The Times Books for Schools

The Times and The Sunday Times have a new promotion called Books for Schools.

From January 2009, they will be exchanging books for tokens collected the newspaper.

It does sound really good, and the book lists they have prepared look excellent, including the sort of titles we would recommend at Reading Matters.

Teachers need to register their schools to receive the books, and if you do so by 30 November 2008, they can claim 100 bonus tokens.

National Year of Reading in Sheffield

Yesterday (20/11/08) I attended my first steering group meeting for the National Year of Reading in Sheffield. Ironically it was the last of the meetings but I was very glad I made it, simply to hear about the vast wealth of activities that have been taking place under the Year of Reading banner here in Sheffield.

There is still lots to come however, so although the National Year of Reading effictevely ends in a month or so there are so many events still to come, and so many activites have been such a success this year, I am sure they will continue. And I am sure Reading Matters will continue to be involved.

The National Year of Reading website has some smart resources that will definately be of use, for example:

NY Times article - Teenagers’ Internet Socializing Not a Bad Thing

I just spotted this article on the New York Time website, Teenagers’ Internet Socializing Not a Bad Thing, almost in passing they mention that a new study suggests "participation is giving them the technological skills and literacy they need to succeed in the contemporary world" [bold is my addition].

Over in the comments, people seem to be going spare at the suggestion use of the internet is improving young people's literacy. This is going to run-and-run, I remember Ian Rankin suggesting playing modern video games can help children develop reading skills, back in August. Personally, I can see both side of the story, and wouldn't like to make any judgements on such new media, but it is great fun to see the two sides of the generation/skills gap getting so worked-up.


The Roald Dahl Funny Prize Winners

The first Roald Dahl Funny Prize was announced last week, Mr Gum and the Dancing Bear by Andy Stanton, was deemed the 'Funniest Book for Children Aged Seven to Fourteen'. It does sound good and genuinely funny, which I guess is the point! As they say in the Guardian, it ' follows in the footsteps of the master of madcap humour commemorated by the award'. If it does turn out to be up-your-street, or the street of the 7-14 year-old you are reading with, the good news is that it is the fifth in a series, so there are plenty more to explore.

A bit closer to home, check out the long list for the 2008 Doncaster Book Award, which is in it's fifth year.

Horner Brothers Print Group Staff at Brinsworth Comprehensive

At the end of last week I visited Brinsworth Comprehensive School, I met lots of staff and pupils from the school in the Library, they were all very enthusiastic about the Reading Matters sessions. The volunteer reading mentors at Brinsworth are all staff from Horner Brothers Print Group (HBPG) based not far away from the school. It is a really good project building a real sense of community between the school and the business community.

We have written a press release to celebrate the relationship, here are a couple of quotes which I think sum it up.

Christine Mullan, HR Director at HBPG: "Staff have loved helping the children at Brinsworth School. They get enormous satisfaction from the knowledge they are really helping to support and inspire young people in our community."
Jill Ford, Assistant Head Teacher at Brinsworth Comprehensive School:"The young people who the Horner Brothers volunteers work with have gained confidence through the reading activities and developing a friendly relationship with another adult."
We hope the press release will lead to a bit of coverage in the media. Corporate social responsibility (CSR) programmes such as this are quite big news at the moment so we will see how it goes.


A 13 year-old boy tells it like it is - Vampires, simply put, are awesome

I keep an eye on a few other blogs about reading and quite a few have mentioned a letter by a 13 year old to Publishers Weekly. It is worth a read, and makes some great points that might help our Reading Mentors selecting books for boys, here are some thoughts with quotes from the letter.
  • Avoid langauge that is any way not 'modern': ""Methinks”? “Doth”? Really?"
  • Avoid over emphasised morals: "[don't] smother us in morals that would make a Care Bear cringe"
  • Give them what they want, mainly one thing attacking another thing: "today's vampire stories are 100 pages of florid descriptions of romance and 100 pages of various people being emo"
  • Don't dumb down: "Do Not Underestimate Your Audience."

At the risk of under-estimating my audience, here's a definition of emo, I think the kids have moved on a bit these days..

[via The Ya Ya Yas]

Reading Matters Vacancies

Just a quick post to let you know Reading Matters are currently recruiting for a Project Manager and an Administrator, both would be based in Bradford. See the Reading Matters website for more information and to apply.


Obama loves 'Where the wild things are'

If you write a blog, it seems to be the law that you have to have at least one post about Barack Obama. So here is mine, check out this video where he states that Where the Wild Things are is his favourite book, and just how keen he is on children's litrature. The video is poor quality I am afraid but there are subtitles.


Waitrose Community Matters

At the recent Volunteers Meetings, I asked volunteers to recommend Reading Matters in Sheffield and Rotherham for the new Waitrose Community Matters scheme.

The Sheffield branch of Waitrose will be giving away £1,000 each month. The money is to be split between three local organisations of which we hope Reading Matters will be one. Shoppers will then dictate how the money is allocated.

Obviously the first step is to get
Reading Matters selected, so if you fancy filling in a form they are available at Waitrose, or do get in touch with me. The forms are incredibly simple, mine had a grand total of 22 words!

There is some more useful information about the scheme on the South Yorkshire Funding Advice Bureau's Funding News website.

Thanks to Anne for the tip off on this!