While some predict the imminent demise of the printed book, some profess that the printed book will continue on in perpetuity. I stand with the second group. As much as I enjoy the convenience of ebooks, there is a majesty to a beautifully illustrated and bound printed book that not even the most colorfully animated ebooks can equal. There is so much ephemeral electronic correspondence today that a printed book, by its sheer mass and substance commands a certain amount of respect. Or, perhaps it's simply the history of the printed book that I revere.
From the Good Mountain: How Gutenberg Changed the Worldlavishly presents the early history of the printed book as pioneered by Johannes Gutenberg in 1450. Categorized as a biography, this new picturebook by James Rumford focuses more on Gutenberg's revolutionary invention of the printing press, than on the life of Gutenberg himself. Each richly illustrated double-page spread describes the process of creating a book as a mystery of sorts, asking the reader to guess the elements that formed the finished product: "What was this thing made of rags and bones?" and answering on the next page: "It was paper, and it was ready."
The epilogue to this book notes that Gutenberg's invention remains a bit of a mystery, as no one knows for sure how he was able to produce such beautifully crisp and clear letters in the 1400s. But some of the books he produced more than 500 years ago endure to this day. In fact a copy of one of those books resides in Bloomington at the Lily Library on the campus of Indiana University. The Gutenberg Bible rests in a glass case on display in the Lily Library, open for anyone to visit.
From the Good Mountainconcludes with an illustration of computer circuitry, suggesting that as hand copied books gave way to printed ones, and printed books give way to ebooks, perhaps it doesn't matter at all what books look like -- what form they take -- as long as people keep writing and reading them. What are you reading today?
If you look back to those long summer afternoons of reading during your childhood with longing, this book is for you. Three years after losing her beautiful and talented older sister, Anne-Marie, to cancer, Nina Sankovitch decided to do something she had long dreamed of doing, making books central to her life again. Of course as the mother of three teens and one preteen - all boys - she didn't have much free time. But from Oct. 28, 2008 to the same date in 2009 Nina read and read and read some more.
In the intervening years after her sister's death, Nina had kept fiendishly busy, driving, cooking, cleaning, heading committees, and organizing literary projects--all the myriad duties of raising a family and being involved in her Connecticut community. But each day she felt guilty to be alive because her sister had died. This lovely book is both a tribute to a sister, and a memoir of their relationship. It's also a narrative about how concentrating on reading finally healed Nina, so that she was eager to go forward again.
Nina resurrected (reupholstered) the big purple chair that one of their cats had made its own by spraying on it. Here in this regal chair for two, three, even four hours a day, Nina both lost and found herself through books.
Besides telling Anne-Marie's story, Tolstoy and the Purple Chairalso relates the story of her father, Anatole, who lost three aunts and uncles in a shooting during WW II. All were shot in his family's kitchen in Poland while their terrified mother lay upstairs in her sick bed. Anatole also suffered from TB after WW II and spent over two years in a sanatorium in the mountains recovering after the war. Nina compares her year of reading to those years of rest and recuperation that her father experienced there. Read more »
It seems like a basic concept, a "no-brainer" if you will: the more you read, the better you get at it. But it was good to be reminded of this proven fact at the Literacy Summit sponsored by the Monroe County Community School Corporation last week. Dr. Richard Allington, Professor of Education at the University of Tennessee was one of the featured speakers. He underscored research demonstrating that the number of minutes spent reading outside of school directly correlates to how well you read. Like anything else, reading takes practice to get good at it. A former elementary school classroom teacher before beginning his career as a teacher educator and instructional researcher, Allington also emphasized the importance of allowing children to choose for themselves what to read. "Students must have choice along with interesting texts -- things they want to read," he said. Read more »
Help us call attention to the importance of literacy as we celebrate Bloomington Reads! week, May 6-12. The second annual event, sponsored by the Foundation of Monroe County Community Schools, features a week of reading and literacy-related activities in our community to spotlight the importance of literacy. (See the mccsfoundation website for a listing of upcoming events.) Just 20 minutes of reading a day can build a community of readers.
