By Leib Lurie | Categories All | April 12, 2018

Information, once something that trickled into our lives through newspapers, radio, television, and encyclopedias, now pours into our lives at a staggering rate. We have generated as much information in the last two years as we have in the rest of human history. In one month in 2011 alone, the Library of Congress gathered 235 terabytes of data. That is enough data to hold approximately 79 million copies of War and Peace.

All of that information needs a filter. Fortunately, schools and communities have an incredible one: the library. Many people think that libraries are antiquated. They carry something called “books” that people can borrow. Some of the better ones may have a row of computers that still dial into the internet. In a pinch, you can even print there. If you need help, there is always a librarian there to help you work your way through the card catalog.

That is until you realize that over 250 libraries in the United States offer 3D printing services to their patrons. And have done so for several years now. Libraries are much more than storage spaces for information. They are dynamic spaces where groups of people come to learn, access resources, and build a life. Librarians are more than keepers of that information. Their wisdom can bring you to the right books, websites, and other materials that you could spend hours discovering on your own. They are informational tour guides.

Communities are built around and through libraries.

All of this is true for a school library as well. They could be even more important to this small, but diverse, population. With the increasing importance of test scores, investing in a school librarian is a no-brainer. Test scores in elementary schools with trained librarians increased by 35% in a Michigan study. Studies in other states, like Iowa, showed that an adequately funded and staffed library aided test scores as well.

Libraries provide another space for children to learn. They can help students navigate the internet, offer a quiet area for students to study, and encourage students to read. The staff, knowing what books a student enjoys, can help them choose books that are similar to their interests.  Sometimes they are not even books the student knew they would like. Providing students books that interest them is another way to encourage students to read more. They dig into a new book they started to read in the library and end up not putting it down until they must. More reading, and reading books they choose, create better learners.

In some schools, the term “media center” has replaced “library” to describe this communal space. This shift reflects the ever-changing role of what the library can do within a school. Especially as learning becomes virtual, and students can access learning media anywhere they have an internet connection. Librarians show the students how to safely access and use school resources from home, or another space that has an internet connection.

While students are typically the ones utilizing the resources the library has to offer, they can be a pillar of support to teachers. Well-trained librarians are expert researchers. They can provide teachers with research tools and educational resources they would otherwise miss. Librarians that work with teachers offer a way to complement lessons in the classroom with displays and other resources in the library. They can also provide curious students with more in-depth knowledge of the subject through school materials.

The school library, like any library, can be a hub of communal activity for the school. A well-trained library staff with the right resources can do everything from improving test scores to inspire students to take learning beyond the classroom. It is an often overlooked resource that can be a critical component of student success. Head to the library soon and have a conversation with the librarians there. They are the ones that can will, within the deluge of new information the internet offers, show you how to surf through it with confidence.  


By | Categories All | March 30, 2018

April is National Poetry Month! While many of us lose our love of poetry over the years (only 9 of 10 Americans say they enjoy poems), when children are developing reading habits poems have some substantial benefits.

But where to begin? There are hundreds of books of poetry out there for children. There are well-known names like Theodore “Dr. Seuss” Geisel and Mother Goose that are well known and incredibly popular. Shel Silverstein, of “Where the Sidewalk Ends” fame is another author that is easy to find and a joy to read to children. There are many other poets, both contemporary ones, and ones from the past, that have written poems that children love.

Reading poems aloud to students can do more than show them the wonders of poetry. It can bring back a love of poetry for the adults who may have put it down years ago and never picked it back up. If you would like to explore some poems and authors on your own, Poets.Org has a wonderful page full of brilliant poems for children. Enjoy a month full of getting to know poetry with your students!


By KRN Admin | Categories All | February 26, 2018

Born in Santa Fe, New Mexico of Native American and Mexican descent, Jimmy Santiago Baca was raised by his grandparents until the age of five, when he began a two-decade rotation through various institutions, beginning with the orphanage where his aunt surrendered him.

Baca spent six and a half years in Arizona State Prison on a drug charge, including three years in isolation. He also endured a stint housed with prisoners on death row after he announced his intention to become literate, an ambition he says the prison regarded as dangerous.

