1 In 5 Parents Do Not See The Point of Reading to their Children

Research shows that almost 1 in 5 parents do not see the benefit of reading to a child before they are at an age when they can sit up or talk and 1 in 4 parents struggle with reading and so do not read to their children at all.

A study commissioned by a leading online provider of educational and fiction books has revealed that 1 in 5 parents with children under 5 years of age do not think there is any benefit of reading to children before they can walk or talk. In addition, almost 1 in 4 parents either do not enjoy reading, or struggle with reading and so put no time aside for reading with their child.

http://www.alltopbooks.com/ surveyed over 640 UK parents, with children under 5 years of age, revealing the amount of time they spend reading with their children per week. The following results were found;

34.4% spent no time reading to their children at all
50.5% of parents spent 0.5 hours -1 hour reading to their children each week
11.2% spent 2-3 hours reading to their children each week
3.9% spent 3.5 hours or more reading to their children each week

Therefore, over 50% of parents only spend a maximum of 8.5 minutes reading to their children each day and, more surprisingly, over 34% of parents spend no time reading to their children at all. Only 3.9% of parents spend the recommended maximum2 3.5 hours reading to their children each week, an average of 30 minutes every day.

Dilip Sinha, All Top Books Managing Director, comments;

"I am a passionate believer that reading to a young child, no matter how young they are, will help them grow, develop and bond with their parents. To discover that such a high percentage of parents don’t read to their children at all is really disappointing; reading to a child is like opening a door to a big and exciting world, allowing them to hear sounds and see pictures that they may not get to see otherwise."

Sinha continues;

"I have known children as young as 4 months old to show an interest in books, and children who cannot yet talk to make a 'moo’ noise when they see a picture of a cow; for so many parents to think it is pointless to read to a child before they can talk is very concerning."

The results highlight the factors preventing parents from spending more time reading to their children. Almost half (49.7%) are too busy with work and family commitments to read to their children any more than they already do, but all of the 49.7% of respondents wished they could spend more time reading to their children, with one participant commenting, "I finish work, pick up the kids, clean the house, cook the dinner, bath them and then they’re asleep; If I attempted to read to them after all that, I’d be asleep as well!".

Despite proven statistics1, showing that parental involvement with reading from a very young age, could stimulate and develop a baby’s brain, 19.6% of parents do not see the point of reading to a small child, and 24.8% of parents do not like reading; 9.9% of which admitted to have difficulty reading, and so did not read to their children at all.

In total, a potential 44.4% of young children, not only miss out on the educational side of reading but also the interaction and excitement of their favourite voice reading them a fun and exciting story.

More significantly, 18.9% of these children were 3 to 4 years of age and consequently should be preparing to cope with the demands of their formal literacy education; their peers are likely to already have a favourite book, a preference for certain pictures and an understanding of numbers, letters and colours.

Only about 1 in 17 parents felt satisfied with the amount of time they spent reading with their children, all of which spent at least 2 hours per week, approximately 17 minutes reading with their children per day.

1 - http://www.literacytrust.org.uk/familyreading/parents/whyread.html
2 - http://kidshealth.org/parent/positive/all_reading/reading_babies.html

Source: All Top Books (http://www.alltopbooks.com/)

Young Readers Kick Off LeapFrog 1 Million Reading Hours Literacy Campaign

This summer students could lose their hard-won academic skills earned during the school year. A recent report by the Canadian Council on Learning on Summer Learning Loss, states that during the summer students typically lose on average the equivalent of one month of instruction. In an effort to keep Canadian children learning and reading over the summer, LeapFrog Canada launched their 1 Million Reading Hours literacy campaign for children today.

Along with their parents, children can pledge to read 15 minutes a day over the summer, with the goal of generating 1 Million Reading Hours in Canada. The 1 Million Reading Hours program is designed to help reduce the number of children who leave elementary school without the literacy skills required to succeed in higher grades.

"We've pledged to help Canadian children stay engaged with the page this summer," said Gord Terry, General Manger, LeapFrog Canada. "Reading just a few minutes a day can go a long way in building a child's enthusiasm for learning. With their pledge, parents can make this a storybook summer with their children."

More than one hundred young readers from the identified under represented and high priority areas of the Greater Toronto Area will kick off the campaign at the Indigo flagship store at Bloor and Bay Streets. The children will participate in a story time and will contribute 25 reading hours to the 1 Million Reading Hours goal set for the entire nation.

"We are delighted to participate in this project which reinforces our commitment to helping children develop a love of reading," said Heather Reisman, CEO of Indigo Books & Music Inc.

Throughout the summer LeapFrog Canada will be working with schools across Canada in addition to hosting several literacy themed events. Participants can pledge towards the 1 Million Reading Hours goal online at www.leapfrog.ca. Schools representing several provinces, including Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, the Northwest Territories, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Quebec and Saskatchewan, have already committed to 1 Million Reading Hours campaign.

Reading Between the Lines

To facilitate this campaign and to encourage the love of reading, LeapFrog has introduced new learn-to-read technology called the Tag Reading System. The Tag handheld works with Tag-enabled books to create an independent and interactive reading experience for children. By simply touching the highly responsive Tag reader anywhere on any page of a Tag book, children can bring their favorite stories to life, easily skipping from page to page or book to book.

The pocket-sized Tag platform "reads" by using a small, sophisticated infrared camera that works as an imaging system to recognize letters, words and symbols printed on the page. Using the PC- and Mac compatible LeapFrog® Connect Application, parents can download audio for each book in the Tag library, then manage content the way they manage MP3 or digital camera files. With 16 MB of on-board flash memory, the Tag reader can hold up to five books at a time.

