‘READ NC’ Keeps Students Reading

The message is definitely being heard loud and clear.  Here is yet another local news outlet in North Carolina reiterating the importance of keeping students reading over the summer and lauding the efforts of the ‘READ NC’ campaign .  They even mention the importance of using Lexile measures and our Find a Book site to match students with books.

Eager Reading Over the Summer

In the latest issue of Parenting magazine, Barbara Rowley cautions parents from turning reading into a chore, yet another task that must be completed, and urges them to instead remind children how books can open up new worlds and ideas:

“In the end, the good readers are the ones that absolutely love it,” explains Susie Rolander, a reading specialist in the New York City school system and a mother of three.  “Summer is a great time to let go of those pressures and really jump into the luscious, magical world of a great book.”  To turn your reluctant reader into one smitten by a good story, well, keep reading!

In fact, Rowley goes on to recommend Lexile Find a Book as an efficient way to select books based on both difficulty and interest.  Yet another way to help turn reluctant readers into eager readers.

Help Us Learn, Give Us Hope – Revisited

We’ve written before on the noble efforts of retired Army Colonel, Gary LaGrange and his organization, Help Us Learn…Give Us Hope .  In an effort to help build K-12 libraries in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as to rebuild university libraries, Help Us Learn…Give Us Hope has partnered with the Kansas Association of School Librarians to collect books.  Once collected, the books are shipped out with military brigades transporting troops and supplies to the regions.

People have taken notice.  The Corporation for National and Community Service is presenting Colonel LaGrange with the Spirit of Service Award.  The awards are presented annually to those who have ‘performed exemplary service in their communities’.

Eighteen hundred soldiers, airmen, teachers, students, and parents have asked for support, and Gary’s organization has responded.  More than 500,000 pounds of supplies and 540,000 books have been donated, via weekly shipments.  More than 300,000 children have received supplies through the organization.  RSVP members and the spouses and children of deployed soldiers, among others are the fuel that drives “Help Us Learn…Give Us Hope”.  Gary LaGrange found a way to help our soldiers and our country by helping others.  After receiving supplies, a teacher in Kandahar, Afghanistan wrote, “It is our greatest hope to have our children learn.  Your help is the very best way to help us and for you to win our trust.  Your gifts are gifts from God.”

Over half a million books!  We are truly impressed and touched by this organization’s efforts.  If you’re interested in learning more or donating, click here .

Florida’s Summer Reading Adventure Pays Off

A little over a month ago, we wrote on Florida’s efforts to combat summer learning loss through the Summer Reading Adventure program.  It appears that effort is paying dividends:

Following the May announcement of “Find a Book” as part of the Commissioner’s Summer Reading Adventure, scores of avid Florida readers have used the free search tool to choose books that best match their interests and reading abilities.  This popular online resource, located at www.lexile.com/findabook , utilizes Lexile measures, or text complexity, as well as specific interests of users to make it easier for students and families to select their favorite books and then locate these selections at the local public libraries.

…Although “Find a Book” is used by many states, in the month following the announcement of the Commissioner’s Summer Reading Adventure, Florida topped all states with more than 21,200 unique visits, averaging nearly nine minutes in the book search.

It’s good to hear that so many Florida parents and students are determined to fight summer slide and are using Find a Book to keep reading over the summer months.

When The Medium Matters

We’ve written before on the importance of reading over the summer as a way to mitigate the effects of summer learning loss.  We’ve also written on important organizations like Access Books that, in the battle to reduce the achievement gap, have given away over a million books to low-income students.  That’s why it’s good to see columnist David Brooks echo the importance of keeping students reading over the summer.

Brooks goes further, however, in expressing concern for the type of reading students are doing.  Jumping into the latest debate about what the internet is doing to our ability for deep, immersive focus, Brooks extends Nicholas Carr’s point in The Shallows , and worries that physical books may be necessary to a student’s conception of themselves as a reader:

It’s not the physical presence of the books that produces the biggest impact, she suggested.  It’s the change in the way students see themselves as they build a home library.  They see themselves as readers, as members of a different group.

