Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Blog Clouds and News

Hey everyone,

First off - just have to say that we had 13 (THIRTEEN) children at the Rideau Reading Circle on Saturday. It was a blast having that many children. So much fun. So now we just need a few more volunteers....:) Lyndsay, of course, is already on it.

Secondly, have to share this:

It's our Blog Cloud. Found the link courtesy of Book Moot. It's on a site called Snap Shirts. You just enter your Blog Address and title and it generates one of these. Then you can order T-shirts if you are so inclined. If we are still tossing around logo ideas for the back of coffee mugs might not be such a bad idea.... Also, you can keep regenerating it until you get one you like.

In other news, 50 Cent has decided to become a children's author (courtesy of Big A little a). The "Get Rich or Die Tryin' superstar will write books with a positive message for children. I'm trying not to be to skeptical on this one. Do stay tuned. Maybe hit da club while you wait.

Read Alert links to yet another list of worthwhile YA literature courtesy of Lotus Magazine (which I haven't heard of - so enlighten me).

And finally, on another slightly different track - aside from literacy I am a bit of a political junkie so I browse various Canadian political blogs of various stripes daily. I came across speculation about a National Breakfast Program in Elementary Schools on Bowie's Call HERE. By way of explanation - the blog is done by James Bowie who is an Ottawa area Young Liberal. The post is simply throwing the idea out for discussion. Should Young Liberals think the idea has merit, they might then propose a resolution on the issue at the next Party Policy Convention. It would then either be accepted or not. While SFLO is in no way partisan, the discussion of breakfast programs in elementary schools naturally ties in to literacy because children who each breakfast perform better. As such, I thought the ensuing commentary on the site might be interesting.

On food related issues thought this article on a Boys and Girls Club in Kingston and a dinner program was interesting:

PUBLICATION: The Kingston Whig-Standard
DATE: 2006.01.31
COLUMN: Jack Chiang

Nourishment on club's menu: Boys and Girls Club offers supper service

Those of us who volunteer our time for various community projects feel we're rewarded whenever we see concrete results.

The 1,500 volunteers for the United Way, for example, are always happy when their annual campaign comes to a successful conclusion. They know tens of thousands of less fortunate people depend on their efforts.

Likewise, the people who help the Alzheimer Society, the March of Dimes, the Cancer Society, Kingston Literacy and all the other good causes feel the same way.

That's why all those involved in the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Kingston feel pretty good right now.

"Last Friday, we had 110 kids at our club house [at 559 Bagot St.]. That was an all-time record," said Harold Parsons, executive director of the club.

In addition, the club has 20 outreach locations throughout the Greater Kingston area. At Cataraqui Woods, for example, the club runs programs three times a week. That's part of the response to the incidents of vandalism in that neighbourhood last year.

Kids are less likely to get into trouble if they have something worthwhile to do.

The reason for the increase in the number of children attending the Bagot Street club house - the former Robert Meek School - is the opening of the new supper program.

"It's been overwhelming. We started serving meals on Jan. 9. The lowest number we had is 65 a night," Harold said.

For years, we knew there was a need for a supper program at the club. Children would show up after school at 3:30 p.m. Many stayed at the club until closing time at 8 p.m. Some stayed because their parents were working. Others stayed because they liked it at the club.

We had nothing to feed these kids because we didn't have a proper kitchen.

Then, last October, everything came together. Jim Brown of Brown's Fine Foods got the ball rolling after he read an article I wrote about the lack of money to convert an old room in the club house into a modern kitchen.

Jim enlisted the help of Brian Makosky, his company's director of facility development; and David Cupido of Cupido Construction.

These three gentlemen made things happen. They got their friends to help in the renovation. They donated $100,000 worth of time and equipment.

They've made our dream come true.

Other organizations have also helped: McDonald's Restaurants donated $15,000 toward the upkeep of the kitchen. The City of Kingston's Community Fund committed $25,000 to hire the necessary staff. Rotary Club gave $5,000 - in addition to the $25,000 that the Rotarians donated toward the after-school programs.

These individuals and organizations have made a good club better.

Karen Sutherland, co-owner of the local McDonald's restaurants, is also chairwoman of the board of directors of the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Kingston.

"We're pleased we can provide the service. The number has doubled since we started. Our philosophy is that we don't turn kids away," Karen said.

The menu changes every day, but the kitchen serves such things as salad, shepherd's pie, potato, lasagna, pizza and spaghetti. An average meals costs $1.25 a child.

"We're looking for donations of fresh vegetables and fruits," Karen said.

Now that the supper program is up and running, the club is looking for ways to sustain it. We're looking for grocery stores to donate $50 worth of food each week. We're looking for individuals who want to sponsor one or several kids a week.

I'm just throwing these ideas out. If you have better ideas or, better still, if you want to help, give me a call.

Jack Chiang can be reached at 544-5000, ext. 210 or jack@thewhig.com. He has been co-chair of the Boys and Girls Club's Always Home Campaign for four years. He is also a member of the provincial board of directors of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Ontario and a former member of the National Board of Directors of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada.


That's it for today!


Friday, January 27, 2006

Happy Family Literacy Day!

And there isn't much more to say on that one! Check out the title link for more info.

Aside from that, everyone in my (admittedly rather narrow) blogging world is going Snake Crazy. It appears to have started over at Big A little a, then Book Moot picked it up, then Chicken Spaghetti and Original Content. And now me. By gawd, the circle is complete. Apparently snakes are now very cool with kids. Good to know.

Also found this game courtesy of Original Content. It's called Bookworm and you get points for, well, spelling words. Might be good practice for Scrabble Night in Canada!

Further to my previous post where I mentioned the UK Telegraph Column about how to write a novel in a year, found another site of use on the issue HERE.

Finally, you can click HERE for yet another list of good children's books - courtesy of the National Education Association (and thanks to Travelling to Literacy)

Well, I'm off to start writing my bestseller on snakes!


Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Possibility of a New Partnership

Hey everyone!

Thought I wasn't going to have much to say today - until I opened my Yahoo! and found out that Lyndsay has been working on a new partnership for Frontier College in Ottawa for next year.

So here's the skinny: She had a meeting yesterday with a representative from another shelter in Ottawa. Shelter is close to downtown and we are looking into the possibility of another Saturday morning program - which would be great given the volunteer interest for Saturday programs - or an after-school program. I'm excited about the possibilities!

Frontier College aside - couple things of interested located on the web since yesterday. Couple sites of interest to any aspiring authors out there:

1. The Lulu Blooker Prize! - Awards for books based on blogs - which are apparently called Blookers (who knew?)

2. The London Telegraph is doing a series on "Writing a Book in a Year" where an author, Louise Doughty, will be giving advice to aspiring authors and running them through various exercies. The article is HERE. And there is a message board that has been set up HERE. Beware the pop-up advertising. It's a bit over the top.

3. Lastly, I found something called the LitBlog Co-op. The jist is that it is meant to unite the literary blogs on the web, draw attention to "the best of" contemporary literature and help those struggling to get noticed in the marketplace. Link will also be added along the side of the blog.



Tuesday, January 24, 2006

All about elections...