While many of us get in the habit of reading aloud to our pre-readers, children who have begun reading on their own still benefit from having an adult read aloud to them. Reading aloud a story to an independent reader can be a chance to share new vocabulary. Reading aloud also provides an independent reader with an opportunity to hear fluent reading, which helps them build their own fluency and ability to read with proper pacing and expression.
It's important to remember, too, that children learn to value reading, not only by having someone read to them, but by seeing the adults in their lives spending time reading. No matter whether it's a hardcover or paperback book, e-book, magazine or newspaper -- what do your children see you reading? What are you reading today?
We are just starting our First Grade Tours here in MCPL Children's Services, and it motivated me to try to remember some of my own experiences in the first grade. One vivid memory is going on our first visit to the school library - I was so excited it was lucky I didn't toss my cookies! The thrill was tempered a little by the fact that I could hardly read - in fact, I was in the "lowest" reading group in my first grade class. (Not that the teacher told us which group was the lowest, of course - we just all knew.) I apparently told my mom of my frustration and fear about not reading well, and she told my teacher. Before I knew it, I was reading with the top group, and understanding what I read! I'm still not sure exactly what my teacher did, but apparently that extra bit of attention and encouragement, both at home and at school, made a huge difference. (It didn't hurt, either, that the top reading group had more interesting fare.) After thinking about this, I looked for a picture book that reflected a little of my experience.
I've been following the Parents' Choice blog: Read More. Play More. Learn More recently via Twitter. The Parents' Choice Foundation was established in 1978 as a nonprofit guide to quality children's media and toys. You may have seen their round labels of recommendation on toys, but they also review books, audiobooks, DVDs, music, magazines, television shows, videogames, websites and software -- including mobile apps for kids. You can use their online product finder to search for their award winners by type of product, the age of the child for which the product is designed, and more.
But their blog caught my attention because the title echoes philosophies of Children's Services at Monroe County Public Library: reading is a key to learning, children learn through play, and learning is fun! Our Summer Reading Game is designed to promote these concepts, and now as children head back to school we find ourselves thinking more about essential skills and knowledge for children. Traditionally, essential skills have been described as the 3Rs: Reading, (w)Riting and (a)Rithmetic. But as a recent post to the Parents' Choice blog reminded, essential skills for the 21st Century include the 4Cs: communication, collaboration, critical thinking and creativity. Read more »
I recently attended a fascinating seminar on reading sponsored by the Monroe County Community School Corporation. The presenter was Dr. Timothy Rasinski, a professor at Kent State University who authored From Phonics to Fluency: Effective Teaching of Decoding and Reading Fluency in the Elementary School . The topic of the seminar was fluency in reading. While some school systems equate fluency with reading speed, Dr. Rasinski described it as a bridge between reading mechanics and comprehension. Children need to achieve accuracy in the surface or mechanical level of reading which includes phonics, spelling, and vocabulary to progress to the deep level where they make meaning. The link between the two is fluency. Fluent reading involves automaticity, or dealing with the mechanics of reading without stumbling and struggling. Fluency also requires prosody, the ability to read aloud or silently with proper phrasing and expression. Dr. Rasinski shared several methods that teachers and parents can use to help students improve their fluency. I was thrilled to hear that we public librarians have been promoting and supporting these activities at MCPL for years. His presentation focused on singing, poetry, and reader's theater. Read more »
The library has a growing collection of downloadable ebooks and audiobooks for children. But for young children, the pictures are still an essential part of story. You can access a wide variety of ebooks and audiobooks with pictures for children through our Tumblebooks subscription. This online collection of animated picturebooks include sound and music, and you can choose to have the story read aloud to you, or read on your own. The Tumblebooks site also features stories in French and Spanish as well as puzzles and games to play. You can search for titles in a variety of ways, including by subject and by reading level. To access the collection without having to enter a login, visit the Children's Services home page and click on the Tumblebooks button. Give it a try and let us know what you think!