Sunday, March 29, 2009

Books I Might Read for the Read-a-Thon

The 24-Hour Read-a-Thon starts at noon on April 18. Having an enormous supply of books is the most important strategy for me in attempting to complete the read-a-thon.

Here are some short books I'm contemplating:

Death in Venice
The Crying of Lot 49
The Overcoat
The Old Man and the Sea
The Arrival
Goodbye, Mr. Chips
The Big Sleep
Member of the Wedding
The Hundred Penny Box
Seize the Day
Snow Country
Bartleby the Scrivener

I'd like to also have some children's books and some graphic novels ready to go.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Big Bookcrossing Release (and a Free Book Offer)!

In early April, thousands of librarians will come to George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston.

I will be there, releasing Bookcrossing books. A lot of books. Over three hundred books!

A few months back, I posted a request for children's books to be released at the upcoming Texas Library Association Conference. I was amazed at what I received. Books arrived from Australia, the UK, Canada, and from many of the fifty states. Boxes and boxes and boxes of books.

Here's hoping that many books are found, read, and logged in. Here's hoping that many librarians join Bookcrossing. Here's hoping that Bookcrossing's motto comes true: "Make the whole world a library."

Would you like to join Bookcrossing? I have a standing offer. If you join Bookcrossing and use my BC name (debnance) as the your referral person, I will be happy to send you a book from my available shelf. Please note: I can only mail books to those who live in the US because of mailing expense.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Book Meme

1. Which book has been on your shelves the longest?
Three volume The Civil War by Shelby Foote that I got when my grandfather died
2. What is your current read, your last read and the book you’ll read next?
I have fourteen library books waiting for me.
3. What book did everyone like and you hated?
Left Behind
4. Which book do you keep telling yourself you’ll read, but you probably won’t?
The Book Thief
5. Which book are you saving for “retirement?”
I am not waiting for retirement for any good book!
6. Last page: read it first or wait til the end?
I can read how ever I want...I'm a grownup!
7. Acknowledgements: waste of ink and paper or interesting aside?
I just read every word of the acknowledgements in a book by an author from Houston...thought I might know someone or recognize some places and I did.
8. Which book character would you switch places with?
I don't want to trade places with anyone.
9. Do you have a book that reminds you of something specific in your life (a person, a place, a time)?
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
10. Name a book you acquired in some interesting way.
ZAMM. I saw a tourist reading this book the summer I worked in Yellowstone Park. When I came home after the summer, I registered for my fall classes at college and went to get the books for the classes. One class had only one book that was required reading; it was ZAMM. I got the book and read it, though, oddly, the class didn't make.
11. Have you ever given away a book for a special reason to a special person?
I've tried giving people ZAMM a million times. Few people ever read it to the end and those that do don't like it.
12. Which book has been with you to the most places?
I now have fifty books on my Kindle and they travel with me everywhere.
13. Any “required reading” you hated in high school that wasn’t so bad ten years later?
I've always wanted to try Lord Jim again....I remember it being awful then.
14. What is the strangest item you’ve ever found in a book?
A postcard with a please-forgive-me note written by a daughter to her mother. There was no address on it.
15. Used or brand new? Either or both.
16. Stephen King: Literary genius or opiate of the masses?
Stephen King is the Steven Spielberg of the book world....I come out of a King book or a Spielberg movie feeling like I've been stabbed and slapped. Talent for telling a story, but no depth.
17. Have you ever seen a movie you liked better than the book?
18. Conversely, which book should NEVER have been introduced to celluloid?
I could name fifty. I'll never go see the movie of Wrinkle in Time.
19. Who is the person whose book advice you’ll always take?
My own. I listen to the voice in my head.

I think I know how this works....I'm tagging you for this meme if you read it and you feel like doing it.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Sunday, March 8, 2009

TSS: Whatever It Takes by Paul Tough

Whatever It Takes: Geoffrey Canada’s Quest to Change Harlem and America by Paul Tough

Geoffrey Canada is a teacher who came up against the most-difficult-to-educate group of kids a teacher can face: kids who grew up in poverty, with broken homes, surrounded by drugs and guns and alcohol. But Canada was not daunted by this group. As a child, he grew up in the same world and, somehow, he managed to transcend that world and make a good life for himself. Canada, unlike other reformers, found much to love in the Harlem in which he grew up. He found support and love among his fellow African American men, support and love he never really found in any other world. So Canada came to want to retain the strengths of the culture all the while bringing in the strengths of the broader American culture.

