Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Happy Pancake Day!

A set of pancake-related learning activities over at CBBC reminds us that just about anything can be turned into a literacy lesson.

Today is Pancake Day, also known as Shrove Tuesday. Wikipedia can give you all the details, including these fun facts:

- In the Canadian province of Newfoundland, household objects are baked into the pancakes and served to family members. Rings, thimbles, thread, coins, and other objects all have meanings associated with them. The lucky one to find coins in their pancake will be rich, the finder of the ring will be the first married, and the finder of the thimble will be a seamstress or tailor. Children have great fun with the tradition, and often eat more than their fill of pancakes in search of a desired object.

- Pancakes were traditionally allowed to be made between the ringing of a curfew bell in the morning of Shrove Tuesday and its ringing again that evening. Housewives had that time in which to use up all the eggs and fat they had left over. Until the early 1900s, Shrove Tuesday was a half-day holiday, and the "Shriving Bell" was rung at eleven o'clock in the morning to remind people that the holiday had begun. It became known in some parts as the "Pancake Bell", and it is still rung today even though the day is no longer a holiday. (I saw we bring back the holiday!!)

;o) Lyndsay.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Happy Freedom to Read Week!

So, I discovered in my surfing courtesy of NALD Headline News, that this week - Feb 26-March 4 is Freedom to Read Week in Canada.

The event, according to the website:

encourages Canadians to think about and reaffirm their commitment to intellectual freedom, which is guaranteed them under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

There is quite a lot of interesting information on the site including a list of books that have been banned or challenged in Canada over the years (and why) and a selection of articles on free speech/what can and/or should be published, including a few articles on Children's Books - specifically:

Challenging Children's Lit: A review by Ken Setterington (scroll to page 14 of PDF)

Challenged Children's Books : A Timeline, by Leslie McGrath (scroll to page 17 of PDF)

Provides some food for thought. For instance, I learnt that Robert Munsch's Thomas' Snowsuit was deemed controversial due to a perceived lack of respect for parents in the work and that the Harry Potter series has come under fire due to its occult themes.

Setterington also starts his article above with the example of a book by an author named Caroyln Beck called The Waiting Dog - which is more controversial. It is the story of a dog who has a fantasy about eating the mailman which gets quite graphic (while rhyming). The cover sports a humourous warning which probably shouldn't be taken lightly: "Do you have the guts to read this book?" Having not read the book, I'm not too sure what to think based on some reviews I quickly read on the Internet. I can understand the appeal it may have for older children, and particularly boys, but agree that it probably isn't suitable for younger audiences.

I also have memories of regularly walking two blocks out of my way as a child to avoid my neighbour's dog after what I still remember as a terrifying encounter with it. In my version I got jumped on and bit by the dog. In the neighbours version, the puppy was "playing" and "nibbled". Had I not been scared of the thing to begin with (dogs and bees can smell fear, you know), that may have been accurate, but in any event it isn't how I remember it. So on a personal note, I have scary dog issues (AND that dog is eerily similar to the pup down the street), so I probably wouldn't have appreciated the book as a child. I'm STILL not a dog lover and am suddenly pondering the connection....

In other news on the web, ABC Canada awarded CBC Radio with a National Literacy Awareness Award. The award is known as the Joycee after the Honourable Joyce Fairbairn, P.C. who is a Liberal Senator from Alberta and a large literacy advocate. I had the chance to hear her speak in 2004 at Literacy Action Day on Parliament Hill.

Two pieces of interest courtesy of Book Moot:

1. In preparation for the release of the paperback edition of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince on July 25, Scholastic is sponsoring an online sweepstakes in which Potter fans can win an iPod etched with the crest of Harry’s school, Hogwarts Academy. More info on their site HERE.

2. Fun quiz HERE to find out which literature classic you are.

Finally, courtesy of Big A little a, I learnt that April 23 is World Book Day.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Couple Carleton Announcements

Courtesy of my Carleton email:

It's CUSA Awards time again.

Every year the Carleton University Students' Association gives away a number of awards for actively involved students, students in financial need, and great profs. Some of these honours also include a monetary amount.

So, if you're graduating this year and feel you're the one, or know someone deserving some praise, fill out a nominations package ASAP!

All nominations are due back to the CUSA office by 6pm, Friday March 10th. To download the nominations package go to: http://www.cusaonline.com
(The package is in pdf form on the mainpage and should be returned to the CUSA office marked "Attn: Awards nomination")

Any questions or concerns should be directed to vpsi@cusaonline.com.

On Sunday, February 26, 2006, the First Year Experience Office invites you to join other Carleton University students in helping Big Brothers Big Sisters Ottawa with their Annual fundraiser "Rock & Bowl for Kids Sake".

Big Brothers Big Sisters Ottawa supports and enables girls and boys, especially those from disadvantaged circumstances, to achieve their full potential as young women and men, by providing opportunities for them to form positive relationships with adult volunteers through a variety of one-to-one and group programs.

From 12:30 - 3:30 pm or 3 p.m. - 6:30 p.m. on February 26, Carleton students will have the opportunity to participate in this unique fundraising initiative as part of the Community Service Learning Program at the First Year Experience Office. This volunteer opportunity is open to ALL Carleton students. All volunteers will receive a free t-shirt, food and drinks, and possibly an opportunity to bowl with other participants.

For more information, or if you would like to sign up to help out, please e-mail: greg_jefford@carleton.ca and you will be contacted with more information.



The Edge of the Forest

Hey all,

So, first off - be sure to check out the above title here. It's a new Children's Literature Monthly online created by Kelly Herold of Big A little a. You can find out more about it HERE. But, in short, most of my favorite Children's Lit Blog writers are involved: Liz Burns from A Chair, a Fireplace and a Tea Cozy; Anne Boles Levy from Book Buds; Camille Powell from Bookmoot and Susan Thomsen from Chicken Spaghetti. Also on board is Michele Fry from Scholar's Blog which I haven't yet spent much time at but will go back to for a closer look.

They review books for different levels of readers each week and welcome submissions. Of particular interest to me was the Kid Picks section, because I thought it might be fun to talk with the kids at Reading Circle about their favorites and submit something.

I know at the Rideau Circle, the kids definitly have some favorites - my learner last week was an avid Eric Carle Fan for example. Indeed, last week we ended up reading (well, sounding out) in Japanese when we came across his 2003 book Where are you Going? To see my Friend! It is a collaboration with a Japanese childrens illustrator. And we've already chatted previously on the blog about the Kate McMullan books.

At any rate - something to chat about with the rest of the Organizatonal Team! I'd also like to thank Big A little a for putting us on her blog roll. It's very appreciated.

After browsing about on the Magazine - I also spent some time surfing around other blogs on various peoples blogrolls.

Came across a blog called Kids Lit. Had a good post on reading to boys linking to an article in the Miami Herald on the issue. You may remember previous posts we've done on the subject HERE and more generally HERE (when talking about Jon Scieszka) and HERE and HERE when talking at Kate McMullan.

I discovered Jen Robinson's Book Page courtesy of the First Kid Lit Carnival at Here in the Bonny Glen. As another blogger who seems big on literacy issues, I will be sure to stop by and visit again. Those interested can check out her mission statement, which is quite well thought out and impressive. Also the Escape Adulthood book caught my eye (because, really, that'd be pretty sweet).

Also courtesy of the carnival, I think (I made my list yesterday), is BookCarousel, another site chock full of reviews of childrens books.

