Friday, December 28, 2007

America's Most Literate Cities: 2007

America’s Most Literate Cities: 2007

Drawing from a variety of available data resources, the America’s Most Literate Cities study ranks the 69 largest cities (population 250,000 and above) in the United States. This study focuses on six key indicators of literacy:

~ newspaper circulation
~ number of bookstores
~ library resources
~ periodical publishing resources
~ educational attainment
~ Internet resources

The original study was published online in 2003 at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. The rankings for 2005 to present @ Central Connecticut State University. Top 10:

1. Minneapolis, MN
2. Seattle, WA
3. St. Paul, MN
4. Denver, CO
5. Washington, DC
6. St. Louis, MO
7. San Francisco, CA
8. Atlanta, GA
9. Pittsburgh, PA
10. Boston, MA

Complete List @

Read On @ Your Local Library

The Teacher Who Couldn’t Read
John Corcoran – Focus on the Family, 1994
~ story of a man who taught high school for 18 years with a slight disadvantage; he didn't know how to read

Jeremiah Learns to Read
Jo Ellen Bogart – Orchard, 1999
~ elderly Jeremiah decides that it's finally time to learn to read

A Vote for Murder (Murder She Wrote Mystery)
Donald Bain – New American Library, 2004
~ Jessica's in D.C., to support a senator's new literacy initiative. She discovers the dark side of politics . . . from the shady halls of the Library of Congress to the D.C. social scene

Monday, December 24, 2007

Bedtime Stories

Once upon a time, we read bedtime stories

But not so much today as fewer parents share books with kids
Houston Chronicle: Dec 19, 2007 By Karen Uhlenhuth, McClatchy-Tribune

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Blame it on working parents who are too tired at day's end. Or on the potent tug of TV set, video game and computer.Whatever the cause, it seems the bedtime story — and the ritual of parents reading to their children regardless of the hour — may be losing its hold on American family life.

If so, it's more than just the loss of a quaint custom. Researchers and child-development specialists say reduced rates of shared reading time can hurt family cohesion, stymie creative development in younger children and drag down academic achievement."Reading Across the Nation," a recently released study, found that just under half of the parents surveyed said that they or other family members read every day to their children, from newborns to 5-year-olds.

. . . a related report - The Family: America's Smallest School

by the ETS Policy Information Center, outlines the family and home conditions affecting children’s cognitive development and school achievement and how gaps beginning early persist throughout life.Critical factors examined in the report include child care quality, parental involvement in schools, parent/pupil ratio, family finances, literacy development, student absences and physical home environments.

When was the last time you told a bedtime story ?
~ last week
~ last month
~ last year
~ never told a bedtime story

Read On @

Your Local Library: CalCat or WorldCat

Book Crush: for kids and teens-recommended reading for every mood, moment, and interest
Nancy Pearl, Sasquatch-2007
~ Pearl presents over 1,000 crush-worthy books organized into 118 lists aimed at youngest, middle-grade, and teen readers.

Gotcha for Guys: nonfiction books to get boys excited about reading
Kathleen A. Baxter – Libraries Unlimited, 07
~ books to pique the interest of middle grade boys

Deconstructing Penguins: parents, kids, and the bond of reading
Lawrence Goldstone – Ballantine, 05
~ fantastic reading from Mr. Popper's Penguins (2nd G) to The Time Machine (5th G)

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Word of the Year: 2007

Merriam-Webster's #1 Word of the Year for 2007

This year's winning word first became popular in competitive online gaming forums as part of what is known as l33t ("leet," or "elite") speak—an esoteric computer hacker language in which numbers and symbols are put together to look like letters. Although the double "o" in the word is usually represented by double zeroes, the exclamation is also known to be an acronym for "we owned the other team"—again stemming from the gaming community. (Based on votes from visitors to M-W's website)

1. w00t (interjection)
expressing joy (it could be after a triumph, or for no reason at all);
similar in use to the word "yay"
w00t! I won the contest!

Top 10 – definitions @


Oxford University Press Word Of The Year: locavore

The past year saw the popularization of a trend in using locally grown ingredients, taking advantage of seasonally available foodstuffs that can be bought and prepared without the need for extra preservatives.

The “locavore” movement encourages consumers to buy from farmers’ markets or even to grow or pick their own food, arguing that fresh, local products are more nutritious and taste better. Locavores also shun supermarket offerings as an environmentally friendly measure, since shipping food over long distances often requires more fuel for transportation.

Other regional movements have emerged since then, though some groups refer to themselves as “localvores” rather than “locavores.” However it’s spelled, it’s a word to watch.

Runners-up for the 2007 Word of the Year @

aging in place
colony collapse disorder
MRAP vehicle
social graph
tase (or taze)

American Dialect Society is accepting nominations
for the ADS 2007 Word of the Year

“Plutoed” Voted 2006 Word of the Year, Jan 5, 2007

In its 17th annual words of the year vote, the American Dialect Society voted “plutoed” as the word of the year, in a run-off against climate canary. To pluto is to demote or devalue someone or something, as happened to the former planet Pluto when the General Assembly of the International Astronomical Union decided Pluto no longer met its definition of a planet.

And last but not least . . .

Lake Superior State University is accepting nominations for their ' 2008 Banished Word List."