Hi all,

Imagine my surprise when, while surfing around the internet, I discovered there were a couple other interesting "elections" happening yesterday.

Courtesy of Chicken Spaghetti - the Caldecott and Newberry Awards were announced. Info also on the Michael L. Printz award HERE.

I'd comment, but none of this is my forte - so I'll leave that to others. Book Moot had some stuff to say on the Newberry Awards - and, indeed, linked to a rather entertaining posting by an author describing her reaction to receiving the call informing her that she`d won (Shannon Hale for Princess Academy).

Book Moot also kindly linked to a bit more critical commentary on a site I was, as of yet, unfamiliary with called Original Content. It will also be added to the side list. A perusal through any of the above is a good start to get your thoughts flowing on the subject.

And then, of course, we had the federal election here in Canada yesterday. For those wishing a quick recap - highlights as follows:

1. Change in Government - Conservatives win a minority.
2. Seat distribution: Conservatives 124 (36.5% of vote), Liberals 103 (30.1% of vote), Bloc 51 (10.5% of vote), NDP 29 (17.4% of vote) and one independent member (Shock Radio DJ from Quebec City)
3. Conservatives won 10 seats in Quebec, which is 10 more than last time. This came at the expense of both the Bloc and the Liberals who both did worse than last time in the province. So the Conservatives now hold seats in all regions of the country (except TECHNICALLY the three territories and PEI if you really wish to get picky).
4. Paul Martin will be stepping down as Liberal Leader and their will be a Leadership Race in the Liberal Party.

NDP also gained quite a bit - going from 18 seats (19 at last election) to 29 seats. On the plus side - more people voted this time out - 64.5% of Canadians, as opposed to the 60.9% that voted last time. On the minus side - there will be less women in the next Parliament.

So there you have it. Will take a couple weeks (up to two) for the transition (ie: for Paul Martin to step down and Steven Harper to become Prime Minister). During that time Harper is busy deciding on who his staff will be at PMO and who will be in his Cabinet. The Cabinet Post that matters most to Literacy issues is Human Resources - although depending how he decides to structure his Cabinet there may be some other posts as well. For instance, Martin had a Minister of State (ie: Junior Minister under Human Resources) sepecifically assigned to Literacy. Finally, parliament won't resume for a while yet - most say end of March or, more likely, April. At which point we get a Throne Speech where the new Government outlines its objectives (and the literacy community waits on baited breath to see if the Governor-General at least mentions the word "literacy" in the speech).

Leaving the state of the nation for a momen - as a final piece of news today - I found this article interesting/entertaining. There is a Sesame Street documentary out discussing how Sesame Street is different in different countries.

PUBLICATION: The Telegram (St. John's)
DATE: 2006.01.24
BYLINE: David Germain

Sesame Street hits big screen in documentary

In Egypt, a local variation of the Sesame Street gang encourages literacy and empowerment for girls in a sharply male-dominated culture. In an Israeli-Palestinian edition, the show sought to build mutual understanding. In South Africa, an HIV-positive Muppet helps teach children about AIDS.

The World According to Sesame Street, a documentary that premiered over the weekend at the Sundance Film Festival, recounts the role of Muppets as goodwill ambassadors around the world in localized versions of the children's TV show that has been a U.S. staple since 1969.

The film by directors Linda Goldstein Knowlton and Linda Hawkins Costigan offers a behind-the-scenes look at the Sesame Workshop in New York City, where the stewards of Sesame Street offer assistance for overseas producers to tailor the concept to their own countries' needs.

Exporting American culture often is greeted with skepticism or even hostility, yet Sesame Street seems to find a warm reception wherever it goes.

''I'm sure there was some trepidation, but the fact of the matter is, this is a model developed over the past 36, 37 years, and it's an incredibly adaptable model,'' said Hawkins Costigan, 37. ''It's so pliable to all these different countries, and the local researchers dictate their own curriculum. I haven't heard of a situation where the researchers weren't welcoming of it.''

The documentary grew out of the filmmakers' curiosity after learning about Kami, the fluffy yellow HIV-positive Muppet that debuted on South Africa's Takalani Sesame in 2002.

The perky character, whose mother died of AIDS, was created after the Sesame Workshop's South African partners insisted the show had to help educate children about HIV and AIDS.

''That this American company and show we grew up on that we love so much, this American icon, really, is going around the world and doing these culturally specific co-productions was really, really fascinating,'' said Goldstein Knowlton, 40, an executive producer on 2002's Whale Rider.

''Especially regarding Kami, we thought, they're using Muppets as catalysts for social change. That's remarkable.''

The World According to Sesame Street centres on the South African show and two new incarnations, a joint effort to bridge gaps between Albanians and Serbs in war-torn Kosovo and a version intended to educate youths in Bangladesh, where many children leave school at tender ages to find work.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Happy Election Day!

Hey there SFLOers,

Thought I'd update you on all the news that's news. Didn't have the chance to blog much last week because I was at a work retreat learning about leadership and stress management (the second of which I failed at miserably during my attempted trip to Trent). Then most of my weekend was spent recovering from the three-hour drive back from Hell - or Perth - which I'm sure is lovely in summer.

But enough about my issues. It`s election day! So today is about EVERYBODY's issues. For those interested in reading the blogs of various politically savvy people who share their issues - may I suggest you start with my two favorites: Calgary Grit and Warren Kinsella. I've already trotted down to vote at the church down the street from my apartment. Given I was the only one in the room at the time besides the paid Elections Canada staffers, here's hoping it picks up! So make sure you vote!

If you haven't yet voted and are sitting thinking deep thoughts about the state of Canadian literacy and wondering what each of the major parties think about the issue you should probably give this a gander. It's the Political Party responses to the Movement for Canadian Literacy's election questionaire. The MCL's messaging has remained consistent for a while now - which is great. We shall see what happens following the election (Throne Speech, budget etc...). For any of you really interested in politics who haven't simply skipped this paragraph - I've done a few other postings on literacy and the election. The most recent one is HERE and then there's another one HERE. Sadly, I think all that I really concluded was that all major party leaders like children (which is a load off my chest - let me tell you) and that either Paul Martin, or someone on his staff, has a soft spot for Robert Munsch.

Those of you who've read the site before, may remember that I recently found a literacy site called Travelling to Literacy. Anyhoo - they had two interesting posts last week - one on Adolescent Literacy HERE and one on picture books for all ages HERE. On a personal aside - I showed my post on the Trent Conference to my co-worker who commented how the pictures were really what told the story. Found it an interesting comment on how pictures reinforce the written word. Those interested in more on the issue may wish to visit my previous post HERE.

For all the Robert Munsch fans in the house (someone should probably notify Liberal Party headquarters - so the Munsch fans there can get in on the love) be sure to check THIS out on Family Literacy Day - January 27.

Also on the Family Literacy Day front - anyone in the neighbourhood may wish to pop down to Heartwood House for ALSO Cares Family Literacy Day event. Info here:

Celebrating 25 Years of Service to the Ottawa Community 1981 – 2006
ALSOcares Family Literacy Day Events 2006

As in past years we will be celebrating Family Literacy Day in the Heartwood House Art Gallery with entertainment provided by a resident storyteller and singer. Everyone in the ALSO and ALSOcares programs will be invited on January 24, along with parents and children from the local kindergarten. We will listen to stories, sing-a-long, and have a tasty treat. The children will choose a stuffed animal as a new friend!