As far as Reading Circle this morning, I had a game idea that worked out pretty well! Last week, after one-on-one reading, we had all the tutors and learners gather in a circle and we composed a story together. Each person got to create one or two sentences.

At the end we ended up with a story about a boy who lost his hat on the way to circle on a cold day. His tutor then made him a new hat out of books and name tags so he wouldn't get cold on the way home. Of course, he found his hat before having to go home wearing the silly looking hat - so his tutor, because she worked so hard on this, decided to wear it home. Only, she hadn't checked the books out of the library... (Mayhem ensued - I wouldn't want to ruin the ending for you :).

Anyway, I typed up the story and divided it into manageable sentences of different levels of difficulty for different kids. Then today, I distributed the sentenses and the kids read their sentence, wrote their sentence on a piece of paper and then illustrated it. A few did more than one. At the end of this we will have a full picture book done by the Circle. At any rate - quite a successful idea. So we will continue with the writing and illustrating over the next couple of weeks until we have a finished product.

And that is pretty much that for my Saturday postings.


Friday, February 24, 2006

Who's got Scrabble Fever?

Well - that'd be us.

First and formost - Scrabble Night has been Re-scheduled. Please come and bring your friends.

Also proud to report that my home Scrabble Party has done better than I thought! And I'm still waiting on a few pledges! For those interested in knowing how I'm doing you can visit the Scrabble Site HERE. Go to the Donate section (don't panic, you don't then have to actually donate :), go to Find Participant and query me - Louise. Then you can see the nifty bar graphs showing how I'm doing!

In response to Lyndsay's post about Scrabble Fever - I have this photo. I think it conclusively demonstrates that Avian Flu is still out there....

Lots of other interesting news abounding too! We made another bloggers day earlier this week. Some might remember that we linked to his blog a while back regarding discussion around Breakfast Programs. Always nice when another blog recognizes us - considering the fact my blogging experience sometimes feels similar to Reading Circle on snow days. :)

Chicken Spaghetti's got some more info on the 2nd Carnival of Children's Literature HERE. If anyone has any suggestions re: past posts we might be able to submit, do let me know. Not too sure if our blog technically qualifies, but figured I might give it a go and submit all the same.

Chicken Spaghetti also had some interesting suggestions for weekend reading, including one on what is fast becoming my second obsession (after literacy of course) - blogging. The blog links to a piece in New York Magazine on Blogging - on the "A" List bloggers versus the "B" list and "C" list. Good read about the phenomenon generally. Thinking we are still on teh "C" list over here... And I'm okay with that.

Couple recent entertaining posts over at A Chair, a Fireplace and a Tea Cosy. First off, book review on Tuesday, Feb. 21 of a book called The Secret Chicken Club. Really, the name alone makes me want to read it. Apparently good for the Grade 2-3 crowd - so I may try and locate it for some of the circle kids.

Also, in the spirit of blogger disclosure, I'm also a bit of a fantasy sci-fi geek so Tea Cosy's post on Geek Hierarchy's made me laugh. Happy to know I'm actually pretty un-geeky :)

Big A little a has a post about kids and TV - ie: Good? Bad? Read on! Or watch on!

For any girls out there with fond memories of reading Nancy Drew in elementary and middle school - you'll be thrilled to know there is a movie coming! AND a sequel!

Finally, nice piece in the Calgary Herald today about reading to kids:

PUBLICATION: Calgary Herald
DATE: 2006.02.23
SECTION: Special Section
BYLINE: Donna Gray

Reading brings gift of language: Stories open world of learning to children - even between the lines

It's story time at the High River Child Development Centre, and the children have gathered eagerly at the feet of Penny Deter, the centre's operator and master storyteller.

As she chooses the book the children requested, she pulls out some extra surprises -- Props, puppets and voice characterizations that lend to the magic of the story. The children respond, voicing the lines they've memorized and waiting for the moment when they get to hold the puppets and take part in the adventure that lies within the pages.

All in a day's work for Deter, who regularly inspires pre-school-aged children to fall in love with books, no matter the age, upbringing or comprehension. In her opinion, reading prepares them for the grown-up world of language, literacy and communication and it's never too early to begin.

"Language is only learned by human interaction. By reading, we bring the gift of language to young children. One of my goals is to bring storytelling back. I really want people to feel good about telling stories. The more you read, the more your children will want to as well," says Deter.

Research has shown that reading to a child at a young age (even before a child is born) helps him or her learn the cadence, rhythm and pronunciation of vocabulary and also helps the child recognize the symbols and words once formal reading and comprehension begins.

Margaret Hunsberger, professor of language arts and curriculum at the University of Calgary, says the old days of reading and writing have made way for a new generation of thinking about how children develop reading skills. Surprisingly, it's more free form than originally thought.

"Reading is divided into two parts. Decoding the little squiggles of black on the page into words and sentences, and then there's comprehension. It's not all sequential. Children don't learn to listen, talk, read and write in that order. There are many little bits like that along the way in how kids learn language, and they do it on their own time," Hunsberger says.

Some of the pressures for reading, writing and comprehension can backfire, whereby parental expectations for their own achievement, guilt about an inability to help with reading or anxiety over the competitive environment that awaits a child in the years ahead can take a toll on a child. The result is known as "hothousing" and can actually cause a child to pull back on their eagerness to keep the pace.

If a family is studying English as a second language, it shouldn't deter a child from learning to read. Hunsberger suggests reading to a child in their native language if English isn't strong with the parents.

"A child born into a family or society speaking another language will still learn to talk English and read without formal lessons at the preschool age. By the age of five, they'll have mastered the language and make themselves understood without learning all the details," Hunsberger says.

Jean Ludlam, manager of youth services at the Calgary Public Library, says making regular visits to a local library can spell success for a child's development. And you don't have to read a book cover to cover. She says the beauty of reading begins with understanding the hidden elements of a story (the bigger picture) and how it relates to growing up in a wide world of possibilities.

"You can open a book at any point and have a conversation about what you see on the page, what characters look like, what your child thinks is happening from the pictures. Help them use all the information available to them. The illustrations will help them find clues about what the book says. In time, they'll learn a story has a beginning, middle and an end," says Ludlam.

Deter adds to the mix by suggesting that storytelling doesn't have to come from a book. Reminiscing about your own childhood memories with a younger generation creates an opportunity to build a relationship of understanding.

"My parents travelled all over the world and when I was young, they would tell us their stories right after dinner. My mother told me the times when she dined with kings and queens, and you can imagine, being a little girl, hearing about your mother having dinner with a queen and princess. Your own stories are a wonderful way to get them thinking about where these people live, what they eat, where they play," she adds.

Some popular themes for preschool readers:
- Basic subjects such as trucks, dinosaurs, animals
- Nonsensical books, rhymes, rhythms, songs
- Stories about families
- Stories about growing up as a child
- Audio books (these assist

English as a Second Language kids/parents)

Top Picks for Preschool Readers:
- Good Night Moon or The Runaway Bunny, by Margaret Wise Brown
- Make Way for Ducklings, by Robert McCloskey
- Owl Moon, by Jane Yolen
- Robert Munsch series
- Where the Wild Things Are, by Maurice Sendak
- The Arthur Series, by Marc Brown
- The Franklin Series, by Paulette Bourgeois
- The Very Hungry Caterpillar, by Eric Carle
- Ben Over Night, by Sarah Ellis
- Mr. Grumpy's Outing, by John Burningham

Books for parents to build their parenting/reading skills:
- Babies Need Books, by Dorothy Butler and Shirley Hughes
- Read Aloud Handbook, by Jim Trelease
- The Gift of Reading, by David Bouchard and Wendy Sutton




Thursday, February 23, 2006

Scrabble Night RESCHEDULED!!!!

