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    Two Versions of Myself: What It Means to Win an ILA Children’s and Young Adults’ Book Award

    By Lindsay Eagar
     | Oct 17, 2017

    Lindsay EagarI spend my days oscillating between two versions of myself.

    The first is Lindsay, the mother. My two daughters are seven and one, and they are willful, brilliant, demanding little tyrants. As a stay-at-home mom, much of my time every day is spent with my daughters, feeding them, dressing them, teaching them, and generally making sure they are happy and healthy.

    No small task.

    Most nights I collapse into bed, desperate for a few hours’ rest before the morning breaks and the exhausting, isolating task of caretaking begins again. I have always known I wanted to be a mother, but oh, I was not prepared for how hard it can be to give and give and give, and wonder if it will ever be enough.

    But this is the experience of being a mother.

    The second is Lindsay, the writer. I am a daydreamer, a silly heart, a creator of worlds and places and characters as dear to me as if they were real. As a child, I hoped that I would one day be a published author, and when I saw my debut book, Hour of the Bees, on shelves in bookstores, a new fire was lit—to tell every story I have inside me. To write, to be fearless with my pen, to illuminate with my words, to bring honesty and beauty and searing, sparkling magic to readers, and to stop only when I am dead.

    No small task.

    Most nights I fall asleep immediately, already plotting what sentences I will write when I wake—sometimes the words tease me out of sleep when it is still dark, whispering to me across the shadows. I have always known I wanted to be a writer, but oh, I was not prepared for how it feels to give and give and give, and wonder if it will ever be enough.

    But this is the experience of being a writer.

    And on most days these two versions of myself feel at odds—they battle for my attention, for my energy. They fight to be the defining Lindsay, but every once in a while I have a day where the two of them melt into one.

    The day when I opened the email telling me I was an ILA Children’s and Young Adults’ Book Award winner in the category of intermediate fiction? That was one of those days.

    I looked up from my notebook, up at my sweet girls, and the connection was forged—the immense privilege I have of writing for children, of shaping their world, of opening a window of magic into their lives—that is celebrated with this award, which I share with the teachers who work with young children in classrooms and encourage their imaginations through literacy.

    There is a Lindsay who gets to mother my darling girls, and a Lindsay who gets to write books that children read with their teachers, books that hopefully develop a lifelong love of reading and learning for these minds. I am so, so grateful to the International Literacy Association for highlighting Hour of the Bees. This is such a great honor, to be recognized by an organization that looks at stories for children, every day, and to be seen as enough. I am delighted that my second novel, Race to the Bottom of the Sea, was released this month—it affirms that not only does writer Lindsay belong in this world, she thrives.

    Lindsay Eagar won the ILA 2017 Children’s and Young Adults’ Book Award for Intermediate Fiction for Hour of the Bees.

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    ILA Nominates Iran Literacy Project for 2018 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award (ALMA)

    By Alina O'Donnell
     | Oct 12, 2017
    Read With Me

    Yesterday, Iran literacy project Read With Me was announced as a candidate for the 2018 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award (ALMA)—the world's largest children's literature prize, designed to promote interest in children's and young adults' literature.  

    Each year, the award’s jury selects nominating bodies from around the world, all of which must demonstrate “expert knowledge” of children’s and young adult literature. ILA was one of only six U.S. organizations, among 226 total nominating bodies, to nominate a candidate this year.

    As ILA’s nomination committee members began to discuss potential candidates, they looked at previous award winners. How had they used the funding? How many lives had it changed? The committee wanted to support a cause that would have a far-reaching and sustained impact.

    “We felt strongly that a project that could really monetarily use the support in the most impactful way was the one we wanted to support,” said nomination committee member Junko Yokota.

    It didn't take long for Zohreh Ghaeni’s name to come up. Yokota had served alongside Ghaeni on several international award juries, including the International Board for Books of Young People, and had continued to follow her work in promoting children’s books in Iran.

    A lifelong activist, Ghaeni was twice arrested and detained for her political beliefs, journalism, and human rights defense work, which focused on youth education.