More info on ALSO Cares on their website HERE.

Moving along, in a roundabout way courtesy of Cachibachis I discovered Reading Rockets - which I will be adding to the Org Links down the side of the blog. American site whose blurb is as follows:

Reading Rockets is a national multimedia project offering information and resources on how young kids learn to read, why so many struggle, and how caring adults can help.

The Reading Rockets project is comprised of PBS television programs, available on videotape and DVD; online services, including the web sites ReadingRockets.org and ColorinColorado.org; and professional development opportunities. Reading Rockets is an educational initiative of WETA, the flagship public television and radio station in the nation's capital, and is funded by a major grant from the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs.

Next on the infotainment front - Read Alert links to:

1. A neat blog about how "Oprah should leave adult literature to her increasingly snippy, predatory critics and start selecting children's books for her book club."

2. Info that Posh Spice is now pulling a Madonna and has decided to write a children's book. This despite the fact that she has already told the world that she has never read a book in her life...

3. Information on Jan. 19 on their site that "Prince Caspian is going to be the next Narnia movie. It comes second in the ‘original order’ of the Narnia books, but fourth in chronological order (the order in which they were published). The next book in chronological order is The Horse and His Boy, which was apparently considered as the next film, but abandoned due to criticisms of the book as racist." (Note to self: Am now off to re-read The Horse and His Boy - of all the Narnia books it is the one I remember least. I may look to see if there is any similar comments to this one - as I have never heard this before). Previous posting on Narnia HERE.

To anyone looking for experience in the human rights-social justice field this came to my inbox today courtesy of the J-skool grad list serve:

Journalists for Human Rights (JHR) is a growing charitable organization using innovative and proven techniques to reduce human rights abuses. By building the capacity of the media to report effectively on human rights issues, JHR's work pressures abusers to stop and empowers victims to fight back. JHR works exclusively in Africa and North America. For more information please see www.jhr.ca .

JHR's Toronto office is currently seeking a full-time intern to coordinate JHR's outreach activities, under the direct supervision of JHR's Executive Director. Specific duties and qualifications are listed below. The successful candidate will be strongly self-motivated with proven communication, writing and personal skills.

Please forward a resume and cover letter in the body of an email (no attachments please) to ben.peterson@jhr.ca. Deadline: February 10th, 2006.


1. Refine and execute JHR's Communication Strategy
2. Write press releases, newsletters and other public information
3. Develop and maintain JHR's communication lists and databases
4. Work on JHR's fundraisers
5. Develop a JHR alumni program
6. Coordinate activities with JHR volunteers across Canada
7. Other duties associated with JHR's programs as requested


- Bachelor's degree in communications or journalism
- Experience working or volunteering with non-profits, hopefully in a communications role
- Demonstrable interest in human rights and international development
- Strong oral and written communication skills
- Understanding of the mission and mandate of Journalists for Human Rights
- Ability to work independently and as part of a team
- Experience in sub-Saharan Africa would be an asset
- Fluency in French, Portuguese and/or any African language(s) would be an asset

Finally, as for what's been in the papers for the last week and literacy-related - I didn't want to bombard you (stuff on Munsch and Family Literacy Day, Literacy Conference out in Nova Scotia - tied in to their IALLS results, and profile on a Laubach Literacy Learner out on the East cost were some of the other stories) but this one from mid-last week caught my eye:

PUBLICATION: The Chronicle-Herald
DATE: 2006.01.18
SECTION: Opinion
COLUMN: Henwood

Literacy: a neglected issue

RAISING the abysmally low percentage of Canadians who are likely to show up at the polls next week could be as simple as teaching more Canadians to read.

According to a 2001 paper by the Institute for Research on Public Policy, the more likely we are to take up the daily newspaper, the more likely we are to vote. There's a direct correlation, it seems, between reading habits and voting habits. To put the matter mathematically, improved reading ability = greater political engagement.

Of course, like most straightforward solutions, improving our literacy rate is no simple matter. In this textually driven age, "literacy" no longer means merely being able to read the newspaper. After all, most papers target a reading level that students are supposed to attain by the time they reach upper elementary school or, at the latest, early junior high. Just being able to spell out the headlines hardly equips someone to grasp abstract concepts, create rapid mental summaries, or understand the logic behind a written argument - all skills that more and more jobs require.

If the standard prediction holds true, by the time today's elementary students are ready to enter the workforce, nearly half of all the jobs in Canada will demand what we might call critical literacy. Critical literacy is that level of reading proficiency we used to expect from university graduates. I say "used to" because, in my experience, which has involved teaching hundreds of undergraduates, critical literacy is no longer a widely held skill. In my daily interactions with third- and fourth-year university students, I encounter scandalously few young people who can accurately restate an idea they've allegedly "read," let alone question it. Even fewer of them can distinguish between what they feel and what a text states or differentiate between a fact and opinion. When I meet a student who can actually grab hold of the shape of a written argument, I have to restrain myself from doing a desktop dance, so rare is the occasion.

In case you think I'm exaggerating, here are some alarming statistics. On a scale of one to five (where one indicates a literacy level so low a person would have trouble filling out a job application), more than a fifth of our citizenry falls into the first category. More than a quarter falls into the next lowest group. Even if your numeracy skills aren't that great (that's a related, equally distressing national embarrassment), it doesn't take long to compute the consequences: Almost half of Canadians are missing the basic skills they need to survive in the knowledge economy. How many does that leave who will truly thrive in it? It's almost too scary to guess how slim a proportion that must be.

As citizens of the allegedly "developed" world, we're used to considering literacy as a Third World problem. If, however, we understand reading ability to mean more than mastering the ABCs, then it becomes painfully apparent how serious our under-recognized literacy problem really is. What the radical Latin American educator Paulo Freire taught as "the literacy of emancipation" is needed as much in Canada today as it was in Brazil in the 1970s.

Freire's life-long campaign was to empower people to extract meaning from written words so that they could change the meaning of political structures. Grasping the text, he believed, was the first step toward grasping power. What does Freire's logic mean when we apply it to our situation today? If we really care about preserving Canada as a prosperous and democratic society, then it should mean that we make illiteracy as red-hot an election issue as the Gomery inquiry or the GST.

If even university graduates, the so-called educated among us, are unable to bring a critical consciousness to the texts they process, our country's prospects will be bleak, no matter what the political candidates promise. By ignoring our national illiteracy crisis, we're rearing a next generation of gullible, politically powerless Canadians. A population lacking critical literacy becomes dangerously vulnerable to the word-play of political and economic power-brokers, unable to see through the fog of rhetorical deception and make intelligent decisions.

Back in the bad old days of racist, classist and sexist discrimination, many countries insisted that citizens demonstrate a minimal level of literacy before receiving the right to vote. Needless to say, it would be horrendously wrong to reinstate such a requirement. By neglecting to address our national literacy crisis, however, that's essentially what we're doing. Although we're not technically taking away the right to vote, we're effectively disenfranchising millions of Canadians by default. We're stripping them of the power to make well-informed, reasoned decisions to shape the political reality around them.