Aright. It's officially re-scheduled:

SATURDAY, MARCH 4th at 7:00 p.m.

Get your GAME FACE on
and head to
(on Laurier, just-a-ways past King Ed.)

...for the most fun you can have with a box of lettered tiles.

$5.00 admission - PRIZES - 50/50 Draw!

Contact ottawa@frontiercollege.ca for info.

(Be sure to spread the word!)

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Scrabble Fever Hits Ottawa

Forget about the Avian Flu, I've got the Scrabble Fever! It might have something to do with the fact that I still have 4 Scrabble boards in my living room from last weekend's party, but last night we pulled yet another victim into the Speed Scrabble circle! (Here's Lynne and Josh showing off their favourite words from our final game.)


Literacy Limps Into the Kill Zone

What a great title, eh? Every so often, some curmudgeonly but eloquent opinionists grouch about in the online media, lamenting the fact that the Internet age is taking the art of the written language to heck in a handbasket. A feature at Wired.com this week brings up the old argument again, with all the finesse and sophistication necessary to make the argument that much stronger. It's definitely worth a read!

But...does it really matter if I write an e-mail all in lowercase? ...or if I forget to hit spell check before posting this blog entry? ....or if my msn Messenger chat ends with the line "c u l8r?" (I must admit the last one still irks me somewhat.) What qualifies as "literacy?"


Monday, February 20, 2006

More on Ontario LG's literacy intiatives

Hey everyone,

Article of interest in today's Toronto Sun on the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario's literacy initiatives with Aboriginal Youth. Also of note that they interview Frontier College`s Phil Fernandez. Go Phil!

Also on the literacy news front - link from the NALD Headline News Site to A 10-year, Results-Based National Literacy Action Plan 2006 - 2016 put together by the Movement for Canadian Literacy with input from other Literacy Organizations, including Frontier College.

And, finally, for those of you wishing some lighter fare - Read Alert informs us in her Feb. 20th Round up that Amber who won Survivor (as in Rob-and-Amber) has written a book for teens. Teens, however, do not appear impressed.


PUBLICATION: The Toronto Sun
DATE: 2006.02.20
SECTION: Lifestyle
PAGE: 39

First Nations youth may be fluent in their indigenous languages of Cree, Ojibwe and Oji-Cree, but it's English they need to speak, according to Frontier College's Philip Fernandez, administrator of the Lt.-Gov.'s Aboriginal Literacy Summer Camps.

English is their springboard to career opportunities within their own communities and to the outside world -- to places far beyond their remote towns tucked away in northwestern Ontario, says Fernandez.

Given the right literacy tools, children of the Nishnawbe Aski Nation will see old age. For many, English is a synonym for survival -- a lifeline from death.

"Every other week, a Native child kills themself. One girl hung herself on a tree in front of the school. It's a real tragedy," says Lt.-Gov. James K. Bartleman. Soaring suicide rates and their high-level of illiteracy are key reasons he initiated the 2005 summer literacy camps in North Caribou Lake, Kingfisher Lake, Muskrat Dam, Neskantaga and Fort Albany.

"Very few children make it through high school. Those that do are about five years behind other Ontario children," Bartleman says of this struggling population in transition from a traditional to modern society. The five camps, staffed with 20 councillors recruited from Southern Ontario and about 40 from Native communities, hosted a three-week literacy program for 365 kids between the ages of 4 to 14.

Last July, Bartleman visited the camps and found the children dispelled stereotyping: "They were really anxious to read and to learn. Even though we brought sports equipment, we found them drifting away from the ball diamonds and going back to the books. "

Already big plans are in the works to run camps in 25 communities this coming summer and Bartleman has pledges from sponsors to pay for summer programs for the next five years.


Capturing the essence of the Lt.-Gov.'s camps is a compelling photographic exhibition, Summer of Hope, on view until Friday at The Allen Lambert Galleria in BCE Place (or visit website photosensitive.com/ps/).

The collection of poignant black and white images of First Nations children were taken by five top Canadian photojournalists who belong to PhotoSensitive -- an organization of volunteers who donate their time and their talent to raising awareness towards global and national issues.

"People think it's hopeless, this (the exhibit) shows that it's not. It shows the joy of life in the communities and that's why it's called Summer of Hope." says Bartleman.



- In 2004, a program was launched that collected more than 1.2 million books for First Nations school libraries.

- To enrich learning and communication skills, a twinning program was created pairing kids in native and non-native schools.


- The Amick (beaver in Ojibwe) Book Club will supply books to aboriginal youth through the months in between summer camps. The Lt.-Gov. urges all Canadians to get involved:

"A $100 donation or even 10 individual $10 donations will pay for a child's participation for one year in the club." With this funding, each child will receive six books a year plus a magazine that they will be encouraged to submit stories to.


To make a donation, mail to: Club Amick, The Southern Ontario Library Service, 111 Peter St., Suite 902, Toronto, ON, M5V 2H1, or call 1-800-387-5765.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

My home Scrabble Party

So, I hosted my home Scrabble party last night. It was fun! I made some hors d'oeuvres (not sure if that counts as a Scrabble word - and technically, I more "defrosted" than "made", but why quibble), we had some wine and Paula and Arnaud brought a veggie and dip plate. There was eight of us in total, so we played in two groups of four. Plan was then to have a "showdown" then with the top two from each team - but we never got that far :)

The hands down winner of the night was Kim who scored somewhere in the high 200s - I scored 108, so I thought that was pretty impressive. The coolest word at our table was SQUID. Krista played quid and then crafty Chris stuck the "S" in front for a rather high score. I then stuck an S at the end, while also spelling THIS. That was my best move - not that impressive, I know. But I only learnt how to play Scrabble in August! And I amost had a few other good ones, but as usual, kept being one letter short.

So we raised some money AND had some fun.

For those looking forward to the Speed Scrabble - stay tuned for the new date.

In non-Scrabble news - found one more interesting site called Literary Basics. Brief Description as follows:

Literacy Basics is a free, self-directed online training website for Ontario literacy practitioners. This innovative training website was researched, written and designed by Community Literacy of Ontario.

Of course, to be added to the list down the side of the site.

And, due to the really cold weather we only had six kids at Reading Circle this morning. But on the upside - we had a one-to-one tutor to learner ratio for the first time in a while, which meant that those there got some really good one on one attention. At the end we composed a story as a group and then played Charades - which was a really big hit.


Friday, February 17, 2006

Blogger Discovery!

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Every now and again in the development and learning curve of a novice blogger we figure something out that is exciting beyond words.

For months I had accepted that I was unable to figure out how to upload PDF and word files to the blog. Now, before I explain my discovery, take a moment to scroll over to the Best of Blog section. Click on either the November or October Newsletter and then come back. I'll wait.

See! Direct links to PDFs! Not only that - I have also figured out a way to direct link to Word Documents. Like this one. See!

This is a big step for me. Right up there with figuring out how to link from pictures on blogger. Let me share with you how it occured.