The 2007 List of Banished Words:
GITMO -- The US military's shorthand for a base in Cuba drives a wedge wider than a split infinitive.

COMBINED CELEBRITY NAMES -- Celebrity duos of yore -- BogCall (Bogart and Bacall), Lardy (Laurel and Hardy), and CheeChong (Cheech and Chong) -- just got lucky.

AWESOME -- Given a one-year moratorium in 1984, when the Unicorn Hunters banished it "during which it is to be rehabilitated until it means 'fear mingled with admiration or reverence; a feeling produced by something majestic." Many write to tell us there's no hope and it's time for "the full banishment."

GONE/WENT MISSING -- "It makes 'missing' sound like a place you can visit, such as the Poconos. Is the person missing, or not? She went there but maybe she came back.
PWN or PWNED -- Thr styff of lemgendz: Gamer defeats gamer, types in "I pwn you" rather than I OWN you.

NOW PLAYING IN THEATERS -- Heard in movie advertisements. Where can we see that, again?

WE'RE PREGNANT -- Grounded for nine months.

UNDOCUMENTED ALIEN -- "If they haven't followed the law to get here, they are by definition 'illegal.'

ARMED ROBBERY/DRUG DEAL GONE BAD -- From the news reports. What degree of "bad" don't we understand? Larry Lillehammer of Bonney Lake, Washington, asks, "After it stopped going well and good?"

TRUTHINESS – "This word, popularized by The Colbert Report and exalted by the American Dialectic Society's Word of the Year in 2005 has been used up. What used to ring true is getting all the truth wrung out of it." -- Joe Grimm, Detroit, Michigan.

ASK YOUR DOCTOR -- The chewable vitamin morphine of marketing.

CHIPOTLE – Smoked dry over medium heat.

i-ANYTHING -- 'e-Anything' made the list in 2000. Geoff Steinhart of Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, says tech companies everywhere have picked this apple to the core. "Turn on…tune in…and drop out."

SEARCH -- Quasi-anachronism. Placed on one-year moratorium.

HEALTHY FOOD -- Point of view is everything.

BOASTS -- See classified advertisements for houses, says Morris Conklin of Lisboa, Portugal, as in "master bedroom boasts his-and-her fireplaces -- never 'bathroom apologizes for cracked linoleum,' or 'kitchen laments pathetic placement of electrical outlets.'"

Monday, December 10, 2007

Challenged - Banned - Censored Books

Banned in Oshkosh: 'The Golden Compass' books
Appleton Post-Crescent: Dec 7, 2007 by Amanda M. Wimmer

OSHKOSH -- At least one area school has temporarily pulled the novel "The Golden Compass" from its library shelves over concerns about what critics call its "anti-Christian message."
. . . . .
Many religious groups, including the New York-based Catholic League, have protested the film and the books as denigrating Christianity and promoting a stealth atheistic campaign to unsuspecting children and their families.

Parents decry reading of controversial book to Shallowater third-graders
Group presses for school library ban of 'The Golden Compass,' authored by atheist and now a movie
Lubbock Online: Dec 8, 2007 Story last updated at 4:36 a.m. Friday, December 7, 2007
by Bob Wilson, Avalanche-Journal

A group of parents is angry that a third-grade teacher read a controversial book authored by a self-described atheist to students at Shallowater Intermediate School.
The parents want "The Golden Compass" banned from the libraries at the intermediate school and Shallowater Middle School. They also do not want the book to be read in class again, said Carrie Williams, whose daughter is in the third-grade class. READ ON

At debut, 'Golden Compass' sets course for controversy
Star-Ledger: Dec 7, 2007 by Judy Peet

Even for Hollywood, where logic is not a prime factor, it is an oddity: an attempted film boycott based not on what's in a movie, but what might be in the sequel. The target is "The Golden Compass," a lavish, $180 million children's fantasy film opening nationwide today.
. . . . .
The conservative watchdog Catholic League and the evangelical-activist group Focus on the Family both loudly urge parents to boycott the movie and ban the books. The response among New Jersey Catholics has been muted, but all five dioceses did release advisories suggesting parents know what is in the books before allowing children to see the movie.
. . . . .
"The Golden Compass" merchandise machine is not affected by the controversy. There are deluxe book sets, a $38 board game -- already sold out at FAO Schwarz -- and Sego is producing a whole line of video games. There are action figures, play sets, vehicles and plush toys, a particularly lucrative market because of the talking animals in the movie.
There is also an active anti-Golden Compass market. Several conservative authors, including Catholic League board member Dinesh D'Souza, are hawking books debunking Pullman and the Catholic League has sold at least 25,000 brochures entitled "The Golden Compass: Agenda Unmasked," at $5 each.
To date, the campaign against "The Golden Compass" has produced few results. Newly reissued, the trilogy is on several bestseller lists and early buzz on the movie is very good. READ ON