"As a pioneer in electronic learning, LeapFrog is proud and uniquely qualified to announce delivery of the next big innovation in the learn-to-read category: the Tag Reading System," said Gord Terry, General Manger, LeapFrog Canada. "The Tag handheld is an entirely re-invented learning product designed for a new generation of young readers. Since it comes from LeapFrog, parents can trust that it provides rigorous educational value and years of fun."

All-New Proprietary LeapFrog Learning Path Lets Parents See the Learning

Launching in tandem with the Tag Reading System is LeapFrog's proprietary Learning Path, a free online tool that interfaces with LeapFrog products to show parents what their child is learning and how their activities or games map back to the scope and sequence of educational skills that LeapFrog has always built into every product. New online connectivity also allows children to access fun online rewards for offline play and learning.

The LeapFrog Learning Path allows parents to connect the Tag handheld to their computer to view details about the books their child has read, including the skills explored and progress made.

Beloved Classics and Favorite Characters Come to Life

The Tag Reading System works with a diverse 18-volume library of children's classic books such as Olivia and The Little Engine that Could, as well as activity storybooks with characters such as SpongeBob SquarePants and Diego. For the Tag library, LeapFrog has partnered with publishers HarperCollins, Penguin, Simon & Schuster, Scholastic and others to showcase beloved characters such as Fancy Nancy, Walter the Farting Dog and Miss Spider.


SUMMER 2008; AGES 4-8; Tag Reading System MSRP: $59.99; Tag Books and Activity Boards MSRP: $14.99 each; http://www.leapfrog.ca/.

Nonprofit Organizations Can Apply for $325,000 in Grants

Thanks to the generosity of Verizon customers who participated in the company's Check Into Literacy program, nonprofit literacy organizations in New Jersey are now eligible to receive a total of $325,000 in grants.

The Check Into Literacy initiative allows Verizon landline phone customers to make a convenient $1-a-month, tax-deductible donation to support literacy programs when customers pay their Verizon bill. Grant awards will range from $1,000 to $25,000. Since the program began in New Jersey in 2000, nearly $1 million has been collected for the Check Into Literacy program.

Eligible nonprofit organizations in the state can submit proposals via e-mail. More information about the grants, including application instructions and forms, can be found at http://www.verizonnj.com/.

To qualify for funding, applicants must be a 501(c) 3 nonprofit organization providing basic reading skills and computer and Web-based literacy programs to New Jersey residents in underserved communities in Verizon's landline service territory. Grant proposals must be submitted by midnight July 31, 2008. Verizon plans to announce grant recipients on or around Sept. 30.

"A dollar a month may not seem like much, but it can go a long way to improving literacy skills in local communities and giving people the opportunity to succeed" said Dennis Bone, president of Verizon New Jersey. "Literacy is the foundation of a successful future, and Verizon is proud to partner with our customers to assist literacy organizations throughout New Jersey"

This year, nonprofit organizations in 26 states and Washington, D.C., will receive more than $1.15 million to bolster literacy efforts. The participating states are: Arizona, California, Delaware, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, North Carolina, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin.

Low literacy levels threaten Canada's economic future

ABC CANADA Literacy Foundation believes the Canadian Council on Learning's Reading the Future offers a clear picture of Canada's low literacy levels. According to Reading the Future, the forecasted number of Canadians with low skills will increase by more than three million to 15 million by 2031.

"The Canadian economy will suffer as the number of Canadians with low literacy skills increases, so we need to prepare workers for shifts in their industry and new technologies," says Margaret Eaton, president of ABC CANADA Literacy Foundation.

ABC CANADA thinks Reading the Future offers feasible recommendations based on the perspective that Canada's economic and social well-being, health and competitiveness are strongly linked to literacy levels. The creation of accessible literacy programs that address the needs of the individuals facing literacy challenges today is key. Reading the Future profiles these Canadians as employed and unaware of the extent of their literacy challenges. It also explains that those with low literacy skills have mastered the mechanics of reading, but lack the ability to deal with complex texts. This means millions of Canadians will not be able to carry out the tasks required in the emerging economy.

"It is becoming increasingly clear that Canadian businesses and governments need to make an investment if the country is to stay competitive," states Eaton. "We know from the report that a large percentage of those with low literacy skills are employed, so the workplace is the ideal venue to address literacy training. This is underscored by the report's strong recommendation for upgrading programs supported by the private and public sector."

Children In Non-English-Speaking Households Experience Multiple Health Disparities

Children in U.S. households where English is not the primary language experience multiple disparities in health care, a UT Southwestern Medical Center researcher has found.

In a study available in June's online issue of Pediatrics, Dr. Glenn Flores, professor of pediatrics at UT Southwestern and lead author, used statistics from the National Survey of Children's Health to examine whether disparities exist for non-English primary language (NEPL) children in medical and dental health compared to households where English is the primary language.

"Although 55 million Americans speak a language other than English at home, there has been little research on health disparities and NEPL children," said Dr. Flores, who holds the Judith and Charles Ginsburg Chair in Pediatrics at UT Southwestern. "To my knowledge this is the first analysis to examine the impact of NEPL on medical and dental health, access to care and use of services in a nationally representative sample of U.S. children."

Conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics, the survey used nationwide random sampling of households with children ages 18 and under. One child from each household was selected as the survey subject with 102,353 interviews of household caregivers completed in 2003 and 2004 in both English and Spanish. The survey is the largest and most diverse containing data on the primary languages spoken at home.

The researchers found that children in households where English is not the primary language are significantly more likely than children in English-speaking households to be poor and Latino or Asian/Pacific Islander. The NEPL children are also more likely to be overweight, have only fair or poor dental health, and be uninsured or sporadically insured. These children also made no medical or preventive dental visits during the previous year and had problems attaining specialty care.

