The librarians of Vernon, Illinois want you for their summer reading program, and they're not shy about it! (Thanks, Sharpchair64!)
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The school bus driver in St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec told 8 year old Sarah Auger she wasn't allowed to read on the way to and from school because she might poke herself in the eye with a corner of the book.
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It's great, and the tooltip's even better: "I'd like to find a corpus of writing writing from children in a non-self-selected sample (eg handwritten letters to the president from everyone in the same teacher's 7th grade class every year)--and score the kids today versus the kids 20 years ago on various objective measures of writing quality.
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The National Literacy Trust has dotted London with painted benches that celebrate classic works of literature from Paddington to The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe to The Hitchhikers' Guide to the Galaxy.
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The Pew Internet and American Life project has released a new report on reading, called E-Reading Rises as Device Ownership Jumps. It surveys American book-reading habits, looking at both print books and electronic books, as well as audiobooks. They report that ebook readership is increasing, and also produced a "snapshot" (above) showing readership breakdown by gender, race, and age. They show strong reading affinity among visible minorities and women, and a strong correlation between high incomes and readership. The most interesting number for me is that 76 percent of Americans read at least one book last year, which is much higher than I'd have guessed.
Auctioning a conceptual copy of Banksy's thrifted "Banality of the Banality of Evil" to benefit 826 Valencia
A San Francisco artist commissioned a Chinese artist to make a copy of "The Banality of the Banality of Evil" -- a painting that Banksy thrifted, added a Nazi to, and shop-dropped back into the thrift store. The copy, called "The Banality Of The Banality Of The Banality Of Evil," is now being auctioned to support 826 Valencia, a literacy for kids program in San Francisco.
As I mentioned last week, the CBC's Canada Reads list of top 40 Canadian books is up, and it's got a really commendable, wide-ranging variety of titles in it (including my own novel Little Brother). The CBC is asking for readers to choose their favorites by tomorrow, at which point they'll release the top ten list.
It's a great exercise for energizing the nation about reading, and I'm immensely flattered and excited to have a small part in it.
The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund -- tireless free speech crusaders who fight for comics' legitimacy -- commissioned a great educational resource about comics' role in literacy called Raising a Reader (PDF).
This new resource is written by Dr. Meryl Jaffe, with an introduction by three-time Newbery Award honoree Jennifer L. Holm (Babymouse, Squish) and art by Eisner Award winner Raina Telgemeier (Smile, Drama) and Eisner Award nominee Matthew Holm (Babymouse, Squish). Raising A Reader! was made possible by a grant from the Gaiman Foundation.
You can get print-ready digital files from the Foundation, and they'll have print copies at at San Diego Comic-Con.
Best-selling author Nick Hornby has a cameo role in a new soap opera, written by young people at the creative writing centre he co-founded in Hackney. Created through after-school workshops with input from EastEnders writers, 8 young writers devised and scripted 4 episodes of a new soap opera inspired by Hoxton: 'Dead Ends'.
The project is a new venture from UK charity the Ministry of Stories, co-founded by Hornby and celebrating its second anniversary this month. The Ministry chose to work with soap as a genre that young people engage with and understand. Writing about their own local area and in a style they enjoyed, young people turned themselves from audience members into confident, motivated writers.
Dead Ends follows the stories of Andrew, a young man trying to put his troubled past behind him; his mother, Lou, who has a dark family secret to guard and the hapless Chloe, a local girl who has fallen in love with a man that she can't have. These individual stories combine towards a dramatic and shocking climax!
Ministry of Stories is my local literacy charity (my office is a block away in Hoxton), and they do awesome work. And they've got a secret door. And they sell screams in jars, as well as candied ear-wax.
Spotted today at a Toronto restaurant: a great, pro-literacy set of knuckle-tatts.
This weekend, I took my daughter to the Kapow! comics fair in Islington, London, and happened on the Upside Comics booth. Upside is a charitable trust that promotes literacy using comics. They run comics-creation workshops for kids, produce pro-literacy comics, and bibliographies of great kids' comics. They're looking for donations of comics and graphic novels, as well as cash, time and expertise.