Courtesy of A Chair, a Fireplace and a Tea Cosy I have discovered a site called Peanut Butter Wiki. It's official Wiki is HERE. Essentially, its a free program that helps you put stuff up to share online. You can register HERE for your own. I've started up an SFLO one HERE and am thinking it might be a good place to house resource documents for tutors - a sort of online virtual resource library.

At any rate. Very excited.

In other news, I am hosting my home Scrabble Party tonight. I have about eight people coming over - which should be cosy given the size of the apartment. I'll be sure to let you all know how it goes. Lyndsay had hers a few weeks ago and it went well. I'll aim to take some pictures.

Other points of interest on line in the last few days include:

1. Chicken Spaghetti is having a Carnival of Children's Literature. If you have questions about what this is, please visit my previous post on Blog Carnivals HERE. Perhaps I'll be organized enough to enter a post this time.

2. Book with potential was written up on Book Moot. The book is called Veronica by Roger Duvoisin and was originally publshed in 1961 - so this is a re-print. I just think I have a thing for books about hippopotamuses. This might stem from having seen Madagasgar - but I'm sure I thought they were endearing beforehand as well. Anyway, doesn't it look like it has potential:

3. Courtesy of Read Alert, Marilyn Manson will be starring in a Lewis Carroll Movie. More info on that here.

4. Travelling to Literacy has a nice posting on the use of Rhyme. For those interested in that, we did a previous one on the issue here.

5. The UNESCO Blog had some stuff on UNESCO at 60 and links to the Education for all Site (as one of the Millenium Goals, or MDGs)

And that, I believe, is that.

Hopefully our Scrabble Night gets re-scheduled soon.

Until then!


Thursday, February 16, 2006

Scrabble Event Postponed

Hello all,

We regret to announce that our Scrabble event, scheduled for this evening has been cancelled due to ugly winter weather.

We are hoping to reschedule this event for the first week in March. Stay tuned to this blog for full details.



Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Scrabble this Thursday!


First things first. Our Scrabble Night in Canada event is this Thursday, February 16, 2006 starting at 7:00 at the Clocktower BrewPub on Bank Street. We are having a Speed Scrabble Tournament. Admission is $5.00. There will be a 50/50. Bring friends and lets raise a little money for Frontier College Programming in Ottawa.

Also on the Frontier College News Front - job posting is up on the Frontier College Site for the Labourer-Teacher Program. I met someone who volunteered for the labourer-teacher program on the train on the way to the Volunteer Leadership Forum in Toronto this summer. She worked on a tobacco farm in Ontario and then taught English classes in the evening. She had a blast. More info on the program HERE.

Saturday at the Rideau Reading Circle was a bit of an adventure. Until further notice we will be holding the Reading Circle next door to the library in the Rideau Gardens Retirement Home. This is due to the fact that the library is under construction. So with 10 kids, 6 volunteers and about 5 parents who stay - it was a bit of an adventure figuring out where to go. The room we used this week was in the basement which added to the challenges. Next week, its been confirmed that we are in the lounge, which is A) Bigger and B) Easier to get to. I'm looking forward to it.

However, two very exciting moments for me at Circle on Saturday.

1) I got a valentine from one of the children. It was awesome - heart-shaped mask. So I went home, put the mask on, and pointed out to my boyfriend that somebody had beaten him to the Valentine's Day punch - so to speak. :)

2) Kate McMullan has another book! I posted about Kate McMullan back in December HERE, and a book called I Stink! Well, there is another book called I'm Mighty! Not quite as good as the first, but still an awesome boy book! Lots of sounds, bright pictures etc... About a tug boat that has to pull all the big boats in. Will also be adding her site to the side.

Also found out that she write chapter books for older children as well. Something called the Dragon Slayer Academy - popular with the Grade Two crowd apparently.

In other news, found an interesting site HERE from the Canadian Council on Learning which talks about how parents can foster early literacy. And just in case you were curious the CCL is:

Funded through an agreement with Human Resources and Skills Development Canada in 2004, the Canadian Council on Learning (CCL) is a national, independent, non-profit corporation with a mandate to promote and support research to improve all aspects of learning across the country and across all walks of life...

I'll added it to the side list of sites. Also being added will by this one - the Mr. Roger's Neighbourhood resourse page.

In other news, one of my new favorite blogs for book gossip has a few interesting new pieces: one on Investing in the Children's Section of the Library, link to a news piece in Belgium about something called lib dating (ie: dating at the library), and a posting on Poetry in Movies. Additional info HERE. I cannot believe I've gone this long without knowing that "Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night" shows up in both Dangerous Minds and the Rodney Dangerfield classic Back to School.

There also continues to be quite a bit of discussion about something I've previously posted on: Britain's Royal Society of Literature's list of all books children should read before finishing high school. For those intersted in more fodder on that try HERE and HERE. And if you are one of those people who just cannot get enough of lists, I'll suggest this one which is floating around a few blog sites, where people reflect on their favorite children's books in various categories. More on that HERE.

I also posted previously HERE on the Blog Carnival on Children's Literature at a site called Here in the Bonny Glen. While I wasn't organized enough to submit somethere, HERE are the results for those interested in checking it out.

If you go HERE, Chicken Spaghetti offers some insights into the minds of Grade Two-ers and what type of books they like to read.

On a more international bent - the UNESCO site had a posting HERE on the impact of free primary education on Early Childhood Development in Kenya. The reason this one caught my eye is that I am in the process of reading Stephen Lewis' new book called Race Against Time. It's a series of lectures he's given, mainly on the impact of AIDS in Africa and the Millenium Developmen Goals - how they are not going to be met. When discussing poverty he talks a lot about the fight to end school fees in Africa which prevent children from going to school - the need for free, accessible primary education.

Finally, there was an interview on CTV a few days back with Lyndsay's new hero. Transcript here:

DATE: 2006.02.07
TIME: 08:37:35 ET
END: 08:42:15 ET

Eleven-year-old pens his sixth book

THOMSON: He is an award-winning author, a motivational speaker, and a goodwill ambassador for literacy. He also teaches an online writing course, and he's just published his sixth book in honour of Black History Month. But what really sets James Valitchka apart is his age, he's only 11 years old. And last year he became the youngest Canadian ever to win the prestigious Top 20 Under 20 Award. His latest book is called "I'm Not Brown, I'm Human". James joins me in studio now.

Good morning.

VALITCHKA: Good morning.

THOMSON: I can't believe it, six books. Well, I've been reading the list of accomplishments that you've already had at the age of 11, but six books. What made you get started to write a book?

VALITCHKA: Well, it was mostly about getting my feelings out, getting them on paper, letting other people know how I felt. And if there's anyone else like me they can know that I experienced it too, that it's okay.

THOMSON: Your last book, or one of your books, is "Superheroes Don't Have Dads" and it's about bullying, to some degree. And this book is called "I'm Not Brown, I'm Human". What is it really about?

VALITCHKA: Well, it's about the acceptance of differences and that your colour doesn't make you better than anyone else.

THOMSON: What's the reaction been?

VALITCHKA: Well, it's been really helping. And I've been telling speeches about Black History Month and not bullying and things like that. But --

THOMSON: Were you bullied?

VALITCHKA: Yes, I was bullied when I was around seven to eight. I was really bullied because of my skin colour and things like that, and because I wasn't good at any sports.

THOMSON: Really?


THOMSON: And did you speak to people about that at the time? Or did you just sit down pick up a pen and write about it?

VALITCHKA: Well, you know how people usually talk about it, it makes you feel better?


