Archive for the ‘Reading promotion’ Category

A teacher’s guide to Barbro Lindgren’s Hemligt (Secret) trilogy is launched today

March 10, 2015

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Today the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award publish a teacher’s guide to Barbro Lindgren’s books Jättehemligt (Super Secret, 1971), Världshemligt (Top Secret, 1972) and Bladen brinner (Pages on Fire, 1973). The teacher’s guide is written by researcher and jury member Maria Lassén-Seger.

– The guide is for anyone who wants to know more about the books and would like tips on how to introduce them to young readers, says Maria Lassén-Seger. I hope it will encourage people to read, reflect on, and discuss the books.

The Secret books are fictional diaries inspired by Barbro Lindgren’s memories of her own childhood and teenage years, even though she notes that not quite everything in the books is true. The trilogy includes the young Barbro’s diary entries from ages 10 to 15, in which she records her innermost thoughts about things that are nice, awful, or just plain weird. The teacher’s guide poses questions to the reader about the books, questions that allow the reader to get under the surface of the story to deepen the reading: What things do people expect of Barbro as a girl? Are they the same things people expect of girls today? It is hard for Barbro to fit in and be a part of larger groups. What groups does she try to fit into? Why do you think this is hard for her?

– The Secret books were among my most important reading experiences when I was young, says Maria Lassén-Seger. I have reread them often over the years and I am amazed at how powerful they still are. They are so heartfelt, so honest, and so devastatingly well-written.

Maria thinks everyone should read the Secret books:
– But especially young people who think life can be both nice and awful, and who wonder if anyone else in the world feels the same way.

The Award office has previously published 14 reading guides by 11 laureates. All of them can be downloaded for free here.

Link to the new Reading guide here.

Wally De Doncker on how to battle illiteracy

March 6, 2015
Wally De Doncker. Photo: IBBY

Wally De Doncker. Photo: IBBY

Guest blogger this month is IBBY president Wally De Doncker:

I joined IBBY the moment I began my career as an author. IBBY (International Board on Books for Young People) has taught me that the horizon lies beyond the borders of my own country. As the newly‐elected president of IBBY International, it is a privilege for me to work with people worldwide to realize the mission of IBBY.

This mission is to promote a reading culture and give every child the opportunity to become a life‐long reader and this is only possible if the child enjoys reading. One of our objectives is battling illiteracy. A recent UN‐report states that globally, there are still 781 million adults who lack basic literacy skills, and that 58 million children are out‐of-school at primary level and a staggering 63 million children do not attend at secondary level education. Furthermore, an estimated 250 million children of primary‐school age are reported to be failing to acquire basic literacy skills. Added to that, half a billion women today are still completely illiterate. These figures really are cause for concern. The closing of libraries in Europe, often because of financial cutbacks, is also a cause of deep worry.

Children have the right to be able to read and IBBY supports this basic right by initiating and backing many wonderful projects around the World:

Bolivia
In many parts of Bolivia, families have no books and there is no culture of reading. IBBY Bolivia, together with Taller De Experiencias Pedagogicas and the Thuruchapitas Library, began a project in the San Miguel neighbourhood of Cochabamba to encourage reading and storytelling within families.

Afghanistan
IBBY Afghanistan set up a library project to give young children a chance to read and increase their interest in reading books. The project is currently running in different provinces of Afghanistan with the support of Aschiana. The children living in refugee camps, orphanages, juvenile rehabilitation centres and different disability centres will benefit from this far‐reaching Project.

Italy
In response to the waves of refugees from Africa and the Middle East arriving on the Italian island of Lampedusa, IBBY and IBBY Italy launched the project “Silent Books, from the world to Lampedusa and back”. The project involved creating the first library on Lampedusa to be used by local and immigrant children.

Belgium ‐ O MUNDO
The aim of this Flemish IBBY project is to select excellent books from all over the world that allows migrant children to share something about themselves, their culture and their background with their school colleagues. Thus opening the eyes of all the children in the school class to the value of a multicultural society.

As a world organization, we have to keep arguing that reading is a basic right for everyone. Recently, a librarian told me that we are creating a new elite, by which he meant that children who enjoy reading and devouring books could only do so because their parents have the means to buy books. IBBY must continue to advocate for all children to have access to great literature; this includes children from underprivileged families, immigrant children, refugees, children with disabilities and sick children. Those who cannot (or may not) read are excluded. This is something that IBBY cannot accept.

At the 2012 Membership Assembly, IBBY members approved of a formal commitment to the principles of the International Convention on the Rights of the Child as ratified by the United Nations in 1990, to be included in the current IBBY Statutes. Because of that action it is our responsibility uphold these rights. It is unacceptable that there are countries in this day and age where girls are banned from reading or even learning to read. It is also inacceptable that many children are unable to read at an adequate level after finishing primary school.

I would like to forge new ties with institutions and other international organizations such as the ALMA. After all, Astrid Lindgren was one of the founding members of IBBY and supported IBBY’s mission always. On a personal level, I learned to love Sweden and the Swedish language because of her books and the television series based on her stories.

ALMA and IBBY are fighting for the same values and we are exploring ways in which we can collaborate to bring children and books together.

Wally De Doncker, IBBY President

 More about Wally De Doncker’s vision on IBBY here

 

A Book Can Change a Life

February 6, 2015
Photo: Stefan Tell

Workshop during ALMA Award week 2011. Photo: Stefan Tell

He was perhaps 13, face shadowed under his hoodie.

‘Got any spare change?’ he asked.

It was some time past ten pm in St Vincent’s emergency waiting room, where my husband was struggling to breathe with a bone caught in his throat. There were no free beds, so the doctors were attending him there, till the surgeon arrived.

I gave him a little. I didn’t have much – I had not expected an ambulance ride at 9.20 pm. I knew where the money would go, too – into his arm when he ducked outside.

It didn’t. He took it to the vending machines, chose a sandwich and a packet of chips. He gulped down the sandwich, then ate each chip more slowly than I have ever seen a child eat before, making each one last.

Two social workers arrived. They said ‘We’re sorry, Sammy. We’ve been looking for two hours to find you a bed. No luck.’

He said, ‘Please, don’t send me out there. I’m scared out there. Please don’t send me out into the night.’

They said, ‘We’re sorry. There’s nothing more that we can do.’

I ran after them. Said, ‘I’ll pay whatever it takes. He can come to our hotel.’

They said, ‘It’s not as easy as that. You can’t just throw money at it. The bed needs to be registered.’

Perhaps they were right.

I went back to my husband just as the registrar arrived to say they had found him a bed. And the boy who had no bed cheered for us and gave us the thumbs up as we went in.

I couldn’t find him again.

I spent ten days crying, on and off, sitting on the floor of my study, till my nephew, who works with the homeless, told me to stop being self indulgent. ‘Do what you can,’ he said. ‘Instead of crying for what you can’t.’

And that is why I accepted the role of Australian Children’s Laureate, 2014-2015. Because I reasoned that, yes, I wanted to give that boy a bed and the security that he would always have a bed and food. But I also desperately wanted to give him books because, when I was 15 and for a short while had no home to go to, my extraordinary, wonderful teacher gave me books, armloads of them, not just her own but ones she had hunted out or me.

Because of those books I never once doubted that life could be good.

It is a lesson I have relearned many times since: as part of a UN mission to the Phillipines, to encourage the children’s book industry, seeing how child sex workers were shown what their lives might be like, with the power of story. I have seen it in the past year, as the laureate. I talked to the men at Castlemaine Prison in Victoria, and, when they heard that I was dyslexic and can’t spell or read forms easily, all but one man admitted that they were unable to read. As one said, ‘What job can you get if you can’t read? That’s how I landed here.’

Kids often have few choices about the life they live, but because of books I knew exactly the life I wanted. Because of those books I had the tools to reach it. And because of books I have lived that life, in a house I built (with a book of instructions and inspiration at hand) and wild animals about me, fruit trees and gardens, books to read and books to write.

Once we believed that only bright kids read books. Now we know, via MRI scans, that reading stimulates the development new neurons and new connections between neurons, in a child’s brain (and in adults too, but the effect is far smaller than when the brain is actively growing).

Empathy is a learned skill, and books and stories are the best way for it to grow. Each time a child reads or hears a story, they are the protagonists. No matter how small your social or physical world is, a book can take you across the universe.

If we want intelligent children, give them books.

If you want children free of prejudice, who can empathise so strongly with others that they will not knowingly or unknowingly do harm, give them books.

If we want a future for this planet based on the best that humanity is capable of, give our children books.

Teach them to read them, too.

Australia is not good at this. One in eleven children has major reading difficulties. One in four does not reach the national literacy benchmarks. Few schools have paid professionals to tutor children who have literacy problems, but rely on volunteers to do so, or on the useful cliché unteachable’.

In Tasmania, nearly fifty percent of adults are unable to read and understand the front page of a newspaper. In my own area, we found that over 40% of adults over forty could not read the chemist’s instructions on their medication.

This is changing, but it has been, is and will be, a hard battle to get educational authorities and teacher training institutions to accept that every child can read and every child must learn to read – or we have failed. There have been many times when I have blessed the sheer existence of Sweden, and all of you who have fought – and won – what we must strive for in so many social areas, not just literacy. If Sweden can do it, so can we all.

When I accepted the Laureateship, I thought I would be doing the same work that I have been doing for a quarter of a century – writing, speaking and using the power of books and storiesies.

But something changed. I realised that the role of Laureate is, perhaps primarily, to thank those who already do so much. You often hear of someone being an untiring worker for children (usually at their funeral) but I have never met one. Everyone who works with kids is often tired. My job has been to say, ‘Thank you. Please don’t stop.’

I had not realised how my own passion for the power of literacy and story would deepen, evidenced not just in what I say but what I write.

In the past year projects have almost seemed to create themselves: the My Story Project, in partnership with the Sydney Writers’ Festival, where young people from racially diverse western Sydney are encouraged to write and share their stories, and the most eloquent will meet to talk about the present, the future and solutions to problems. The tentative beginnings of the Kabulwarnamyo Bush School in remote Arnhem Land where the community, as well as a committee I am privileged to be on, will try to design a school where indigenous kids can learn what they need to proceed to tertiary study if they wish to, without compromising the deep needs of country, pioneering techniques and understandings that may help solve some of the rifts and tragedies of Australian indigenous education.

Next year I and my dear friend and passionate reader, Elaine, as well a her husband Chris, will speak to tens of thousands of Tasmanians; Elaine has no eyes and Chris, like me, is profoundly dyslexic, learning to read as an adult. He’s now a teacher. If we can learn to read, he’ll tell them, anybody can. And, no, you are not stupid if you can’t.

The most profound experience was possibly in a detention centre, where Australia keeps those who have landed on our shores seeking asylum. The parents brought their children to hear a story. So many children lapse into apathy, unable to talk or smile, from the trauma they have experienced or the deep uncertainty of a life where you may be moved tomorrow, or find your living quarters filled with ten newcomers or your friends disappear as they are released. But how do you tell a story to kids with nearly thirty languages, none of them English and no translators?

Never underestimate the power of story. We became animals, each child choosing their own, led by two Singhalese girls who appointed themselves my helpers. We danced through the centre, growling tigers growling at the guards, flying like cranes and butterflies across the table.

All but one small boy, who sat and didn’t move. Mindful of regulations, I could not touch him, but the two small girls did. They hauled him to his feet, demanded to know what he was till he whispered a roar that told us who he had become. A dragon. And as he led us, uttering dragon roars, his father stood expressionless, with tears running down his face, watching his son respond and play.

Never underestimate the power of story.

Jackie French

Australian Children’s Laureate 2014-2015

Jackie French

Jackie French

School libraries first step towards better reading comprehension

January 9, 2015
Photo: Jonas Hallqvist

Swedish Reading ambassador Johanna Lindbäck. Photo: Jonas Hallqvist

The interest for reading promotion questions is huge in Sweden right now. International studies indicate that reading comprehension falls among young Swedes, which have led to new assignments for agencies and organisations. In this post Swedish reading ambassador Johanna Lindbäck blogs about possible solutions to the problem:

There’s been a lot of discussion about reading skills here in Sweden after the latest results in the Pisa-tests were presented in Dec 2012. The reading comprehensive part was really poor, and it has been for quite some time. But the news that 23% of the 15 year olds couldn’t read and understand ”a simple text” came as a shock to us. We’re used to being excellent readers, that’s part of our identity, and now… It was clear to everybody that something needed to be done, like yesterday!, to stop this terrible development.

School libraries are often said to be one solution. Studies show that kids perform better overall as they are better readers when there is a library. So, let’s just open a bunch of them and the problem is solved?
This idea worries me quite a lot. I love libraries and I really do want them to be everywhere, especially in schools. The problem is that the praising of them often has the has the same ring as the desperate Swedish teachers I often meet when I visit schools. They ask me what they can do to make their student read better, and how can they get the boys especially to like reading?
They know as well as I do what the answer is. Read a lot in class, year after year, never give up. As a teacher you need to read a lot yourself to find the right books for your class.
But this is an answer that requires a lot of time and effort, and they want me to say something easier and faster. A quick fix they can do for a month or two with great results. If only there was such a thing… School libraries aren’t one either, that’s for sure.

Lots of Swedish schools already have them, staffed with educated librarians, and the students at those schools still fail their reading comprehension tests. How come? Because the library isn’t used properly. The frustrated staff always say the same thing: everybody at the school (the principal and teachers) say how great it is that the library’s there, but no one is really using it. Some kids like to come during recess, but that’s it basically.
Coincidentally, you can often find the frustrated librarian at the same school as the teachers asking how to make their students read more. This is exactly what worries me whenever I hear the chant that libraries are the end of all our troubles.

If it’s going to be successful and the big asset to students and teachers that it could be, a school library should be seen as a great start. Considered the first step. The second step is when the principal develop a plan with the teachers and the librarian(s). This plan should involve all teachers, not just the language teachers. The key factor to better reading comprehension is that it’s everybody’s responsibility. That’s step three. Developing a well-functioning library that’s actually going to improve results takes a lot of hard work, and it can’t be done by one person only (the librarian). Nor can it be done by languge teachers solely. You read and write in all subjects, so all teachers need to be part of this work.

If we think of libraries as a start I won’t worry anymore. Not a bit. But if we think of it as the goal and end of all efforts, we won’t achieve a thing. Sorry.

Johanna Lindbäck
Swedish Reading Ambassador for Young People

More about Johanna Lindbäck here

Henrika Andersson: How should we promote children’s love of reading?

December 9, 2014
Photo: Lena Malm, Schilds & Söderströms

Photo: Lena Malm, Schilds & Söderströms

Henrika Andersson, author and ambassador for reading in Finland, gives her opinion on how we can and should encourage reading amongst children and youths:

I have yet to run into a child who hates books. Parents who sit down with their child for a quiet read at the end of the day are remembered with joy and warmth. For most people, reading aloud is synonymous with happiness and a feeling of solidarity. So, when does the happiness end? When do these joint moments of reading stop? In most cases this happens when the child starts to read by himself and the school “takes over”. Reading becomes homework. Words and sentences must be plotted through, essays and stories are corrected with a red pen and become marked. And at the same time the moments of joy at home disappear – reading aloud is replaced with telly.