"These children are more likely to live in low-income households," said Dr. Flores, who also serves as director of the division of general pediatrics at Children's Medical Center Dallas. "Clinicians providing care for them should make sure caregivers are aware of programs documented to benefit poor children. Providing all children with health and dental insurance could significantly reduce barriers to health and dental care for NEPL children."

Nonfinancial-related barriers appeared also to hamper NEPL children's access to care. The survey showed that caregivers in NEPL households were often dissatisfied with physicians and health care providers who did not spend enough time with a child or explain things in an understandable way.

To identify, monitor and eliminate health care disparities, Dr. Flores recommends health care institutions and systems routinely collect data on the primary language spoken at home for all patients. He says improved access to medical interpreters, better cultural competency training and more family-centered health care systems could eliminate barriers to care.

In a previous study, Dr. Flores surveyed hospitals in New Jersey to assess current language services and identify policy recommendations on meeting the needs of patients with limited English proficiency.

He found that most New Jersey hospitals had no full-time interpreters, multilingual hospital signage or translation services. A substantial majority of the hospitals' representatives surveyed stated that third-party reimbursements for interpreter services would benefit their hospitals.

"In Texas alone, 7.3 million families speak languages other than English at home," Dr. Flores said. "It's imperative that our health care system recognizes on a nationwide scale how language is affecting health care for NEPL children."

Sandra Tomany-Korman of Signature Science, LLC, also contributed to the Pediatrics study.

Source: http://www.utsouthwestern.edu/

Spanish-Language Literacy Programs at Feria del Libro: A Family Book Fair

At today's Feria del Libro: A Family Book Fair, the Pearson Foundation announced its launch of Spanish language versions of the popular literacy programs Jumpstart's Read for the Record and the Pearson Family Book Nights.

Jumpstart's third Read for the Record event takes place on Oct. 2, 2008. By encouraging hundreds of thousands of children and adults to read, Jumpstart aims to break the world record for the number of people reading the same book on the same day, and to make early education a national priority. This year, children, parents, educators, and school and political leaders in communities around the world will read the Penguin classic Corduroy to highlight the importance of early literacy. Read for the Record events are already being planned within the Los Angeles area, and the Pearson Foundation will provide Spanish versions of Corduroy for each of them. As Founding Partner and National Sponsor of Read for the Record, Pearson has raised more than $2 million to support Jumpstart's work in early childhood education.

Pearson Family Book Night brings families together in early childhood centers to share in the joy of reading and learn first-hand about the long-term importance that active, repeated family reading can have in their child's personal and cognitive development. During the two-hour event, children and their families share books and read together, and parents learn simple reading techniques they can employ to help their children. Across Los Angeles, Family Book Nights resume this Fall, and the Pearson Foundation will offer special Spanish-speaking activities and supports for children and their families in select locations.

A community-wide event hosted this year at Los Angeles City Hall, Feria del Libro: A Family Book Fair makes quality, culturally relevant books available to children of all ages and their families. The fair is the culmination of the Million Word Challenge, a literacy campaign promoting a culture of literacy at home and academic achievement at school.

Website: http://www.pearsonfoundation.org/

Reading Adventure, a new summer reading program

Summer may mean the end of school and time for play, but it also offers the exciting world of possibilities for reading. Huntington Learning Center is inviting their students on an adventure – a reading adventure!

Reading Adventure is a Huntington summer reading program that builds on themes of discovery and exploration to dramatize how books can transport the reader to a new world of adventure. The first step is for the child to choose one or more books from the provided lists of books that highlight appropriate reading for each grade level. Giving the child the ability to choose the book encourages them to read for pleasure based on their interests. The chosen books are entered into a "passport" and the journey begins. Once a book is read, the child completes a journal and receives a postcard for that book to motivate continued reading and most importantly, to have the child look to reading as a way of exploring new people, places and interests.

"The Reading Adventure program was designed to not only encourage reading, but get students excited about it. Students and teachers discuss what they've read and the joy of reading becomes evident," said Eileen Huntington, co-founder of Huntington Learning Centers. "Their investments of time and energy have yielded tremendous positive results in terms of improved reading ability."

Students' hard work lead up to a celebration in honor of their achievements in the Reading Adventure program at Huntington Learning Centers. Each student who participated in the program will receive a certificate of accomplishment and a trophy to commemorate their success in reading books for their enjoyment over the summer.

"Reading Adventure can be as successful as the child's imagination can expand," Huntington said. "It offers a chance for students to enhance their reading skills and then enter the new school year prepared."

For more information about Reading Adventure, or Huntington Learning Center, visit http://www.huntingtonlearning.com/.

Children's "Hot Picks" for Summer Reading Fun

Kids can "Go Global" this summer with a selection of great books to read from Maryland Education Assistant Professor Jennifer Turner.

As summer approaches, many parents and children prepare to go on vacation. We may plan trips to places nearby, such as the beach or to amusement parks, or we may travel cross-country by car or by plane. No matter where we go, the fun and excitement of traveling is what makes our vacations most memorable.

This summer, I have selected a group of books that help readers to travel globally - to experience some of the cultures, customs, and traditions of people from different continents. Oftentimes, we have seen people from different countries in our schools, neighborhoods, or in the workplace, but we may not know much about their families, their cultures, and their lives. This list of books helps us to cross those boundaries to experience and celebrate the global diversity within our world - without ever leaving home!!