VALITCHKA: Well, I would run upstairs and write it on paper. And that makes me feel better. And now, you go round and speak about this book and read passages and talk about the message. Is there a portion of this book that you would like to read for us?

VALITCHKA: Okay. I'll probably read my last page of it, page 31.


VALITCHKA: "Humans are like rainbows. There are many different colours, but all are beautiful. Let your light shine. Let your colour shine. You're human and you're beautiful."

THOMSON: What's the reaction been to all of your accomplishments by your friends?

VALITCHKA: Well, they're basically just like, "You wrote a new book?" And, well, they just treat me like I'm a normal kid, which is what I want. I don't want to be treated like I'm special. I just want be treated like a normal kid.

THOMSON: You don't want to be treated differently for any reason.


THOMSON: Do you think, in your opinion, in your experience in school, does that go on a lot? Bullying because of skin colour. Bullying because kids are different.

VALITCHKA: Racism and bullying is everywhere. In stores, in schools, everywhere.

THOMSON: So what's the message? What do you tell people to try to either cope with it or eliminate it, I guess, ultimately?

VALITCHKA: Well, let someone know. Don't just try to deal with it yourself. And say no to bullying. Well, never give up.

THOMSON: And what about this, the inspiration for writing this book, which is "Superheroes Don't Have Dads"?

VALITCHKA: That was about my bullying, because I wasn't good at sports or because I looked different. So, basically, these two tie in with each other.

THOMSON: Do you have a favourite of all your books?

VALITCHKA: Well, not really. They're both really good books. So, I'm not, well, I don't have a favourite.

THOMSON: How do the kids react when you go in and speak to them about it?

VALITCHKA: Well, most of them are like, well, if he can do this maybe I can do it, too. And most of them are in awe, and then they just, like, they feel inspired, I think, because, like, during the question period they ask a question and I ask, "What's your question?" And they say, "Well, this book really inspired me. But how can you learn to write books, too?" And things like that.

THOMSON: Well, you are inspirational. Do you think that you'll always write books? Do you want to continue to be unaccomplished author?

VALITCHKA: Well, I would like to keep being an accomplished author. But I also want to become an engineer.

THOMSON: Wow. Those are big goals. I think that you'll reach it there. Are you sure you're not interested in politics?


THOMSON: [laughs] Wonderful to talk to you, James. And congratulations. You really are an inspiration.


THOMSON: Good to meet you.

VALITCHKA: Nice to meet you, too. James Valitchka, Author, I'm Not Brown, I'm Human


And that's it for today. Hope to see you all at Scrabble!


Saturday, February 11, 2006

Sanitized Kid Lit and One Million Words.

Two quick highlights from this morning's Globe & Mail:

1. The English Language is set to hit one million words some time this year!

2. An interesting piece on "sanitizing" kid lit for the big screen. (In the upcoming Curious George movie, the man in the yellow hat doesn't kidnap George and bring him back from the jungle; this is Hollywood's attempt to make the guy more 'likeable.') True, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was altered for big screen last summer ... but what about Chronicles of Narnia? I'd say, if anything that the new film version is much less innocent than the book!

Friday, February 10, 2006

Message from an Alumnus #2

Hi everyone,

Back in October, we posted a message that we received from a former Frontier College Ottawa Volunteer and Organizational Team Member Theresa Sedore. She has since left us to go to Teacher's College at Lakehead and is volunteering with Frontier College there. You can read her post HERE.

After that, I thought it might be interesting to see if there are other former Ottawa volunteers out there who are volunteering for Frontier College in other cities. Sure enough, Trevor Sinker, who volunteered with us for the last few years, is now at Queens and volunteering in their Prison Literacy Program. Here's what he had to say:

Tutoring elementary school children at a community centre and an inmate at a maximum-security prison may seem to have nothing in common. In fact, the opposite is true. The only difference is the venue. Granted, this is a major variation. There are no metal detectors, armed guards and bars on the windows at the community centre. Yet at its core, literacy tutoring encompasses common characteristics.

I’ll outline a few, but first offer some context.

I tutored elementary school students at a Frontier College homework club run by Sage Youth at a community centre in Ottawa. I currently volunteer with the Prison Literacy program as a part of Queen’s Students for Literacy program in Kingston. I tutor a gentleman at the Regional Treatment Centre, which is a maximum-security facility for men with special needs located inside the Kingston Penitentiary.

Tutoring Observations

Desire - A desire to learn is unmistakable. The learners (both the children and inmate) recognize the value of reading and understand that tutoring is the tool to help them improve their literacy skills.

Dedication – Learning grammar and spelling is difficult and it is a continual process that requires dedication. All of the learners I have tutored remind me of the tortoise who beat the hare. Slow but steady advancement is more productive than a burst of initial interest that quickly dissipates.

Persistence – The learners persist in their struggle to acquire stronger literacy skills. They don’t give up easily, and when discouragement creeps in, a tutor’s encouraging words works wonders to get them back on track.

Training Tools – All of my learners brought coursework with them (including the inmate who attends classes), but sometimes I prepared lesson plans. The specific subjects varied, but I tried to incorporate reading material that was interesting, fun, and tailored to the learner’s interests. A discourse on quantum physics was clearly inappropriate.

Conversation – Literacy tutoring encompasses much more than dictionaries, fill-in-the-blank question sheets and spelling lists. It also involves engaging in conversation and connecting with the learner – and the benefits are reciprocal. Learners gain important skills sets such as leadership qualities, better communication skills and analytical abilities. Tutors gain an appreciation of different perspectives, and learn interesting trivia on topics as diverse as monster trucks and volcanoes.

Accomplishments – I’m not idealistic. I have not approached tutoring with expectations of transforming an inmate or sixth grade student into a literary critic or devoted fan of Shakespeare. Patience is absolutely necessary because literacy tutoring takes diligence and time. When it comes to literacy, small accomplishments are huge victories. I have witnessed many such victories, which are very gratifying.

I have enjoyed (and continue to enjoy) volunteering with Frontier College. Assisting others to improve their literacy skills is tremendously satisfying. It’s a process that requires devotion from the tutor and learner – whether it is a 10-year old student or a middle-aged inmate. Despite the challenges, tutoring is an amazing opportunity that has granted me a glimpse into the learning process of others. To join with them in celebrating their accomplishments is a remarkable privilege.

- Trevor Sinker

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Upcoming Conference for Ottawa U and Carleton Students

February 17, Ottawa U is hosting a conference called: "2nd Annual Global Generations: Legal Perspectives on International Human Rights Conference." Students from both Ottawa universities have been invited to participate.

A copy of the Conference agenda and the abstracts of the presentations is available online at http://www.geocities.com/claihr_papers

If you would like more information, please contact Kristal Low or Tim Brown at claihrconference@gmail.com

Duke of Edinburgh Awards Program

Another piece of info that might interest you. Sorry for the short notice. I'm sure if you contacted this new club, they'd be happy to give you the information they're giving out tonight!

Excerpts from the e-mail sent to SFLO:


My name is Natalie Gauthier, and I am currently a student at the University of Ottawa who has just recently started a new club (The Duke of Edinburgh's Award Club)! Our club's main purpose, is to serve as a resource center for this Award Program that encourages students between the age of 14-25 years old to participate in various extra-curricular activities. Not many people know about this INTERNATIONALY RECOGNIZED AWARD program and I am trying to promote it to the community here at the University of Ottawa.

