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Posts Tagged ‘reading’

Just saw this 2015 article on Facebook. Originally reported in the Telegraph Herald, the story is about a remarkably wise barber in Iowa.

“Dubuque, Iowa, barber Courtney Holmes is a member of the Dubuque Black Men Coalition (DBMC,) an organization that works to improve the quality of life within their community by providing support and leadership to programs that seek to make a difference in the lives of African-American youth.

“As a father of two, he understands the importance of encouraging kids to read, but also realizes that not all parents share this sense of encouragement, so he decided to take matters into his own hands by rewarding children with a free haircut, if they read books to him while he works.

“The concept began at a back to school event in Comiskey Park, where non-profit organizations gather to support kids in getting ready to go back to school. Holmes started with a few kids, and before he knew it there was a line of over 20 kids getting ready to read a story in exchange for a new look. At the end of the event there were still kids in line so he decided to give out vouchers for them to come back to the salon to read to him and receive their hair cut. …

“Holmes hopes to continue his good work through a monthly event at the salon. He’s also been receiving books from people who want to help keep the movement alive.

‘There’s a lot going on in the world. But it only takes one person to change something. I am just trying to make a difference.’

Check out the rest of the story at Earthables.

Photo: Telegraph Herald
Courtney Holmes, a barber and member of the Dubuque Black Men Coalition, offers free haircuts for children who read to him.

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Are you familiar with the “Lens” blog at the NY Times? It focuses on “photography, video and visual journalism.” Here David Gonzalez writes about the photos of Putu Sayoga.

[Hat tip: Asakiyume on twitter.]

“If you live in a far-off place, a library may be something you’d only read about in books. That is, if you had books to begin with.

“That became the mission of Ridwan Sururi, an Indonesian man with a plan — and a horse. Several days a week, he loads books onto makeshift shelves he drapes over his steed, taking them to eager schoolchildren in the remote village of Serang, in central Java. ..

“Mr. Sayoga, a co-founder of the collective Arka Project, had seen something about the equine library on a friend’s Facebook page. It reminded him of his own childhood, where his school had only out-of-date books. Intrigued, he reached out to Mr. Sururi, who offered to put Mr. Sayoga up in his home while he spent time photographing Mr. Sururi on his rounds. …

“Mr. Sururi made a living caring for horses, as well as giving scenic tours on horseback. One of his clients, Nirwan Arsuka, came up with the book idea as a way of doing something to benefit the community, specifically a mobile library. He gave Mr. Sururi 138 books for starters. Most were in Indonesian, and the books included a lot with drawings.

“Children at the schools he visits can borrow the books for three days, and demand has been so great that he now has thousands of books.” More here. Check out the slide show.

Photo: Putu Sayoga

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Do we praise the work of librarians enough? I started following the Ferguson Library on twitter and Facebook after reading how it was the calm eye of the storm in Ferguson, Missouri, amid the 2014 riots. As a result, I now get good leads about other libraries. Here is a report on Ohio librarians who go the distance — and beyond.

Katie Johnson at School Library Journal describes her experience with “Play, Learn and Grow, a pop-up storytime and early learning program created through a collaboration between Twinsburg (OH) Public Library and Akron Metropolitan Housing Authority (AMHA). …

“I noticed that none of the children living in the housing development were coming to storytime at our library. I reached out to AMHA representatives, hoping they would be open to the idea of the library hosting a weekly program at the development. They were, partnering me with one of their employees, Kellie Morehouse, who was already working with families within the complex.

“We set up Play, Grow, and Learn in an unused room behind the apartment leasing office. Our initial goal was to get to know children age five and younger and their families through storytime, crafts, and free play. As the weeks went on, we saw everything that these families lacked: employment, education, transportation, healthy food, proper healthcare, access to preschool, even reliable phone service.”

They got involved in all those areas — helping children get vaccinations and nutritious food, for example, and arranging for isolated young mothers to address depression.

“Early experiences with storytime revealed a desire of the young mothers to interact with one another.  This led the AMHA representative to suggest teaming storytime with one of the organization’s programs for moms.  AMHA and a local behavioral health agency had been working together to provide maternal depression support groups to low-income women in other parts of the county. …

“Twice a month, the moms in our storytime are able to meet in a group setting with a professional to discuss their frustrations and worries. Mom-ME Time has become key, as so many of our moms are dealing with heavy pressures every day, and most do not have a strong support network. Being able to vent and get helpful parenting advice can be crucial to the choices they are making for their young children.”

It is worthy of applause when a librarian sees the whole child, not just a child in storytime, and tries to tackle the barriers to a better life. More here.

Photo: Katie Johnson/School Library Journal
Moms are included in programming for children.

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It always seems so limiting to put anything in a category. Some WordPress bloggers are good at categorizing their posts, and I’m sure that helps many readers, but my posts are never about one thing only.

Netflix makes movie recommendations based on categories that pigeonhole movies we’ve rated highly. But the approach seems clunky. Just because we have liked a lot of foreign films (Wadjda, Son of Rambow, Princess Mononoke), that doesn’t mean we like all foreign films. Maybe we like the ones we’ve seen for some other reason than being foreign. Maybe they are less glitzy, more honest, or more entertaining.

He are some funny categories Netflix recommended for my husband and me: “emotional, independent films based on books,” “critically acclaimed foreign movies,” “mind bending movies,” “anime,” “musicals,” “social & cultural documentaries,” “critically acclaimed emotional movies,” and “horror movies.” Horror!? Where did they get that?