This year, Family Literacy Day falls just four days after the federal election. As a national family, we should use the occasion to do more than just read to our kids. We need to sound the red alert - in our schools, in our workplaces, and in our public forums - that illiteracy poses a grave threat to the security of our national values and institutions. In an era increasingly dominated by the written word, Canada's survival as a free and affluent country depends largely on the ability of its citizens not simply to read but to read between the lines.

Dawn Henwood is a writing instructor and freelance writer who lives in Halifax.



And my life flashed before my eyes...

This is the posting also known as "How Lyndsay and I tried to go to the Trent Students for Literacy Conference".

So, woke up at 6:30 on Saturday morning, very excited to be finally going to this conference. SFLO is invited every year - and there is always some reason we don't make it. So no excuses this year! Anyway, I look out into a powdery white wonderland. Looked a bit like this:

And I thought to myself, "Self, will this stop my plans for the day? Heck no. I will drive carefully, and more slowly and will enjoy the splendor of a day in the glorious best of Canadian winter."

So off I went to pick up Lyndsay. We briefly discussed if we thought it was still feasible to go with the weather. The network had discussed how the weather would improve. So we thought we`d give it a go. If it got bad, we'd turn around. No worries.

Off we go. Driving is alright. Managed to go along at about 70 km an hour. So it was good that we left early. Trent is about 2.5-3.0 hours away in good weather. But we had enough time.

But it just kept snowing and snowing and snowing. Think this:

and this:

and then some more of this:

End result was was a lot of still pretty snow. Like this:

Really - felt good to be Canadian. Someone who knew how to drive in these conditions. Responsibly. Can`t phase me!

So made it to Carleton Place and Perth without incident. Stopped at the Golden Arches for some coffee. We missed the Timmy's - believe by this stage it may have been under this:

And we were not deterred by the three cars in ditches (some surrounded by cop cars with flashing lights) that we had passed between Carleton Place and Perth. We were being careful. Had slowed to about 55 km. We`d be late, but we`d make it.

The sky had gone from its nice blue to looking like this:

But not to worry! All was good..... until we left Perth. The car went from driving nice and slow and straight, to losing control and 360ing a few times across four lanes of traffic towards a pole and/or ditch. Anyhoo - thankfully no traffic (ie: no cars to hit) and miraculously the car stopped before hitting the pole or falling in the ditch. After my heart calmed down, we concluded this was a sign from on high that maybe driving into the worsening storm for another two hours to reach Trent might not be the wisest course of action. We drove slowly back to Perth in weather that suddenly seemed to look like this:

Stopped in at Timmy`s for, well, a while. To calm down. Began praying the snow might end so I wouldn`t have to drive home in it. But no luck.

Get back in car after dusting the small mountain of heavy wet snow off it. Really - spent about a half hour in Timmy`s and the car looked like this:

Drove home slowly, in driving like this:

And past much of this:

Drove off the road again. But only a one-eighty - which by this stage was child's play. All that evasive driving training was totally paying off! If I hadn`t been ready to cry I'm sure I would have really appreciated that fact. Somewhat surprised Lyndsay stayed in the car with me by this stage. ("Wow, outer limits of Ottawa Louise! That's great, you can let me off here - I'll just walk the last 40 clicks home!"

But anyway - we got back to Ottawa in one piece. Considered renting a nice light movie to help me unwind. Something like this:

But ended up just collapsing on the couch with a beer and watching whatever was on until passing out (not from one beer for the record - but by that stage REALLY - anything was possible.

My only worry now is whether Frontier College will be covering my gas considering my lack of committment in actually making it to the Trent conference. Funny how my excitement at being alive is kind of over-riding that concern at the moment. One of our volunteers I believe actually made it to the conference - so hopefully we will have an update from her posted here soon.


PS: Have a series of news updates to post later on today or tomorrow. But I think I'll take a break for now. Go celebrate still being in one piece with a bagel and coffee.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Superheroes Movie This Saturday

Better than Batman, Wonder Woman and Superman..Combined! Mon, Jan 16, 2006, 5:04 PM

where: Ecclesiax (2 Monk St. in the Glebe)
time: 7pm
date: Friday, January 27th
cost: $1 or 2 to cover building and movie rental costs
discussion time to follow for those who wish to stay


"The New Heroes tells the dramatic stories of 14 daring people from all corners of the globe who, against all odds, are successfully alleviating poverty and illness, combating unemployment and violence, and bringing education, light, opportunity and freedom to poor and marginalized people around the world.

Also known as "social entrepreneurs," they develop innovations that bring life-changing tools and resources to people desperate for viable solutions. What is possible? You'd be surprised. Take a journey into a world where people take action to make a big difference."---> www.pbs.org/opb/thenewheroes/

Monday, January 16, 2006

Photos from the Literacy Conference

Aren't we all beautiful! (And you'll note that in one of the pics we are getting a presentation on Scrabble Night in Canada!)

In one of these pictures you can even see THE BACK OF MY HEAD!!!! In the other two, we're all playing Speed Scrabble (explained in this post here).



PS: Read Alert's News Roundup for today (that's January 16, 2006 for those reading this after today) is quite good. Stuff on Paddington Bear (he's turning 50), the Top Ten Literary Hoaxes of all time, portals in children's books and how to rate your own novel (should you, like every other arts student out there, one day aspire to either write, or finish it.)


Courtesy of Students for Literacy at the University of Quebec in Montreal:

Hi Everyone!

A little recall

Following this summer's much appreciated conference in Toronto, Frontier College - UQAM decided to publish a monthly newsletter to create a Frontier College community across the campuses and a forum where events and ideas can be shared.

It seemed like the perfect way to build on the energy and motivation created at the conference. In Toronto, we met and learned from our a diverse group of people all working towards a common goal.

You'll find attached to this email the January 15th edition of the newsletter. We hope that you will enjoy reading it and will share it with your colleagues

However, if you don't want to receive it, please let us know and we will remove your name from the distribution list.

We hope to hear from you soon!

January Fifteen Edition 2006 by Noëmi Ral, President and editor, design by Nicolas Tremblay

Before we begin, Happy New Year to all the members of the Frontier College family, I hope you all had wonderful holidays.

You will be happy to hear that the troops are doing well! 2005 ended in style with our Christmas Party that was attended by many volunteers and students who all celebrated the year’s accomplishments. The fall semester was more than a success: 11 volunteers and 2 reading circles taught 19 kids (totaling 365 hours!), 11 homework helper volunteers worked with 12 children (for 296 hours) and 18 tutors total 388 hours! Congratulations to our volunteers!!!

Diane, one of our students, thanked us for our work by reading an address to Diego Gallego, our coordinator and the dedicated Nicolas Tremblay during the Christmas party Christmas Speech to Diego and Nicolas Diane and Noëmi wish a Merry Christmas and a happy new year to everyone at Frontier College.