Profile: The devil in Philip Pullman Nov 30, 2007

. . . . . .
In the eyes of the Catholic League, the 61-year-old author, a humanist and an honorary associate of the National Secular Society, is nothing less than the Antichrist, a militant atheist, and a heretic in the mould of the poets John Milton and William Blake.
The league wants the film banned or, at the very least boycotted, because it considers the trilogy's climax, with Pullman's cruel and intolerant God-figure being destroyed, blasphemous. One school board in Canada has ordered The Golden Compass (published in Britain as Northern Lights) to be removed from school shelves and others are said to be considering following suit.
In this country, the Roman Catholic church has remained diplomatically silent, though the Catholic Herald has called His Dark Materials "the stuff of nightmares... worthy of the bonfire".
. . . . .
Surprisingly, he has won support from Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, who has suggested that His Dark Materials even be taught as part of religious education in schools. READ ON

'Golden Compass' loses its religion
LA Times: Dec 8, 2007 – Editorial

Appeasing narrow-minded religious groups in the film adaptation does a disservice to great fiction.
. . . . .
So, hoping not to offend sensitive religious moviegoers, New Line excised explicit references to the church in its film version of "The Golden Compass" in favor of a vaguer, more hazily defined threat. Some religious groups, including the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, have tepidly endorsed the film on the grounds that most who see it "will scarcely be aware of religious connotations." But others, such as William Donohue's Catholic League and James Dobson's Focus on the Family, persist in warning parents that Hollywood is out to poison children's minds. Many Pullman fans are also aghast, but for the opposite reason: They want elements of the book that question organized religion to stay in. READ ON

Friday, December 7, 2007


The Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) is an international comparative study of the reading achievement, behaviors and attitudes of fourth-grade students in the United States and in other participating countries. The study includes a written test of reading comprehension and a series of questionnaires focusing on the factors associated with the development of reading literacy.
A summary of findings from PIRLS 2006:

In 2006, 45 education systems participated in the Progress in Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS), including 38 countries, 5 Canadian provinces, and the separate English- and French-speaking education systems in Belgium. PIRLS was first done in 2001 and included 35 countries.

The average score for U.S. students was:

~ 540, higher than the average score (500) in 22 education systems
~ a greater % reaching achievement benchmarks compared to International %
~ lower than 10 education systems and
~ not significantly different from 12 education systems.

Fourth-grade-age children in Russia, Hong Kong, and Singapore have the highest levels of literacy. Although the average score for students in the United States and England was above the scale average, those scores ranked 17th and 18th, respectively.

Compared to 2001, the average score for U.S. students in 2006 was not significantly different overall. On the 2006 assessment, the average score for U.S. students in reading for literary experience was 4 points higher than their average score in reading to acquire and use information. In 2001, the difference was 17 points.

565 Russian Federation
564 Hong Kong SAR
560 Canada, Alberta
558 Singapore
558 Canada, British Columbia
557 Luxembourg
555 Canada, Ontario
551 Italy
551 Hungary
549 Sweden
548 Germany
547 Netherlands
547 Belgium (Flemish)
547 Bulgaria
546 Denmark
542 Canada, Nova Scotia
541 Latvia
540 United States
539 England

The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) is an internationally standardised assessment that was jointly developed by participating countries and administered to 15-year-olds in schools.

The survey was implemented in 43 countries in the 1st assessment in 2000, in 41 countries in the 2nd assessment in 2003, in 57 countries in the 3rd assessment in 2006 and 62 countries have signed up to participate in the 4th assessment in 2009.

Tests are typically administered to between 4,500 and 10,000 students in each country. PISA focuses on reading, mathematics and science literacy; it also includes measures of general or cross-curricular competencies such as learning strategies. PISA 2000 focused on reading literacy, PISA 2003 focused on mathematics literacy, and in 2006: science literacy.

Reading & Math rankings for 15 year old students; US ranks below average in Math.
(PISA also has a Science ranking)
Rankings @ BBC
Printing Errors Invalidate U.S. Reading Scores on PISAEducation Week: Nov 27, 07 by Sean Cavanagh
Reading scores for the United States on an international assessment of student skills have been invalidated because of major errors in the printing of the test, in what a top federal education official called an “embarrassment” for government officials and the private contractor responsible for administering the exam.

The results of the reading section of the Program for International Student Assessment, or PISA, were ruined when printing errors in the test booklets directed students to the wrong pages for information related to specific questions. READ ON

Monday, December 3, 2007

GoodShop for Literacy

What if the . . . .

Literacy programs received a donation every time you shopped for gifts this Holiday Season ?

It's easy !

1. Click on Good Shop.

2. Enter a literacy program of choice.

3. Click Store Icon to GoodShop that store.

First Choice: SCLLN - Southern California Library Literacy Network: providing FREE tutoring at public libraries from Santa Barbara to San Diego since 1984

Other choices available at GoodSearch, 10 of the 50+ programs listed:

AZ: Literacy Volunteers of Maricopa County
CA: Literacy First Charter School El Cajon
CA: Literacy Network of Greater Los Angeles

CA: Literacy Support Council Of Placer County
CT: Literacy Volunteers of America - Danbury
CT: Literacy Volunteers of Eastern Connecticut
FL: Literacy Council of Sarasota

FL: Literacy Pros of Jacksonville
FL: Literacy Services of Indian River County
FL: Literacy Volunteers - Collier County

Stores include:

Goodsearch - in the News

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Literacy 'Round the World

United Nations Human Development Report: 2007-2008

Released Tuesday, the UN Human Development Report lists countries in various categories according to overall rankings in terms of economic, health and social development. Categories include: Adult Literacy, Education Index, GDP, Internet Use.