Since you are volunteering and contributing numerous hours towards your club, this Awards program could be a great opportunity for you to get recognized even more for your extra efforts!
If you would be interested to learn more about this opportunity, we will be having an info-night!!
WHEN: Thursday, February 9th, 2006
WHERE: Fauteux, room 147
TIME: 6-7pm
all welcome
If you would like to receive more information, you can always visit our club website at: dukeofed.blogspot.com or the international website at: www.dukeofed.org

Voice your views on Poverty.

Literacy and poverty have a definite connection. Check out the MCL's Literacy and Poverty Fact Sheet, if you need a little refresher.

If you're inspired to speak up on the issue, I'd invite you to take part in the TakingITGlobal online campaign happening RIGHT NOW! From an e-mail I received today:

"In affiliation with the Canadian International Development Agency's (CIDA)
International Development Week this February TakingITGlobal is hosting a
week-long online campaign, Voice Your Views on Poverty. We would be
honoured if you would join us in this exciting opportunity to encourage
youth from Canada and around the world to discuss issues that really matter:
extreme poverty, the Millennium Development Goals and how youth can make a

The Online Discussion started on January 30, 2006 and will be active until
February 11, 2006. Read the current discussions or post your own at

...This Saturday, February 11, 2006 at 1:00pm EST we hope that you will join us
and take part in the second Voice Your Views on Poverty Live Chat.

To learn more about the chat go to http://mdg.takingitglobal.org/chat "

To register go to http://www.takingitglobal.org/members/signup.html

Contact: Sarah Richardson, Project Coordinator: sarah@takingitglobal.org // 416 977-9363


Tuesday, February 07, 2006

My new 11-year-old hero.

He's published 6 children's books.
He teaches an online writing class for children ages 8 to 12. ("Literacy Can Solve Bullying")
He leads an Anti-Bullying Awareness campaign.
He's a captivating public speaker.

Oh, and by the way, he's 11 years old. Meet James Valitchka, my new hero.


The image is the cover from James' latest book: I'm Not Brown, I'm Human.

Scrabble Motivation etc..

Hey everyone,

So, bits and pieces to report this morning as usual.

Did a Scrabble Google search in honour of this being Scrabble Night in Canada month. I have also done some previous posts on the issue (a good example being THIS one). Found out that Concordia and the University of Montreal held a Human Scrabble game to launch their month. Info HERE.

For those looking for tips and pointers on how to play HERE is a blogger who was looking for suggestions for hosting a Scrabble workshop. Then I just thought THIS was a cool picture.

Then for kicks I googled Frontier College on Blogger and found a few people posting about their experiences with Frontier College. I'm always interested to hear what other programs are doing and if you are too - here is some of what I found:

1. Triona Trog's Blog - She volunteers for Frontier College out in Alberta. Apparently they do summer camps out there!

2. Northern Exposures - the author is from Wunnumin Lake, Ontario and, I believe, is a teacher. At any rate - she talks about a visit they had from the Ontario Lieutenant Governor James Bartleman to their school in Northern Ontario and how they will now be having a Frontier College summer camp as a result. As mentioned a few times, we heard Mr. Bartleman speak in Toronto on his literacy initiatives - so it was cool to read a first hand account of one of his trips in that vein.

3. Found a University of Western Ontario piece on Frontier College HERE from December 2005.

And, while I know this is old, I also found the Frontier College Historica Minute HERE. You can watch a short clip about Frontier College`s history.

Moving away from Frontier College, A Chair, a Fireplace and a Tea Cosy recently linked to a site called Here in the Bonny Glen which will be hosting something called a "Carnival of Children's Literature." Blog Carnivals are apparently a blog "thing". Blogs with similar interests get together and post samples from their blog in a central location and then people interested in the topic can browse. Bonny Glen suggests visiting THIS BLOG for more information on blog carnivals generally.

Original Content also had an interesting post yesterday on getting published as a writer and the need for branding and a marketing strategy. She linked to an article called "The Case of the Mystery Brand" which is about James Patterson (the brand, not the author - ie the production system behind the name).

Finally, the new Canadian Federal Government was sworn in yesterday. Diane Finlay is the new Minister of Human Resources and Social Development, which is the portfolio that should be in charge of literacy issues. It is a recombining of two portfolio's from under the Martin Government - those being Human Resources and Skills Development and Social Development. On a side point of interest, a second Harper Cabinet Minister - Michael Fortier, the new Minister of Public Works - was also previously on the board of something called the Action ABC Literacy Training Group. Article here:

DATE: 2006.02.06
CATEGORY: National general news

Michael Fortier, an unelected Conservative party organizer from Quebec, was named federal minister of public works Monday. A look:

Political history: Long-time Conservative party organizer; ran for Progressive Conservative leadership in 1998; co-chair of Stephen Harper 's campaign to lead Conservative party in 2003; co-chair of Conservative national campaign for 2006 election.

Political views: Ran for Progressive Conservative leadership on platform of reconciliation with Reform party; known for supporting elected Senate; tax cuts; free votes in Commons.

Education: Graduated from Laval University law school.

Career: Partner in Montreal law firm Ogilvy Renault; managing director of Credit Suisse First Boston investment bank; sat on boards of Action ABC literacy training group and L'arret-source home for young women in need of assistance.

A final article of interest today from the Ottawa Sun reports that City Counsellor Alex Cullen will be participating in a fundraiser - and some of the money will go to support Adult Literacy Programs. Yay!

DATE: 2006.02.07
PAGE: 17


Anyone who knows Bay Ward Coun. Alex Cullen would doubt he could ever be silenced but a few of Cullen's constituents have found a way.

As an entertaining fundraiser for community groups in his ward, Cullen will participate in a murder mystery dinner theatre, Who Silenced Alex Cullen? put on by the Lakeside Players on April 7.


Proceeds from the $40 tickets will go to four community houses -- Foster Farm, Michele Heights, Britannia Woods and Winthrop Court. The money will go towards programs to help adult literacy, new Canadians, single parent families and food banks, among others.

Although the event is his idea, Cullen's getting a little anxious.

"I understand there is a great deal of interest which makes me even more nervous," said Cullen.

The evening's plot will centre around the councillor and his untimely exit from municipal politics. He's not sure how his death will come about in front of about 300 people at the Ron Kolbus Lakeside Centre. It's a well-kept secret that not even the theatre company is revealing to him.

"I don't know the gory details yet. They don't want to give away the plot," said Cullen. "I do have a reputation as being a bit vocal."


Monday, February 06, 2006

Another Literacy Concious Lieutenant Governor!

Hey everyone,

I had to post this story! Regarding my title - I`ve done a few past posts about the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, James Bartleman, and his literacy initiatives with Aboriginal communities.

Also, what`s not to love in a story about, well, a farting dog. I've done a few links through out for those wishing further info :)

In other news, Read Alert's post this morning has a few interesting links. One to something called the Locus Poll where you can vote for your favorite books in different genres and a link to a news story about a 17 year old high school student in Minnesota who handed in his creative writing assignment and got committed to a mental institution. I`ve also pasted a story at the bottom of this post on a really neat literacy fundraiser in Hamilton. Contestants in this "marathon" were locked in a Timmy`s for 48 hours to write books. Winners will be announced Feb. 14.

Finally, in Canadian political news, the new Conservative Cabinet gets appointed in about an hour and a half - so stay tuned!