Baca followed through on this intention, teaching himself to read and write, and finding his voice as a poet. He published his first volume of poetry in 1979, the year he was released from prison, and earned his GED later that year. Baca went on to write numerous books of poetry and nonfiction and has been recognized with some of the country’s most prestigious literary awards, including the Pushcart Prize, the American Book Award, and the International Hispanic Heritage Award. His memoir, A Place to Stand, was made into a documentary film that was released in June 2016.

Baca has devoted his post-prison life to writing and teaching others who are overcoming hardship and has conducted hundreds of writing workshops in prisons, community centers, libraries, and universities. As part of that effort, he has distributed thousands of books to incarcerated adults and youth. In 2005, he created Cedar Tree, Inc., a foundation that works to give people from all walks of life access to education and the opportunity to improve their lives.

Recently Baca spoke with Kids Read Now about the profound effects of illiteracy in childhood and beyond.

How do you get basic information if you can’t read? An awful lot of daily tasks require at least some reading.

Baca: One of the disastrous consequences of not having language is that you get absolutely everything wrong. When you can’t read, you have no idea how the world works. You assume so much because you’re living in this isolation of illiteracy. For instance, when I was a kid living in the detention center, we just assumed that everybody who was not part of the juvenile system just got things for nothing–that they didn’t work for their cars, or the things they had.

Ultimately, you’re at the mercy of other people who know more. You take one step wrong, and they shame you. And everything you do is wrong. That’s what turns people; that’s what criminalizes them.

That’s why I believe in good literature for children. Good books can help socialize kids who don’t have any other role models. Books can show them about the rest of the world and show them that they’re not alone– that it’s okay to express your feelings.

You find out that, yes, you’re going to be lonely sometimes–that you may not always be happy, but that you can get through it.

How did you learn to read? Was there a class in prison?

Baca: I taught myself. It wasn’t hard. I mean, people think it is, but it’s not. I picked it up right away. And when I began to pick up words, man, it was like “Wow.” It was like being an infant. The first time you read a word, it’s like the first time you smell. It’s the first time you see colors. It’s the first time you hear sounds. Everything had a firstness to it, a new beginning to it, and that just drove me to stay awake 18 hours a day. It was a passion. The fact that I could read something and then attach it to a person was amazing. I learned how to write a sentence, and I could attach that sentence to the guy living next to me. Eventually, I started writing poems.

How did things change when you could read and write?

Baca: The prison administration saw literacy as a threat. They knew that if you can read and write, you can explain things. I could do an analysis of what had happened and determine that they were wrong. They tried to shut me down; they put me as far away from the population as they could. But I still had access to books through people who somehow found my address and sent them to me.

Plus, I read all the books that circulated in the prison. Sometimes I would go from reading Hemingway to reading a pornography book. And it was really cool. I went from Mary Baker Eddy to Che Guevara. And it was like, “Wow, what a world. We have these people, man, and they have all these ideas.”

The only problem was when you’re in prison, if you have language, you don’t really have a lot of people to talk to.

What was it like when you were released?

Baca: Well, one thing is, as powerful as literature is, you quickly learn that it’s not reality, it’s just what the author set up. Say he writes about a poet who comes out of prison, and gets married and has a family, and gets hired by a university. Well, then, you expect that. But when you come out, you meet other poets and they’re all on starvation diets. And they’re living in little tiny apartments with no electricity. So right away your standards are set really high, and when you can’t meet those standards you find yourself disappointed, mostly in yourself. Plus, when you teach yourself to read in prison, you end up mispronouncing a lot of words and people correct you.

I also learned that whatever an author or poet writes, the individual writer can be totally opposite to that. A writer can sit down and write an entire book about the danger of doing drugs, and be the biggest drug addict in the world. But the other side of that is that writing can allow you to get beyond those shortcomings. It’s both requiem and redemption. Requiem in that you’re always dying, but redemption because writing can save you. It saved me.

Excerpted from Reading for Life, published by Kids Read Now. Copyright © 2017 by each contributing author. All rights reserved. Posted with permission of the publisher. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

By Leib Lurie | Categories All | February 21, 2018

“He turned and reached behind him for the chocolate bar, then he turned back again and handed it to Charlie. Charlie grabbed it and quickly tore off the wrapper and took an enormous bite. Then he took another…and another…and oh, the joy of being able to cram large pieces of something sweet and solid into one’s mouth! The sheer blissful joy of being able to fill one’s mouth with rich solid food!