I’m very happy seeing Noëmi every Friday to read talk and learn. Thanks to Véronique and Noëmi, I’ve learned to read and count. If Diego hadn’t been there at the start, everything would be much more complicated for me. Now I’m doing well. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

2006 started off well with the information session, a dozen volunteers on the executive committee participated: The missions of the various committees were announced and discussion on how to improve occurred, it was a constructive meeting.

On the 7th of January, Blandine Constant, our VP attended the pan-Canadian conference call organized by the head office. During the call, media relations, specifically the communications concerning Scrabble night in Canada to the local media, were discussed. Representatives from Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver, Edmonton, Sherbrooke and Moncton campuses were also present.

We are thinking hard Futur events :

January 19th : Buy a “Latte for literacy” at your local Starbucks!

Frontier College has renewed its partnership with Starbucks Coffee Canada. Once again, the partnership is multi-levelled, involving both financial and advertising support. The money raised from Lattes for Literacy will go directly to support the Summer Writing Camps and an ABC Canada program called "Gift of Words."

January 24th : 30 minutes presentation (as a follow up to Dec 8th 10min presentation) about Frontier College’s work to Pierre Doray’s sociology course.

January 27th : Family literacy day, which includes a conference and a reading tent in UQAM, with the participation of the children at the Mamuse daycare center, to help raise awareness..

March 11th : After an invitation by Lisette Dupras a Kiosk. a reading tent will be setup in Angrignon mall as part of intellectual difficulty week.

Good luck with the start of the semester, with recruitment, matching and kiosks!!! I hope this year will be even more successful than last!

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Yes... well...

Non Sequitur Comic Courtesy of Yahoo News.

Sites of interest on the web

Hey everyone,

Found a few new sites of interest on the web. Located one called Traveling to Literacy which is done by a library association in the States. It's pretty new, so don't know if it'll last, but it talks about social impacts of literacy - global statistics - is quite good and has some good links down the side that I'll take a closer look at later. Funny though - Lyndsay and I were just talking yesterday about how there didn't appear to be many literacy blogs online - and then I found this one. Only problem - its a group blog that doesn't let outsiders leave comments (which I think sort of defeats the purpose of a blog - but that's just me).

On a Frontier College front - found another blogger who was exited about Lattes for Literacy - from Toronto, I believe.

On to blogs about children's books - I found Book Moot interesting, and particularly THIS post. Although it may be because I have recently seen Lemony Snickett.

Book Buds is another blog that does reviews of children's books. The author has a pre-school son, so she's taken to reviewing the books he likes. The site was nominated for Best of Blog 2005 for literary sites.

And courtesy of another blog I came across called Read Alert (about youth literature) I came across this rather entertaining article about a study done in the UK which found that child injuries go down every time a new Harry Potter book is released.

So you heard it hear first (or possibly not) Harry Potter saves lives! I should think that gives it some leverage in my J.K. Rowling vs C.S. Lewis discussions. Finally, another article HERE on that topic (also found courtesy of Read Alert). Columnist seems to feel that Narnia lost some of its appeal as he got older. So essentially, adults like Harry Potter better, while kids still go gaga for Narnia. Which, I suppose, should kind of be the point of children's literature. I mean, even the Narnia kids lost interest in Aslan as they got older...

And I think that's that for blogging for Sunday.


Saturday, January 14, 2006

January Newsletter and Program/Recruiting Update

SFLO January News

Quote of the month: One is not born into the world to do everything, but to do something..." - Henry David Thoreau

New Programs for 2006!
We are pleased to announce two new programs for Winter 2006

Wednesdays in the West End
A new Reading Club is starting up from 4:00-5:00pm on Wednesdays at a shelter in the Kanata area. Volunteers will work with school aged children, reading and playing literacy-related games.

We are urgently seeking volunteers for this program. If interested please contact Lyndays ASAP.

Centretown moves to Fridays
After the success of our Fall Reading Circle at Centretown Community health Centre, we're hoping to set up a similar program for Friday mornings from 10:00am to 11:00 am.

Centretown CHC is located at 420 Cooper Street, near Bank. if you're itnerested in this opportunity, please let us know! Contact info HERE.

Blog Editor addition to newsletter: We also have places available for trained volunteers to do one on one tutoring at Alta Vista Public School. Please contact Lyndsay if you are interested.


What's Happening in January:

Wednesday the 9th: Club Week Table at Ottawa U

Saturday the 14th: Annual Literacy Conference at Heartwood House

Tuesday the 17th: Sawmill Program Start-up Date

Thursday the 19th: Lattes for Literacy - Buy a latte at Starbucks, and all the $ goes to Frontier College!

Thursday the 19th: Values Training for New Volunteers at our new Wednesday program.

Friday the 20th: Reception House Start-up Date

Saturday the 21st: Trent Students for Literacy Conference in Peterborough. Contact Lyndays if you're intersted in attending.

Saturday the 21st: Rideau Library and 88 Main Street Start-up Dates.


Lattes for Literacy
Here's your chance to indulge! Thursday, January 19, buy any size latte and Starbucks will generously donate 100% of the purchase price to support literacy programs across Canada. For more information, follow the link from the main page of Frontier College's website.

Winter Recruitment
On Wednesday, January 11, 2006 SFLO hosted a clubs table at Ottawa U's clubs week. Miserable weather meant that fewer students than usual were passing through the unicentre, but we did manage to add some names to our e-mail list and spread the word a bit further!

Special thanks to Hollie Pratt, our uOttawa Campus Rep, for taking charge of this event!

Carleton Clubs Table
Attention Carleton students! it would be great to have an info table at Carleton this semester, as well. We have lots of materials to distribute! If interested, please contact Lyndays and we'll try to schedule a date!

Trent Students for Literacy Conference
SFLO will be taking a carload of volunteers down to Peterborough on Satuday, January 21, 2006 to participate in Trent U's literacy conference. It's not too late to join the fun! If you're interested in joining us, please let Lyndays know ASAP!

Conference details are available HERE.


Coming up Next Month: Scrabble Night in Canada
Join us Thursday, February 16 at the Clocktower Brew Pub on Bank Street for our First Ever Scrabble Night in Canada!

$5 will get you entered in a speed Scrabble tournament, with chances to win fabulous prizes (including cash!). Friends are more than welcome to attend. This will be our fundraising event of the year. Come out and show your support!

Frontier College Ottawa Literacy Conference

Hey everyone,

Just got back from FC's annual volunteer literacy conference in Ottawa and wanted to say that it went great! Big thanks to Lyndsay for all her work organizing it. Big thanks to Heartwood House for letting us use their facilities again!

For those who missed it - here's a quick de-brief.

Donna Stewart from the Ottawa Storytellers was back for another year and, as usual, did not disappoint. The links between storytelling and literacy are evident - while children might not actually be reading - they are learning to love stories and words and are using their imaginations while listening. Starting off the conference with some examples of good storytelling was a nice start to the day. She then provided us with some tips for becoming stronger storytellers. For instance, she discussed the importance of liking the story you are going to tell; of learning the story's structure, rather than memorizing the words; of practicing telling it out loud; and remembering it is you telling the story (so if someone in your audience pipes up with "I've heard this before and the main character's name was Bob" - you can tell them that in your story his name is Fred :) She then let us know where we could go to hear stories in Ottawa. Some good places are:

1. The Tea Party - 119 York Street in the market - they have tellings the 2nd and 4th Tuesday of each month.

2. Rasputins - 696 Bronson - Have Stories from the Ages on Sundays. Doors open at 6:00.

3. NAC 4th Stage - On various Thursdays beginning at 7:30 - Student tickets are $10, regular $15.

More info at the Ottawa Storytellers main page.

