Tuesday, May 13th, 2014
American children still read for pleasure, according to a new report, but not very often and not very well. Reuters has more:
The San Francisco-based nonprofit Common Sense Media, which focuses on the effects of media and technology on children, published the report, which brings together information from several national studies and databases.
“It raises an alarm,” said Vicky Rideout, the lead author of the report. “We’re witnessing a really large drop in reading among teenagers and the pace of that drop is getting faster and faster.”
The report found that the percentage of nine-year-old children reading for pleasure once or more per week had dropped from 81 percent in 1984 to 76 percent in 2013, based on government studies. There were even larger decreases among older children.
A large portion rarely read for pleasure. About a third of 13-year-olds and almost half of 17-year-olds reported in one study that they read for pleasure less than twice a year.
Of those who read or are read to, children tend to spend on average between 30 minutes and an hour daily with that activity, the report found. Older children and teenagers tend to read for pleasure for an equally long time each day.
Rideout cautioned that there may be difference in how people encounter text and the included studies may not take into account stories read online or on social media.
The report also found that many young children are struggling with literacy. Only about one-third of fourth grade students are “proficient” in reading and another one-third scored below “basic” reading skills.
Despite the large percentage of children with below-basic reading skills, reading scores among young children have improved since the 1970s, according to one test that measures reading ability.
The reading scores among 17-year-olds, however, remained relatively unchanged since the 1970s.
About 46 percent of white children are considered “proficient” in reading, compared with 18 percent of black children and 20 percent of Hispanic kids.
Those gaps remained relatively unchanged over the past 20 years, according to the report.
“To go 20 years with no progress in that area is shameful,” Rideout said.
Help make reading fun with this free “Animal Antics” reading worksheet!
Image: Girl reading, via Shutterstock
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Tuesday, January 28th, 2014
The most prestigious book awards in the children’s literature world were announced this week, as CNN.com reports:
Children’s and young adult books are sporting some shiny new seals after the American Library Association announced its most esteemed literary prizes Monday, including the Newbery and Caldecott medals.
The Caldecott Medal went to “Locomotive,” written and illustrated by Brian Floca. The book follows family and crew traveling together on America’s new transcontinental railroad in the summer of 1869.
The Newbery Medal was awarded to “Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures,” written by Kate DiCamillo, who also wrote “Because of Winn-Dixie” and “The Tale of Despereaux,” and illustrated by K.G. Campbell. It’s the story of a young comic book enthusiast and cynic, Flora, and a superhero squirrel named Ulysses who helps Flora against her greatest enemy.
The awards announced Monday recognize children’s and young adult authors, illustrators and media producers. The winning list guides parents, teachers and libraries, and the books typically remain in print and on store and library shelves for years to come.
Visit the American Library Association’s pages for a full list of the Newbery and Caldecott Medal winners.
Image: Mother and child reading, via Shutterstock
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Wednesday, January 4th, 2012
Holding overdue library books is a misdemeanor crime, and a growing number of law enforcement agencies are actually enforcing the rule, The Huffington Post reported earlier this week. Most recently, a 5-year-old girl from Charlton, Mass. was visited by a police offer sent to collect two overdue books, along with an overdue audio book held by her father, which had accrued $100 in late fees. According to the Worcester Telegram newspaper, the visit was one of 13 area visits meant to collect $2,634 in significantly overdue materials.
After the issue gained national attention, the library told the newspaper that the 5-year-old was not the target of the police visit, though the incident left her in tears and fearful of arrest:
Shannon Benoit said she was home with her youngest daughter, Hailey, on Dec. 27 when a “very respectful and professional” police Sgt. Daniel P. Dowd knocked and asked her to contact the library regarding overdue books.
When she closed the door, Ms. Benoit found 5-year-old Hailey standing behind her in tears.
“She asked me if the police were going to arrest her. I wanted the story to come out because I think that using police officers to retrieve library books from children is just ridiculous,” Ms. Benoit said.
After Ms. Benoit called the media, a CBS Boston (Channel 4) story that aired Monday, saying police had come to collect Hailey’s overdue books, gained national attention.
“I’m getting email from all over the country. I’ve been called a f-ing moron, an idiot, a Nazi, a communist,” Library Director Cheryl Hansen said in an interview yesterday. “I’ve also had several library visitors today say they supported the decision.”
Hailey’s borrowed books, due in October 2010, were of small value. It was her father’s $100 audiobook, overdue since April 2009, that placed Tony Benoit’s address among the 13 to receive police visits. The 13 homes collectively held $2,634 in significantly overdue materials.
Charlton library officials recently decided to collect the $2,634 by exercising their rights under state law. The Benoit family was responsible for $130 of that $2,634.
Image: Library books, via Shutterstock.
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Monday, November 21st, 2011
Parents are putting down the tablets, smartphones, and other e-readers when it’s time to read to their kids, The New York Times is reporting. The article reveals that even parents who are loyal device readers themselves turn to old-fashioned “dead-tree” books at storytime:
This is the case even with parents who themselves are die-hard downloaders of books onto Kindles, iPads, laptops and phones. They freely acknowledge their digital double standard, saying they want their children to be surrounded by print books, to experience turning physical pages as they learn about shapes, colors and animals.
Parents also say they like cuddling up with their child and a book, and fear that a shiny gadget might get all the attention. Also, if little Joey is going to spit up, a book may be easier to clean than a tablet computer.
“It’s intimacy, the intimacy of reading and touching the world. It’s the wonderment of her reaching for a page with me,” said Leslie Van Every, 41, a loyal Kindle user in San Francisco whose husband, Eric, reads on his iPhone. But for their 2 1/2-year-old daughter, Georgia, dead-tree books, stacked and strewn around the house, are the lone option.
“She reads only print books,” Ms. Van Every said, adding with a laugh that she works for a digital company, CBS Interactive. “Oh, the shame.”
Image: Parents reading to child, via Shutterstock.
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Thursday, August 11th, 2011
The Boston Globe is reporting on a small pilot study done by researchers at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University that suggest that children who read aloud to dogs may develop better reading skills and a more favorable attitude toward reading. The Globe reports:
Over a five-week period last summer, 18 second-graders at the Grafton Public Library were randomly divided into two groups: for 30 minutes each week, half read aloud to a dog and half read to a person.
The children were allowed to choose whatever books they wanted, and read to the same dog each week, settling in on a large dog bed with their canine companion. Freeman noted that children seemed to prefer to read books about animals, seeming to want to choose stories the dogs could relate to.
“The kids seem to particularly like the dog-themed books; they seem to think the dogs really enjoy hearing about those,” [Tufts scientist Lisa] Freeman said. Those who read aloud to a person might be corrected or prompted if they made a mistake, while the children reading to the dogs would be corrected through the dogs, meaning that the handler might say something like, “I don’t think she understood that last word.”
At the end of the five weeks, the children’s abilities were measured. This was a small sample, and the results were not statistically significant, but researchers saw a signal of a difference, with an increase in the words read per minute by the children in the dog group, and a decrease among children who spent the time reading to humans.
The researchers also measured the change in the children’s attitudes toward reading using a survey that involved a cartoon cat — Garfield. The survey showed Garfield in a range of moods, from extremely satisfied to very upset, and was used to judge children’s attitudes toward reading. The dog reading group showed a slight favorable increase in their feelings toward reading, and the control group underwent a slight decrease. No children dropped out of the dog program, whereas a third of the children dropped out of the control group.
(image via: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/)
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