Report on Kids and Reading

A report just released by the children’s publisher Scholastic gives a picture of what influences kids to read. The Kids and Family Reading Report was produced by Scholastic and Yankelovich, a leader in consumer research trends based on a national survey of 1000 individuals – 500 children ages 5 to 17 years old and one parent or primary guardian per child. Interviews took place through mall-intercepts in 25 major cities across the country from January 16th through February 8th, 2006.

These are some of the findings of the report from a press release on the Scholastic website:

  • Age 8 is the age when children’s reading drops off sharply. 40% of kids between the ages of 5-8 years old are high frequency readers (reading for fun every day), only 29% of kids ages 9-11 years old are high frequency readers and the percentage continues to decline through age 17.
  • 74% of parents say they value reading as the most important skill for kids to develop.
  • 21% of parents identify themselves as high frequency readers.
  • 53% of children whose parents are high frequency readers are reading books for fun every day.
  • 15% of children whose parents are low frequency readers (reading 2-3 times a month or less), read for fun daily.
  • Kids who are high frequency readers are more than twice as likely as low frequency readers to cite their parents as a top source of ideas for good books to read (21% vs. 8%).
  • Kids who are low frequency readers are more inclined to rely on their teachers, friends, librarians and television to help them find books to read than on their parents.
  • Kids report that the number one reason they do not read more is that they cannot find books they like.
  • Contrary to popular belief, kids who use technology platforms to read or listen to books, are more inclined to be high frequency readers (34%), than those that do not (25%).

So how can schools and libraries use these findings?

  • Stock lots of current, attractive books, including those on technology media platforms.
  • Arrange your high-quality collection attractively, front-facing to help kids find something that appeals to them.
  • Sponsor childrens, teens, and parent and child reading groups or grandparent and child book clubs.
  • Enable staff to be familiar with the collection and encourage them to proactively make recommendations to parents and kids.
  • Have lots of reading promotions, year-round, not just in the summer.
  • Offer family incentives for reading together. When I was in an Air Force Community Library, we sponsored a very popular family reading program that awarded a kite to every family that completed a group reading log.

Making a Vision for Media Centers

Making a Vision is the topic of the MEMO Summer Leadership Conference. We’re at the Earle Brown Heritage Center in Brooklyn Center MN. The speaker is Martha Alewine, from School Library Media Services, South Carolina Department of Education. The wireless in the center is very erratic, so I haven’t tried blogging live. Attendance is lower this year than last. I suspect that school media centers are demonstrating the same reluctance in planning that I’ve recently seen in public libraries. What a shame – visioning is exciting and the planning the follows is the first step to better programs.

A few interesting points from Day 1. (Martha continues tomorrow)

  • Opening quote: Vision without action is a dream. Action without vision is just passing the time. Vision with action can change the world.
  • Identified stakeholders of the school library media center. Perception is reality. How do your stakeholders perceive you? Do they know enough about the media center to have a perception? Martha recommends a weekly update to the principal of media center activities.
  • Identified characteristics of a good leader. Knowing what hoops to jump through. “Pick the hill on which you’re willing to die.”
  • Recommended book Good to Great – Jim Collins.
  • Media specialists may not be reading from the front, but leading from the middle. Between the administration and faculty and students.
  • Led us through beginning of visioning process. SOCS matrix. Identifying Strengths, Opportunities, Challenges, and Strategies.
  • In groups, identified 5 main strengths through “Appreciative Inquiry”. (no whining, seeing the positive).
  • Identified 5 opportunities.
  • Using the strengths and opportunities, develop one goal.
  • The goal for every group was some variation of — to ensure that every student was taught by a certified media specialist and that students achieved appreciation of reading, information literacy, & information technology standards.

This sounds like something that we can/should take to the legislature – a unified voice from the school libraries.

Senior humor

Senior citizens are a huge group to be reckoned with and served in libraries. We can be their gateway to World 2.0 and they will be our biggest supporters and advocates. In our obsession with chasing after the millenials’ attention, let’s not forget the seniors.