Following Donna Stewart, we heard from Betsy Mann of First Words. She discussed the importance of first-language use in the home and talked about ways that parents can use reading and storytelling to encourage language development in their preschool children. She stressed the importance of getting kids to use their imaginations. Reading is not an end in itself - stories are the motivator - children read to find out what is going to happen in them. She also gave us a handout which I, having a 2 year old nephew, found very helpful. It outlined where children generally should be/what you should be reading to them at various ages. (I missed some of this presentation because I had to go pick up lunch for the group so if anyone has more info - please post to the comments!).

At lunch, we had the opportunity to play some Speed Scrabble. After our monthly pubs and the Summer Leadership Conference, I'm getting pretty good at it. This will be important for our Scrabble Night in Canada event on Thursday, Feb. 16 at the Clocktower. Hoping to win some prizes :) Basic rules for the novices: Just tiles, no boards. Each player gets seven tiles. Players play independently forming their own words. Once a player has used all seven of their tiles (all their words linking together) they say "take one", and every player has to take one (regardless of whether they have finished forming words with their first seven tiles). Each time one player finishes using all their tiles they call "take one". This continues until all the tiles in the middle are taken and the game ends when one player has successfully used all their tiles. This player is generally the winner. While the way to score points varies - the simplest way is to count all your words formed and subtract your tiles not used from your word score. Player with the highest score wins.

Following lunch, we heard from Dan Knox from the Frontier College Foundation (Frontier College's Fundraising arm). We learnt some fundraising basics and received info about how to organize Scrabble Night in Canada events. It was good motivation. As mentioned above, we will be holding our Scrabble night on Feb. 16. Some of us might also host some home parties. To find out how you can participate in those, or host a party yourself, please visit the Scrabble Night in Canada site or contact us.

Finally, Leslie Toope from Read Write Now hosted the final workshop on "Frest Ideas for Literacy Tutoring Sessions." She runs a remedial tutoring program for children 6-10 at the Sandy Hill Community Health Centre. She provided us with a lot of ideas and resources. Some of her suggested resources are:

- Books, works or articles by Peggy Kaye or Jon Scieszka.

Both of these folks will be added to the "Authors, Blogs and Reviews" list on the right-hand side of the blog - but for a quick briefing on them I'd heard of Jon Scieszka from "The True Story of the Three Little Pigs" and he deals with why "guys don't read" (ie: why boys seem to be less interested in reading than girls"). Peggy Kaye is a teacher with a variety of books like "Games for Learning" "Games for Reading" "Games for Math" etc...

We then did an activity where we thought up some literacy games by modifying traditional games to target learning specific skills. Some of the ideas we came up with were:

a) Spelling Baseball - words increase in difficulty as the learner aims for a higher base.

b) b, d, p Bingo or Go Fish - to help the learner with visual discrimination between those letters - they would be given game cards in the shape of simple three letter words (eg: dip, dad, pop, pot) and choose letters from a pile that would "fit" in their cards.

c) Go Fish with rhyming words. Eg: Do you have a word that rhymes with cat? Then if the other player has "rat" in his hand, he hands it over and so on. The child would have to be able to read and pronounce the words in his or her hand to be able to play.

d) Twister with letters. Put letters on top of the colours. So it would be "left hand on p" etc...

e) Bingo with short words or letters.

Thank you to all the presenters and to everyone who came! Lyndsay, me and anyone else who might be interested (please let Lyndsay know) - will be going to the Trent SFL Conference next Saturday so we will hopefully pick up even more tips there!

Ciau for now!


Wednesday, January 11, 2006

This and that

Hey everyone,

Couple things of interest in the news and blogosphere.

1. For those concerned about my favouring C.S. Lewis over J.K. Rowling - Big A little a has a bunch of information on what Ms Rowling has been up to. Apparently, among other things, she has written a book for younger readers. If you like that post over there, there are also a collection of others on the author.

2. Over on Cachibachus (a blog which focuses more on illustrations for childrens books) there is a link to a good article about the importance of illustrations in childrens books (how they help kids learn etc...)

3. For those intersted in literacy statistics, there is some new information out on the 2003 IALLS Study here. It focuses on the literacy and labour force implications of the findings of the study which measured adult literacy and numeracy in Canada. I've done a previous post on the issue HERE and Frontier College has an interpretation of the study HERE.

4. Piece of interest in the Globe and Mail below on elementary school teaching in Ontario.

5. Trent Students for Literacy is hosting its annual literacy conference on Saturday, January 21. There will be a link in our main links list to their page. Anyone interested in attending should talk to Lyndsay. Remember our conference is this coming Saturday!



DATE: 2006.01.11
SECTION: Letter to the Edit

Balanced teaching
EMILY NOBLE president, Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario Toronto Margaret Wente is right: Ontario teachers do use a balanced approach in teaching literacy (The Proof Is In The Phonics -- Jan. 10). Teachers -- just like doctors who treat cancer -- use a variety of approaches to achieve the desired result.

Research shows that all children learn differently and that they need many skills to help them read and understand what they read.

They need to be able to integrate comprehension, phonics and an understanding of sentence structure.

One approach does not fit all. Phonics alone is not enough. Would phonics help a child decipher a word like "the" or "enough"? Would we want children to be able to sound out words but not understand context? The skill of the teacher lies in understanding what is causing a child difficulty and in tailoring instruction to meet the child's needs.

Teacher federations do not determine reading policy in Ontario.

We do work with the Ontario Literacy and Numeracy Secretariat to improve reading instruction in our schools. That work is based on the best available research and practices.

Student teachers do learn how to teach reading as part of their curriculum. If they need extra support once they are in the classroom, they can avail themselves of any number of courses and workshops offered by the federation and by their school boards.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Catching up on the news

Now that I'm back at work I did a quick news search on literacy. Three pieces of interest in the last week. First off, a Calgary family won the "Robert Munsch might come to your house" contest for Family Literacy Day. There was also a nice profile in yesterday's Ottawa Citizen about the importance of libraries. Finally, another piece on the need for Canada to focus more on basic skills and literacy training.


PUBLICATION: The Calgary Sun
DATE: 2006.01.10


Celebrated Canadian children's book author Robert Munsch will make a stop in Calgary this month to visit with a local family in celebration of the national Family Literacy Day.

Munsch will visit Trevor and Rachelle Lee and their kids Nicholas, 9, Kieran, 6, and one-year-old Simon on Jan. 21 for their Family Literacy Day party.

The Lee family won the Munsch visit through a contest run by ABC Canada Literacy Foundation -- a national charity dedicated to promoting literacy across the country.

"Having Robert Munsch visit our children is very exciting," said mom Rachelle. "They hope to create their own story, and I think Robert's imagination and enthusiasm help children realize their own abilities to dream and to be creative."