And did Canada ever have a dream?! Canada wanted to do more than bring in the superheroes to lift a few children here and there out of poverty. Instead, he decided to work in every area of a child’s life to improve the entire world. He started classes to teach parents from day one how to take care of their children. He created a baby school for the youngest of children to learn in an enriched environment. He began preschools and kindergartens and elementary schools and middle schools. He maintained the superhero programs for the oldest and most jaded and most difficult to reach children of poverty.

Did Canada accomplish his goals? His is still a work in progress. But the early results are startling. What could we do if we all worked together to have poor children experience the kind of lives those of us in the middle class take for granted?

Here are a few brutal facts from his book:

“…significant skill gaps exist---by race, class, and maternal education---and they open up very early. At age one there is not a great difference between the cognitive abilities of the child of a college graduate and the child of a high school dropout, but by age two there is a sizable gap, and at three it’s even wider.”

“…GED recipients earn no more than high school dropouts, on the average, even when their intelligence scores are higher. And why? Heckman says it is because they lack all of the noncognitive skills that a person must possess in order to make it through high school: patience, persistence, self-confidence, the ability to follow instructions, the ability to delay gratification for a future reward….”

“…both cognitive and noncognitive skills are teachable---but it matters a great deal when you try to teach them.”

“There was plenty of research around that showed that poor children not only benefited from being in prekindergarten, but they benefited more than other children.”

“And in reading, as it turns out, the metaphorical rich overlap with the literal rich. Even as early as the beginning of kindergarten, children’s level of ability with the printed word tends to correspond closely to the income level of their parents. As Susan B. Neuman, the education scholar, has reported, more than four out of five children at the highest socioeconomic level recognize the letters of the alphabet on the first day of kindergarten, compared to less than two of five children at the bottom of the socioeconomic scale. Half of all well-off kids can identify the beginning sounds of words when they start kindergarten, while just 10 percent of poor children can do the same.”

“…with very few exceptions, good early readers become great readers, and limited early readers almost always end up as poor readers. Late bloomers are, in fact, quite rare.” (The Matthew effect)

'And then after kindergarten, because of the Matthew effect, the disparities get even worse….Kids who are able to master “decoding,” to grasp the strange fact that black marks on a page connect to sounds…and that those sounds and marks go together to convey information…---those kids think reading is fun. They do more of it. And the more they do, the easier it gets, and the easier it gets, the more they do. For children who have a harder time cracking the code early on, the opposite occurs, a grim process that one researcher calls “the devastating downward spiral.” '

“By middle school, the gap between avid readers and reluctant readers has grown into a chasm. If you rank fifth-grade students by how much time they spend reading on their own, outside of school, you find a huge range. A child at the ninetieth percentile---not the most book-crazy kid in class, but close to the top---will spend an average of twenty-one minutes a day reading…which means that she goes through more than 1.8 million words a year. A child at the tenth percentile---not the most reading-averse kid in class, but close---will spend an average of six seconds a day on independent reading, which works out to just eight thousand words a year.”

‘Joseph Torgesen, a researcher at the Florida Center for Reading Research at Florida State University…looked at a dozen or so experimental studies of intensive reading interventions done in different parts of the country and targeted at different ages. When he analyzed the interventions aimed at nine-to twelve-year-old struggling readers, he found results that were mixed at best. With enough time and work, it seemed, it was possible to push these middle school-aged kids forward on the reading basics, like decoding, accuracy, and word comprehension. But the news was much more discouraging when it came to “fluency”---the ability to read with ease. Torgesen’s conclusion: by the end of elementary school, “if children’s impairments in word-reading ability have reached moderate or severe levels,” catching kids up may be simply impossible. But when Torgesen looked at early interventions with delayed readers---in first and second grade---his mood brightened….The interventions were remarkably effective; each one brought at least half of the targeted students up to an average level of reading ability by the end of the grade, and in one study, 92 percent of them hit that level.’
Other reads this week: