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Today's Reading News


Each weekday, Reading Rockets gathers interesting news headlines about reading and early education. Please note that Reading Rockets does not necessarily endorse these views or any others on these outside websites.

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Education Week
June 28, 2017

We need more affordable summer programs for children and families to prevent summer learning loss. If we want all of our children to be prepared for college and career, summer is a critical learning time. We know that all children experience some loss of knowledge and skills over the summer. In math, most children lose two months of math skills during summer vacation, according to the National Summer Learning Association. For reading, the losses are even more pronounced for low-income students, who typically lose two to three months of reading skills. Our world has changed dramatically since the concept of summer vacation came into vogue. We need to ensure that our students have safe and enriching opportunities during the summer to make sure that they are learning and thriving.

National Public Radio
June 28, 2017

In a dual-language classroom, sometimes you're the student and sometimes you're the teacher. Here's what it's like for 6-year-old Merari.

The New York Times
June 28, 2017

The children crowded around, looking intently at the objects sitting on the rug before them: a handful of spice containers from the supermarket and a wooden mortar and pestle. Despite appearances, it was not a cooking class. Rather, the students — fourth graders at Public School 130, the Parkside School, in Brooklyn — were studying Dutch New York. On this particular morning, they were examining household tools, both contemporary items and ones that fulfilled similar functions in 17th-century New Amsterdam, and discussing what they revealed about the differences between everyday life then and now. Some students jumped up to scrutinize the spice jars and the mortar and pestle. Others waved their hands in the air, eager to make observations. Sitting on one side of the room, Anna Switzer, a former principal who is now having a second career as a consultant and an evangelist for the value of social studies, nodded and occasionally interrupted to pose a question.

Education Week
June 27, 2017

Thanks to a $2 million grant, Atlanta plans to train teachers in a longstanding approach to teaching reading, reports the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The grant aims to train more than 1,500 teachers by 2020, the newspaper reports. What's most interesting is that the district will use an approach that's been around for decades, known as Orton-Gillingham. It has roots in the scholarship of two early 20th century scholars; in fact, one of the key instructional texts outlining the method was published in 1946. To be clear, Orton-Gillingham is less a "program" in the way we tend to think of them today than a set of teaching principles and methods that many other programs have adopted. Generally, Orton-Gillingham includes systematic instruction in phonics, sound-letter correspondence, and a "multisensory" approach that incorporates auditory, visual, and motor skills.

International Literacy Association Daily
June 27, 2017

In Taiwan, there is a great demand for effective strategies to teach English literacy skills. English textbooks used in elementary schools contain mostly short dialogues, and vocabulary and sentence exercises are usually controlled and graded linearly. These materials often don’t deliver meaningful, interesting, and effective literacy learning experiences. In 2013, I worked with a group of elementary school English teachers to develop theme-based English reading and writing lessons to partially replace textbooks. Each theme consisted of children’s books of various genres, poetry, songs, or videos. We chose topics that were interesting and relevant to students’ lives, such as dentist visits, pet care, traveling, and cooking.

School Library Journal
June 27, 2017

Julie Crabb is a woman with a mission. Having just completed her own MLS, this children’s library associate at the Olathe Indian Creek Library in Olathe, KS, wanted to give kids a peek at the inner workings of what professionals like herself do all day. To this end, she created a two-hour Mini Masters of Library Science workshop and accompanying booklet. “I thought the event would be a nice way to combine my real world experience with a children’s library program,” she explains. Crabb, who focuses on early literacy and shares kids’ programming information and activities on her blog Tales for the Tiny, had the initial goal of building a family program for all ages. She created the drop-in event around six stations that would inform participants about each skill that librarians use on the job.