Note: All of these books are written in and/or translated into English. Some are available in other languages. For more books in various languages besides English, visit the International Children's Digital Library on the web at http://www.childrenslibrary.org/


African Literature

Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters (John Steptoe, 1988, HarperCollins Childrens)

For those who love the classic Cinderella story, this African folktale captures the relationship between two sisters, one who is selfish and one who is selfless and loving. Although the contrasting qualities of the two sisters is important, even more essential is the fact that the sisters have beautiful brown skin and wear traditional African clothing. This helps to put a new cultural spin on Cinderella and helps readers to expand their ideals about beauty.

Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain (Verna Aardema, 1981, Dial Press)

Featured on Reading Rainbow, this is a simple story about a cattle herdsman and his wish for rain on the African plain. This is a memorable story, even for young children, because it is very simple to understand and has a powerful musical quality that makes for engaging read-alouds. Or, if you want to hear the narration of this story by James Earl Jones, download the clip from Youtube (search Reading Rainbow, Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain).


Latino/a Literature

Harvesting Hope: The Story of Cesar Chevaz (Kathleen Krull, 2003, Harcourt New York )

In this nonfiction picture book, the story of Cesar Chavez and his fight for justice for immigrant workers is told through beautiful illustrations and words. My sons had not learned anything about Cesar Chavez in school, so they were very interested in this story. It's a great way for parents to talk about equality and justice, and the difference that one person can make in the lives of others.

I love Saturdays y Domingos (Alma Flor Ada, Aladdin Publishers, 2004)

This story is an affectionate portrait of a bilingual girl's weekend visits to her two sets of grandparents. On Saturdays, she speaks English with her paternal grandparents and on Domingos (Sundays), she speaks Spanish with her Mexican-American Abuelito and Abuelita (grandfather and grandmother). This story is wonderful because it combines Spanish and English in a beautiful text.

Any small goodness: A novel of the barrio (Tony Johnston, 2001, Blue Sky/ Scholastic)

This powerful novel relates the story of the Rodriguez family, who comes north from Mexico to Los Angeles in search of better work and a better life. However, life is quite difficult for Arturo and his family, because their new barrio is filled with crime and dangerous gangs. The novel also describes how Arturo must deal with the tensions around remaining who he is and becoming gringo-ized (forgetting/devaluing your roots), and the choices between doing good and evil within his family and community. (Note there is some bad language in Spanish on page 81).


Asian Literature

Grandfather's Journey (Allen Say, 1993, Houghton Mifflin)

Told as an "immigration" story, this book shares the experiences of Allen Say's grandfather, who came to the United States from Japan in the 1940s. The illustrations are beautifully done, and convey the excitement, sadness, and hope that Say's grandfather feels as he sees himself as a part of two different worlds.

The Name Jar (Yangsook Choi, 2001, Alfred A. Knopf, New York )

This poignant story is about a young girl named Unmei who comes to America from Korea . She becomes sad when she is teased by children who make fun of the pronunciation of her name. Unmei considers changing her name to an "easy" American name, but ultimately learns to accept the uniqueness and beauty of her Korean name. Parents, this is one that you may want to talk about with your children. My boys, both of whom have Korean friends, were horrified that others would make fun of their names and that they would feel so sad that they would consider changing it. This book teaches an important lesson for everyone.

When my name was Keoko (Linda Sue Park, 2002, Clarion Books)

This novel describes the Japanese occupation of Korea in WWII from the perspective of Keoko, a 10-year old girl. Her life changes in devastating ways; Korean is banned, food becomes scarce, and all are terrified by the harsh ruling of the Japanese military. This novel describes how Keoko and her older brother eventually learn to survive these atrocities through acts of resilience and resistance.


Middle Eastern Literature

The librarian of Basra : A True Story from Iraq (Jeanette Winters, 2005, Harcourt New York )

This book tells the true story of Alia Muhammad Baker, the librarian of a Basra , a small town in Iraq . When the war came, Alia asked a neighbor to help her save the books. With the help of her neighbors, Alia saved 30,000 books from the library, nine days before it was burned to the ground by soldiers. I read this book to my sons, and it really demonstrated to them how wars change the lives of innocent people. And, the ending is filled with hope, which I also believe was a good message for my sons to hear.

My name was Hussein (Hristo Kyuchukov, 2004, Boyds Mills Press)

In this vivid picture book, Hussein, a young Roma boy, lives in Bulgaria . He describes the rich cultural traditions that his family has celebrated, including an Arabic name that was passed down through the generations. When communist soldiers arrive in their village, their freedom is curtailed. Hussein and his brother miss the ethnic celebrations in their villages, and worse yet, are forced to adopt "Christian names." This story brings up issues of prejudice and discrimination that should be discussed with children after reading the book.


Eastern European (Slavic) Literature

The Keeping Quilt (Patricia Polacco, 2001, Aladdin)

In this beautifully-illustrated book, Polacco tells the story of her great-grandmother Anne who emigrated to America from Russia . In New York City , great-grandmother Anne and her quilting bee friends sew a quilt composed of scraps of fabric from little girls' dresses, the aprons of aunts, and so on. The quilt is highlighted in various family occasions through four generations, serving as a quilt, a tent, a huppah at a wedding, a tablecloth, and so on.

Thundercake (Patricia Polacco, 1997, Putnam Juvenile)

This is a heartwarming story of a young girl who is afraid of thunder, and her Jewish grandmother who helps her to overcome her fear by cooking with her when a storm threatens. The girl and her grandmother (Babushka) make thundercake, and talk about the different ways to make thunder less frightening. My boys (ages 5 and 7) used the chocolate thundercake recipe in the back of the book, and it was delicious!!

Who Wants to be a Good EFL Teacher?

EFL teacher Daniela Pesconi has launched a new blog on EFL teaching. As globalization is taking over, more and more people are going for an English course. That demands really well qualified EFL teachers.

