12,000 families by the end of 2005. The program also reduced days missed from work by the parents, which went down by 41%."
nbruce writes "ABC became the first broadcast network to contribute to the www.kids.us Internet domain, which was created by federal law to establish a safe haven for children using the Internet.
Story here. I tried a few of the options--not terrific, but a start in the right direction."
An Anonymous Patron sent "this story from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel about a Shorewood (WI) dad who learned that he couldn't find out what items his 12-year-old son had checked out, although he had received an overdue notice announcing a $25 fine. According to the story, "When he went to the library in person and demanded to know what materials were overdue, he was even more surprised to learn that his 12-year-old had checked out three R-rated videos. He couldn't go to Blockbuster and rent those movies. He couldn't get into the theater to see them. But he could stop at the library on the way home from school and check them out."
An anonymous patron dropped by and murmured: "Fun Story on a rather different display at the the new Martin Luther King Jr. Library in San Jose CA."
"A couple of Bobcats, a backhoe, a roller and maybe a cement mixer are joining a campaign to get books into the hands of young children. ... The massive machines are a perfect fit with this year's Book Circus theme of "Building Blocks for Growing Minds" and, organizers hope, a way to draw kids, moms and dads to the library."