WAMU (Washington, D.C.)
June 26, 2017

At Turner Elementary School in Southeast D.C., Torren Cooper is the only male of color who works directly in the classroom, even though the student body is 98 percent African American. Cooper is a literacy coach helping some of Turner’s youngest pupils with their reading and writing skills, including rhyming, alliteration, letter sounds and writing their names. He is one of eight young men of color doing this work in D.C. Public Schools through a new program called the Leading Men Fellowship, which is wrapping up its first year. The program trains recent D.C. public school graduates to be literacy coaches in some of the poorest schools in the city. DCPS partners with a local non-profit, The Literacy Lab, to develop the curriculum. The district provided training for the fellowships last summer and hosted weekly professional development sessions throughout the year. The Leading Men Fellowship program was created to address two different problems. First, it increases the number of males of color in early education, secondly — it helps reduce the gap in language development for preschoolers from disadvantaged backgrounds.

National Public Radio
June 26, 2017

NPR Ed reached out to some experts for recommendations and guidelines on helping pick the best apps, for backseat time or any time. These recommendations come with an important caveat. The American Academy of Pediatrics' new guidelines on screen time for kids emphasize the need for balance with other activities. The goal for school-age children is at least 60 minutes of physical activity a day, and meals and other designated family activities should be screen-free time. Joint media use is another best practice that the AAP recommends: That means playing games or watching videos alongside your kids and discussing the content. That said, in a backseat situation, that's not always possible.

Telegraph (U.K.)
June 26, 2017

Happy birthday, Harry Potter. The series that sold 500 million books in 73 languages, and spawned eight movies that grossed £5 billion is 20 years old on Monday. The fantastical story of JK Rowling’s success – an impoverished single mother, rejected by umpteen publishers, who ended up richer than the Queen – has become as familiar as her plots. But what is more impressive even than her sales is the revolution she caused in publishing. In a 2005 survey, taken just before the sixth Harry Potter novel, Waterstone’s found there had been a staggering tenfold increase in the number of new children’s books released every month since 2000. Hardly surprisingly, Harry Potter is also credited with a boom in fantasy. “Fantasy had never been dormant, but there is no doubt that JK Rowling and Philip Pullman brought it massively back into vogue.”

WRAL-TV (Raleigh, NC)
June 26, 2017

Children in South Florida will soon be able to get free books from vending machines. Thanks to a new reading program, four vending machines will be installed Tuesday throughout Broward County to distribute 100,000 children's books. This year the program is adding bilingual Spanish and English books. The program is partnership between JetBlue and Random House Children's Books to help combat book deserts, areas where children and their families have little or no access to purchase age-appropriate books, which can stunt academic development. The machines previously visited Detroit and Washington, D.C.

International Literacy Association Daily
June 23, 2017

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the use of their interactive Family Media Use Plan tool, which takes a step-by-step approach to creating a personalized media use plan for families. Users are asked to consider each family member’s individual needs as they work through questions related to screen-free zones and times, device curfews, digital citizenship topics, and more. Once a plan is completed, it can be printed and shared.

Texas Tribune (Austin, TX)
June 23, 2017

Jill Allor is a professor with the Department of Teaching and Learning at Southern Methodist University. In this interview, Allor talks about the most important aspects of her research as it relates to kids with disabilities and struggling readers. Allor says, "One of the things that’s really interesting about kids with disabilities is the things we know that are effective for teaching kids in general are also effective for them. The differences are in how explicit we need to be and how much repetition is needed. A child with a disability needs more intensive instruction — they need more practice and they need every step laid out very carefully. Research shows if you start out with explicit instruction in kindergarten and first grade, you can address reading problems extremely early. You can prevent many problems and prevent some kids from even needing a diagnosis."

WAMU (Washington, D.C.)
June 23, 2017

The Simon and Schuster imprint, Salaam Reads, was founded in 2016 to introduce readers to Muslim characters in children’s books. Earlier this year, Salaam Reads published its first book, “Amina’s Voice,” by Rockville, Md., author Hena Khan. How are children’s books becoming more representative of their readers? Kojo Nnamdi explores the approach to these stories with local book lovers and writers.

