As kids, summer reading may have been the most dreaded thing on our minds as the final school days of June ticked by and thoughts of swimming and sleeping until noon filled our heads. Well, for those of us who weren’t absolute bookworms anyway. No matter how many times a teacher or parent told us it was important, we didn’t want to do it. I’m sure more than half of us didn’t even pick up one of those assigned books until the last weeks of August when it became a race to get it done before the first day back.
So what is the point of Summer Reading? Well, it helps prevent what is known as the “summer slide.” The summer slide is the phenomenon where kids’ reading ability worsens over a summer of no reading. Reading levels drop, and reading comprehension becomes more difficult upon returning to class. Assigned reading over the summer months was just one of the many ways schools and teachers have tried to combat this slide in literacy, but there are more interesting approaches like that of Scholastic.
Like many teachers and parents, Scholastic knows that summer reading can be a challenge but a very important challenge to keeping literacy rates high. Scholastic is a popular children’s book publisher, popular for more than just the publication of the Harry Potter series, which makes it unsurprising that they have a plan to inspire children across the United States to get reading this summer. For their thirteenth year running, Scholastic is hosting Read-a-Palooza, helping kids track not just books read but the minutes spent reading. This, unlike many reading challenges, isn’t a competition to see who can read the most books, which can discourage the slower readers in the bunch. All that matters is how much time a kid spends reading this summer!
According to the homepage for Read-a-Palooza, “77% of kids ages 6-17 and 94% of parents believe reading books over the summer helps kids during the school year.” For Read-a-Palooza, kids can unlock digital rewards for tracking their minutes spent reading, and they can help unlock a very large book donation for communities and children in need across the United States. Students can even help land their school in the 2019 Scholastic Book of World Records. There is no shortage of incentives to get kids reading!
One super important point to make is that there are no requirements as to what kids are reading. Graphic novels? Great! Fantasy? Excellent! As long as they’re reading, it counts. Kids have until September 6th to input their minutes on the Scholastic website.
Say it ain’t so! Arthur Levine, of Harry Potter and His Dark Materials fame, is leaving Scholastic? Arthur A. Levine, the man who brought Harry Potter to the US of A, an early champion of Phillip Pullman’s fantastic first His Dark Material novel The Golden Compass, the dude who Benzinga claims has an imprint backlist “which has produced more than three hundred works of hardcover literary fiction, picture books, and nonfiction for children and teenagers”, my main man, is now leaving Scholastic.
“I’ve had a wonderful run at Scholastic and will greatly miss working here. There are such strengths and so many gifted individuals. But I’m excited to found a company led by a mission to make books reflecting the greatest diversity and the highest standards of artistic excellence.”
I already hear you asking – what’s the name of this new company? We don’t know – it’s unannounced.
As for your second question – the goal of this new company? – the answer is…
They plan to give a voice to a wide range of new authors, putting focus on having “a mix of 75% minority creators, including people of color, indigenous people, and LGBTQ individuals”.
So there is hope. A lot of it actually!
So while J. K. Rowling goes off and makes three more Fantastic Beasts movies, Arthur Levine, the man who brought Harry Potter to the US of A, my main dude, is now dedicating his time in helping minority authors get their voice heard by the public.
New York Comic Con has come and gone, but not without showcasing a few upcoming works by one of our favorite authors. Raina Telgemeier, the author of Smile and Sisters, revealed her two new upcoming projects that will be released in 2019. Share Your Smile, is a how-to-make-comics journal and guidebook, providing potential comic book artists with tips and tricks on how to get into the comic book drawing business and come out like a pro.
Image Via Go Raina
Her other upcoming novel, Guts, is a graphic novel and a memoir based on the author’s middle school experience. Taking place before Smile, it focuses on the author’s experience in dealing with her anxieity disorder during fourth and fifth grade. The book goes into detail about the author’s difficulties in dealing with her anxiety, panic attacks, and phobias. Raina Telgemeier balances the serious topic of mental health in a charming yet comical way for middle schoolers to understand and relate to.
In 2016, John’s Hopkins University Press received a $938,000 grant courtesy of The Andrew Mellon Foundation, which allowed them the funds to continue building an Open Access (OA) platform for monographs in humanities and social sciences.
This was all part of MUSE Open, a non-profit organization aimed at making scholarly texts, journals, articles, and more readily accessible. The organization was founded in 1995 and, in the past twenty-three years, has teamed up with nearly 300 publishers to make works from all categories available online.
via Project MUSE
This is vital because people who otherwise would not have had the opportunity to read and learn from these texts have been given a platform to do exactly that.
In April, Johns Hopkinsreceived another grant for $200,000 from both The Andrew Mellon Foundation and The National Endowment for the Humanities which will allow them to take over 200 out-of-print works and release them back into the world via MUSE.
Expanding their database to include texts that were previously out-of-print will give these books new life and allow them to be seen again for the first time in years.
Johns Hopkins has taken the lead on this, but maybe in the future we’ll see more out-of-print works raised from the dead, along with other Open Access platforms making texts accessible for all!
Conservative advocacy group One Million Moms is back at being a total buzzkill, this time rallying its supporters against Scholastic because of a children’s book promoting tolerance and acceptance.
George, a chapter book written by queer activist and author Alex Gino, which is intended for children in grades three to seven, has come under fire from the “pro-family” group. The story follows a transgender fourth-grader who wants to play Charlotte in her school’s production of Charlotte’s Web. The 10-year-old protagonist hopes not only to get the part, but that her family and teachers will look past the male gender she was assigned at birth and can accept her as she sees herself—as a girl.
The book, which was published in 2015, has been praised by critics as a “profound, moving” book. Additionally, the book was awarded the Stonewall Book Award that year, an award sponsored by the American Library Associations, Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender roundtable.
One Million Moms does not feel the book is family-friendly. “Scholastic does not have our children’s best interests at heart. Tell Scholastic to stop harming children,” said a statement on One Million Moms’ website.
That’s not all though. The group is peeved with Scholastic for offering reading lists for LGBT families, calling the lists “morally toxic,” and promising to boycott the education-based company if it did not stop “publishing and promoting pro-homosexual and pro-transgender books for children.”
One Million Moms is also currently fighting with Ben & Jerry’s for their SNL tribute flavor “Schweddy Balls,” which is hilarious.