Being a good EFL teacher is not easy. Schools - and students - are very demanding and training is hard and a lifelong investment. EFL teachers have to be enthusiastic, love it passionately and dedicate yourself full time; in the classroom and out of it.

In "Who wants to be a teacher?," teachers will find some articles based on a teacher's 12-year experience as an English teacher in language institutes, regular schools and higher education. Some other articles on relevant information for new teachers - these adventurous professionals - who want to improve their skills or even find jobs anywhere in the world have also been selected.

The newly launched "Who wants to be a teacher?" blog provides important information and help these loving professionals with tips, motivation and a bit of humour, so they can do their best in their career.

Website: http://www.whowantstobeateacher.blogspot.com/

New Partnership Boosts Boys' Literacy Skills

The National Institute for Literacy (Institute) and Mocha Moms, Inc., a national support organization for stay-at-home mothers of color, have launched an innovative partnership to boost children's literacy skills, and they are turning to local barbershops to kick off their new effort.

On June 21 from 3-5 p.m., the Institute and Mocha Moms will unveil a reading nook at Campbell's Barbershop, 5703 Dix Street N.E., complete with more than 250 books for boys and free publications for parents that support the development of reading and other literacy skills at home. The new book nook is part of Boys Booked on Barbershops (B-BOB), a growing national initiative launched in 2004 that takes advantage of naturally occurring opportunities in the community to foster a love of reading. B-BOB reading nooks have debuted in more than 100 barbershops across the country, from Florida to Illinois.

"I can't think of a better way to promote reading among boys while engaging men in fostering an interest in books," said Sandra L. Baxter, Ed.D., director of the National Institute for Literacy. To date, the Institute has published nearly 50 million copies of its scientifically-based reading and literacy publications designed for parents, families, caregivers, literacy practitioners, and educators. All Institute publications are distributed at no cost.

Mocha Moms, Inc. has been a B-BOB partner since 2006. Since then, more than 30 Mocha Moms chapters across the country have signed on to create reading nooks in local barbershops. The nooks will feature books by and about African Americans, with an emphasis on topics that interest the barbershop clientele.

"The barbershops offer a fun, safe, and familiar environment for children to read and be read to by caring adults as they wait their turn or sit in the barber's chair," says Dee Dee Jackson, national president of Mocha Moms. "We are very excited to be an integral part of this out-of-the box concept."

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, nine out of ten African-American students have not mastered reading by the fourth grade. Through their new partnership, the Institute and Mocha Moms are also planning a wide range of national campaigns and activities, including a "Take Your Child to the Library Day," to increase the number of children and families in communities of color who obtain library cards and who read for enjoyment.

"By working with Mocha Moms, the Institute has an opportunity to reach out to and equip parents with some of the resources and expertise they need to help build literacy skills, and to support and encourage reading success in the early years," Baxter added.

A similar partnership launch and Boys Booked on Barbershops event is scheduled for October 25 in Atlanta.

Website: http://www.nifl.gov/

The Asia Foundation Distributes Over 300,000 Children's Books to Asia

San Francisco-based Books for Asia, established in 1954 by The Asia Foundation, is contributing over 300,000 children's books to eight Asian countries. Schools, community libraries, and child care centers in Afghanistan, Indonesia, Mongolia, Pakistan, the Philippines, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, and Thailand will receive the brand-new books donated by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company (www.hmhco.com), which were procured by Brother's Brother Foundation (www.brothersbrother.org).

Eight shipping containers have departed the United States and are scheduled to arrive at Asian ports next month with two more containers to follow. There, teams of Books for Asia staff will sort each shipment and work with local partners to ensure that the books are delivered to the schools, reading centers, and libraries with the greatest need.

In parts of Asia, high illiteracy rates affect millions, while educators and librarians face enormous hurdles securing resources for students who want to better their lives through education. Many libraries are in disrepair, collections are often out-of-date, and access to English-language books is limited. Without the tools to learn English – the international language of commerce and advanced degree-level education – millions of students in Asia are unable to take advantage of the opportunities afforded by a rapidly changing world. The special shipment of children's books will help a new generation of readers and thinkers to become tomorrow's leaders and innovators.

For over 50 years, Books for Asia has responded to this critical need by providing new texts and educational resources to schools, universities, public libraries, non-governmental organizations, and other institutions in remote and impoverished parts of 17 countries in Asia every year.

"The Books for Asia program is making impressive contributions across Asia," said Books for Asia Director Melody Zavala, "and the demand for English books continues to grow. For example, last year in Afghanistan, we distributed nearly 60,000 books and materials to 48 primary and secondary schools and 22 universities. And in Mongolia, where Books for Asia is the only regular donor of English language books, a mobile library has delivered more than 72,000 books in all 21 of Mongolia's provinces, making six trips covering more than 16,200 kilometers (over 10,000 miles) to the country's most remote areas."

In places like the Philippines, where the Books program has operated for over 50 years, The Asia Foundation has provided more than 12 million books throughout the island nation, and in recent years, has sent the majority of donations to schools and libraries in Mindanao, the poorest region of the Philippines where literacy rates are substantially lower than in the rest of the country.

For 2008, Books for Asia is on track to surpass last year's record of providing 974,000 books and educational materials valued at $33 million throughout Asia. Books for Asia relies on the generosity of publishers for quality donations and on The Asia Foundation's in-country staff to facilitate local distribution.

Website: http://asiafoundation.org/

Poor spellers with good phonetic skills are more often right-handed

Children who can read and have good phonetic skills - the ability to recognize the individual sounds within words – may still be poor spellers. In a paper published in the May 2008 issue of Cortex, Elizabeth Eglinton and Marian Annett, at the School of Psychology of Leicester, UK, show that this subgroup of poor spellers is more likely to be right-handed than other poor spellers.

