Let Literacy Be Thy Focus!

Parents and educators, NCBLA understands that during a public health crisis AND a time of societal upheaval it is very hard to focus on matters of literacy.  However, due to the importance of literacy, and the manner in which high literacy levels help us “back out of” societal ills, let us think of ways we can remain focused on reading and learning.

First, stay in tune with literacy websites at this hour.  Of course, follow NCBLA and its sister site, Our White House:  Looking In, Looking Out.  At these sites, you will find a plethora of reading opportunities and educational resources, both for ELA and history!  Be sure to also visit Reading Rockets, whose mission is to “launch readers.”  Here you will find pedagogical tips as well as reading lists, author interviews, and a book finder to create personalized book lists.  And, how can we forget the Library of Congress’ young people’s page, which offers an entire classic children’s book library, author webcasts, book lists, and on and on…resources ad infinitum.  (Please do not forget NCBLA’s association with the Library of Congress, The Exquisite Corpse Adventure).

Second, stay informed about new children’s book releases.  During the Covid pandemic, the illustrious “The Horn Book” is completely free, digitally, as is the thematically rich “Booklist.”  You may browse the pages of these review journals with your children to discover recent titles, especially updates on those exciting series your children have followed through the years.

Third, during Covid, several online reading library opportunities have popped up!  For example, the Jr. Library Guild is offering free access to reading platforms.  And, the New York Public Library carries free children’s e-books on their Simply E platform.  Don’t forget the International Children’s Digital Library to access children’s stories from across our globe (which is free all the time)!

Let’s stay focused on literacy in 2020!

Fourth, schedule a time each and every day, perhaps before or after supper, to read-aloud to each other – parents read to your kids; kids reach to your parents (or family pets).  Take advantage of author kindnesses – such as the graciousness of Katherine Paterson, who has written a children’s story for free dissemination (perfect for a read aloud) on the NCBLA site!  Or, join Reading Is Fundamental’s morning read-alouds via Facebook Live AND visit Dolly Parton’s Goodnight storytime.

Fifth, of course, kids have lots of energy and need to be outside at this time.  As you are outside, explore nature and then read about it, utilizing the excellent titles awarded stellar “Nature” status. Yes, check out The Nature Generation’s listing of Green Book Award winners, here.

Sixth, follow the digital offerings provided by our National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, Jason Reynolds, as sponsored by the Library of Congress.  Mr. Reynolds is encouraging creative writing during a time when “quiet” creative time is (or should be) at a premium.

Seventh, subscribe to at least one children’s magazine and share that monthly “mailbox” excitement with your child.  Possibilities include:  Cricket, Highlights, Ranger Rick, and Cobblestone. If you have not done so already, sign-up to receive a FREE book each month from Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library.

Eight, remain in touch with the manner in which your own local public library is remaining focused on literacy during 2020’s crises.

Ninth, stay in touch with books and publications which help kids through both the pandemic and the protests.  Suggestions include the American Psychological Association’s free books or those books listed in this article from The New York Times.  Finally, check out these listings from a timely School Library Journal blog.

As wise women and men have understood down through the centuries, abounding societal literacy is the key to well-being – fully-functioning democratic societies and the perpetuation of individual freedoms and happiness.  Let’s stay focused!