ABC Canada has staged Family Literacy Day the last eight years and Munsch is honorary chair of ABC Canada-promoted Family Literacy Day events. More on the ABC Canada Literacy Foundation can be found online at www.abc-canada.org.

PUBLICATION: The Ottawa Citizen
DATE: 2006.01.09
BYLINE: Daniel Drolet
SOURCE: The Ottawa Citizen

A 21st-century gathering place: Modern libraries, while still about books, are about so much more, the chief librarian at the Ottawa Public Library tells Daniel Drolet.

Give chief librarian Barbara Clubb a magic wand and, no surprise, she'd conjure up a spanking new main branch for the Ottawa Public Library, with more books and more facilities.

But it would be more than just a library in the traditional sense, and it would offer more than just printed material. One hundred years after the original Ottawa Public Library was built, the role of the institution has evolved, and is continuing to evolve. A library today is a community centre, a literacy centre, a learning centre, a gathering place, an Internet access centre -- even sometimes a drop-in centre.

While books are still its main business, the library today is more about information and community.

"Now, it's got a whole series of roles," says Ms. Clubb, who has been the city's chief librarian since 1995. "We see it as one of the core services in recreation and culture."

Ms. Clubb says the library is a gathering place for children, families, Internet users who don't have computers at home, people who want to hold meetings, and people seeking shelter.

For example, visit the main branch on any given day and you will see a number of homeless, jobless or otherwise marginalized people spending a lot of time there reading, surfing the Net, and, occasionally sleeping, though the library does have a rule against dozing.

Ms. Clubb says that's par for the course in most downtown libraries in Canada -- and for the most part she is OK with that.

"This is a place where people can come and they don't have to buy anything and they can feel part of humanity," she said. "It's a place where they can feel safe."

In fact, the library is one of the designated places in the city where people can seek shelter from temperature extremes.

David Daubney, chairman of the board of directors of the Ottawa Public Library Foundation, calls it "one of the most inclusive institutions in our city."

"When you go to a branch like Elmvale Acres, where there are a lot of immigrant families, and you go after school, it's full of kids doing their homework," he said. "A lot of them don't have a good place to go to do their homework, and the openness and inclusiveness of this thing is so heart-warming to me.

"We used to, in the old city, talk about it being the largest club in the city. And in way, it is -- except there's no blackballing of potential members."

And it's about a lot more than books.

Alan Roberts, manager of community partnerships and programming, says one of the main jobs of a library these days is to help people make sense of all the information out there.

"Libraries are like traffic cops on the information highway," he says.

Ms. Clubb adds that a lot of information that is available electronically is not necessarily free; by buying that information themselves, libraries can make that material available to the public.

And a lot of library information is now available online. For example, in addition to searching back issues of magazines, users can browse the library catalogue online, reserve a book, and have it delivered to any branch in the city.

She said that as people realize this, and as they become more and more comfortable using the Internet, information-seeking habits are changing.

With municipal amalgamation in 2000, the main library, on Metcalfe Street, became the hub of a vast crosstown network, as libraries from Ottawa's constituent cities were combined into one.

Built in 1973 to serve a much smaller Ottawa, the main branch is too cramped for today's purposes.

"A nice main library is an indicator of a city's respect for itself," says Ms. Clubb.

"We need a new central library. We need an investment program for our existing facilities. And over the next 10 to 15 years, we need the capacity to meet the demands of our new neighbourhoods."

But just as the library struggled with funding issues a century ago, so it does today. It depends for the vast majority of its income on grants from the city, but Mr. Daubney says the time is coming when we will not be able to take the library for granted anymore.

"That's the challenge," he said. "To make the citizens understand that we can't just rely on the tax money to provide that. There's going to have to be public education about the need to think about the library the same way we now think of hospitals."

PUBLICATION: The Chronicle-Herald
DATE: 2006.01.03
COLUMN: David Crane

Least-skilled Canadians need to become a higher priority

One of our most important challenges we face is how we best position Canadians to succeed in an intensely competitive global economy, best symbolized by the growing economic achievements of China and India.

Among the most threatened Canadians are those with few skills, little education and low levels of literacy.

They face a tough time advancing into the knowledge-based economy as low-cost labour in the developing world eliminates jobs requiring simpler skills in Canada.

As an example, Quebec economist Pierre Fortin points out the Quebec clothing industry has lost 20,000 of its 50,000 jobs over the past 24 months.

What should be of great concern is that 42 per cent of Canadians of working age lack the basic literacy and numeracy skills to participate in the modern economy.

And even though high-school dropout rates are falling and attendance in post-secondary colleges and universities is increasing, 35 per cent of Canadians age 16 to 25 lack the literacy and numeracy skills for the 21st century economy.

There are certain things we know that are relevant: First, with an aging society and a prospective shortage of workers with many different kinds of skills, we cannot afford to have such a large percentage of Canadians who are effectively sidelined in the economy.

Second, if we raise the skill levels of more Canadians, not only will they be better off, we will all be better off because our economy overall will be more productive and we will be sharing a larger gross domestic product.

Third, by enabling more Canadians to participate at a higher level, we will also achieve the social goal of reducing the growing inequality we see among Canadians.

So one of the most important challenges is how to improve the life chances of the least-skilled members of our society.

This includes finding ways to eliminate the tax and other barriers that discourage people from moving from social assistance to the workplace.

Andrew Jackson, chief economist for the Canadian Labour Congress, argues that one of the biggest problems is that Canadians in what he calls the bottom third of the workforce have the least access to training and skills upgrading opportunities.

In an article in the latest edition of the Productivity Monitor, published by the Centre for the Study of Living Standards, Jackson points out that only 10 per cent of working Canadians who lack a post-secondary education participate in employer-based training programs.

""Participation is even lower for the less-educated in small firms, while the growing ranks of contract workers and own account self-employed are almost entirely excluded from workplace-based training,"" Jackson says. This lack of access to training, Jackson argues, ""means that the working poor are trapped in low productivity jobs.""

His solution is to promote training leaves funded through the Employment Insurance system so low-skilled Canadians can participate in formal workplace-related skills advancement programs.

This is already done for apprentices in the classroom part of their training.

William Scarth of McMaster University argues that employment subsidies can also lower unemployment and raise productivity at the same time.

He notes, approvingly, a plan outlined in Finance Minister Ralph Goodale 's recent fiscal update for a Working Income Tax Benefit, starting in 2008, to help low-income Canadians keep more of their income as they move from social welfare to paid employment.

Today, social welfare recipients who move to paid employment may end up worse off as a result.

""They may lose thousands of dollars in social assistance and related benefits such as access to subsidized prescription drugs and housing.

"" They must also incur work-related expenses, pay income taxes, Employment Insurance premiums and Canada Pension Plan/Quebec Pension Plan contributions and, if they have children, find affordable child care,"" Goodale said.

Goodale has also promised to negotiate Labour Market Partnership Agreements with the provinces to focus on apprenticeships, literacy and essential skills, workplace skills development, integrating arriving immigrants into the workforce, and increasing the participation of native people and the disabled in the workforce.