Upside Comics use comics and graphic novels to promote literacy for children and young people. We support reading, creative writing, design and illustration.
Upside Comics is a small charity with support from the Big Lottery. The organisation was started by people working in schools and youth charities who love comics. We believe that literacy is the key to childrens' future success and happiness.
Daniel Pinkwater explains his role in the mystery of the NY State reading test pineapple race kerfuffle
Absurdist kids' literature hero Daniel Pinkwater is at the center of an appropriately absurd kerfuffle. An eighth-grade New York reading test published by Pearson republishes an edited (and much less funny) version of a fairy tale told in his novel Borgel (reprinted in this outstanding omnibus). In the original, an eggplant challenges a rabbit to a footrace and a group of spectator animals bet on the eggplant (figuring it must know something they don't). But eggplants can't run, so it loses. Then the animals eat it.
The test version changed the eggplant to a pineapple, and rewrote the passage so it is in "test-ese," then asked the kids to explain the "meaning" of the scene. Lots of students are mystified by this, and so is Pinkwater, who gave a gracious interview with the WSJ on the subject (who didn't do him the favor of mentioning that he has a tremendous new book coming out next week called Mrs Noodlekugel, which I'll be reviewing when it's out).
It’s a nuclear little family, a mother, father and three kids. An old man shows up at the door and says, “Hello, I’m your relative, I’m 111 years old.”
“You’re our relative how?”
He said, “I’m not quite clear about that. I know we’re related. I’m moving in.” And he brings in all his valises and moves into the back room. He becomes great friends with his great-great-great nephew.
In this particular passage, they’re on a bus, and Borgel, the old man, is telling him one of these fractured fables after another. And much better things happen. They go on a time-space adventure, and they meet God, who happens to be an orange popsicle. I think this may the only work of fiction in which it’s revealed that God can take the form of an orange popsicle, which I believe he can.
In the book, the moral is never bet on an eggplant. The old man is gradually giving the nephew reason to believe that he is senile or crazy by the things he says or does, so that the nephew will be alarmed but not surprised when the old man appears to be stealing a car. They take off on a road trip in it. But as far as I am able to ascertain from my own work, there isn’t necessarily a specifically assigned meaning in anything.
That really is why it’s hilarious on the face of it that anybody creating a test would use a passage of mine, because I’m an advocate of nonsense. I believe that things mean things but they don’t have assigned meanings.
I’m on this earth to put up a feeble fight against the horrible tendency people have to think that there’s a formula. “If I do the following things, I’ll get elected president.” No you won’t. “If I do the following things, my work of art will be good.” Not necessarily. “If I follow this recipe, the dish will come out very delicious.” Maybe.
Trust me, there is no formula for most things that are not math.
Daniel Pinkwater on Pineapple Exam: ‘Nonsense on Top of Nonsense’ (Thanks, Jennifer!)
Proyecto Bibliomulas is a Venezuelan initiative to improve literacy in remote and rural areas, by turning mules into travelling bookmobiles. Srsly. And how awesome is that?
Anyone who was not out working the fields - tending the celery that is the main crop here - was waiting for our arrival. The 23 children at the little school were very excited.
"Bibilomu-u-u-u-las," they shouted as the bags of books were unstrapped. They dived in eagerly, keen to grab the best titles and within minutes were being read to by Christina and Juana, two of the project leaders.
That's what the National Literacy Trust says.
Poorer children and boys were less likely to have books, it added.
The survey was carried out in September with school-aged children from 111 schools across the UK.
It suggested that a third (33.2%) did not have books of their own. That translates to 3.8m children UK-wide.
Hoxton Monster Supplies, my local outlet of the 826 Valencia literacy charity, has put some of its marvellous "monster supplies" online, including tins of Mortal Terror and Night Sweats, cubes of earwax, and fang floss. These folks do wonderful work, and they've got really cool package design.
(via Super Punch)