In his thought-provoking book Som en roman – om lusten att läsa (approx. Just like a novel – about the urge to read) Daniel Pennac has described how most booklovers have discovered literature by reading, despite of something. We read books inspite of what we should and must do, we defy the world/our parents/time etc by disappearing into a book. I remember how important it was for me to find my own books, not the ones that was put before me or the ones I was supposed to read. And I especially disliked the tomes that I was supposed to give an account for in school or have a clear opinion on. Reading was and is something intimate and private, a thing between me and the sentences I mold and capture. Today, I have to steal time to be able to read, even though I should be doing something else instead.

Efforts to promote the love of reading should be increased on all fronts. In Finland, as in Sweden, we should set the bar high to create another trend in our society, making reading attractive. Instead of it being mandatory we could encourage young people to read for many different reasons; sneaking away, to be comforted, to wallow or just for the joy of it.

To read separate bits and pieces from various books just to find something appealing in the spur of the moment, is another tip. Never mind categorization of good/bad literature nor rules on how a book should be read. Talk about books and literature, act as role models and invest in festivals for children’s and young adult literature, book events for children, more library efforts and reading aloud when the lust for reading starts to drop off. The Swedish reading campaign “15 minutes a day”, which also was successfully tested in Finnish workplaces, is one of many ways to breathe life into literature.

As for reading promotion activities, I look with envy at Sweden having a full-time employed Reading Ambassador and a Reading coach. The Swedish Arts Council is a fine example that Finland is more than welcome to copy. So far, most of the reading promotion activities in Finland are on a grass root level, although we still are considered to be people of reading. But for how long?

Henrika Andersson

Author and Finnish Ambassador for reading

Reading promotion project Pause – you and a book

September 26, 2014

With cool music and daredevil movements by three young free runners, the reading promotion campaign Pause – you and a book started yesterday at the Göteborg Book Fair. Author and skateboarder Johan Unenge, also known as a cartoonist and Sweden’s first National Ambassador for Reading, is Pause’s “reading coach”:

– The world of sports is a perfect arena for reaching young people. Here, you find commitment from children, parents and coaches, says Johan Unenge.

Johan Unenge and Lotta Brilioth Biörnstad at Ung scen at Göteborg Book Fair.

Johan Unenge and Lotta Brilioth Biörnstad at Ung scen at Göteborg Book Fair.

Pause is an effort to get more young athletes to read books during their spare time. All over Sweden sports clubs and libraries are working together to improve young people appetite for reading. The initiative comes from the sports movement and the Swedish Arts Council. Johan Unenge:

– The goal is to reverse today’s negative trend, and to give young people a pause – a pause that gives them a richer language, a better reading comprehension and a wider world.

Johan Unenge will be blogging on the Pause web and travelling around the country to inform, pep and spread knowledge about the project. The hub in this reading promotion project however, are the sports leaders. Librarians and parents becomes important as supporters. A sports club wanting to join the Pause project choose what level they want to add books into their activities. To contact the nearest library could be the first step and in time perhaps the club or municipality wants to launch a major long-term project.

Victoria Caliber, Johan Unenge and Lotta Brilioth Biörnstad from the Swedish Arts Council.

Victoria Caliber, Johan Unenge and Lotta Brilioth Biörnstad from the Swedish Arts Council.

There are already several sports and reading promotion projects going on in Sweden, and Victoria Caliber from Läsmuskler (“Reading muscles) in Ulricehamn explains how they work with several different sports. They have recently appointed a “stall for reading” at a riding school, they’ve got comfortable and cosy reading pouffes in the shape of footballs, they run a caravan filled with books to football games, and help sports clubs to select books and audio books.

– Our experience is that there is a great demand for books in the sports world, they are appreciated by the athletes but also by parents and siblings, says Victoria Kleiber.

Written by Cecilia Eriksson, Swedish Arts Council

Bok och Bibliotek 2014, LŠssatsningen Paus

Pause 1

”May everyone really mean everyone!!

