Friday, April 25, 2008

Help in Keeping Up with 2.0

Do you sometimes feel like you are drowning in 2.0 and in no way can keep up with what's what?
On Educause Learning Initiative they recently published a list of all the 2.0 gadgets and gave a short one paragraph description of them. You may not use all the technologies listed, but at least now when you hear their names you will know what it does.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Lookybooks -- Useful or not?

Lookybooks is a website that shows pictures books in their entirety. Its mission is to offer people a look at the entire book before they buy it. At first look I thought what a great idea and we could direct our children there to actually read the book online for free, but alas, on closer look that won't work. The books load quickly and you turn the pages simply by clicking on the book, but the print is too small to read.

I know a good picture book doesn't need words, but more often than not, words are needed to tell the story. If you increase the font size for this website it does not increase the size of the book. If you zoom in, it becomes so fuzzy it is not readable. For librarians purchasing books for their patrons it is important to be able to read the story. So for me, I don't see much use for this website in my job of book selection.

A View of reading by Jon Scieszka includes "stupid reading."

I have copied this from an interview/article by |The Washington Post on the Chicago Tribune website, April 1, 2008. We all knew he was a great choice for U.S. National Ambassador for Young People's Literature, but his message also hits the nail on the head.

The way he sees it, parents and teachers should:

•Give children freedom to choose what they want to read rather than what adults think they should read.

•Expand the definition of reading to more than novels. "Nonfiction, graphic novels, comic books, magazines, online, audio books—I think all that works. It all helps turn kids into readers."

•Stop demonizing other media. "Don't make computers and TV and movies the bad guy. Those things aren't going to go away. I think we did ourselves a disservice in the past of saying TV is bad, reading is good. It's not that cut and dried."

Scieszka calls himself "a fan of stupid reading."

"I've been a big champion of stuff like 'Captain Underpants' and 'Junie B. Jones,' " he said. "It horrifies some parents and teachers because it is not grammatical and there are misspellings, but that is fun reading."

And fun, he said, is the ticket to getting youngsters to read, especially those children for whom reading is difficult.

Books that appeal to a child's interests can avoid what he calls "the death spiral," which goes like this: "It's where kids aren't reading and then are worse at reading because they aren't reading, and then they read less because it is hard and they get worse, and then they see themselves as non-readers, and it's such a shame."

Scieszka was born in 1954 in Flint, Mich., and received a bachelor's degree in writing from Albion College and a master's of fine arts from Columbia University. He spent several years teaching 1st through 8th grade, spending the most time in 2nd grade, where many children learn to read. That experience, he said, helped him realize how hard it is for many children to learn to read.

Reading, he said, is not an elective in life, but a necessity.

"Why do we care if people are reading?" he said. "Can't we watch YouTube forever? The answer is no. Because your brain will turn to mush."