Friday, March 30, 2007

Quotes of Note:
Barbara Harrison, Betty Levin, Katherine Paterson

By the very act of writing, some children’s authors make a political statement. Children cannot be written off. Children are not an undifferentiated mass; they are not nonpersons.
They have names and dreams.
Barbara Harrison
Children's Literature New England 1994

Children who find a single important life in the ordinary, unimportant, and unheroic are less likely to succumb to the human fallacy of
Us versus Them. They will be less likely to accept the notion that thousands of terrified refugees of war do not feel as we do, or that millions crammed into cattle cars on journeys they could not escape belong to a subhuman horde.
Betty Levin
Children's Literature New England 1995

Perhaps the most troubling phrase
to come out of the Gulf War
was the oft repeated sentence of our leaders:
"Thank God there was so little loss of life.”
And yet we know that 100,000 men, women, and
children died in that war.
A woman in Ohio has made
a mural with 100,000 faces on it.
It takes a long time, my friends, to walk past 100,000 faces.

Katherine Paterson
Children's Literature New England 1993
Activist Alert!

The Leave No Child Behind Act
is up for Reauthorization

The United States Congress needs to hear from individuals, not just professional organizations, concerning the Leave No Child Behind reauthorization, and about other issues related to K-12 education, teacher education, preschool education, school libraries, higher education, student loans, etc.

Whatever your concerns, questions, opinions, and feelings the NCBLA urges you to be an responsible citizen!

Go to the NCBLA website to find out how to contact your national representatives to Congress:

Information and a variety of opinions that may be of interest to you related to the
Leave No Child Behind Legislation:

In case you missed it...
New York Times Magazine features article on NCBLA Board Member Author Gregory Maguire!

A great article, "Mr. Wicked," on Gregory Maguire and his beautiful family appeared in a past New York Times Sunday Magazine, you can still read and enjoy at:
Jacket Covers for Last Harry Potter Book Unveiled!

Three covers, a UK version, an American version, and an “adult” cover have been released to promote the final adventure of Harry Potter and company, as if the book needed promotion. Go to:,,2044781,00.html

Monday, March 26, 2007

Apologies to All!

This blogger has been very ill, on doctor ordered bed rest for two weeks and is now finally getting back into the swing of things. I will be posting new information and news later this week!

Thank you!

Friday, March 2, 2007

Great event for New Englanders!
Come Hear
Riveting Jacqueline Woodson Speak!

Free and Open to the Public

Noted children's and teen author Jacqueline Woodson will be speaking at the Boston Public Library's Connolly Branch in Jamaica Plain on Monday, March 12 at 6:30 p.m. Ms. Woodson is the author of many award-winning books, including Newbery Honor picture book Show Way; middle-grade novel Locomotion; and teen novels I Hadn't Meant to Tell You This and Miracle's Boys. Her new novel is Feathers. She is a two-time winner of the Coretta Scott King award and received the 2006 Margaret A. Edwards Award, which honors an author's lifetime contributions to young people's literature. Ms. Woodson will speak about her books, take questions, and sign books, including books for sale that evening from Jamaicaway Books. Children over 5 are welcome to attend.

This event is co-sponsored by the Foundation for Children's Books
and the Boston Public Library.

When & Where
Monday, March 12, 6:30-8 p.m.
Connolly Branch, Boston Public Library
433 Centre Street, Jamaica Plain
For directions and more information:Call the library at 617-522-1960
by Barbara Bader!

"For the McKissacks, Black Is Boundless- — stories of struggle, stories with a lineage, stories that are plain entertaining. Any of them might come with the McKissack name."
Check it out at:
From Science Magazine:
American Workers
are Getting Less Literate

Literacy in the U.S. workforce is eroding and will continue to do so at least through 2030, according to the Educational Testing Service (ETS) in a gloomy report issued last month. The economy is becoming more knowledge-intensive--only about 10% is now manufacturing-based compared with one-third in 1950. But workers are getting less literate--defined by the National Adult Literacy Survey (NALS), in part, as "using [English] printed and written information to function in society."

