Our kids are falling behind in reading

July 1, 2009 at 10:25 am | Posted in Book reviews, Education, Kids and reading, Mystery books | Leave a comment
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Study shows our kids are falling behind

Recently I was browsing the web when I found a report called “What kids are reading: The Book-Reading Habits of Students in American Schools.” I am an avid reader and through our magazines I always look for ways to encourage others to enjoy reading as I do.

 rlimainlogo_0609_02The report, which assessed the reading habits of kids k-12th grades, was published in 2008 by Renaissance Learning , an educational resource company located in Wisconsin. They used their database of questionnaires completed by over 3 million students in 9,800 schools in the United States to compile the report.

 Some of the figures startled me. For example, in the 2nd grade the average student reads over 46 books a year. By the 7th grade the number dips to fewer than 11 books and by the 12th grade they read 4.5 books. Why the drastic change?

 I called Roy Truby, senior vice-president of state and federal programs for Renaissance Learning to find out why the number of books read declines steeply as they enter higher grades.

Our kids need practice to be better readers

 His answer…­ practice. “If a parent takes his kid to a baseball program he expects his child to receive instruction, maybe see some videos and then he would practice on the field,” says Truby. “If the kids get the instruction and see the videos but then are expected to go out and play their game without practice, they would never win.”

 “We make the assumption in terms of sports or piano or languages that kids need to learn the skills and then practice before they actually play or perform in public,” continues Truby. “But we don’t make that assumption in terms of reading.”

 “The need for practice comes out time and time again,” says Truby.

We do not rate well relative to the rest of the world

 How do we rate with other countries of the world? Truby says that in the early years up to the 4th grade, we are very competitive in all areas, but as our kids reach the higher grades we are barely ahead of the poorer South African nations. Other countries surpass us because they have longer school days, a longer school year and in some countries the workload is so significant kids don’t have time for an afterschool job.

3 steps to take to help your kids succeed.

 Want your kids to succeed. Take these three easy steps: 1. Get the kids a library card. It’s free. And be sure to use it. 2. Determine a reading time in your household. (By the way, in Finland and Sweden kids read at least 35 minutes a day. In the US our kids read 7 minutes a day!) 3. Take an interest in what they are reading. Talk about it at dinner or when ever you gather as a family.  

 Want one more shocking statistic? Many American boys graduate high school and never read another book. 

What do you do to encourage your kids to read?

Also if you want to browse our new book series visit The Undercover Kids.  After you and your kids read the adventures of Katie, Jake and Cooper, be sure to encourage your kids to write their own kids’ adventure. If they submit it online, they may be published in the next book in the series.

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Autistic kid solves mystery

June 26, 2009 at 1:53 pm | Posted in Book reviews, Kids and reading, Mystery books | Leave a comment
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As the recent publisher of a new kids’ book, The Undercover Kids’ Holland Adventure, I am always on the lookout for great books for kids.

I read Tanya’s blog on books. She mentioned that she only reviews books once they come out in paperback.  And so the reviewer waited a year, when the paperback version of  The London Eye Mystery was published, to talk about this kid’s adventure book.

She admitted in her review, she missed the mark in this book by waiting the year. And I agree.

Kids overcoming differences makes this a great read.

london eye mysterySiobhan Bowd’s book, The London Eye Mystery, introduces the readers to Ted, the younger brother of Kat. Ted loves to talk about weather patterns; he has a great memory for facts and has a hand he has difficulty in controlling – it shakes. He also has trouble in dealing with his emotions and can’t seem to quite understand the feelings of others. Dowd creates this character Ted with all the revealing symptoms of autism, but the word is never used to describe him. She talks about Ted’s teacher, who advises Ted to smile when others smile because that will help him make friends. And he is leaning other things to: To look in the direction of people who are speaking to him; to understand that if someone is crying they are having a problem and to try an control his shaking hand.

But through it all, he solves the mystery of the disappearance of his visiting cousin, Salim. Ted’s favorite thing is to fly the Eye. Like a Ferris Wheel, you sit in a capsule with 21 other folks and twist and turn above London. Salim goes on the first capsule while Ted and Kat wait on the ground for Salim to complete his spin. But the brother and sister don’t see Salim get off his capsule. And now the adventure begins.

Dowd is great in getting the true sibling love-hate relationship. We “listen” to Ted work out his frustrations as he tries to get others to listen to the nine scenarios he has created as to what might have happened to his cousin. There is the understanding mom who gets frustrated with Ted’s frantic ways. The dad who bulldozes large building to make way for the new. A crazy Aunt Gloria who uses a long cigarette holder as she smokes.  And Salim’s dad who is an doctor.

The issues of sibling relationships, relationships with moms and dads and a international flavor that we don’t often see in kids’ books. All this, plus the unusual Ted, makes this a must read for kids and their parents.

I am sorry to report that Siobhan Dowd died of breast cancer on 21 August 2007, aged 47, Just before Dowd’s death, the Siobhan Dowd Trust was set up, where all the proceeds from her literary work will be used to assist disadvantaged children with their reading skills.

Have you found a book that you wished you read earlier? Share your story.

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