    “From the time I was 19, I knew I wanted to work with children in poor villages. I was so worried about the children that I left my university learning to work directly with them. I brought books from Tehran, I read to them, I played with them out in nature,” said Ghaeni, in her personal statement. “That was the first time that any teacher had come to them to offer such an opportunity. But teaching 20–30 children was not enough; I wanted to do more.”

    During her second, eight-year-long term in person, she did not have access to books—an experience that served as a harrowing reminder of the power of words. Once released, she began to research the history of children’s literature as a means of ideological control. Ghaeni realized she may not be able to change the education system that was oppressing young minds, but she could empower the children to help themselves, through literature.

    Her time spent in prison inspired her to found Read With Me with the goal of promoting lifelong reading habits in underserved areas in Iran. Today, the organization leads two-day workshops every three months for teachers, librarians, and volunteers, who learn how to facilitate productive read-aloud and discussion, foster literacy skills, and lead creative activities that support learning.

    Over the past decade, Read With Me has reached more than 7,000 children and young adults across 75 remote villages in Iran, trained more than 500 teachers, distributed 25,000 books and 60,000 learning activities, and established more than 90 Read With Me small libraries.

    Beyond these numbers, Ghaeni said the most important measure of success of Read With Me is the impact on children, teachers, and volunteers involved. Not only have the children developed a love of books, but have shown improved vocabulary, pronunciation, comprehension, concentration, communication, confidence, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills.

    Yokota said that collaboration is at the core of everything the organization does.

    “Even the name, Read With Me, was very intentional. They don’t read to the children, they read with the children,” she said. “That kind of deep thinking can be found in every aspect of the organization.”

    The committee members also recognized the organization’s emphases on high-quality literature, paired with strong professional development—key tenets of ILA’s mission.

    “It’s an approach that allows teachers to get training in how to use the books with children, how to engage them to use lit in meaningful ways,” said Miriam Martinez, chair of ILA’s nomination committee. “It not only encompasses good literature, but empowers teachers with professional development.”

    If awarded the prize, Ghaeni plans to expand the organization’s operations and continue to help more children and young adults make meaningful changes in their lives.

    The recipient will be announced in Stockholm and Bologna following the jury’s final meeting in March 2018.

    To learn more about Read With Me, visit the organization’s website and YouTube channel.  

    To learn more about the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, visit alma.se/en.

    Alina O'Donnell is the editor of Literacy Daily.

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    Celebrating Literacy Leadership: Laura Northrop

    By Alina O'Donnell
     | Oct 11, 2017

    Laura NorthropNorthrop, assistant professor of literacy education at Cleveland State University, Ohio, is the recipient of the Outstanding Dissertation of the Year Award, honoring an exceptional dissertation completed in the field of reading or literacy. To learn about 2018 award and grant opportunities, visit our Awards & Grants page.

    Laura Northrop brings a former journalist’s mind-set to the field of literacy research, where she approaches each challenge like a news story, seeking a deeply contextualized understanding of the reader’s world.

    After a brief stint in journalism, Northrop decided she wanted to go into education. Her first teaching job was in the Chicago public school district. Although she taught grades 6–8, most of her students were reading below a middle school level. During this time, she became increasingly interested in struggling readers, particularly in the middle school context, and she decided to pursue a PhD in education policy analysis from the University of Pittsburgh.

    “I wanted to know, what’s the difference between children who enter kindergarten with low-level literacy skills, and go on to have average achievement, and those who enter with low literacy skills and continue to struggle?” Northrop recalls. She explored this question in her dissertation “Breaking the Cycle: Cumulative Disadvantage in Literacy.”

    Northrop’s research focuses on teacher attrition, instructional practices, and cumulative disadvantage in literacy. She believes literacy success lies at the intersection of choice, parenting behaviors, and instructional intervention.

    “It really is an alignment of child, home, and school factors. The child has to be motivated to want to be a better reader, the parents have to be on board, and teachers have to be knowledgeable enough to provide the right interventions at the right time,” says Northrop.

