Monday, June 29, 2009

Pop Lit or Classic? Meyer or Melville?

Summer Reading Lists Promote Reading
for the Fun of It

Although educators may disagree about what kids should be reading this summer, all assert the profound need for kids to read something!

In the June 25 Boston Globe, staff reporter Lisa Kocian writes in "Sands Shift in Summer Reading" about the dramatic changes being made to assigned reading lists and educators' reasoning behind the revisions. At many high schools, educators are promoting reading lists with a more diverse selection that limits the classics and includes more popular books, such as Stephanie Meyer's best-seller Twilight and Dan Brown's sensation, Angels and Demons.

Donna Johns, a library teacher at Newton North High School explains, “I’m concerned about turning reading into work. Sometimes you do read for work, for information, for class, but sometimes you really should just be reading for pleasure.’’

On the other side of the table are those who believe the summer reading list is an ideal way to introduce students to the beauty of classic literature. Heather Mac Donald, a fellow at the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, states that the removal of classic books from summer reading lists is "heartbreaking." She further notes that such an elimination avoids the "cultural responsibility to keep this literature alive.’’

What do you think?

The National Ambassador for Young People's Literature
Provides Tips to Motivate Kids to Read
Regarding his goals as National Ambassador for Young People's Literature, Jon Scieszka states, "My mission as Ambassador is to get kids excited about reading. Recent surveys and statistics show kids reading less, and getting worse at it. My experiences as an elementary school teacher, a children’s book writer, and the founder of a literacy initiative for boys called GUYS READ, have all taught me that kids will read if they are motivated to want to read."

Jon further states, "There is no one book that is right for all kids. But there are all kinds of crazy, interesting, and amazing books out there. It’s our job to help kids find that book that will inspire them to want to become readers. " Read more...

Additional Resources for Summer Reading Ideas Are Widely Available!
If you would like to pursue books beyond your child's or student's assigned list, visit your local library and check out these fun lists:

Association for Library Service to Children 2009 Notable Children's Books

The Horn Book's Summer Reading List for Kids and Teens

The National Endowment for the Humanities Summertime Favorites

Helpful advice for parents who struggle with getting their kids to read can be found in "Getting Your Tweens and Teens Reading This Summer!" on the National Children's Book and Literacy Alliance website, which features a variety of articles geared at parents, teachers, and librarians who are invested in reading and literacy for kids.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

“Libraries raised me."

Famed Author Ray Bradbury Fights for His Neighborhood Library!

“Libraries raised me,” Mr. Bradbury said. “I don’t believe in colleges and universities. I believe in libraries because most students don’t have any money. When I graduated from high school, it was during the Depression and we had no money. I couldn’t go to college, so I went to the library three days a week for 10 years.”

Public and school libraries across the country are suffering hugely in these dire economic times. The irony is that in tough economic times free public libraries and library services are needed more than ever providing essential tools and information, as well as computer and Internet access, for the unemployed and struggling families. Libraries also provide a vast array of books and media that offer constructive escapes from what can seem like overwhelming pressures.

I can readily identify with Mr. Bradbury's strong allegiance to public libraries for in my young life my school and neighborhood library were my safe havens, not my home. It was at the public library that I found books that taught me how to cook, how to sew, how to take care of a house, and how to take care of children, adult tasks that I had to take on at a much too early age. Now, more than ever, we adults need to make sure that all of our children, especially young people challenged by poverty, challenged by family circumstances or health issues-- all children in need ---have a safe haven in their communities and schools were they can find stories and heroes that encourage them to hope and dream and give them the information and tools they need to achieve their dreams. Those safe havens are their school and public libraries.

The NCBLA urges all caring adults to find out the status and health of your community's school and public libraries. Fight for these remarkable community assets to be level-funded on a town, county, state, and federal level. Write an old fashioned letter, call, fax, and email your local, state, and national officials and let them know your feelings. Fight to keep trained library professionals in your school and neighborhood libraries. Work with Friends of Library Associations to ensure that this generation of young Americans has access to one of America's greatest gifts to world culture, something we adults have come to take for granted--- a free neighborhood public library!----Mary Brigid Barrett, President, The National Children's Book and Literacy Aliance

To read more about Ray Bradbury's committment to libraries, go to:

To find out more about what you can do to support literacy and your neighborhood library, go to:

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Father's Day Is Sunday, June 21

Celebrate with Stories for and about Fathers

Author Jon Scieszka Shares Stories of His Dad
National Ambassador for Young People's Literature Jon Scieszka (which rhymes with Fresca) is the playful and cheeky author behind The True Story of the Three Little Pigs and The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales. You can read Scieszka's tribute to his dad in his essay "Playing with Dad" written for Reading Rockets in celebration of Father's Day 2009. Also, be sure to check out his video interview with Reading Rockets, in which Jon talks about his "weird" style and his concern about boys and reading.

Suggested Book Lists About Fabulous Fathers and Grandfathers
If you are looking for heartwarming stories to share with fathers, grandfathers, and the other loving men in your life, be sure to check out the annotated lists of book recommendations compiled by Reading Rockets. Find the books you would like to share this Father's Day weekend on the Fabulous Fathers list and Reading with Dads list. Both lists include beloved books that celebrate fathers and grandfathers--books that are perfect for sharing with kids through age 12.

AND...Why Not Send an E-Card?!
Download your own Father's Day e-card, which features the delightfully bold artwork of Javaka Steptoe. Steptoe is a young artist, designer, and illustrator. His debut work, In Daddy's Arms I Am Tall: African Americans Celebrating Fathers, earned him the Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

2009 Boston Globe–Horn Book Awards for Excellence Announced

Two NCBLA Board Members Honored!
The Boston Globe and Horn Book announced their 2009 Awards for Excellence in Children’s Literature today. Presented annually since 1967, the Boston Globe–Horn Book Awards reward excellence in children’s and young adult literature and are given in three categories: Fiction and Poetry, Nonfiction, and Picture Book. The 2009 winners are:

Fiction and Poetry
by Terry Pratchett (HarperCollins)

The Lincolns: A Scrapbook Look at Abraham and Mary by Candace Fleming (Schwartz & Wade/Random House)

Picture Book
Bubble Trouble by Margaret Mahy, illustrated by Polly Dunbar (Clarion)

Two honor books were also named in each category, and the NCBLA is thrilled that the work of two of our distinguished board members--M. T. Anderson and David Macaulay--was selected for this honor! Anderson's novel The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Volume II: The Kingdom on the Waves was selected along with Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book for Fiction and Poetry honors. Macaulay's The Way We Work (written with Richard Walker and illustrated by David Macaulay) was selected for Nonfiction honors, along with Almost Astronauts: 13 Women Who Dared to Dream by Tanya Lee Stone.
Congratulations to all the winners for this exceptional honor!

To learn more about this year's winners and their books, please visit the Horn Book website.

To learn more about the NCBLA, please visit
You may also want to check out our educational website

The website provides a treasure trove of supplemental primary and secondary source material for our printed art and literature anthology for readers of all ages titled Our White House: Looking In, Looking Out. Be sure to read "The Back Story – Creating the Cover: David Macaulay’s Preliminary Sketches" on And pick up a copy of the book, available in libraries and bookstores everywhere, so you can read M. T. Anderson's story of ghosts haunting the White House in his informative and humorous piece, "The House Haunts."