International Literacy Association Daily
June 22, 2017

Preschool should be a time of learning through varied experiences that expose all children to rich content as well as integrated and relevant curriculum. Preschool should not be a period of frustration, where fears are created and abound in young minds and where their cries for help are misconstrued as acts of defiance. However, children of color, especially boys, often experience repeated failure during the preschool years. Thus, the achievement gap starts early. We can combat this early-onset issue by following the three Es: (1) experience and expose; (2) engage and integrate; and (3) evaluate and inform.

Education Week
June 22, 2017

Can project-based learning help close the achievement gap? New research focused on young elementary schoolers suggests that a well-designed and well-taught project-based-learning curriculum can help make a difference for students living in poverty. Researchers Nell K. Duke, a professor at the University of Michigan, and Anne-Lise Halvorsen, an associate professor at Michigan State University, investigated whether a project-based social studies curriculum could help improve the literacy and social studies skills of 2nd graders. They wrote about the findings of the project, which they called Project PLACE: A Project Approach to Literacy and Civic Engagement, for Edutopia.

Wicked Local (North Andover, MA)
June 22, 2017

This summer at the Stevens Memorial Library in North Andover, it’s all about keeping kids reading and having fun. It’s not about having something for library staff to do with the kids while school’s out, but rather it’s about keeping kids reading during a two-month gap so they don’t fall behind come September. The library has partnered with North Andover Superintendent Jennifer Price in crafting a summer reading theme based on the schools’ RAISE (Respect, Achievement, Inclusion, Service, Empathy) initiative. There’s a reading list – organized by grade level – full of RAISE-related books, and kids are invited to read them and then go to the library to discuss them. It’s not all about reading books. It’s also about getting kids into the library daily so that it’s part of their everyday life all year.

School Library Journal
June 22, 2017

How are your students/patrons building a better world this summer? Many public libraries are using the Collaborative Summer Library Program “Build a Better World” theme this year, which offers opportunities to emphasize the many ways that children can make a difference in their world—be it on the local or global level. The following books are about kids building character and/or working to make their communities stronger. Each one is paired with lesson plan tie-ins, ideas for educators, and empowering activities that kids can do this summer and fall.

Education Week
June 21, 2017

Norway and Sweden spent nearly 2 percent of their gross domestic product on early-childhood programs and education in 2013, while the United States spent 0.3 percent—well below the 0.8 average of all of the countries included in an analysis released Wednesday from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Starting Strong 2017 presents an overview of the early-childhood systems in 30 counties, along with trend data and recent reforms. It's the first time OECD has published. Starting Strong V: Transitions from Early Childhood Education and Care to Primary Education focuses on how children can move to primary education in a way that maintains the positive impacts of early learning.

International Literacy Association Daily
June 21, 2017

Getting students to read during the summer months can be a challenge. Our aim should not be to force them to read; it should be to develop their motivation to read. Voracious readers are almost always the highest performing achievers in school. Reading, like any other hobby, must be a year-round activity for optimal academic development and eventual career success. A number of strategies can be used to capitalize on students’ existing attitudes and interests and to promote summer reading.

School Library Journal
June 21, 2017

The new generation of science graphic novels is designed as much to entertain as to educate. “We certainly hope science comics will find their way into classrooms and be useful,” says Dave Roman, editor of First Second’s Science Comics line, “but not as replacements for traditional texts or lessons so much as the most fun supplement possible.” Roman, the creator of the “Astronaut Academy” fictional graphic novels, remembers his own childhood experience of watching a cartoon called Donald in Mathmagic Land, starring Donald Duck. “[It] not only visually explained difficult concepts for my brain to keep up with, but also incorporated a lot of humor that helped keep me from stressing out,” he says. Many of the new breed of science graphic novels wrap the science into a story, and Natalie Layne, supervisor of children’s services at the Public Library of Brookline, MA, says the most popular science comics in her collection are story-driven titles such as Maris Wicks’s Human Body Theater; Primates (Square Fish, 2013) by Jim Ottaviani and Wicks; and Gene Luen Yang and Mike Holmes’s “Secret Coders”.

"When I say to a parent, "read to a child", I don't want it to sound like medicine. I want it to sound like chocolate. " — Mem Fox