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