‘You look like you wanted that one, sonny,’ the shopkeeper said pleasantly.

Charlie nodded, his mouth bulging with chocolate.”

The above passage is from the beloved children’s book and movie, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl. This book has been the subject of two movies and is considered a classic of children’s literature. It is also a book that is written at a third grade reading level.

A 2010 report compiled by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, titled Early Warning! Why Reading By The End of the Third Grade Matters, lays out a grim image of what happens to a child that is not reading proficiently at that age level. In 2009, 49 percent of low income students were below “Basic” reading level when they reached fourth grade. This correlates to a 23 percent drop out rate for these students. Even raising their reading level to “proficient” lowers their odds of dropping out to just 4 percent. Lower income students are at greater risk of dropping out because of a general lack of resources, including time with parents.

The focus in education switches at that point in most schools. For the first eight years of their lives, students are learning to read. They are picking up vocabulary, context, and learning the flow of a story. Fourth grade is a pivot point where they start reading to learn. Their understanding of the written word and how it is used contributes to learning about topics like science and history. Lagging behind in the basics of reading this point accelerates the learning gap.

Bringing students to a third grade reading level is a critical mark to hit in the education of students. It is not a goal to start working on in the August they enter third grade. There are many other opportunities before then to bring them up to grade level.

The first opportunity is getting them ready for kindergarten. We know that reading at an early age provides lifelong benefits. If they are ready to read when they start kindergarten, they are already ahead of the game. They have a larger vocabulary to work with and they are already starting to put together words and context.

Encouraging them to read over the summer keeps them from the dreaded “summer slide.” Like any other skill, if you are not using it you are losing it. Students who do not read over the summer can lose up to two months of learning. They will be forced to work hard to catch up. A little bit of reading daily, even if it is at bedtime, can help prevent that loss.

Beyond being able to read wonderful books like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, proficient reading by third grade is crucial. It is a launching point on the educational path into new worlds. They are laying the groundwork, even at that young age, to get ready for college. It is important that educators and parents are making every effort to ensure their success


By | Categories All | February 13, 2018

Ah, Valentine’s Day!

A day in which we show the people who are important to us just how much we care for them. Much of that affection is shown through red and pink gifts of candy, cards, and maybe a trinket or two to play with, but the best gift you can give a child is time.

From birth through the time children go to college (age 18), there are 936 weekends. That sounds like a lot of time until you consider that when they start hitting middle school years, they will have activities, sports, friends, and all manner of other entertainments to occupy their time. Those weekends can go quickly, and when you think about how fast that time can fly, it’s easy to see the value of sharing time with your child whenever possible.

The gift of time relies on the quality of the time and much as it does the quantity. Being in the same room together doing different activities is not the best gift you can give; focusing on the child is the real gift. The importance of time spent focusing on children holds true in school as much as it does at home.

Countries like Finland, considered the gold standard in education by many, spend roughly 700 hours in front of students, while in the United States we spend nearly double that. Spending time does not have to be hours on end. It can be playing a tabletop game or cooking a meal together. Reading is a fantastic way to spend a little time together.

Selecting the right books can be a springboard for other activities through the year; as your child asks questions, you can plan events to help them answer them. As a teacher, you can develop lessons in the future that address student questions while still fulfilling state requirements.

What other gifts can spending time with books provide?

 

Sitting down with a child to read a book shows you love them in a variety of ways. You are spending quality time with them (which they love!) while teaching them skills that are going to help them in school. It provides benefits they may not appreciate when they are young, but they will as they grow older. Along with the card and some sweets, plan on giving them a book and spending some time with them. It is a Valentine’s Day gift they will treasure forever.

 


By Leib Lurie | Categories All | January 5, 2018

Kids Read Now, a local non-profit organization dedicated to building literacy rates for young people across the country, announced it has moved to a new location in Troy, Ohio to accommodate its rapidly expanding summer book-reading operations.