At the late, lamented Kate’s Mystery Books in Cambridge, you could get pretty sound advice on books from Kate herself. She would ask you to name some mysteries you liked, and you might say you had read all of Tony Hillerman and Arthur Upfield. Then she would say, “Different cultures.”

Well, ye-es. But what kept me coming back to those authors were detectives who were likable and endings that were positive in some way. no matter how small. Kate did give me some authors I loved, like Eliot Pattison (mysteries about Tibet and, more recently, several about 18th century American Indians), but other books about different cultures might be too noir for me or too fluffhead, like mysteries with animal detectives.

I suppose categories help a bit. I just think they are clunky. Where would I file this post, now? Movies? Books? Retail? Misconceptions? Colin Cotterill, Dr. Siri, Laos?

Colin Cotterill writes a series that is both funny and deadly serious about a 70+ coroner in Laos, Dr. Siri, a likable antihero with an offbeat bunch of equally likable cronies.

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Jordan Teicher at National Public Radio reports that Icelanders really love their books.

“Iceland publishes more books per capita than any other country in the world,” writes Teicher, “with five titles published for every 1,000 Icelanders. But what’s really unusual is the timing: Historically, a majority of books in Iceland are sold from late September to early November. It’s a national tradition, and it has a name: Jolabokaflod, or the ‘Christmas Book Flood.’ …

“Iceland has a long literary history dating to medieval times. Landmarks of world literature, including the Sagas of the Icelanders and the Poetic Edda, are still widely read and translated there, according to the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization. …

” ‘Generally fiction and biographies would be the mainstays, although it varies a lot,’ [book researcher Baldur] Bjarnason says. Two years ago one of the surprise best-sellers was a pictorial overview of the history of tractors in Iceland.’ …

“The Book Flood tradition, according to The Reykjavik Grapevine‘s Hildur Knutsdottir, dates to World War II, when strict currency restrictions limited the amount of imported giftware in Iceland.

” ‘The restrictions on imported paper were more lenient than on other products, so the book emerged as the Christmas present of choice. And Icelanders have honored the tradition ever since,’ Knutsdottir writes. …

“The book in Iceland is such an enormous gift, you give a physical book. You don’t give e-books here,” [Bryndís Loftsdottir of the book chain Penninn-Eymundsson] says.”

More at NPR, here.

Turning briefly to the UK, here’s a columnist who believes in books. She aims to solve any personal problem you send her by recommending a book.

My own advice? Reread another Dickens.

Photo: Bryndís Loftsdottir
Browsing at an Icelandic book chain.

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Renée’s Christmas letter said she sometimes got children’s book ideas from this blog, which inspires me to increase my effort in that department.

Maria Popova’s extraordinary Brain Pickings website is a great source for children’s book recommendations, and I love that she often makes her finds in libraries.

Recently she described a sweet book called The Jacket, about a little girl who falls in love with a book.

Popova begins, ” ‘A book is a heart that only beats in the chest of another,’ Rebecca Solnit wrote in her sublime meditation on reading. But how that transplant happens is a matter wholly subjective and deeply mysterious. In the unusual, wonderful, and magically meta picture-book The Jacket (public library | IndieBound), writer Kirsten Hall and illustrator Dasha Tolstikova explore the beauty and terror of falling in love with a book from the perspective of the book itself. …

“ ‘Book was a book that had just about everything,’ the story begins. ‘He was solid and strong. His words were smart and playful. The problem was, Book didn’t feel special.’

“Book does want to be noticed … And then, one day, it happens. A little girl walks into the bookstore and falls in love with Book.”

But Book has to compete with the little girl’s dog for her affection. One day at a picnic, the dog accidentally splatters Book with mud.

“That night, her mother helps clean Book up, but the girl is ‘too sad and gloomy’ to read. … But when the girl opens her eyes in the morning, ‘something had changed.’

“She has a plan. With quiet excitement and optimism, she sits down at her desk with some art supplies as [her dog] and Book wonder what she’s working on.

“And then, the reveal: a colorful handmade jacket for Book, which she wraps around him as she beams a smile.” You learn how to make a jacket for your own book.

I love that after the girl sleeps on her problem, she wakes up with a solution, a feeling that she can do something about this. Strangely perhaps, my associations are to the Prodigal Son (“And when he came to himself, he said …”) and the ancient Greeks (“A dream came and stood at her head and said …”).

More at Brain Pickings, including lots of pictures.

Art: Dasha Tolstikova
Maria Popova says, “The Jacket comes from Brooklyn-based Enchanted Lion Books, by far the most intelligent and imaginative picture-book publisher today.

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Adele Peters writes at FastCoExist that some schools, “like Ward Elementary in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, are starting to fill classrooms with exercise bikes, so students can work out while they learn.

“The Read and Ride program at Ward began five years ago. One classroom is equipped with enough exercise bikes for a full class of students, and teachers bring students throughout the day to use them. As they ride, they read. The combination burns calories, but it turns out that it also helps students learn better. As the elementary school analyzed testing data at the end of school year, they found that students who had spent the most time in the program achieved an 83% proficiency in reading, while those who spent the least time in the program had failing scores–only 41% proficiency.” More here.

The concept, which I learned about at Andrew Sullivan’s blog, is interesting. I hope most such efforts are in addition to recess, not instead of, but I know from experience that physical motion can helping with learning. And if the kids like it, so much the better.

Photo: Read and Ride

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