The three-year study was carried out in a cohort of children drawn from normal schools. The children attended nine different schools regarded as representative of the local education authority, including both town and country districts. In the first year of study all children in the 9-10 year age group were screened for laterality, literacy and cognitive abilities using short group tests (hand skill, spelling, nonword spelling, drawing shapes and homophonic word discrimination). Tests requiring individual examination, including reading, were given in Year 2. In the end 414 children were available for the spelling analyses in Year 1, of whom 324 were tested further in Year 2.

The results of the study show that poor spellers with good phonetic equivalent spelling errors (GFEs) included fewer left-handers (2.4%) than poor spellers without GFEs (24.4%). Differences for hand skill were as predicted.

"These findings support the right shift theory of handedness and cerebral dominance, which predicts that dyslexics with good phonology would be strongly right-handed" says Marian Annett, corresponding author of the paper.

Preschool Learning Activity: Stimulating Children's Minds by Jennifer Houck

It is important for those who work with preschoolers to choose a preschool learning activity carefully. Teaching preschoolers is a rewarding experience and young children are like pliable putty in their preschool teacher's hands. Those who teach children, especially preschoolers, experience one of the finest joys that life has to offer. If you have ever watched a young child's eyes widen in amazement as they see a new creature emerge before their sight - as with a science-based preschool learning activity, then you understand the true rewards of teaching children.

Choosing the best preschool learning activity for young children will enhance their skills, prepare them for kindergarten, and help them develop important emergent skills. Some skills that are critical to early childhood development include:

* Language Arts/ Literacy
* Mathematics
* Science
* Social Studies/ Character Building
* Physical Education/Health

You should make sure that any preschool learning activity that you select will enhance the child's understanding and awareness of these core skills and developmental areas. Language skills are critical for developing an understanding of reading, writing, speaking, listening, and communicating. Some simple Language activities may include listening games, rhyming, and following oral directions.

Mathematics is essential for the early learner's awareness of numbers, spatial concepts, patterns, and how mathematics pertains to their daily environment. Mathematical preschool activities may include counting, estimating, reading books that focus on numbers, and using items such as toy cash registers and number based puzzles.

Science and Social Studies skills are essential for children to develop an understanding and awareness of the world around them. It is important to teach children how to draw conclusion, ask questions, and observe the world that they live in.

Teaching children the importance of health and physical fitness through play is not only fun, but it is also vital to develop their sense of self. Activities should promote safety, hygiene skills, and health through proper nutrition.

About the Author
Jennifer Houck is the owner of the online Parent Center at http://www.ilovebeingamom.com/ to where you can find many more resources and arts/crafts to help in raising in your preschooler.

Two Thirds Of UK Adults Fail Basic Literacy Test

67.97% of the UK adult population has below average basic literacy skills, a statistic that has serious implications for the long term prospects of the UK economy, according to a nationwide survey undertaken to coincide with the launch of Better Writing: Better Business, an interactive writing skills programme designed for use in the workplace to quickly teach staff about the correct use of the language.

These results support Skills for Life findings which estimate that 5.2 million adults in the UK are at, or below, the literacy standard expected of an 11 year old*. If these adults were to sit a GCSE English exam, they would fail. According to a survey by Ernst and Young, the growing problem of lack of basic skills in the workplace is costing the UK economy an estimated £10 billion each year in lost contracts and incorrect invoices**.

The Basic Writing Skills survey, undertaken by educational software developer Basic Writing Skills, also discovered that women have higher average literacy levels than men, scoring an average of 15% higher than their male counterparts in the test.

The reasons for declining UK writing skill levels are arguably attributable to two factors: first, people not knowing that there is a difference between informal and formal language, ie how one speaks to friends is different from how one should prepare documents; and second, people not understanding the rules for written English, and therefore writing in ways that are personal to them but not necessarily comprehensible to others.

Heather Ker, creator of Better Writing: Better Business, said: "There has long been a belief that because we speak English, we can write it. The teaching of grammar and punctuation has therefore been largely neglected for about 30 years and we are seeing the results of that now. Ignoring basic rules would not happen in any other subject. We wouldn't say, 'You can bang a nail in with a hammer - go and build a house.' If you want to write well, there are rules to be learnt here too. They aren't complex, and once you have them life improves in many ways.

"The decline in literacy has not been helped by two aspects of modern society - increasing reliance on 'Spell Check' tools within word processing programmes where, for the most part, any corrections are automatically made or highlighted and brought to the user's attention. Moreover, 'txt' language on mobile phones encourages personal interpretative spelling - which is inconsistent as well as incorrect - to save space and time. This kind of writing has increasingly been adopted by many for informal emails.

"Dwindling literacy levels can have a direct effect on the corporate bottom line. The written word is today the most common form of business contact, be it email, letter or report, all of which are a direct representation of the author and the author's organisation. Spelling or punctuation errors convey that the writer, and the company they represent, are careless and lack attention to detail. Such a damaging evaluation can result in a loss of business, as the survey by Ernst and Young has shown.

Source: http://www.bwsbusiness.co.uk/

Are Public Schools Flunking or Passing?

