Friday, July 31, 2009

Amelia Elizabeth Walden Book Award Finalists Announced

ALAN Announces Finalists for
Young Adult Fiction Award

The Assembly on Literature for Adolescents (ALAN) of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) recently announced the finalists for the inaugural Amelia Elizabeth Walden Book Award for Young Adult Fiction. The honored titles for 2009 (in alphabetical order by title) are:

After Tupac and D Foster, by Jacqueline Woodson (Putnam)

Graceling, by Kristin Cashore (Harcourt)

The Graveyard Book, by Neil Gaiman (HarperCollins)

Me, The Missing, and the Dead, by Jenny Valentine (HarperCollins)

My Most Excellent Year: A Novel of Love, Mary Poppins, and Fenway Park, by Steve Kluger (Dial)

This year’s winning title will be announced at an open reception and reading at the 2009 ALAN Workshop in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Established in 2008 to honor the wishes of young adult author, Amelia Elizabeth Walden, the award allows for the sum of $5,000 to be presented annually to the author of a young adult title selected by the ALAN Amelia Elizabeth Walden Book Award Committee as demonstrating a positive approach to life, widespread teen appeal, and literary merit.

Learn more on the ALAN website.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

First Book Rallies Nation to Celebrate United We Serve's Education Week

Celebrate Education Week July 27-31

The nonprofit organization First Book invites Americans across the nation to celebrate United We Serve's Education Week next week by advocating for literacy activities. How can you participate? Read with a child, volunteer at a library, or organize a book drive. Even small gestures can make a difference in the reading life of a child.

United We Serve is is President Obama’s call to nationwide community service. This is a challenge to all Americans to engage in sustained, meaningful service because ordinary people can achieve extraordinary things.

“Economic recovery is as much about what you’re doing in your communities as what we’re doing in Washington -- and it’s going to take all of us, working together.”
President Barack Obama

The mission of First Book is to put new books in the hands of children in need. As one of fourteen national nonprofits on the United We Serve Education Team advancing book distributions, summer learning opportunities, and library card registrations, First Book is leading efforts to dramatically increase access to books for our nation’s disadvantaged children. The United We Serve initiative culminates in a day of service and remembrance on September 11, but is intended to remain a sustained, collaborative, and focused effort to promote service as a way of life for all Americans.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

On Politics and Baseball and Summer Reading

President Obama Throws--and Talks--Baseball!

Even the United States president needs a day of fun and games. Yesterday President Obama donned casual clothes and enjoyed a day away from the tough topics of universal health care and nuclear proliferation to join throngs of other baseball lovers at the 80th Annual Major League Baseball All-Star Game in St. Louis. Before throwing the first pitch to open the game, the president met with journalist Bob Costas to discuss all things baseball. You can watch the interview on the White House website here.

Use Your Kids' Passions to Target Summer Reading
If you are are a parent or guardian who is finding your best attempts to get your kids reading this summer thwarted, think about your kids' other passions--such as baseball and other summer sports--and the opportunities they might provide to focus the kids' reading choices. Children's book author and illustrator Mary Brigid Barret writes in "Home Run Reading: Baseball and Books for Kids," "The best way to connect kids to reading is to build on their passions and interests. If you have kids who love baseball--or as I do, have kids who like to go to the ballpark to eat hot dogs, ogle the players, eat fried dough, start the wave, eat hot pretzels, cheer, and eat some more--use that interest to get them reading." Read more of Barrett's suggestions, as well as a great reading list geared toward baseball lovers of all ages, here. Why not start by watching the president's interview with your kids? What do your kids think of his favorite team and players? How do they compare to your family's favorites? Have they heard of Willie Mays and Jackie Robinson? Use this as an opportunity to learn more about our country's great athletes--past and present--by visiting your local library!

Connect American History and Baseball
Baseball lovers will also enjoy reading about the long association between baseball and the presidency in Our White House: Looking In, Looking Out in the essay "The First Pitch" by Stephanie True Peters. Our White House is a literature and art anthology created by the National Children’s Book and Literacy Alliance to encourage young people to read more about America’s rich history and culture; to think more about America’s future; to talk more about our nation’s leadership; and to act on their own beliefs and convictions, ensuring this great democratic experiment will survive and thrive. Our White House is available in libraries and bookstores everywhere.

To learn more about what presidents and their families do to relax and have fun together while living in the White House, check out "Stress Relief: Exercise and Relaxation at the White House" on

Monday, July 13, 2009

Libraries Endangered by Funding Cuts

Ohio Governor Threatens Drastic 50% Cut
to its Libraries

Last week Ohio Governor Ted Strickland made headlines when he announced his intentions to reduce state funding to its public libraries by fifty percent as a means to balance the state budget. The public outrage was immediate as Ohioans rallied for its libraries in public demonstrations, as well as an onslaught of phone calls and emails to the governor's office. According to the Ohio Library Council, such a dramatic reduction in funds would force the state to start closing libraries.