Iceland leads in most categories, making it the world's most developed nation, according to the UN. Adult Literacy's Top 20:

1 Iceland 99
2 Norway 99
3 Australia 99
4 Canada 99
5 Ireland 99
6 Sweden 99
7 Switzerland 99
8 Japan 99
9 Netherlands 99
10 France 99
11 Finland 99
12 United States 99
13 Spain 99
14 Denmark 99
15 Austria 99
16 United Kingdom 99
17 Belgium 99
18 Luxembourg 99
19 New Zealand 99
20 Italy 98.4
for Tables: READ ON

and from UNESCO

Education for All by 2015: Will we make it ?

This report assesses progress towards the six education for all goals midway to the target date for achieving them -- 2015.

There have been some real gains since 2000:

~ the number of children starting primary school has increased sharply
~ there are more girls in school than ever before
~ spending on education and aid has risen

But poor quality, the cost of schooling for poor families and high levels of adult illiteracy are militating against the chances of achieving education for all.

UNESCO’s Sixth International Conference on Adult Education (CONFINTEA VI), a major strategic meeting to be held in Brazil, 2009.

an important platform for policy dialogue and advocacy on adult learning and non-formal education at global level, involving UNESCO Member States, United Nations agencies, multi-and bi-lateral cooperation agencies, organizations from civil society, the private sector and learners from all world regions.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

NEA:: To Read or Not To Read

The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) released, To Read or Not To Read: A Question of National Consequence, on Nov. 19th. A new and comprehensive analysis of reading patterns in the United States. To Read or Not To Read gathers statistics from more than 40 studies on the reading habits and skills of children, teenagers, and adults. The report reveals recent declines in voluntary reading and test scores alike, exposing trends that have severe consequences for American society.

"The new NEA study is the first to bring together reliable, nationally representative data, including everything the federal government knows about reading," said NEA Chairman Dana Gioia. "This study shows the startling declines, in how much and how well Americans read, that are adversely affecting this country's culture, economy, and civic life as well as our children's educational achievement."

Americans are reading less - teens and young adults read less often and for shorter amounts of time compared with other age groups and with Americans of previous years.
~ Less than 33% of 13-year-olds are daily readers, a 14% decline from 20 years earlier.
~ Among 17-year-olds, the % of non-readers doubled over a 20-year period, from 9% in 1984 to 19 % in 2004.
~ On average, Americans ages 15-24 spend almost 2 hours a day watching TV, and only 7 minutes of their daily leisure time on reading.

Americans are reading less well – reading scores continue to worsen, especially among teenagers and young males. By contrast, the average reading score of 9-year-olds has improved.
~ Reading scores for 12th-grade readers fell significantly from 1992 to 2005, with the sharpest declines among lower-level readers.
~ 2005 reading scores for male 12th-graders are 13 points lower than for female 12th-graders, and that gender gap has widened since 1992.
~ Reading scores for American adults of almost all education levels have deteriorated, notably among the best-educated groups.
~ From 1992 to 2003, the % of adults with graduate school experience who were rated proficient in prose reading dropped by 10 points, a 20% rate of decline.

The declines in reading have civic, social, and economic implications – Advanced readers accrue personal, professional, and social advantages. Deficient readers run higher risks of failure in all three areas.
~ Nearly 2/3rd’s of employers ranked reading comprehension "very important" for high school graduates. Yet 38% consider most high school graduates deficient in this basic skill.
~ American 15-year-olds ranked 15th in average reading scores for 31 industrialized nations, behind Poland, Korea, France, and Canada, among others.
~ Literary readers are more likely than non-readers to engage in positive civic and individual activities – such as volunteering, attending sports or cultural events, and exercising.

To Read or Not To Read expands the investigation of the NEA's landmark 2004 report, Reading at Risk. While that report focused mainly on literary reading trends, To Read or Not To Read looks at all varieties of reading, including fiction and nonfiction genres in various formats such as books, magazines, newspapers, and online reading. Whereas the earlier report assessed reading among adults age 18 and older, To Read or Not To Read analyzes reading trends for youth and adults, and readers of various education levels.

some reactions:

Are we reading less? Are we reading worse? Probably not.
Stephen Krashen

The new report is likely to provoke as much debate as the previous one. Stephen Krashen, a professor emeritus of education at the University of Southern California, said that based on his analysis of other data, reading was not on the decline. He added that the endowment appeared to be exaggerating the decline in reading scores and said that according to federal education statistics, the bulk of decreases in 12th-grade reading scores had occurred in the early 1990s, and that compared with 1994 average reading scores in 2005 were only one point lower.

Timothy Shanahan, past president of the International Reading Association and a professor of urban education and reading at the University of Illinois at Chicago, suggested that the endowment’s report was not nuanced enough. “I don’t disagree with the N.E.A.’s notion that reading is important, but I’m not as quick to discount the reading that I think young people are really doing,” he said, referring to reading on the Internet. He added, “I don’t think the solutions are as simple as a report like this might be encouraging folks to think they might be.”