At work, we’ve had tremendous success with a Sr Techies grant project this year. At home, I’ve had great fun teaching technology skills to my 80+ year old Mom. She’s already worn out a PC, printer, and scanner (after starting with Windows 98). She sent me this E-mail that’s been circulating around the octegenarian circle– sent to her by her cousin, Vernon. I’ve found the seniors to be delightful with a great sense of humor and the ability to laugh at themselves. With thanks and apologies to the author (????) . . .

The Computer Swallowed Grandma!

The Computer Swallowed Grandma
The computer swallowed grandma.
Yes, honestly its true.
She pressed ‘control’ and ‘enter’
And disappeared from view.

It devoured her completely,
The thought just makes me squirm.
She must have caught a virus
Or been eaten by a worm.

I’ve searched through the recycle bin
And files of every kind;
I’ve even used the Internet,
But nothing did I find.

In desperation, I asked Jeeves
My searches to refine.
The reply from him was negative,
Not a thing was found ‘online.’

So, if inside your ‘Inbox,’
My Grandma you should see,
Please ‘Copy,”Scan’ and ‘Paste’ her
And send her back to me!

We do not stop playing because we grow old;
We grow old because we stop playing.
Never Be The First To Get Old!

Community Libraries as Online Partners

I am in awe of the libraries of southeastern Minnesota and the supportive communities they serve. Here’s why, as once again I share a day in the life of a multitype librarian.

Molly (I introduced you to her in SELCO Librarian) and I went to Houston to begin work on a grant project for which Molly is the project manager. As we add new libraries to the SELCO Online Library System, we write grant applications called Community Libraries as Online Partners to fund the process. Again this year we have been awarded LSTA funds to bring on 2 schools. The first will be the Houston Elementary School.

Community Libraries as Online Partners is a fact of life in our region, as libraries who are regional partners on the automation system and in resource sharing support, encourage, and advocate for and with each other. School, public, special, and academic libraries are part of the fabric of the region’s communities and serve the same citizens together.

Houston High School has been online for several years. Automating the elementary library is part of the plan for the district, the town, and the region. We met Media Specialist Shelley at the school to plan the process. While the grant application set forth the timeline we envisioned in February, a flood, books thrown hurriedly into boxes, and a remodeling/restoration project which included asbestos removal have necessitated some modification to our original plan. Shelley is undaunted, and even the 95+ degree temperature in the school didn’t dampen her enthusiasm to get going (or was that 95+ the Minnesota humidity?) While the floor is still bare, and the water-damaged shelves aren’t ready for books yet, she and her assistants will be cataloging the books from their temporary cardboard storage containers.

As Molly and I talked, the admirable cooperation and support between the school and public library is apparent. The cataloging will be done following the same model we used last year, when we automated Houston’s new public library (that was last year’s Community Libraries project). The school media assistant worked during her summer vacation to accomplish that task and now is ready to do it all again. Books requiring OCLC cataloging will be sent to the regional headquarters through the public library delivery service (the school does not have summer delivery). The public library offered assistance through use of air-conditioned space for an additional cataloger. Did I mention that Shelley is on the public library board and is the representative to the regional library board?

Then on to the public library. Visiting Houston MN (along the famous Root River Trail) is like walking into library town. On the main street is the public library. You can’t miss it, because it has books all over the exterior of the building. You just know this town loves its library and the information access it brings to the economic development of the community.

Director Liz met us with delight and introduced us to everybody in the place. The President of the Friends of the Library was there, as well as a teacher at the school. A teen volunteer from Cheyenne Wyoming spends her summers in Houston. Another library customer proclaimed the excellence of the library service provided and recommended the author she is currently reading. (she convinced me) You can’t buy an advertisement like this. I’d like to bring this lady to Library Legislative Day! Heck – I’d like to bring this whole Community Libraries town to Legislative Day!