Brooks tries to get beyond the online reading versus book reading debate, contending that the medium is typically indicative of the type of reading a reader is doing.  Online reading is usually comprised of current events, news, entertainment, the topical and fleeting.  Books, on the other hand, build libraries and usually comprise classics, great and seminal texts that capture the essence of man and the human condition: (more…)

Just Slightly Longer to Read

From the make of this what you will department: The consultancy organization Nielsen Norman Group recently found that it takes just slightly longer to read a piece of text on an e-reader (they tested the iPad and Kindle) than from a book.  Admittedly, the sample group was fairly small (24 participants) and differences were slight – ranging from 6% to 10% slower – but still statistically significant and worth noting.

The Nielsen Norman Group was specifically gauging usability and not studying reading comprehension.  So they did not speculate on why a reader may spend slightly longer an e-reader than a piece of physical text.  Hopefully further research will clarify their findings.

And for those of you interested in comparing different devices, they found no statistically significant differences in reading times between the iPad and the Kindle.

The New Library

Reading through College & Research Libraries News latest survey on the top 10 trends found across academic libraries brought to mind this quote from FutureShock author, Alvin Toffler:

“The illiterate of the twenty-first century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.”

-Alvin Toffler

A number of library trends worth noting:

1. “Academic library collection growth is driven by patron demand and will include new resource types.” While traditional libraries have opted for a centralized approach to resource acquisition, technology – including virtual access and print-on-demand services – allows for a much more patron-centered, or market-based, approach.  Technology upgrades and the wide availability of content allow for more of, what the survey labels, the ‘just-in-time’ approach to resource acquisition.  In other words, in some instances, librarians no longer have to guess what their patrons want, but can allow patrons to customize the catalog offerings to fit their needs.

2. “Changes in higher education will require that librarians possess diverse skill sets.” Much has been written on the changing skill set required from today’s librarian.  From a sophisticated understanding of technology and service to the ability to access diverse content from a variety of sources (and through multiple mediums), today’s librarian must marshal a wide catalog of skills to meet the demands of the modern library patron. (more…)

Information Wants to be Free – Or Maybe Not

In a short article in this month’s Atlantic , Walter Isaacson reminds us that the days of free and unfettered access to web content may be coming to a close:

Ever since the popularization of the Web browser, people have been incanting the mantra of the Whole Earth Catalog guru Stewart Brand: “Information wants to be free.”…We forgot the second half of Brand’s dichotomy: “Information wants to be expensive, because in an Information Age, nothing is so valuable as the right information at the right time.”

…As news organizations slash their staffs, reliable and reported information from trusted sources will remain valuable but may become harder to find, which means that some folks are likely to be willing to pay for good sources of it.

Isaacson argues that the trend toward free content may be reversing.  As more reputable sources, e.g. The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times , apply a hybrid model that rewards subscribers with the most interesting or thoughtful content, other organizations are taking note.  Readers have shown that – depending on their purposes – they are perfectly willing to pay for the good stuff, the well-researched, far-reaching, well-written material that they can’t get anywhere else. (more…)

Literacy Early: Literacy and College & Career Readiness

In the latest issue of American Prospect , Sara Mead reminds us that being prepared for college and career starts early in a child’s educational life:

The road to college and career readiness – or dropping out of high school – begins long before students enter high school.  In fact, the roots of the dropout crisis can be traced back to those fourth-grade NAEP scores – and the high number of youngsters who are not learning to read well by the end of third grade.

Why focus on early literacy?  Because whether children can read well by the end of third grade is a strong predictor of how they are likely to do in the future – in school, at work, and as parents and citizens.  The facts are sobering.  Children who do not learn to read proficiently by the end of third grade are unlikely ever to read at grade level.  These youngsters are at high risk for later school failure and behavioral problems, for dropping out of high school, and for a host of negative life outcomes once they reach adulthood.  For example, poor reading skills in the early elementary grades are highly correlated with later delinquency.  According to the U.S. Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, 38 percent of all youth in juvenile detention read below the fourth grade level.

Mead goes on to argue for a range of solutions, what she labels as rungs in the educational ladder, including increased focus on quality pre-K programs and skilled early childhood teachers.  Each missing rung makes climbing the ladder to literacy that much harder.  Her assessment is well worth reading. (more…)

MetaMetrics is an educational measurement organization. Our renowned psychometric team develops scientific measures of student achievement that link assessment with targeted instruction to improve learning.