More Pleasure Reading Than We Suspected? – P.S. to Scholastic Report

More commentary on Scholastic’s Family Reading Report, released earlier this week, this time from Tim Shanahan, a widely recognized and published academic in the field of youth literacy and learning. Among his observations on the report are the following:

The major reason that they say they don’t read for pleasure is because they have other things to do, like working on computers. Some of that time might be spent on just dumb video games, but at least some of it is spent on other reading and writing activities (two-thirds of the kids said they have looked up authors and other book-related information on line).

The bad news in the report (and this is not new—I’ve found surveys all the way back to World War I with the same pattern) is that older students read less than younger students do. Preschoolers like books more than elementary kids do, and elementary kids like them more than teens. Similarly, boys were somewhat less taken with reading than were girls.

http://www.shanahanonliteracy.com/

For insightful and informed commentary on this and a variety of other topics related to literacy and learning, I strongly suggest following this blog.

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Announcing the KindlesforKids Scholarship Program!

As the first step in its mission to provide e-books for everyone, Connect2Books is pleased to announce that we are sponsoring a scholarship program to donate Kindles to deserving students who are in financially challenging circumstances. Successful candidates will be awarded a Kindle along with a credit for $100 worth of e-books from Amazon’s Kindle store. If you know of any students in 6th to 12th grade in the United States who love to read and learn but lack ready access to books, please send an email, outlining their circumstances and achievements to the address below.

The usual legal statements (Supplies are limited; terms and conditions apply) are in effect.

emailto: gordon@connect2books.org

A Video Demonstration of Amazon’s Kindle

Continue reading

More great literacy links..

A blog by an Instructional Technology training specialist at Georgia State University’s College of Education:

http://anne.teachesme.com/

“Guysread” is  a web-based literacy program to help boys find stuff they like to read. It was created by Jon Scieszka, who was recently appointed to be the Inaugural National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, by the United States Library of Congress:

http://www.guysread.com/

Livre E-Book is Awesome, Literacy Rejoyces

Click below to link to a post about another e-book reader that has just been announced. With a touch screen and the ability to turn pages by sliding your fingers across the screen it certainly trumps the Kindle in design elegance. But lacking the wireless connectivity and vast online bookstore that the Kindle comes with, it’s not likely to detract from Amazon’s sales. It could however provide some inspiration for Kindle 2.0’s feature set…

http://swongled.com/2008/02/26/livre-e-book-is-awesome-literacy-rejoyces/

Welcome to Connect2books.org! A blog about e-books for everyone

“Once you learn to read, you will be forever free” – Frederick Douglass  “To learn to read is to light a fire; every syllable that is spelled out is a spark.”  – Victor Hugo“A man is known by the books he reads.”  – Ralph Waldo Emerson“There is more treasure in books than all the pirates’ loot on Treasure Island.”  – Walt Disney Continue reading

Welcome to KindlesforKids!

Amazon’s Kindle e-book readerThis blog was established to put forward the concept that Amazon’s new Kindle e-book reader  can play an important part in combatting declining literacy levels among schoolchildren in the US. (And eventually in other countries if the wireless capability is expanded globally. Until that happens, the optional storage card can hold hundreds more than the 200 books that the Kindle’s built in memory can store. This  feature thus brings many of the Kindle’s benefits to regions that currently lack wireless access to it.) Think of it: school kids with access to a virtually unlimited array of textbooks, classic literature, always-on Wikipedia and an array of other educational resources, while simultaneously reducing the weight of their overburdened backpacks! Yes, the current price point is a major deterrent but as the law of declining technology prices kicks in, volume discounts, etc, soon it will be within the reach of many students. For those in need, a non-profit is being established that subsidizes the cost of the unit, thus extend the reach to anyone, regardless of income bracket. Combined with initiatives such as the Gutenberg Project, which offers a catalog of tens of thousands of free e-books, the Kindle could be a more effective solution to achieving the goal of universal literacy than the One Laptop Per Child mission. 
I see the two technologies serving largely different needs and markets.  The mission of the OLPC foundation, as stated on their website, is to empower the children of developing countries to learn by providing one connected laptop to every school-age child (up to the 5th grade). This goal is being achieved by negotiations between the foundation and various third world governments, typically for millions of units. The scale is far more ambitous than what I had in mind for the Kindle, which due to its current wireless capability, will only work in the US. I’m not sure if OLPC is even intended for any US children, but even if it is, I think the Kindle is probably the more effective tool to deal with the literacy gap. It has (or could have, with appropriate licensing deals) everything that underserved middle and high school children would need to raise their literacy levels – all the textbooks, dictionary, thesaurus, and other reference materials, not to mention an always on connection to Wikipedia. (and it plays audiobooks and MP3s). I still believe it would be less daunting to roll out the Kindle to this population than OLPC. I also think the aim of KindlesforKids should be the middle and high-school grades, since this is the stage that reading activity has declined over the last decade. (To see some actual data, refer to the NEA’s recent report: To Read or Not To Read: A Question of National Consequence.)
So to move this initiative forward, it is necessary to test the hypothesis that putting Kindles in the hands of  school children who have limited or no access to the materials they need to further their education will somehow improve their literacy. In the US, which like it or not, is obsessed with two terms, tests and standards, (due to  the No Child Left Behind Act), this requires demonstrating a measurable increment in reading scores among school children after a year or two of any introduction of new technology or learning method. Therefore the first step in this process is identifying a population of school children that meets the general standard of “underserved” and that has lower than average literacy scores. This should not be too difficult. The next step is to find an adventurous teacher and supportive adminstration that is willing to conduct this pilot program.
The non-profit organization that I have established, Connect2Books.org, seeks to partner with other organizations and foundations to underwrite the cost of the hardware and a nominal selection of e-books. Any takers? I will use this blog to document my progress. Stay tuned…