PUBLICATION: The Daily Gleaner (Fredericton)
DATE: 2006.02.04
BYLINE: JENNIFER DUNVILLEdunville.jennifer@dailygleaner.com

The lieutenant-governor and Glenn Murray teach literacy lesson;

They may seem like an odd couple, but the lieutenant-governor and Glenn Murray, author of Walter the Farting Dog, share a vision - one of higher literacy rates in the province.

The two went to Park Street Elementary school to promote reading and writing Friday.

Students were hooked from the moment Lt.-Gov. Hermenegilde Chiasson starting reading a book about an animal's library to the moment Murray squeezed a plush Walter to show off the different fart noises.

School librarian Joan McGee said two accomplished what they set out to do - they demonstrated how fun it can be to read and write.

"We're just trying to find ways to promote literacy in the schools," said McGee.

"The children love Mr. Murray's books about Walter and it's great for the children to see a local author who has had such success and to meet the lieutenant-governor who has made it his priority to promote literacy."

Murray said he considers speaking at schools to a part of his job. He likes to motivate children to pursue their dreams and expand their vocabularies through reading,

"I hope they realize that somebody from right here in New Brunswick can do something like this that has an effect on people all over the country," said Murray. "Just about anything is possible. Keep your eyes open for possibilities because if you don't, you're going to miss out on what could be great opportunities.

"Look at me - the day we wrote the first Walter story we had no idea what was going to happen."

Chiasson said it's never too early to talk about the importance of reading and writing.

"Right now in the province we have a real problem with low literacy levels and I think everyone in the province is conscious of that," said Chiasson.

"I am here to tell these children that whatever you are interested in, there is a book about that subject. We're fighting many screens, television for instance, but I haven't really heard of anyone who has read a whole book in front of the screen. So I think it's important to promote books."

One of the reasons Park Street Elementary decided to have the special assembly for their grades 3 to 5 students was to encourage reading, especially for boys.

"Sometimes boys aren't interested in reading quite so much. They tend to go to sports and that kind of thing," said McGee.

"I think Walter's problem is a funny subject that certainly boys would think is funny and this will encourage them to read."

Chiasson said seeing male role models read will provide an example to younger boys.

"During Christmas I had a friend over for dinner and he was telling me that after mass his father would take a book and read to the whole family, and that's such a strong image to see your father reading," said Chiasson.

"It's the same thing if you have people who are in positions of influence reading, especially men, because right now there's a lot of women teachers and kids have a tendency to associate reading as being for girls and uncool, for a man."

"But that isn't the case and it's important that we stress that to them."

McGee said it doesn't matter whether it's the subject matter or the role model that gets children reading. What matters is that they do read.

"It's what I do with my own son, I do what I can to get him to read. I find things that he is interested in and buy books based on those," said McGee.


PUBLICATION: The Hamilton Spectator
DATE: 2006.02.04
BYLINE: Lesley Simpson
SOURCE: The Hamilton Spectator

Marathon enough to give Heart Failure; Our Lesley Simpson writes novella during literacy fundraiser in a weekend at Hortons

The invitation was irresistible. Come to Tim Hortons on Ottawa Street to write the great Canadian novel. Oh, and did I mention the rules? Write in 48 hours. No leaving the coffee shop.

The contest, The Battle of the Books, was a fundraiser for literacy. The fight began Friday noon and closed Sunday noon last weekend.

Jason Farr, Tom Park, and Mike Nabuurs, radio hosts on 820 CHAM, issued the invitation to The Hamilton Spectator. What could a newspaper girl do but jump in with her laptop?

Was I crazy? Of course. The contest terrified me. What if I had writer's block? What if I were reduced to tears and Timbits? I decided to embrace terror.

The Spectator provided a live stream on the webcam at thespec.com. Perhaps you saw us waving a Pez dispenser at the camera? Hugging friends delivering flowers and fruit? Rocking to music with our headphones?

Visitors provided a stream of surprises: peppermint gum, orange roses, pink tulips, and sour candy.

We were treated like royalty. Staff from The Back Shop delivered back and neck supports. The restaurant Limoncello delivered dinner. Hortons provided that culinary merger of caffeine and carbohydrates 24/7.

Saturday night, I wrote on a heated seat with a vibrating massager on my back. I work in a newsroom. Trust me. Nobody's asking if you have sore shoulders, a tight neck, or an aching lower back. Those are the perks when you sign up for this gig.

I wrote Heart Failure, a chick-lit novella about comedic attempts of a girl's quest to cure her broken heart. It's the story of Sophia Ziff, a documentary film-maker who keeps failing in her quest for a cure.

The competition? Jason Farr wrote Store #1, a real-time account of the writing marathon. Tom Park wrote Side Effects May Include: Death, a serial- killer thriller. Mike Nabuurs wrote Fetch This: The Random Thoughts of An Overweight House Pet.

The winner of the book judged the best read by a panel of judges will be announced Feb.14 in The Hamilton Spectator and on 820 CHAM. For a sneak peek of Heart Failure, check www.thespec.com where I will read the introduction on a video segment.

Money from sales of Heart Failure will be donated to Dr. J. Edgar Davey and Bennetto school. Radio hosts are donating money to Camp Maple Leaf All books will be published on www.lulu.com. Let the judging begin!


Sunday, February 05, 2006

Frontier College update and odds and ends

Hey there,

So, sent my email out to my friends to ask if any of them were interested in coming to a home Scrabble Party for Scrabble Night in Canada - to raise a bit of money for Frontier College - should I host one. Heard back from one already, so I can at least do a small party. Once I hear back one way or the other from a few more, then I'll register my party and take it from there. All very exciting.

As for the Reading Circle on Saturday AM - we had an interesting turn of events on Saturday morning. The Circle takes place in the basement of the Rideau Library, and it appears the room we use is currently not safe. The building is quite old and currently under construction in various parts. At any rate, we held the circle on the main floor of the library in the children's section on Saturday - which was a bit loud with nine kids, but worked out alright. We will hear by early next week what the plan will be for the near future. One option, is to try and get space in the Retirement Home next door - which I think would be great. Please stay tuned....

We had our OT (Organizatonal Team) meeting on Friday evening afterwork and all seems to be going well in our other programming as well. The Centretown Pre-school reading circle has made a successful move to Friday morning from Monday morning. They are running the program in tandem with a drop-in program for pre-schoolers and their parents which works well because people are coming to the centre anyway. The Reception House Club continues to go well on Friday mornings, as does the after-school program at Sawmill on Tuesday afternoons. Apparently one of the children at the school actually begged the teacher in charge to let her into the program - which bodes well for the work we're doing :)

Aside from programs - we are considering investing in some Students for Literacy items - specifically pens and tote bags for our volunteers and for selling at events to get our name out there a bit more.

On the non-Frontier College front - thought this cartoon was cute:

Found courtesy of Book Moot. Apparently the comic has been looking at celebrity children's books all week.

Also, had the opportunity to catch an entertaining show on CTV last night called "The Next Great Canadian Prime Minister." (Mentioned I was a political junkie - right?) Anyway - its based on a contest that has been around since 1995 - although this is the first year the finals have been televised. Students enter the contest and explain what would make them the "next great PM" and the winner wins $50,000. The show ran for 1.5 hours; the finalists were asked questions about their platforms by the judges - who were four former PMs: Joe Clark, Brian Mulroney, John Turner and Kim Campbell - and then the judges picked the winner. Enjoyed it. A few more links for those interested here and here.

Finally, one new blog of interest HERE which will also be added to the list down the side. And the other blog by the same name has since changed its name, upon discovering this one, so that too will be updated (and thanks to the now named Sarah's Bookarama for the discovery).