September 12, 2014

MEXICO 234

”May everyone really mean everyone!! This is the chosen motto for the 34th IBBY Congress. The message from the organisers is that people who read books are in contact with others. When differences in customs, religion, languages, lifestyles etc. occur, they do not make us vulnerable; they enhance us if we know something about the world outside our own.

Some 900 participants listened to Alicia Molina, Mexican writer and key note speaker when she on Thursday opened the congress. She focused on the importance of art and culture for the inclusion of children with disabilities. A truly free society accepts differences, and the concept of the normal – is what? Who is perfect? Nobody. Or everybody, if you stop comparing one person with another. Looking away is the ultimate form of excluding and making people invisible. And this goes for children too. Where are the disabled children in literature for young readers? What is not mentioned in books is not seen and hence not understood. “The experience of literature is the experience of others” says Octavio Paz. Literature is the most important thing mankind has invented to be able to take part in other people’s lives and we should use it, concluded Alicia Molina.

Akoss Aforii- Mensah, publisher from Ghana and member of the IBBY board, started her publishing career with books for children on environmental issues and is today focused on inclusion and children's rights.

Akoss Aforii- Mensah, publisher from Ghana and member of the IBBY board, started her publishing career with books for children on environmental issues and is today focused on inclusion and children’s rights.

Learn more about the works of the laureates

August 22, 2014
The Arrival (2006) by Shaun Tan.

The Arrival (2006) by Shaun Tan.

The Book of Everything (2006) by Guus Kuijer.

The Book of Everything (2006) by Guus Kuijer.

Summer is almost over and a new term has started for most students. Now is perfect timing to read a new book, so why not let our reading guides inspire you? The guides contain an introduction of the author or illustrator, description of the contents, a suggested interpretation and topics for discussions. They are meant to be used in book circles, in schools or just as inspiration for further reading. Twelve books by ten laureates are available and easy to download for free, from Kitty Crowther’s Alors? for younger children, to Sonya Hartnett’s psychological novels for young adults and Shaun Tan’s completely wordless work The Arrival.

Petit, the Monster by Isol

It´s Useful to Have a Duck and Nocturne – Dream Recipes by Isol

The Book of Everything by Guus Kuijer

The Arrival by Shaun Tan

Alors? by Kitty Crowther

Lénfant Racine by Kitty Crowther

The Devil Latch by Sonya Hartnett

The Ghost’s Child by Sonya Hartnett

The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson

Basu ni Notte by Ryôji Arai

Northen Lights by Philip Pullman

My Friend the Painter by Lygia Bojunga

Fly Away Home by Christine Nöstlinger

Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

Alors? (2006) by Kitty Crowther.

Alors? (2006) by Kitty Crowther.

For more tutorials, have a look at Sonya Hartnett’s web, link here. A tutorial for Shaun Tan’s latest book Rules of Summer can be found here.

”Why don´t we give literature a sporting chance?”

February 6, 2013

In today’s edition of the Australian newspaper The Age author Norman Jorgensen is worried about how very little books and literature are valued in his country:

“Politicians constantly complain that children’s literacy levels are down, and getting worse, but the creators of children’s literature don’t seem to be particularly valued by those who allocate government funds. When we hear of a billion dollars being spent on a brand new literature centre instead of a second sports stadium I may take the politicians’ complaints a bit more seriously.”

His words are not unchallenged, as often happens when sports and culture are put together. Read this interesting article here.

Photo: The Age

Photo: The Age

Everybody reads!

September 10, 2012

Photo: Swedish Arts Council

Several reports show that young people read less and less. One in four 15-year-old boys don´t reach a basic level of reading comprehension. Now, Swedish Arts Council and The National Agency for Education arrange a conference under the theme “Everybody reads!”, which will focus on how to create real change by building strong structures and collaborations that promote reading – for all children and young adults . On October 18-19, politicians, school directors, librarians and others, get together to listen to current research, share experiences and discuss how to reverse this negative trend.

Link to further reading (in Swedish) here.