""Our foremost priority,"" Fortin argues, ""should be to raise average labour productivity not as much by encouraging our already productive workforce to become even more productive as by bringing the low-productivity segment of our workforce closer to the median. ""This is not an argument to neglect our universities. But for too long we have neglected those who don't graduate from high school or barely get through. We cannot afford to do this any longer for both economic and social reasons.

David Crane is Canadian economics writer.

Lattés for Literacy

On Thursday, January 19, 2006 be sure to have a Latté for Literacy. Funds go to Frontier College Courtesy of Starbucks!

Sunday, January 08, 2006

More on kiddie books

Hi there,

One of my new frequent stops on the Internet - Chicken Spaghetti - has a list of her blog of her favorite kids books for 2005.

Of her list the three that caught my eye:

1. Good Morning Digger by Anne Rockwell

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal
PreSchool-Grade 1–This sunny picture book takes readers through the entire construction process, from vacant lot to community center. Beginning with the early-morning arrival of a backhoe, an enthusiastic young boy describes the various trucks that come to the site and the activities of the workers. When the building is complete, he and his neighbors enjoy all that their new community center has to offer, and even paint a picture of the digger on the wall. Simply told, and with large, clear illustrations, this offering will be fun for storytime or for one-on-one sharing. The text is peppered with sound effects ("Grr-clank!" and "Rumble and rattle"), and the last page has labeled drawings of the vehicles. A great choice for libraries that cannot keep enough construction books on the shelf.– Laurel L. Iakovakis, Douglas County Libraries, Castle Rock, CO

2. Knuffle Bunny - New Mo Willems book! (You may remember Don't let the Pigeon Drive the Bus and others by her)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal
PreSchool-Grade 1–Trixie steps lively as she goes on an errand with her daddy, down the block, through the park, past the school, to the Laundromat. For the toddler, loading and putting money into the machine invoke wide-eyed pleasure. But, on the return home, she realizes something. Readers will know immediately that her stuffed bunny has been left behind but try as she might, (in hilarious gibberish), she cannot get her father to understand her problem. Despite his plea of "please don't get fussy," she gives it her all, bawling and going "boneless." They both arrive home unhappy. Mom immediately sees that "Knuffle Bunny" is missing and so it's back to the Laundromat they go. After several tries, dad finds the toy among the wet laundry and reclaims hero status. Yet, this is not simply a lost-and-found tale. The toddler exuberantly exclaims, "Knuffle Bunny!!!" "And those were the first words Trixie ever said." ....–Martha Topol, Traverse Area District Library, Traverse City, MI

3. C.S. Lewis - The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (adaption)

Book Description
C. S. Lewis’s classic and best-selling tale, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, is here retold for the youngest fan, with brand new, full-color illustrations that will take you right into the enchanted land of Narnia. It also received a nice review on one of my current stops on the Web - A Chair, A Fireplace, and a Tea Cosy (you have to scroll to the posting from Jan 1 entitled "Goodbye Hermione, all hail Queen Lucy"). As far as the Blog title - I really like it - because it is a Buffy reference (In one episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, before slaying the foe - she mentions that all she wanted was a chair, a fireplace and a tea cosy - but instead she got this... but I digress...)

On a Narnia aside - finally got around to seeing the film last week. Was fabulous. In reference to the above Tea Cosy posting, I have yet to see the new Harry Potter, but have always thought Harry Potter was a bit like the Narnia Chronicles - and not the other way around. Movie definitly isn't for younger children though - a bit violent in places. The next movie we plan to see is King Kong. Less of a literary link - but as my brother said after seeing them both in one weekend, he characterized his adventure as King Kong the witch is dead! Really I just had to find an excuse to re-write that :)



Thursday, January 05, 2006

Conference and New Program 2B Launched!

Hey everyone,

First off - Happy New Year! I'm officially on vacation until next Monday, so I've been in hibernation as far as blogging is concerned, but felt I should at least get a post in before double-digits of 2006.

So there are two interesting pieces of Ottawa Frontier News to share. All volunteers should have received an email - for other interested folks here it is:

1. Frontier College Ottawa's Annual Literacy Conference

Saturday, January 14th, 2006 - 9:30a.m. to 3:00p.m. at Heartwood House

Agenda as follows:

1. 9:30 a.m. Coffee, Muffins, and Networking

Sign in, pick up your conference packages, and wake yourself up with a warm drink and a breakfast-y snack.
Please plan to arrive by 9:50 a.m. at the latest

2. 10:00 a.m. Welcome

3. 10:15 a.m. Storytelling Session

Donna Stewart, Ottawa Storytellers
Donna is a long-time friend of Frontier College Ottawa. She will be sharing her “top tips” for effective storytelling and treating us to a tale or two!

4a. 11:00 a.m. Workshop #1a: Family Literacy

Betsy Mann, First Words
This workshop will address the importance of first-language use in the home and inform tutors about ways that parents can use reading and storytelling to encourage language development in their preschool children.

4b. 11:00 a.m. Workshop #1b: Math Skills Boot Camp (to be confirmed…)

Designed specifically with our homework club tutors in mind, this workshop will be a refresher in math skills combined with tips on communicating math concepts to learners.

5. 12:00 p.m. Lunch! (Catered)

Please inform Lyndsay of any food allergies or restrictions prior to January 10, 2005

6. 12:30 p.m. Scrabble Games

Have a Scrabble game at home? Bring along the tiles!

7. 1:00 p.m. Workshop #2: Fundraising for Your Cause

Daniel Knox, Frontier College
Learn some basics of fundraising and find out how to host your own Scrabble Night in Canada to benefit Frontier College, both locally and nationally.

8. 2:00 p.m. Stretch Break

9. 2:10 p.m. Workshop #3: The Literacy Tutor’s Internet Toolkit

This will be a 101 session highlighting some of the latest (free!) tools on the Web with suggestions on how to use this information to enhance your tutoring experiences. From blogs to podcasts to RSS readers to social bookmarking, this session will present you with a grab bag of virtual goodies!

10. 2:50 p.m. Closing Words and Evaluation

2. Frontier College in Ottawa is planning to launch a new program in February.
Reading Circle Coordinator and Tutors – Children Ages 5 to 12 needed for the West End Women’s Shelter

One position as program coordinator and up to five positions as tutors are available at a NEW Reading Circle starting up at a Women’s Shelter in the West End (Kanata area). The program will run on Wednesdays from 4:00pm to 5:00pm. Tutors will work with children and their mothers on homework assignments and/or literacy-related activities.

This program will run as a pilot for the months of February and March 2006. If you are interested, please contact Lyndsay ASAP (contact info on Frontier College Ottawa website HERE). There is the possibility of running a training session on Saturday, January 14, 2006, alongside our conference, so if you—or a friend!!!—are interested, the sooner you can let Lyndsay know the better!!

On a separate train of thought - linking back to my previous endeavour to tell you if literacy issues are mentioned in the election - unless I've missed it, they haven't - but ABC Canada came out with a press release on the issue which you can view HERE. They had Ipsos-Reid do a survey where they found that one in four Canadians say low literacy in Canada is a major problem. More detailed info on their literacy awareness survey can be found HERE.