Archive for category: Getting Kids Reading

Media Literacy and “Teaching Kids News”

TKN_logoI’m a freelance journalist who is also involved in children’s literacy.

A few years ago, I brought those two aspects of my life together to co-create: (TKN).

(Here’s the story of how TKN got started: an interested parent + an enthusiastic teacher.)

TKN provides daily, kid-friendly news. For each article we add teaching questions taken from the school curriculum.

So, kids can find out what’s happening in the “real” news–and teachers/homeschool parents can cover off the curriculum.

Recently, TVOParents talked to the founders of TKN about media literacy and why it’s so important for kids to develop critical media literacy skills.

Here is TVO’s wonderful piece on TKN and media literacy.

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More about the three important literacy boosters

49th shelf logoWe’ve talked before on GKR about the three most important things you can do for your kids to get them reading.

(Hint – there’re in the sidebar, over there on the right-hand side!)

The fine people at 49th Shelf, a Canadian literature site, have allowed me to talk a bit about them. Just in time for Family Literacy Day, Jan. 27.

(If you’re not familiar with 49th Shelf, get yerself on over there and check it out. It’s a terrific website that promotes Canadian literature.)

And by the way, if you’re looking for something to do to celebrate Literacy Day this weekend, come on down to my book launch for Gabby.

It’s this Sunday at 1:00 at the International Travel Authority cafe, 1165 Bloor St. W., Toronto. There’ll be cake!


Here’s the article on 49th Shelf.

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GKR is back (and we’re feeling muuuuch better now!)

Scary tongue pumpkin; Image: André Koehne

Scary tongue pumpkin; Image: André Koehne, Wikimedia Commons

Cyberspace can be a strange and dangerous place.

Here at Getting Kids Reading we’ve had our share of troubles lately.

First we got hit with a nasty virus. It was lousy, but we learned some things. We upgraded our safety features and software and I hope it never happens again.

Then, one of our plug-ins went haywire.

I want to thank my amazing husband/tech support person who worked for many hours to rectify both of these problems. And I want to thank the people at WPZoom for their responsive and helpful suggestions and for sending us files and information. Real advice that worked. (And trust me, there were other firms who finger-pointed, sent us useless, half-thought-out suggestions or tried to sell us stuff that wouldn’t even fix the problem.)

WPZoom is the only company that actually helped, and in a timely manner. It’s a great firm and I urge you to check them out if you’re looking for a WordPress template. I’m not getting paid for this endorsement – I just really think they’re a great bunch.

I also need to thank several people who have sent me products and/or books for review. I haven’t been able to post reviews–and I’ve got a slew of amazing literacy resources to share. Needless to say I’ll be posting like crazy in the coming weeks.

Lastly, thank you to you, loyal reader, who has had to put up with all of this Interweb nonsense. Thank you, everyone! To botch an African saying, “It really does take a village to maintain a website.”

Hey, remember this recurring character from Night Court? (:31 seconds) “I’m feeling muuuch better now!”

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Happy Family Literacy Day, Canada!

Today is Family Literacy Day.

Bookmark, from’s a great day to… click on “15-minute ideas” or “Games” or “Crafts” in our tags and find a wonderful activity you can do with your kids that will help to get them reading.

At our school, a parent contacted the local library, which is having a bookmark-making contest. They gave us blank bookmarks and forms for all the kids at our school so they can enter the library contest. Fun!

More about FLD here.

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Teaching Kids the News

Teaching Kids the News (logo)We’ve just launched an exciting new website that offers kid-friendly news articles.
Teaching Kids the News provides daily news articles, appropriate for kids (approximately grades 1-6).
Some articles also have ESL (English as a Second Language) versions.
The site can be used by parents; by teachers in the classroom; by homeschoolers and by kids themselves.
Every article also has “Curriculum Connections,” which tie it to school curriculum – including grammar points and discussion points.
I’m working with two amazing educators on this site, Jonathan Ophek and Kathleen Tilly, who are passionate about education and want kids to have access to “real” news – not what marketers want them to read.
Please drop us a line and let us know what you think!

