Show, don’t tell: Poetry, relevance sell middle schoolers on reading

 

By Dawn Miller

“What would you say to the kids in the room to encourage them to read?” Newbery Award winner Kwame Alexander was asked at the West Virginia Book Festival in Charleston.

“I wouldn’t say anything,” Alexander answered.

“Who wants to be told? If you really want to connect and make somebody feel engaged, show them. That’s the real way to reach anybody. Make them feel something.”

From one of the readers in the crowd, Alexander borrowed a copy of his novel Rebound, a story about a 12-year-old boy who is dealing with loss, who can’t play basketball, but wishes he could. “This is what I would do,” he said, and recited an excerpt from the novel, which like all his books, is written in almost singable poetry.

It’s so singable, Alexander’s musician best friend Randy Preston, a retired teacher, brought hs guitar and sang a song from it. The two perform together now. They have visited almost 900 schools in the last three years.

“I don’t think you have to tell kids why they need to read,” Alexander said. “I think you’ve got to show them.”

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BAM! stores in WV to donate 10 percent of sales to Read Aloud on Oct. 27

At all Books-a-Million stores in West Virginia on Oct. 27, tell the cashier you want to support Read Aloud West Virginia, and the store will donate 10 percent of the purchase amount to help Read Aloud put books on the minds and in the hands of West Virginia children.

Stores in Barboursville, Beckley, Bluefield, Bridgeport, Martinsburg, Morgantown, Charleston, Vienna and Wheeling are participating in Books-a-Million’s Bookfair Program with Read Aloud for the third time. In Charleston, both stores at Dudley Farms Plaza on Corridor G and in the Charleston Town Center mall are participating.

Read Aloud volunteers will be in stores on Saturday, Oct. 27, 2018 to answer questions, share information and sign up volunteers.

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Impact: Volunteers, educators gather to help WV children succeed

By Bethany Kinder and Dawn Miller

Daily read aloud puts children almost a year ahead of children who are not read to every day, literacy specialist Christy Schwartz told a room full of Read Aloud West Virginia volunteers at their fifth annual conference in July.

Schwartz works for the state Department of Education’s Campaign for Grade Level Reading. She and her colleagues support county school systems and teachers to ensure children are reading on grade level by third grade. They focus on school readiness, attendance,  learning opportunities outside of school and high-quality instruction.

“I’m really excited by all the connections and the way that our work corresponds with one another,” she told representatives from local Read Aloud chapters meeting at Stonewall Resort July 23 and 24.

Read Aloud leaders were there to connect and share ideas and inspiration for the coming school year. This annual summit has proven to be an invaluable gathering for the organization and its local groups.

Volunteer readers and school coordinators gathered for Read Aloud West Virginia’s annual conference in July to organize, learn about research, build programs and share enthusiasm.

Schwartz reminded volunteers of the need they fill.

West Virginia has high rates of poverty, and years of research confirm that poverty is a risk factor for many problems, including poor school readiness. Education researchers have zeroed in on oral language skills.

“It is the foundation for literacy,” Schwartz said.

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Newbery winner to speak at West Virginia Book Festival Oct. 27, 2018

Newbery winner Kwame Alexander will appear at the West Virginia Book Festival.

By Kaitlyn Guynn

The West Virginia Book Festival is returning to the Charleston Civic Center on October 26 and 27 with Newbery Award-winning children’s author Kwame Alexander.

His series The Crossover is about a boy and his brother who love basketball, but face challenges together much deeper than who wins a game of one-on-one.

Alexander and singer-songwriter Randy Preston will perform “A Literary Concert with Kwame Alexander and Randy Preston,” from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 27 in Conference Rooms 202-205.

One of Alexander’s latest novels, Rebound, is a prequel to The Crossover, which is about brothers, loss of a father and becoming a man. Another novel, Solo, is a poetic verse novel about a 17-year old girl who learns that the life of a rockstar isn’t all the glamour it seemed.

Alexander has also published picture books and poetry books.

Leading up to the festival, Harvard history professor and New Yorker staff writer Jill Lepore will give the annual McCreight Lecture in the Humanities at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 24 in Riggleman Hall at the University of Charleston.

Among her many books, Lepore wrote Book of Ages, a biography of Benjamin Franklin’s little-known sister, and The Secret History of Wonder Woman, which won the American History Book Prize. Her new book, These Truths: A History of the United States, was published in September.

Also appearing at this year’s Book Festival schedule are:

— Debbie Macomber, author of the popular Cedar Cove and Rose Harbor series.

— Dennis Lehane, staff writer of the HBO series “The Wire” and author of many bestsellers including Mystic River and Gone, Baby, Gone.

— John Scalzi, award-winning science fiction writer and blogger, author of Redshirts, among many others.

— David Grann, another New Yorker writer and author of The Lost City of Z, whose stories frequently make it to the screen.

The festival is free to the public. For more information about the schedule, writing workshops or other events visit wvbookfestival.org.

Kaitlyn Guynn is a senior at the University of Charleston.

 

The Great American Read

PBS has launched an eight-part online and television series to find America’s favorite book! The special project, targeted to adult readers, began on May 22, 2018 and will continue through the summer and fall.

Viewers will vote on their favorite books throughout the series and the list of 100 diverse books will be narrowed down to one. Celebrities, athletes, experts, authors and everyday Americans will participate in the series, alongside host  Meredith Vieira. The multi-platform campaign will encompass online and community engagement, including cooperation with local libraries in West Virginia.

The grand finale will air on October 23, 2018 at 8:00 pm. Viewers can follow the Great American Read Facebook page and use the hashtag #GreatReadPBS. This project offers an opportunity for families to discuss their own favorites and explore new titles.