The uneducated immigrant population is growing: Hispanics, who have the lowest high school graduation rate (50%) of any group, will go from 14% of the population to 20% in 2030. And according to U.S. Census projections, 60% of the Hispanic working population is expected to remain foreign-born, says ETS's Kentaro Yamamoto.

Hopeful trends are hard to find, says the report. High school graduation rates for both Hispanics and African Americans peaked in 1969. And college attendance among these minorities has been "stagnant" for more than a decade. ETS labels the confluence of economic and demographic factors "a perfect storm [which] continues to gain strength with no end in sight."

Thursday, March 1, 2007

David Brooks on Education,
Government, and Family

In The New York Times today David Brooks writes about the impact that family and home life have on each child's educational journey. Unfortunately, the column is sequestered under Times Select, in case the posted link does not work, this blog offers some excerpts:

All the presidential candidates this year will talk about education. The conventional ones will talk about improving the schools. The creative ones will talk about improving the lives of students.

The conventional ones, though they don’t know it, are prisoners of the dead husk of behaviorism. They will speak of education as if children were blank slates waiting to have ideas inputted into their brains with some efficient delivery mechanism.
The creative ones will finally absorb the truth found in decades of research: the relationships children have outside school shape their performance inside the school.

The creative ones will give speeches like the one David Cameron, who is reviving the British Tory party, gave last month. They will talk, as Cameron did, about the mushy things, like love and attachment, and will say, as Cameron did, “Family relationships matter more than anything else.” They will understand that schools filled with students who can’t control their impulses, who can’t focus their attention and who can’t regulate their emotions will not succeed, no matter how many reforms are made by governors, superintendents or presidents.

These candidates will emphasize that education is a cumulative process that begins at the dawn of life and builds early in life as children learn how to learn. These candidates will point out that powerful social trends — the doubling of single-parent families over the past generation, the rise of divorce rates — mean that government has to rethink its role. They’ll note that if we want to have successful human capital policies, we have to get over the definition of education as something that takes place in schools between the hours of 8 and 3, between the months of September and June, and between the ages of 5 and 18.

As Bob Marvin of the University of Virginia points out, there is a mountain of evidence demonstrating that early childhood attachments shape lifelong learning competence.
Children do have inborn temperaments and intelligence. Nevertheless, students make the most of their natural dispositions when they have a secure emotional base from which to explore, and even the brightest children stumble when there is chaos inside.
Research over the past few decades impressively shows that children who emerge from attentive, attuned parental relationships do better in school and beyond. They tend to choose friends wisely. They handle frustration better. They’re more resilient in the face of setbacks. They grow up to become more productive workers.

On the other hand, as Martha Farah of the University of Pennsylvania has found, students who do not feel emotionally safe tend not to develop good memories (which is consistent with cortisol experiments in animals). Students from less stimulating environments have worse language skills.

The question, of course, is, What can government do about any of this? The answer is that there are programs that do work to help young and stressed mothers establish healthier attachments. These programs usually involve having nurses or mature women make a series of home visits to give young mothers the sort of cajoling and practical wisdom that in other times would have been delivered by grandmothers or elders.

The Circle of Security program has measurably improved attachments and enhanced social skills. The Nurse-Family Partnerships program, founded by David Olds, has produced rigorously examined, impressive results. Children who have been in this program had 59 percent fewer arrests at age 15. (Presidential candidates are commanded to read Katherine Boo’s Feb. 6, 2006, New Yorker article to get a feel for how these programs work.)
It’s important not to get carried away. “Enhancing Early Attachments,” a review of the literature edited by Lisa Berlin and others, is filled with phrases like “marginal success” and “modest but significant benefits.” But these programs can be expanded.

And one thing is clear: It’s crazy to have educational policies that, in effect, chop up children’s brains into the rational cortex, which the government ministers to in schools, and the emotional limbic system, which the government ignores. In nature there is no neat division. Emotional engagement is the essence of information processing and learning.

In Britain, where both David Cameron and Gordon Brown have grappled with this reality, policy is catching up with the research. In the United States, we are forever behind. But that won’t last. This year, some smart presidential candidate will help us catch up.