Reading & Writing @ Adult Literacy Programs:

Writer To Writer - CLLS, SCLLN, BALIT

Write to Read, Alameda County Library’s Adult Literacy Program, is proud to announce the publication of several student and staff writings in the September 2007 issue of The Change Agent, a national adult education newspaper for social justice.

DLC Adult Literacy Community:
We need to learn read and write as if our lives depended on it.

Read Write Now video: Learning is Power

Friday, November 23, 2007

Banned Books

Battle over books breaks out in Westhampton Beach 11.23.07 by Jennifer Barrios

A tiny Westhampton Beach bookstore has become the frontline in a battle over the written word.

Terry Lucas, owner of The Open Book on Main Street, has fortified her shop with handmade signs, the protests spelled out in glittery letters.

"We have fREADom," one poster reads. "Reading=good. Censorship=bad," another sparkles.

The decorations, made by local students, are in response to an effort by several parents to remove two books from Westhampton Beach High School's ninth-grade reading list over what the parents say is inappropriate sexual content.

"The Tenth Circle," by Jodi Picoult, and "Cradle and All," by James Patterson, currently sit on the list of more than 300 books from which ninth-graders must choose to read for course credit.

Several weeks ago, a group of parents, led by Georgia Joyce, of Remsenburg, filed a complaint with the district over the two books, said Westhampton Beach Superintendent Lynn Schwartz.
The following books on Westhampton Beach's ninth-grade reading list also appear on the American Library Association's list of most frequently challenged books of 1990-2000:

14. "The Giver," by Lois Lowry
23. "Go Ask Alice," by Anonymous
24. "Fallen Angels," by Walter Dean Myers
52. "Brave New World," by Aldous Huxley
59. "Ordinary People," by Judith Guest
74. "Jack," by A.M. Homes
92. "Running Loose," by Chris Crutcher
94. "The Drowning of Stephan Jones," by Bette Greene


Ontario Catholic school board pulls fantasy book following complaint about atheist author
International Herald Tribune: Nov 22, 07 – Associated Press

BURLINGTON, Ontario: The award-winning fantasy novel "The Golden Compass" was pulled from an Ontario Catholic school district's library shelves over a complaint about the author referring to himself as an atheist.

The public Catholic school board in Ontario's Halton region, which oversees 43 elementary and secondary schools, also pulled two other books in Philip Pullman's "His Dark Materials" trilogy as a precaution.

"We have a policy and procedure whereby individual parents, staff, students or community members can apply to have material reviewed. That's what happened in this case," Rick MacDonald, the Halton board's superintendent of curriculum services, said Wednesday.

Woman: Library violates city code Anti-obscenity activist files official complaint with cops
Sun Journal: Nov 20, 2007 by Daniel Hartill

LEWISTON - JoAn Karkos, due in court next month to answer a theft charge over a controversial sex-ed book she refused to return to the Lewiston Public Library, now wants the library to answer her allegation of obscenity.

Karkos, 64, gave Lewiston police a one-page complaint Monday charging that the library violated the city's obscenity ordinance when it placed "It's Perfectly Normal" on its shelves.

"No. 1, I want awareness," Karkos said in a phone interview. "People are simply not aware of what this book means. And when they find out, they don't want it to exist at all and they certainly don't want it in their libraries and their schools."

Read On @ Your Local Library: CalCat or WorldCat

Monday, November 19, 2007



How does playing the vocabulary game at FreeRice help me ?

Learning new vocabulary has tremendous benefits. It may make you smarter: may improve your speaking, writing, thinking . . . .
Click on the answer that best defines the word. If you get it right, you get a harder word. If wrong, you get an easier word.


FreeRice donates 10 grains of rice to the United Nations World Food Program for each word you get right.

The UN World Food Programme is proud to be the beneficiary of FreeRice.

FreeRice is a creative web-based vocabulary game that ties every correct answer to the donation of rice to WFP. The great thing is that the more you play FreeRice and the more you learn, the more rice we are able to purchase to feed hungry people around the world.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Baby Talk

Power of Talk

For children between birth and age 3, the most powerful number is 30,000.

That's the number of words children need to hear every day from their parents and caregivers to ensure optimal language development and academic success, according to the research of Drs. Betty Hart and Todd Risley and confirmed by Colorado-based Infoture, Inc., and their analysis of over 46,000 hours of speech data – the largest database of parent-child audio information in the world.

Children who hear at least 30,000 words per day will thrive regardless of race, ethnicity or socioeconomic status. Some key findings:

~ Parents estimated they talked more with their children than they actually did.

~ Parents of advanced children in the 90th to 99th percentile on language assessments spoke substantially more to their children than did parents of children who were not as advanced.

~ Most language training for children came from mothers, with mothers (both working and stay-at-home) accounting for 78 percent of total talk.

~ Mothers talked more to daughters than they did to sons.

~ Parents talked more to first-born children than to children who followed in the birth order.

~ Most adult talk between parent and child occurred in the late afternoon and early evening.

Read On @ Your Local Library: CalCat or WorlCat

Bright from the star:
the simple, science-backed way to nurture your child's developing mind, from birth to age 3
Jill Stamm; Gotham Books, 2007
~ Face Time, you are your baby’s first toy.
~ Play Time, the real work of play.
~ Down Time, doing nothing is important, too.
~ Everyday talk and Everyday reading !