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The “New” Getting Kids Reading

Books on a shelf

As you can see, we’re in the process of upgrading Getting Kids Reading.
All of the posts from the “old” site are here, but we’re still working on the look of the site.
So please continue to use GKR as normal… and in the meantime, if you have any ideas or suggestions for the new site, please let us know. Thanks for hanging in there while we reconfigure!


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Reading keeps those characters alive

Beautiful PSA about reading.

This brilliant and moving public-service ad expresses perfectly how I feel about kids and reading. It really touched me and I want everyone to see it, so please do share it.

It was created for a second-year Media Arts class at Sheridan College, Ontario. Mike Rilstone, Director of Photography; Directed by Steph Korski and produced by Bryn Ross. Here’s the original YouTube link.

Since posting this, the author has pulled it from YouTube; we’re still trying to determine where the video can be accessed and if we find out, we’ll repost a link for it.UPDATE: The PSA is back online – so, here it is. Enjoy!

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Literacy Lava 6 – e-newsletter

Please check out the 6th edition of Literacy Lava e-newsletter.

I have an article in it (“Newspapers Build Literacy Skills”) that I hope you enjoy.

Click here to access the free .pdf, Literacy Lava 6. Scroll down on the page and click on the image of LL6.

You’ll find lots of other great literacy articles in this edition of LL, including:
* How to create a father/son book club;
* Telling tales with “story stones”;
* Using poetry to support literacy; and
* Revving up reluctant readers.

Our thanks to Susan Stephenson, of The Book Chook, who produces Literacy Lava.

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Survey for research on "enhanced books"

GKR readers, the U of C needs our help.

The University of Connecticut is doing a study on illustrated children’s books. They’d like GKR readers to help by taking a brief (four-minute) online survey.

Before passing along their request to you, I called them and spoke to them about their research. It sounds pretty interesting.

It’s an academic study – not funded by any toy company or book publisher. They’re interested in investigating a product that would enhance an illustrated book with online information. So for instance, it might be that a child clicks on a picture of a dolphin and gets some facts about dolphins. Or maybe the child is instructed to click on all of the nouns on a page and the device counts the number of nouns the child successfully finds.

The survey is intended for parents of children 8 and under, but if you’ve got an older child and can simply cast your mind back to the time when they were 8, they’d like your input too.

I’ve asked them to share with us the results of their survey so we can blog about it. The results should ready in August.

Here’s the survey:

Canadian (and other non-US) GKRers – when you come to the question “What state do you live in?” resist the temptation to type “state of bliss” and just leave it blank. Their research includes Canadians and non-Americans, but not to the extent where they’ll actually let you select a province. Whatevah.
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Happy First Birthday, Getting Kids Reading!

This month marks our one-year anniversary.

We had another milestone this month too – our 100th post.
(Woo-hoo! Streamers! Horn sounds in the background!)

We also finished 21st out of 178 blogs in our category in the BlogLuxe Awards. Thank you to everyone who voted.

More importantly, we have helped a number of children who weren’t great readers before, start reading. Their parents applied our suggestions and now the kids are reading. You can click on “Successes” to read a couple of the stories, but I know there are many more out there.

We recently started a postering campaign in Toronto and, strangely enough, in Yellowknife, NWT. If you’d like me to send you some Getting Kids Reading posters to post at schools, libraries, churches, grocery stores – just send me your address and I’ll be happy to send them out to you. And I’ll appreciate your help spreading the word.

But in the meantime – I’m gonna celebrate! Woo-hoo!

Thank you to Val, who designed our poster (it looks better in real-life than my crummy photo of it here) and Grace, who is doing most of the postering. And Laura and Patti, in our Yellowknife branch. Thank you so much! (And Michele, in our Scarborough branch.)

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