Reading scores begin to soar as ‘Book Showdown’ Competition gains popularity

Inmates at the Gowanda Correctional Facility (Erie County) are heavily engaged in a competition that is resulting in drastic improvement to their reading skills. The competition, known as the “Book Showdowns,” is the brainchild of Senior Librarian Corinne Leone and combine reading comprehension, teamwork and rivalry. The goal is to increase reading comprehension, and at the same time, help inmates score higher on their high school equivalency exams.

Staff coaches have devised various creative methods for improving their team’s skills. Some hold mock showdowns for practice and to generate enthusiasm, while others show movies that feature related subject matter to help reinforce the content of the book. Some teams have also invented character trivia games to increase reading comprehension and memory retention. Leone and the other staff coaches have also noticed that some of the more advanced readers readily help some of their less-skilled team members however they can.

Underfunded School Libraries Fight Back

Advocating for school library services is a year-round necessity that becomes particularly pressing as spring approaches. That’s the season when school-district officials make their budget projections for the upcoming academic year, recently resulting in many school library workers receiving a provisional pink slip, issued just in case administrators need to follow through. The FY2015 cycle promises to be a particularly brutal one, according to Marci Merola, director of ALA’s Office for Library Advocacy, who tells American Libraries she bases her observation on the “spike in calls since mid-February.”

Public Education Committee Reveals “Woefully” Underfunded Library Programs

Most science books available to Utah students are old enough to run for Congress and remember when the Cold War was a fearful reality. On Wednesday morning members of the House addressed the issues facing Utah public education system, most notably the apparent long term neglect of library upkeep.

“Utah school libraries have been neglected, due to diminishing funds, over the last few years,” said Cheryl Smith, a former Granite School District Library Director.

Ready to Read grant awarded to Hood River County Library District

Hood River County Library District has received a $4,425 grant to improve public library services to children. The Ready to Read grant funds will be used to create several “mini-libraries” in underserved areas around the county, especially in Odell. These libraries will be located in areas where children often have downtime with their parents: laundromats, food bank distribution centers, etc. The libraries will include books for small children to help instill in them a love of reading. The Library District particularly thanks Representative Mark Johnson and Senator Chuck Thomsen for their support of the Ready to Read grant program.

Lynchburg library rolls out e-reader program

Lynchburg is taking the next leap into the digital era by rolling out a new e-reader lending program through its public library.

Library card holders now can check out Nooks and Kindles from the Lynchburg Public Library’s main branch on Memorial Avenue.

The digital devices come preloaded with a list of best-selling titles from authors such as John Green, Neil Gaiman and Nora Roberts.

Literary Landmark: Tahlequah Public Library

Tahlequah (Okla.) Public Library was designated a Literary Landmark in recognition of the literary contributions of Woodrow Wilson Rawls (1913-1984), author of Where the Red Fern Grows and Summer of the Monkeys.

Rawls’ early childhood was spent on his mother’s Cherokee allotment 13 miles northeast of Tahlequah, along the Illinois River in Cherokee County. As a young boy, he was inspired to become a writer by Jack London’s The Call of the Wild. Rawls visited the Carnegie Library in Tahlequah when he was young. He wrote, “The day I discovered libraries was one of the biggest days of my life. Practically all of my spare time was spent there. I read everything I could get my hands on pertaining to creative writing. I didn’t just read those books, I practically memorized them.”

265 'Anne Frank' books vandalized in Tokyo libraries

Anne Frank's "The Diary of a Young Girl" and scores of books about the young Holocaust victim have been vandalized in Tokyo public libraries since earlier this year.

The damage was mostly in the form of dozens of ripped pages in the books. Librarians have counted at least 265 damaged books at 31 municipal libraries since the end of January.

Japan and Nazi Germany were allies in World War II, and though Holocaust denial has occurred in Japan at times, the motive for damaging the Frank books is unclear. Police are investigating.

Books Your Kids Will LOVE this Valentine’s Day

Happy Valentine’s Day!  When I was a classroom teacher, I did whatever I could not to make a big deal out of Valentine’s Day.  I bought heart-covered pencils for my students, created a special morning message about Valentine’s Day, and I believe that was it.  How boring of me!

Truth be told, I didn’t want to lose a day of class time to special activities.  However, there is a way to make Valentine’s Day fun and educational.  For instance, one can take a day off from writing workshop (If you’re on-track with the unit you’re in and principal doesn’t mind!) to do some Valentine’s Day writing.  You can do a read aloud or two to inspire your students to write poems, comic books, short stories, and artwork. Then your students can give share their pieces with their family or friends after school.