Unplugged Play: No Batteries. No Plugs. Pure Fun.
Bobbi Conner; Workman, 2007
~ resource for parents seeking whimsical yet practical ways to unplug the electronics and promote the physical, cognitive and emotional benefits of plain, old-fashioned play.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Literacy President Campaign

Sign the Literacy President Petition
Raising the priority of adult literacy

The purpose of the Literacy President campaign is make adult education and literacy one of the top three education priorities for the next President. John Edwards and Barak Obama are the first candidates to share their views.

As a partner in the Literacy President campaign, VALUE is sponsoring a petition urging all of the presidential candidates to respond to five questions about adult literacy policy under the next Administration. Add your name to the petition.

John Edwards and Barak Obama have already responded to the questions.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Dropout Factories

Illiteracy: The Downfall of American Society
from Education Portal: Jul 24, 2007

Illiteracy is causing irreparable damage to our society. If you think that sounds like an exaggeration, you're wrong. For proof, check out these illiteracy statistics.

In a study of 20 'high income' countries, the US ranked 12th on literacy tests. Illiteracy has become such a serious problem in our country that 44 million adults are now unable to read a simple story to their child. A few other shocking facts:

50 % of adults cannot read a book written at an eighth grade level.
20 % percent of Americans are functionally illiterate and read below a 5th grade level.
Nearly half of all Americans read so poorly that they cannot find a single piece of information when reading a short publication.

How Illiteracy Affects Job Prospects

3 out of 4 people on welfare can't read.
20 % of Americans read below the level needed to earn a living wage.
50 % of the unemployed people who fall between the ages of 16 and 21 cannot read well enough to be considered functionally literate.
46 and 51 % of American adults have an income well below the individual threshold poverty level because of their inability to read.

How Illiteracy Affects Society

3 out of 5 people in an American prison can't read.
85 % of juvenile offenders have problems reading.
Approximately 50 % of Americans read so poorly that they are unable to perform simple tasks such as balancing a checkbook and reading prescription drug labels.
To determine how many prison beds will be needed in future years, some states actually base part of their projection on how well current elementary students are performing on reading tests.

How Illiteracy Costs Taxpayers

Illiteracy costs American taxpayers an estimated $20 billion each year.
Illiteracy has been proven to cause children to drop out of school. Dropouts cost our nation $240 billion in social service expenditures and lost tax revenues.

High Schools Producing the Most Dropouts Identified
from John Hopkins report: "Locating the Dropout Crisis"

Graduation is hardly a given for freshmen in 2,000 of America's public high schools, according to a new study by researchers at the Center for Social Organization of Schools at The Johns Hopkins University.

Using data compiled by the National Center for Education Statistics, researchers Robert Balfanz and Nettie Legters measured the "promoting power" of 10,000 regular and vocational high schools that enroll more than 300 students. They compared the number of freshmen in each school to the number of seniors there four years later.

The results gathered in their report, "Locating the Dropout Crisis," are troubling. They indicate that the dropout crisis is fueled by the 20 percent of high schools in which graduation is not the norm. These schools have "weak promoting power," or 40 percent or fewer seniors than the number of freshmen they enrolled four years earlier. Nearly half of the country's African American students and two out of five Latino students attend one of these "dropout factories," compared with just 11 percent of America's white students, the researchers said.

The study found that the high schools producing the largest number of dropouts are concentrated in 50 large and medium-sized cites and 10 southern and southwestern states. The study presents tables showing the number and concentration of high schools with weak promoting power by state (broken down by locale and minority concentration) and for the nation's 100 largest cities.

an Associated Press map @

Read On @ Your Local Library: CalCat or WorldCat

The Won't Learners: an answer to their cry
by Darlene Leiding.
Scarecrow Press, 2002

Dropouts in America: Confronting the Graduation Rate Crisis
by Gary Orfield (Editor)
Harvard Education Publishing Group, 2004

Last Dropout: Stop the Epidemic!
by Bill Milliken
Hay House, Inc., 2007

Educating the Net Generation: How to Engage Students in the 21st Century
by Bob Pletka
Santa Monica Press, 2007

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Writer To Writer

Learning literacy: Learning to read turned David Springer's life around. In fact, it gave him a whole new life. Fresno Bee: 10.12.07 by Sarah Jimenez

VISALIA -- David Springer was never much of a reading fan. He dropped out of high school after his sophomore year because he couldn't focus in class. More than 20 years passed before he would start working toward his GED.

Now, Springer, 43, goes through two books a week. He's scheduled to take the last section of the GED test next week. And Saturday, he was honored as a finalist in the 2007 Writer to Writer Challenge, an annual statewide event for adult literacy learners.

Not bad for a man who battled alcoholism for much of his life and was again facing jail time a year and half ago.

"My mom always said, 'Dave, you're smart enough. You just got to apply it,'" he said. "And now it's clicking."

Springer credits the
Tulare County Library's literacy program and Visalia Rescue Mission for helping him get his life together.

He moved to Visalia from Mariposa County about a year and half ago after a judge sentencing him for alcohol-related charges told him he had two choices: jail time or the Visalia Rescue Mission.

At the mission, Springer decided to get sober and pursue his GED.

Springer said he could read basic information but never tried to improve his reading skills. And he never read for enjoyment.