As states struggle to balance their budgets with decreased federal funding and tax income, many are looking to reduce funding to their libraries. But president of the American Library Association Jim Rettig recently stated about the situation in Ohio, "A projected 50 percent reduction in funding for Ohio’s libraries would result in unprecedented national disaster. We understand that in a recession difficult choices must be made, but libraries are part of the solution when a community is struggling economically, and are a necessity in efforts to get Americans back on their feet. From coast to coast, libraries have been first responders to the national economic crisis. They have been inundated by job seekers and users looking to better their lives through education. This also is the case in Ohio, as Ohioans are depending on their local libraries for free Internet access, employment services, personal finance resources, small business development and education and cultural programs." Read more at "Ted Strickland Vilified for Proposed Cuts to Ohio Public Libraries."

In the meantime, the Ohio Senate is considering less drastic cuts to library funding. As of this morning, the Associate Press reports that "the $227 million in library cuts proposed by Gov. Ted Strickland would be reduced by two-thirds." The Ohio Library Council noted that a lesser reduction in funds might prevent them from having to close libraries. In fact, Lynda Murray of the Ohio Library Council said about the latest budget plan, "That's something we can live (with), but people will still see a drop in services." Read more at "Less cuts proposed in new budget."

Stay Informed!
The ALA is constantly tracking issues related to library funding. For the latest updates on school, public, and federal library funding, refer to "Funding News @ Your Library" on the ALA website.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009


The Library of Congress and the
National Children's Book and Literacy Alliance Invite You to the Library Of Congress' Booth
at the American Library Association
National Conference in Chicago, July 11-14th
to find out more about the

Check this NCBLA blog throughout
the summer for updates!!

The Exquisite Corpse Adventure begins
September 26, 2009!!!

The Best Kids' Books Ever??

New York Times Columnist Declares Favorite Books--
and His Readers Sound Off

The school buses are off the roads, the textbooks are stacked in storage, and educators and parents across the nation worry about how to keep our kids' minds engaged. Rightly so. As New York Times columnist Nicholas D. Kristoff writes in "
The Best Kids' Books Ever," "American children drop in I.Q. each summer vacation — because they aren’t in school or exercising their brains. This is less true of middle-class students whose parents drag them off to summer classes or make them read books. But poor kids fall two months behind in reading level each summer break, and that accounts for much of the difference in learning trajectory between rich and poor students."

The fact that kids fall behind in the summer is not new news. Teachers have been trying to counteract this for years by requiring students to read over the summer. But what to read?

Kristof's list of thirteen recommended books hit a nerve with many of his readers because their personal favorites did not make the cut. What about Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Phantom Tollbooth, and The Bridge to Terabithia?! In a follow-up column, ("
In Which I Apologize to Roald Dahl….") Kristof apologizes and reports how he "was taken aback by the reaction" to his list. In fact, he further notes that never before had readers posted even 1,000 comments to one of his columns, but the reaction was so overwhelming to this column that he received over 2,350 comments.

Educator Monica Edinger reacted to Kristof's piece in her blog
educating alice, "Like so many similar well-intentioned pieces, this column bugged me. Not only are the books Kristof recommends unlikely to end up in the hands of one of those “poor kids” this summer, even if they were in their hands, they might not speak to them at all. The suggestions pouring in from his readers seem equally myopic— I see next to none considering what the actual reality is for those at-risk children."

We noted the erupting controversy about WHAT kids should be reading versus educators' expectations in last week's blog ("
Summer Reading Lists Promote Reading for the Fun of It"). Many teachers do recognize the diverse needs of kids and have sought to transform the standard summer reading list to extend beyond the classic cannon of white men to include more multicultural works and popular favorites. Read more in the Boston Globe article, "Sands Shift in Summer Reading."

What should kids be reading? Should kids read what they want? What do you think?

Monday, July 6, 2009

The Adventure Begins This September!

American Library Association Members:

The Exquisite Corpse Adventure begins!

Going to ALA's National Convention in Chicago? Make sure you stop by the Library of Congress booth to find out more about the LOC's and the NCBLA's new riveting reading outreach project----

The Exquisite Corpse Adventure!

"This story starts
with a train
rushing through the night . . ."

Friday, July 3, 2009

RIF and Macy's Team Up to Promote Literacy

Go Shopping and Make a Difference:
Book A Brighter Future Campaign Launched

For a second year, Macy's is helping to raise funds for RIF by offering all its customers an opportunity to give $3 to RIF and get a $10 off coupon for their next in-store purchase of $50 or more. Shoppers can take advantage of this opportunity through August 31. Macy’s will donate 100% of every $3 to RIF.

Last year, Macy’s customers raised more than $3.1 million for RIF and set a new record for the largest customer-supported campaign in RIF’s 42-year history. This year, RIF needs your help to beat this record!
You can help by taking advantage of this shopping opportunity and by spreading the word!

Learn more about Book a Brighter Future.
Learn more about RIF and its programs on the RIF website.