As the 2007/2008 school year winds to a close, the picture of the quality of education around the country is dim, according to a new Harris Poll of 2,602 U.S. adults surveyed online by Harris Interactive between May 5 and 12, 2008:

Public schools fall to the bottom of the list when it comes to the quality of education they provide. Just one in six U.S. adults (15%) say public schools, grades K-6 provide excellent or very good education while 13 percent say the same about public schools for grades 7-12;

When it comes to local public schools, those do a little better as one in five U.S. adults say both grades K-6 and 7-12 are providing an excellent or very good quality of education (20% and 19% respectively);

Where public schools have declined is in looking to attitudes from two years ago. In 2006, one-quarter (26%) said grades K-6 were doing an excellent or very good job while 23 percent said the same about public schools, grades 7-12;

Private, church related schools are considered the best, whether it is in the U.S. as a whole (38% saying excellent/very good for grades K-6 and 37% saying the same for grades 7-12) or their local schools (35% for K-6 and 34% for 7-12 saying excellent/very good).

Different types of schooling do better in specific subject or skill areas, and in looking more closely at three types of schooling (i.e., public, private and home schooling), there are different strengths associated with each type:

A majority believe that public schools are better at providing students a chance to get along better with people from different backgrounds (53%) while a plurality believes public schools are better for social skills with peers (42%);

Public schools also do better than private schools or home schooling in physical education (38% versus 20% and 3% respectively);

In looking at private schools, half of U.S. adults say it provides the better education in education gifted or talented children (51%) and preparing students for college (49%). Pluralities believe that private schools provide a better education than public schools or home-schooling in art/music (43%), mathematics (43%), foreign languages (42%), English literature (41%), science (41%) and reading/writing (40%);

Education for special-needs children is an area where public and private receive similar marks (28% and 29%) respectively. It is also the area where home-schooling receives the highest of all the categories (12%).

Looking Back in Time

In 1965, The Harris Poll looked at education, more specifically how money was being spent for teachers and for public schools in general. Please note, these surveys were conducted in-person, so this data should not be directly trended, but rather looked at in comparison.

At that time, just over half of U.S. adults believed that teachers in public schools were paid about the right amount (56%), two in five said they were paid too little (42%) and 2 percent said they were paid too much.

Flash forward 43 years and attitudes have changed. Now, three in five U.S. adults (59%) believe that teachers are paid too little while one-quarter (24%) say they are paid about the right amount and 6 percent say teachers are paid too much;

In looking at public schools in their communities, there is also a change in four decades. In 1965, over half (56%) believed about the right amount is being spent on public schools, one-third (32%) said too little is being spent and 12 percent said too much. In 2008, almost three in five (57%) say too little money is being spent on public schools in their community while one in five (20%) say it's about the right amount and 13 percent say too much.

So What?

According to Peter Shafer, Vice President and Head of Harris Interactive's Youth Center of Excellence, "The continued decline in the public's perception of the quality of education should be a call to action for administrators and policymakers at all levels of government. It is appalling that one of the best areas of performance in public education the quality of gym classes."

Shafer also notes, "We are not surprised in one regard – these data confirm what we have been hearing and seeing in our studies of principals, teachers, and administrators for the past decade – it is increasingly more difficult to make real and significant changes in the education system. The demands on all educational institutions from the community are growing, budgets are being trimmed and the quality has definitely suffered."

"Data from the Harris Interactive School Poll study conducted in various districts across the country show that when parents, teachers, administrators and students take ownership of improving education, the quality rises – as does the perception of its value," Shafer concluded.

AT&T Awards $75,000 Contribution to Improve Educational Opportunities

AT&T Inc. has donated $75,000 to the Parramore Kidz Zone (PKZ) to assist the nonprofit organization's efforts to boost the school performance of disadvantaged youth in the Parramore area in Orlando.

"Investing in programs that can make a true difference in the quality of life for Floridians, especially our children, is a real priority for the AT&T team," said Marshall Criser III, president of AT&T Florida. "We are committed to helping indispensable community-based organizations like the Parramore Kidz Zone by providing them with the tools needed to help the wonderful kids who participate in the program."

PKZ will use the AT&T contribution to enhance the computer capabilities at its Homework Room sites throughout the community and increase access for neighborhood children to the University of Central Florida's Digital U program. The money will also be used to expand tutoring services and academic-enrichment activities for all youth, develop and launch workshops to teach parents how to best interact with schools and teachers, and to expand peer-support activities to improve youth's attitudes toward succeeding in school and life.

PKZ, a grass-roots project launched in 2006 by Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, provides Parramore children with pre-kindergarten education, health care, jobs, mentoring, tutoring and after-school programs -- such as sports, arts and technology programs -- to help ensure a smooth transition to adulthood.

The mission of PKZ, which is patterned after the nationally acclaimed Harlem Children's Zone in New York, is to transform Orlando's most distressed neighborhoods into a healthy place for children.

The Parramore Heritage Community, a 1.4-square-mile neighborhood in the heart of downtown Orlando, is home to 2,066 children, with 73 percent of them living in poverty. Children living in poverty are more likely than other children to perform below grade level in school, have high truancy and dropout rates, become teen parents and end up in child abuse and juvenile crime systems.

How to Get Your Pre-School Child off to Flying Start with Reading by Wayne Gillie

Many children today are arriving at school without any understanding of the basics of reading. Books are totally foreign to them, and they don't know anything about the purpose of those funny marks on the page (we call them letters!).

Thankfully there are a lot of highly effective teachers in schools who are able to take these children and develop them as competent readers, but some children take a long time to grasp these foundational literacy skills and in a classroom they may fail to understand the things that they need to know.

Once a child gets behind in learning to read, it can be very difficult to catch up, as they start to believe that they are simply not clever enough to be able to learn how. This negative self-belief can become like a self-fulfilling prophecy:

* They believe that they are not clever.

* They think it's too hard.

* Their thinking drives their actions.

* They don't do what they should do that will help them learn, and typically end up misbehaving.