Now, he looks forward to his Tuesday sessions at the literacy center and can't stop reading.

"I read cereal boxes, soup cans -- anything I can get my hands on," he said.

For the Writer to Writer Challenge, Springer wrote a letter to Stuart Woods, author of the thriller "Capital Crimes," about how he related to a character in the book.

There were about 140 entries in three categories: beginner, intermediate or advanced, said Jacquie Brinkley, library programs consultant for the California State Library.

Springer's letter was among 30 submitted for the advanced category. He was one of 10 finalists.

Patricia Habeck, library program and literacy specialist, Springer is the first finalist for the county.

Oct 6: Writer To Writer Awards Ceremony
Glendale Public Library - Glendale CA

Beginning Level:
Rudy Borboa, Orange County Public Library (READ/Orange County). The Pursuit of Happyness, by Chris Gardner
Intermediate Level:
Alejandrina Roldan, San Bernardino County Library, Newton T. Bass Apple Valley Branch Library. The Old Man and the Sea, by Ernest Hemingway
Advanced Level:
Lupe Beltran, Nevada County Library. How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk, by Adelene Faber and Elaine Mazlish.
Presenters: Southern California Library Literacy Network - BALIT - CLLS

Video Highlights of 2005 Writer To Writer Ceremony @

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Doris Lessing - Nobel Prize

With age comes wisdom, and Lessing's Nobel Prize:
Doris Lessing sees the world change and gives it her spin. A Nobel Prize won't change that.
L A Times, Calendar: 10.23.07 by Kim Murphy

. . . . . on the State of Literature
Lessing has been making notes for her Nobel acceptance speech, in which she plans to explore the odd see-saw of literacy that seems to be seeping from her current world, Europe, back into her past one, Africa. . . .

"And the funny thing is, you see, there's a real irony here. While our part of the world are not terribly interested in reading, you go to the Third World, and they clamor for books. They see books as they used to be seen here, as an entrance to a new kind of education. I don't know if you've been to Africa, but it's, 'Please give me a book. Please send me a book. Please give me a leaf of paper.'

"I will talk about this in my Nobel talk: this great reverence for learning, for education, for books, seems to have left Europe and has gone somewhere else. And what will come out of that? Who knows? I don't know."

Doris Lessing @
BBC Interview @
Nobel Prize bio-bibliography @

Read On @ Your Local Library: CalCat or WorldCat

Time Bites
Harper Collins, 2005
~ in this collection of the very best of Doris Lessing's essays, we are treated to the wisdom and keen insight of a writer who has learned, over the course of a brilliant career spanning more than half a century, to read the world differently.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Prisons and Literacy

Program brightens kids' jail visitsContra Costa Times: August 16, 2007 by Sophia Kazmi

DUBLIN — Outside Santa Rita jail on a recent Saturday morning, it was business as usual.

Bored adult visitors were standing, some sitting, talking or listening to music, waiting for their names to be called. Depending on when their names got on the visitation list, the wait could last hours.

But this Saturday morning there was a little more life than usual.

Visiting kids, who normally would be standing with the adults, or maybe splayed on the ground playing video games, were checking out kid-friendly books like "Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing" and "Ferdinand the Bull."

Others huddled with volunteersreading stories. Some took books to their moms for a private story time.

The past few months, kids who must spend hours waiting to visit someone at the jail have had more to look forward to, thanks to librarian Lisa Harris.

The Start With A Story program was born when Harris realized just how much time kids spent in line.

Each visiting day she saw them queued up, and she thought, "There's got to be something you can do with that population," she said. "They are just standing there for hours at a time."

Harris, the energetic Alameda County librarian in charge of the inmate literacy program, persuaded county library system to give the program a try. With money scraped together for a summer's worth of books, and permission to operate Saturday and Sunday mornings, Harris has created a simple but effective program that may be the first of its kind in the nation. READ ON
Audio Slideshow: Start With a Story

H.R. 1593: The Second Chance Act of 2007would provide reentry funding on the state and local level to support former prisoners' needs for housing, mental health and substance abuse treatment, education, employment and rebuilding family and community ties. If passed, H.R. 1593 would reduce recidivism and increase public safety by addressing the needs of prisoners preparing to return to communities from the criminal justice system.
HR 1593 Links
~ Washington Watch
~ Eric Digests

Read On @ Your Local Library: CalCat or WorldCat

Goddess of Justice:
The Condemned Children of America's Hardcore Illiterates
Gisela Gasper Fitzgerald
PublishAmerica, 2004

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Health Literacy Month

October is Health Literacy Month
~ from Literacy Tent’s ‘Health Literacy’ page:

Low health literacy is a silent epidemic that can lead to medial errors and poor health outcomes. In the effort to educate physicians about the problem of low patient health literacy, the American College of Physicians Foundation (ACP Foundation) is distributing a noteworthy video cataloguing the hidden epidemic of low health literacy in America that causes needless suffering to millions of patients and families each year –and translates to billions of dollars in unnecessary healthcare costs. READ ON - Watch Video

Save The Date: May 1 - 2, 2008
IHA Health Literacy Conference
"Health Literacy in Primary Care: Best Practices and Skill Building"
Hyatt Regency - Irvine, California
Scheduled Keynote Speaker: Richard H. Carmona, 17th Surgeon General