    Alina O’Donnell is the editor of ILA’s blog, Literacy Daily.

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    Celebrating Literacy Leadership: John Guthrie

    By Alina O'Donnell
     | Oct 05, 2017

    GJohn Guthrieuthrie is the recipient of the William S. Gray Citation of Merit Award, recognizing a nationally or internationally known individual for his or her outstanding contributions to the field of reading/literacy. To learn about 2018 award and grant opportunities, visit our Awards & Grants page.

    John Guthrie has devoted his career to exploring what he believes is the “big, empty hole in human development for reading”—motivation.

    He discovered this uncharted territory while serving as codirector of the National Reading Research Center, funded by the U.S. Department of Education.

    “The theme was motivation and engagement. We said, let’s shine a light on this topic that hasn’t gotten high awareness. What are motivators for students, and what kinds of classroom contexts and teacher practices boost motivation and engagement?” Guthrie recalls.

    Guthrie’s research focuses on the positive relationship between reading motivation and literacy achievement. He says skill and will go hand in hand.

    “If a student is relatively well motivated in several different ways, they then become engaged in reading. They’re putting out effort, following their passion for reading. Motivations drive effort, energy, and enjoyment,” Guthrie says.

    Guthrie, who received both his master’s and doctoral degrees in educational psychology from the University of Illinois, began his career as an assistant professor of education and project director of the Center for Social Organization of Schools at Johns Hopkins University. In addition to his stint at the National Reading Research Center, he has served as the director of research for ILA and director of the Center for Educational Research and Development at the University of Maryland, College Park.

    Although he retired in 2007, Guthrie is currently involved in four research projects examining motivation in digital literacy. Like the field itself, his research has evolved to reflect the increasing multimodality of 21st-century texts.

    Guthrie says his research is helping to establish new tools in digital literacy engagement. Right now, he’s studying how computer systems can teach struggling readers in a way that’s motivationally adaptive (responds to the motivation of kids), helping teachers to develop practices that inspire a fuller range of motivations.

    When asked how he felt about receiving ILA’s William S. Gray Citation of Merit, Guthrie says he is humbled to receive an award named after one of his idols.

    “William S. Gray was my hero when I was working at ILA. He was one of my inspirations in terms of how he read and how he wrote and what he did,” Guthrie says. “It is a special honor to have this award linked to him.”


    Alina O'Donnell
    is the editor of Literacy Daily.

     

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    Seven Resources You Need to Start Global Read Aloud 2017

    By Alina O'Donnell
     | Oct 03, 2017

    Global Read AloudSeven years ago, Wisconsin-based seventh-grade teacher Pernille Ripp had an idea for a global collaboration project that would connect educators and students through read-aloud. An immigrant herself, Ripp believed in the power of books to break down biases and broaden understandings.

     “When I think about global collaboration—it’s because we need to make the world smaller. We need to stop being so afraid of others,” Ripp said. “We need to teach our kids about the outside world or allow them to start experiencing it.”

    Since then, Global Read Aloud (GRA) has gained serious traction—reaching more than 2,000,000 students across 60 countries. For the next six weeks (ending in mid-November) educators from around the world will pick a book to read aloud to students while making as many global connections as possible through social media, video chat, blogging, and other mediums.

    It’s not too late to join—just visit globalreadaloud.com to learn more and sign up, and then browse the list of resources below to get started:

    • This video, which explains how Ripp was inspired to start GRA, how the movement has grown, and how your classroom can participate
    • This archived Google Hangout conversation on the benefits of reading aloud, featuring Ripp, Steven L. Layne, author and professor of literacy education at Judson University in Illinois, and Jennifer Estrada, director of the HerStory Campaign for LitWorld
    • The Global Read Aloud Official Board on Pinterest, where Ripp shares GRA ideas
    • This open Google Sheet, where educators can contribute their own resources (or share ideas they have found online) for participating in GRA
    • The official Twitter hashtag for this year, #GRA17, as well as the following, book-specific individual hashtags:

    Alina O'Donnell is the editor of Literacy Daily.

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