On Dec. 15 Kids Read Now completed its move from a smaller shared space on the east side of Troy into a 16,000 square-foot property it will lease at 155 Marybill Drive. The larger facility will allow the organization to add up to 20 more employees, including four to six permanent employees over the next year, as well as 12 warehouse seasonal workers for the busier spring and summer months.

Currently among the top three literacy programs in the country, Kids Read Now expects to become the largest provider of summer reading materials for kids in kindergarten through third grade. The Kids Read Now business model is different than traditional summer reading programs that require kids to travel to libraries, camps or other community reading centers to access books. Instead, Kids Read Now sends books directly to students’ homes. After students finish reading one book, Kids Read Now sends out another one through the mail. And the best part — students get to keep all of the books they read during the summer for free.

Since its inception in 2010, the Kids Read Now summer reading program has helped tens of thousands of children. In 2017 alone, Kids Read Now distributed more than 80,000 books to more than 12,000 children in 34 school districts. Kids Read Now expects to increase that total to 50,000 children in 2018 and to 500,000 students in school districts across the country within three years.

“Moving into this larger space matches our business goals to expand our summer reading program significantly over the next few years,” said Leib Lurie, who founded the program along with Barbara Lurie. “We were fortunate enough to find a facility in Troy that meets our current needs yet offers flexibility for growth as we continue to attract more school districts into our summer reading program.”

Industrial Property Brokers represented both buyer and seller in completing the deal. Tim Echemann, a Broker for the company, said, “We are pleased to be able to help Kids Read Now relocate to a facility with the right space and amenities to suit their growing operation. The new location has the added benefit of a property owner who supports the Kids Read Now mission and vision.”

Industrial Property Brokers, located in Piqua, Ohio, is a premier full-service real estate company offering sales, leasing, investment analysis, tenant representation, and property management throughout Western Ohio and Eastern Indiana. For more information on this or other properties, visit www.IPBindustrial.com or call 937-492-4423.

For more information about Kids Read Now, visit kidsreadnow.org or call Mary Beth Reser at 937-681-2185.


By Leib Lurie | Categories All | January 5, 2018

The constant concern of parents and educators alike is an addiction to glowing rectangles.

From the pocket-friendly cell phone to the new 60-inch plasma screen in the living room, the digital world is always beckoning. Studies show that by the age five, children are spending an average of six and a half hours a day in front of a screen. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) revised their rules for screen times for two to five-year-olds recently. One supervised hour of screen time a day can help them learn new vocabulary. This is not the most efficient way of teaching young children new words. That comes from a much older technology: ink on paper.

When children are using screens, it is rarely for reading. An Australian study showed that even when a device had eReading capabilities on it, they often went unused. In fact, they were often distracted from reading by other capabilities on the device, like surfing the Internet or playing games.

These constant breaks in concentration reduce the amount of information they are absorbing. The more they used devices to read, the less interested they were in reading and the more they wanted to use the other capabilities of the device. It reduced the amount of information they were absorbing from the book. This is not how good readers get their start.

Another major drawback to children reading on tablets is the amount of interaction with people around them. The Conversation did some research on their own. The outlet found that when a parent reads with their child on an eReader, the child does not get as much from experience. There is no appreciable difference in what the child retains. The difference comes from the interaction between the two. Because of the design of an eReader or tablet, children become more focused on the device and not the person reading with them. When they are reading from a book, the two laugh and discuss the story much more.

That interaction gives the edge to the traditional book for teaching young ones how to read. Many applications and programs can help kids build their reading skills through engaging children. Not just by reading, but by saying the words out loud and showing images, so the concept becomes associated with an image. Tools like this rely on stimulating other senses but need a parent or teacher there to reinforce the learning. Handing a young reader a digital device does not provide the same engagement in learning that sitting and working with them does. It does not create that warm, positive bond that associates reading and spending time with a parent.  

Digital teaching and learning tools may be receiving a major media push, but traditional books are still the preferred way of reading. Ebooks have made inroads into the literary world, but sales of physical books are growing. That includes the growth of children’s books by 16% in 2016. Books, their vivid colors, tactile pages, and the ability for two people to engage in reading at the same time, remain the best way to introduce children to literacy.