This can unfortunately lead to a devastating loss of confidence in all areas of life. Literacy is key to all learning, and it is so much better to be ahead than behind.

Thankfully there is something that all parents can do that is guaranteed to get their preschool children off to a flying start with literacy. It is so simple, it needn't cost any money, and you can do it in around 10 minutes a day. Surely it's worth the effort though if you're going to help your children get off to the best start when they get to school?

All you need to do is regularly read to your child.

Today there is a huge array of interesting and well-illustrated children's picture books that may be borrowed from public libraries. Aim to read one book a day to your child. It is often best to make this a part of your regular routine, and for many families just before bedtime is the best. Your child will love this time with you, and it will help build a strong bond of love and trust.

You can do it! You could start today!

Look for a companion article entitled "7 Tips on How to Make The Most of Your Child's Reading Time" for ideas how to make the most of your time together.

About the Author
Wayne and Jenny Gillie are parents and school teachers, and have established http://www.buildkidsconfidence.com/ as a resource for parents and teachers who want to improve the self confidence of their children or students

Literacy Bootcamp Arms Educators with Strategies to Succeed

Literacy Consultant Angela Maiers will host five literacy workshops this summer. Each workshop focuses on the strategies to equip teachers with mini-lessons, power tools, and strategies necessary for comprehension across content areas.

For seven years running, teachers attending one of Angela Maiers' Literacy Institutes have said the workshops are like attending boot camp. Between the hands-on workshop training and the strategic mini-lessons, teachers come away with an arsenal of strategies they can put to use immediately.

This year, Mrs. Maiers will hold five workshops across the country:

June 9 in Clinton, IA (SOLD OUT)
June 23 in West Des Moines, IA
July 14 in Honolulu, HI
July 21 in Maui, HI
August 4 in Golden, CO

Maiers believes by putting learners first, teachers can focus on the strategies necessary for comprehension across content areas. By focusing on the strategies and implementing them with mini-lessons on a consistent basis, content comprehension will follow.

Angela Maiers works with schools and teachers across the country, training educators how to change the conditions of learning without having to change complete curriculum. Her work has appeared in numerous books, blogs and articles.

Registration for the events can be found online at http://www.angelamaiers.com/institutes.html.

Two New Courses for Reading Certificate Program

The University of California, Irvine Extension announces two new courses as part of its Reading Certificate Program. The courses, "Sociocultural Context of Reading Instruction" and "Foundational Theories in Reading Instruction," will each take place online beginning June 23 through Sept. 5.

"Literacy needs to be the core foundation of every student's education," said Angela Jeantet, director of education programs for UC Irvine Extension. "These two courses will enable teachers to lay the groundwork for children to become great leaders."

The first course, "Sociocultural Context of Reading Instruction," will be taught by Lesley Clear, Ph.D., an educational consultant to UC Irvine Extension. Clear has been an ESL instructor in Japan and Hungary, and an EFL teacher trainer in Hungary, Ukraine, Chile and Argentina. The course is designed to help practitioners develop a rich understanding of the myriad issues that diverse learners face in complex environments, including home, community and school. It is intended to provide teachers knowledge in the social, cultural, linguistic and academic challenges and opportunities faced by English language learners – and to impart practical strategies for educators to teach students with sensitivity to these issues.

The second course, "Foundational Theories in Reading Instruction," will be taught by Shannon Chollman, MA, NBCT, a reading specialist and teacher with over 10 years of experience. Chollman earned her master's degree in literacy at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and was one of the first reading specialists/teachers in the United States to earn her National Board Certification in the area of Literacy. She is currently a course developer and instructor at UC Irvine Extension and teaches in the Tustin Unified School District. The course will review and analyze the research in reading and language arts, as well as its implications for student assessment and instruction. Chollman will explore how children learn to read and the phonological and morphological structure of English. The course will look at the sociolinguistic aspects of reading and writing, while evaluating the relationship between language, spelling, reading and writing.

Both courses are part of UC Irvine Extension's Reading Certificate Program, which is designed for practicing teachers seeking the CCTC Reading Certificate and those who want to meet professional development objectives or requirements. The courses in the certificate program are offered online and onsite at school sites. For more information, visit http://unex.uci.edu/certificates/education/

$4.9 Million in Grants Help Organizations Further the Cause of Literacy and Basic Education

The Dollar General Literacy Foundation is awarding grants totaling $4.9 million to 327 nonprofit organizations in the fight against illiteracy.

More than 44 million adults in the U.S., which is the equivalent of the entire population of Florida, Kentucky, New Mexico and New York, read at the lowest level of literacy, according to the National Adult Literacy Survey.

The Dollar General Literacy Foundation aims to reduce that number every year. This year’s grants will serve approximately 75,000 individuals and families living in the 35 states where Dollar General operates stores. The grants support outreach to low-level literacy adults and their families. Adult basic education, GED preparation, English as a second language, family literacy and workforce literacy are among the initiatives supported by these grants.

Since its inception, the Dollar General Literacy Foundation has awarded grants totaling more than $24.5 million. In addition to cash grants, Dollar General’s Learn to Read free literacy referral program has directed more than 50,000 individuals to organizations in their respective communities that help people learn to read.

The Dollar General Literacy Foundation accepts proposals on an annual basis. The Foundation will begin accepting 2009 program proposals online on January 5, 2009. Proposals must be submitted by March 6, 2009. To receive future requests for proposals, send your organization's name, a contact name and mailing address to The Dollar General Literacy Foundation, P.O. Box 1064, Goodlettsville, TN 37072-1064. For more information on the Dollar General Literacy Foundation or for a complete list of grant recipients, visit http://www.dollargeneral.com/.