Health Literacy sites to check out
Health & Literacy Special Collection
~ resources, activities, easy-to-read material
Rhode Island Health Literacy Project
~ help our citizens to increase their health literacy through better understanding of health information and self-care instructions
Health Care Blog
~ everything you wanted to know about the Health Care System
But were afraid to ask
Read On @ Your Local Library: CalCat or WorlCat

Health Literacy From A to Z
by Helen Osborne
Jones & Bartlett Publishers

Monday, October 8, 2007

Recent Cightings: Literacy Blogs

Blogs on Parade - Literacy

Literacy Source - WA
~ build a literate community by providing learner-centered instruction to adults in English literacy and basic life skills

Naples High School Library Media Center:
Seen Outside And Reading ! - FL
~ the only high school south of Maryland to support a Reading Is Fundamental (RIF) program. Provides free books and dictionaries to students in our Intensive Reading and English as a Second Language classes as well as books for our in-house pre-school

Online Adult Literacy Centre – AU
~ Literacy News

Yukon Literacy Coalition
~ a Yukon-wide literacy organization that is community governed and committed to supporting and encouraging literacy in all the languages of the Yukon

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Banned Books Week

Banned Book Week: Sep 29 - Oct 6

APSU screens ‘Hollywood Librarian’
Clarksville Union: 9.29.07 by Christine Anne Piesyk

Ann Seidl’s documentary film, The Hollywood Librarian: A Look at Librarians Through Film will be screened at Austin Peay State University.

The screenings are being offered in tandem with a celebration of ‘intellectual freedom” known as Banned Books Week, which begins today and runs through October 6. This film includes perspectives on the controversial Patriot Act, views of the burning of John Steinbeck books in the 1930s, and an interview with Author Bay Bradbury.

This 2007 film examines the work of more than 60,000 librarians working in the United States. Libraries welcome more than one billion visitors a year.

READ ON and see a clip from the movie !

For information about “The Hollywood Librarian,” go online to documentary’s Web site:

A list of the most challenged Books of 2006.

Friday, September 28, 2007

National Literacy Month

September is National Literacy Month:
Time to get involved
Make sure that members of your community

Learn to Read !

Questia’s Top 10 Literacy Books for National Literacy Month

Literacy in the New Media Age by Gunther Kress - Routledge

The Power of the Written Word: The Role of Literacy in the History of Western Civilization by Alfred Burns - Peter Lang

The Browser's Ecstasy: A Meditation on Reading

by Geoffrey O'Brien - Counterpoint

African American Literacies by Elaine Richardson - Routledge

Listening to the Page: Adventures in Reading and Writing
by Alan Cheuse - Columbia University Press

Literacy in American Lives by Deborah Brandt - Cambridge University Press

Taking Books to Heart: How to Develop a Love of Reading in Your Child by Paul Copperman - Addison-Wesley

Stories from the Heart: Teachers and Students Researching Their Literacy Lives by Richard J. Meyer - Lawrence Erlbaum

Literacy: An International Handbook by Daniel A. Wagner - Westview Press

Literacy as Involvement: The Acts of Writers, Readers, and Texts by Deborah Brandt - Southern Illinois University Press

Read On @ Your Local Library: CalCat or WorldCat

Questia is the first online library that provides 24/7 access to the world's largest online collection of books and journal articles in the humanities and social sciences, plus magazine and newspaper articles. You can search each and every word of all of the books and journal articles in the collection. You can read every title cover to cover. $99.95 per year subscription

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Children of the Code

. . . from Children of the Code
the history, science and mystery of learning to read

A Social Education Project and Public Television Documentary
~ David Boulton, co-producer and creator of the Children of the Code, is a learning ecologist, activist and technologist

The 'code', the technology of written language, is the most influential invention in the history of history. It is the "OS" (operating system) of civilization. Becoming code users literally changed how our minds think, self-reflect, remember, abstract, categorize, and codify.

Today's social institutions; our science, law, politics, organizations and technologies are all outgrowths of what the code made and makes possible in our minds. We are all, in a very real sense, children of the code. For some of us the code is an invisible, taken-for-granted, mind-enabling platform, for others it is an ever-present mind-shaming barrier that all but determines what is possible in life.

The single most powerful and influential invention in the history of western civilization is right before and between your eyes. You are using it right now. In the fraction of a second between the time your eyes scan these letters and these words stream into your thoughts, your brain, unconscious to you, is processing the code of our written language.

Similar to how a CD player converts streams of code "written" on a disc into music we can hear, reading involves a "player" in our minds that converts streams of code written on paper or screen, into words we can recognize with our minds. Reading is the process of assembling and projecting streams of thought or spoken words according to the instructions and information contained in a code. It is an artificial, unconscious, cognitive, technological, code-processing skill.

5 Major Themes:
~ The history of the code and its effects on the world around and within us
~ The cognitive, emotional, academic, and social challenges involved in learning to read
~ How the structure of the code effects learning to read it
~ How the brain learns to read
~ How teachers and parents can help children learn to read better

" Some people there are who, being grown; forget the horrible task of learning to read. It is perhaps the greatest single effort that the human undertakes, and he must do it as a child. ” John Steinbeck