Friday, February 03, 2006

101 and soon to stop counting

All right,

It's gloomy outside; it's Friday at work; I took to some more browsing online. I give you my wonderful discoveries.

I discovered a UNESCO Blog HERE. Not too sure how I missed it on previous Internet Queries. Quite good information and links for those intersted in Literacy internationally - specifically projects in Developing Countries.

Also found two interesting business blogs commenting about Latte's for Literacy (see my previous post for info). I was happy to read that both bloggers had decided to donate to Frontier College as a result of the event (despite what they might think of Starbucks). For the record, I like Starbucks. And like that they like Literacy - and specifically helping Frontier College. At any rate. The two posts in question are HERE and HERE.

Moving along, I have visited THIS SITE a few times and given its name, haven't linked to it previously. But it has a lot of fun gossip about books. For instance, today I learnt more about the Oprah effect (see previous blog comments on Oprah), an entertaining book I may read which endeavours to answer the questions: Whence comes the tradition of heartrending children's classics in which a central character spends an entire book caring for and loving a very special animal, only to have it die in the end, usually granting life lessons, hard-won maturity, and heavy-duty pathos?, and that a group of people in the States are up in arms over "To Kill a Mockingbird".

Another Blog I was unfamiliar with called Atlantic Canada First had an interesting piece on the Government and Literacy. And finally, I discovered this blog called What's New in JK-12 which posts the "news and views of the Education Network of Ontario" which I will add to the side list. It's pretty new, but has a nice collection of news stories on issues related to literacy, teaching, etc...

And last, but not least, warm fuzzies about Literacy in the Ottawa Citizen yesterday:

Literacy grants total $100,000

During 2005, the Ottawa Citizen Literacy Fund handed out nearly $100,000 in grants to area literacy groups and programs. The funds came from the CanWest Raise-a- Reader drive, and interest from existing literacy organization funds. "The success of this literacy initiative is due in part to CanWest's ongoing national leadership in the Raise-a- Reader program and the generosity of the people in and around Ottawa," said Citizen publisher and fund board chairman Jim Orban. This year's grant recipients include the Broken English Theatre Company, Canadian National Institute for the Blind, the Ottawa Public Library and the Ottawa School of Speech and Drama. Since its founding in 1995, the literacy fund has distributed more than $400,000.



PS: On a personal note, I found out today that I've been accepted as a volunteer counsellor for Forum for Young Canadians. For those unfamiliar with the program, it brings students 14-19 from across the country to Ottawa to spend a week on Parliament Hill learning about how government works. So I get to spend a week in March with the program. I'll be sure to tell you all about it.

Our 100th Post

Ladies and Gentlemen,

What a big moment! 100th Post. Gee. Who knew we had that much to say about, well, anything.

So, been a few days since I surfed about to see what there was to see on the Internet, so here we go:

1. Everyone is going List Crazy Again. Actually caught this on Newsworld. In the UK, various authors were asked by the Royal Society of Literature which books every student should read before leaving high school. So, for starters, here they are:

Finn Family Moomintroll by Tove Jansson
Emil and the Detectives by Erich Kästner
The Magic Pudding by Norman Lindsay
The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
The Ballad of Sir Patrick Spens (or other good anonymous ballads)
First Book of Samuel, Chapter 17 (the story of David and Goliath)
Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare
A good collection of myths and legends
A good collection of fairy tales

Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe
David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Animal Farm by George Orwell
The Tale of Two Bad Mice by Beatrix Potter
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
Hamlet by William Shakespeare

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
The Once and Future King by T. H. White
Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
Stiff Upper Lip (or any other Jeeves book) by P.G. Wodehouse
Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons
Tristan and Iseult by Joseph Bedier
The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
The Hound of the Baskervilles (or another Sherlock Holmes story) by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
A Shame to Miss, 1, 2 & 3

The Odyssey by Homer
Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes
Hamlet by William Shakespeare
Paradise Lost by John Milton
Lyrical Ballads by Samuel Taylor Coleridge and William Wordsworth
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
Portrait of a Lady by Henry James
Ulysses by James Joyce
The Waste Land by T.S. Eliot

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray
Disgrace by J.M. Coetzee
The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins
The Red Queen by Matt Ridley
Small Island by Andrea Levy
Go Tell It On The Mountain James Baldwin
Staying Alive: Real Poems for Unreal Times edited by Neil Astley
High Windows Philip Larkin
Cat’s Eye Margaret Atwood

Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
Romeo and Juliet, Julius Caesar or Antony and Cleopatra by William Shakespeare
Far from the Madding Crowd or Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy
Some poems by W.B.Yeats , T.S.Eliot and Philip Larkin
A novel by Ernest Hemingway
A novel by Graham Greene
A novel by J.G. Ballard
A novel by Evelyn Waugh
A novel by Martin Amis
A novel by Margaret Atwood

Anyway, following this listmaking, discussion naturally ensued. Read Alert posted on the issue a few times, linking to stories in the UK Guardian, as well as commentary on the rather heavy suggestsions by the Poet Laureate. Big A little a also had comments on that issue. Original Content also weighed in (Jan 31, scroll down).

As for me, I did best on JK Rowling's list and Anne Fine's.

Linking back to previous discussion on this blog about A National Breakfast Program, a couple other Liberal Blogs picked up on the discussion. Vincent Riccio's A View or Two has a post including some research and links to info on experiences in other countries.

Also, regarding my previous post on the coolness of snakes, Read Alert posts on Feb. 1 that Harriet Ziefert’s latest children’s book, A Snake is Totally Tail, will not be sold in bookstores because it is too similar to a previous book on Snakes.

A couple other blogs have also picked up on issues of similar stories - is this plagarism or inadvertant etc... Chicken Spaghetti posts on a similar issue with Suzanne Heller's "Misery Is..." series from the 1960s being similar to a children's series being published today. Chicken Spaghetti also weighed in on A Snake is Totally Tail HERE.

On the quick link front Travelling to Literacy has a good post on 10 Research-Based methods to improve reading. And Read Alert has a quick link to an article in the Boston Herald on Literary Speed Dating (which made me think of our jokes about Speed Scrabble Dating at a past meeting...)

On the New Blog front, I discovered Reading Matters courtesy of A Chair, a fireplace and a tea cosy. Reading Matters is written by a woman in the UK and covers issues about books and writing and ... writing books. She has three rather entertaining posts on The Official Rules for writing Medieval Fiction, Aurthurian Fiction and Historical Fiction.

This was all located through something called Metaxu Cafe which is "devoted to highlighting the best content from the community of bloggers who write about books." They apparently "serve both the writers and readers and intend to drive traffic to member’s sites and create context around and give permanence to their original writing." I will be sure to check back and add another link along the side of the blog.

And Finally, for any Curious George fans out there, the movies a-comin'. Book Moot has a post on it.

And that's it for the moment!

Happy 100th post :)


Thursday, February 02, 2006

Writing Resource - "Literacy and You" from Communication Canada

I came across this great resource yesterday, from Communication Canada. Available in both English, and French, this toolkit contains case studies and many pointers on how to write communications documents for Canadians with lower literacy levels.

While you may not be writing any government communications any time soon, the basic principles of the toolkit apply to just about any situation. Take a look through the suggestions before preparing the next letter home to parents or reading activity sheet for your program. It's good stuff!

The document is available for download in pdf form.