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Archive for November, 2007

How SAD is this?

On November 19, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) released To Read or Not to Read: A Question of National Consequence, a new analysis of reading patterns in the U.S. The study, which is a follow-up to NEA’s 2004 Reading at Risk, revealed recent declines in voluntary reading and test scores alike, trends NEA described as having “severe consequences for American society.”

“The new NEA study is the first to bring together reliable, nationally representative data, including everything the federal government knows about reading,” said NEA Chairman Dana Gioia. “This study shows the startling declines, in how much and how well Americans read, that are adversely affecting this country’s culture, economy, and civic life as well as our children’s educational achievement.”

Among the study’s key findings:

  • Americans are reading less. Teens and young adults read less often and for shorter amounts of time compared with other age groups and with Americans of previous years. Less than one-third of 13-year-olds are daily readers, a 14 percent decline from 20 years earlier. Among 17-year-olds, the percentage of non-readers doubled over a 20-year period, from nine percent in 1984 to 19 percent in 2004. On average, Americans ages 15 to 24 spend almost two hours a day watching TV, and only seven minutes of their daily leisure time on reading.
  • The declines in reading have civic, social, and economic implications. Advanced readers accrue personal, professional, and social advantages. Deficient readers run higher risks of failure in all three areas. Nearly two-thirds of employers ranked reading comprehension “very important” for high school graduates. Yet 38 percent consider most high school graduates deficient in this basic skill.

The full To Read or Not to Read study and an Executive Summary are available as downloadable PDFs on the NEA website, www.nea.gov.

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Agh … December is upon us

Oh gosh. It’s already November 29. I’m freakin’ out.

I have two kids with December birthdays. Seriously. What in the world did we (and they) do to deserve this? (Don’t answer that!) It’s like one long party the entire month. It seems like almost every day that something is coming in the mail from someone–an aunt, a grandma (mostly grandmas). It’s obnoxious, actually. It gets to the point where the kids are EXPECTING a gift almost every day!

So yes, while most of you are probably thrilled that the holiday is upon us, we are not so much in the Jackson house. At least not the two of us in charge of keeping food on the table.

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Just wanted to take a second to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving. We all have so much to be thankful for. Take a minute to reflect upon what you have in life and how lucky you are. Celebrate with loved ones. Hug your kids. Hug your mom and dad. Heck, hug the dog. Then eat the turkey. 😉

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Another great event all but fell in my lap recently when I was asked to edit a press release.

The IndyBabyExpo will take place in April 2008 at the Indiana State Fairgrounds. It’s going to be a huge event, and I can’t wait to get Barefoot Books to as many parents, grandparents, friends, teachers and book lovers as possible.

Jenn Kampmeier has done tremendous work organizing this great event. Keep an eye out for it in April!

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If you’re looking for a unique book for a young boy, take a peek at The Boy Who Grew Flowers.

Seriously, folks, this book is among my new favorites.

My two oldest sons (6 and 4) love this book as well. My WONDERFUL Barefoot sponsor, Rebecca Wolpinsky, referred to it as “the first romance for little boys” that she had ever read. I hadn’t thought of it that way, but it absolutely is JUST THAT–a romance for boys!

The pictures are breathtaking and the story is absolutely adorable. Your eyes will tear up at this one. Yes, it’s that good.

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Great toy tips

Just in time for the holidays, CCFC organizational member Teachers Resisting Unhealthy Children’s Entertainment (TRUCE) has released its annual “Toy Action Guide.” You can download it at http://www.truceteachers.org/toyguides/T_Guide_web_07.pdf.

 

The Toy Action Guide is an invaluable resource – particularly at this time of year – for parents, teachers, or anyone concerned about the commercialization of children’s play. It contains information on how to select toys that promote positive play and reduce the influence of harmful toys on children. There is a list of TRUCE’s 2007-2008 recommendations for “Toys for Healthy & Creative Play.” You will also find a list of “Toys and Toy Trends to Avoid,” such as toys that lead children to spend more time with TV or other media, and/or let the screen take control of their play.

 

The guide also includes tips for making toys more environmentally friendly; resources for anyone with concerns about the toy recalls; and suggestions for “Shoe Box Gifts,” an alternative gift idea that promotes play around themes with common objects often found around the house.

 

Download your free copy of the TRUCE Toy Action Guide today!

 

The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood

www.commercialfreechildhood.org

 

Support CCFC. We rely on our members because we will not compromise our commitment to children by accepting corporate funding. To make a tax-free contribution, please visit http://www.commercialfreechildhood.org/donate. 

 


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Ahh, don’t they all go together? Of course! When it’s cold outside, I either want to be bundled up outside at a Pittsburgh Steelers game, or nestled inside with a good book. Of course, living in Indianapolis makes it hard for me to make it to many Steeler games, even though I do have season tickets! 😦

It’s a bit easier–but not often accomplished–for me to sit down and read a good book. With three young boys running (and screaming) around the house, there’s little time to catch up on a good story. Of course, I find lots of good stories in the Barefoot Books I read to the kids. But sometimes it’s necessary to sit down and read something for ME.

That’s exactly what I was thinking when I bought a copy of the book “Eat, Pray, Love.”

Wow. You must read this book. It’s wonderful. It came into my life in the greatest way, too! While in the Portland airport, on my way back to Indy after a long stay for work and play, a woman starts talking to me in one of those little magazine/gift shops. She tells me, “You absolutely have to read this book. This gal is about your age and writes so beautifully. Even if you aren’t going through a divorce (I’m not), you have to read it. Trust me. It’s amazing.”

I didn’t buy the book that day, but I did remember exactly what this stranger told me when I decided I needed a great book to read FOR ME. Of course, I have literally hundreds of books on bookshelves at home–some I’ve read once, some I’ve read several times, and many I’ve never read. But this book was stuck in my mind, so I bought it. And I’m soooo thankful I did. I’m on the last section of the book and I know it’s one of those books that, when I’m finished, is going to leave me so happy that I read it, but so sad that I’m done.

Now, if I could just make it back to the ‘burgh for some great football. Sorry, folks, but Indianapolis Colts football is plastic to me. Dome football, well, it sucks.

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