When you give a child or a teen a book, you are creating a memory that will last a lifetime.
What's more, books offer so many options. Are you trying to find a book for an early reader? Choose a picture book or a Great Beginner Read. Does your grandchild love non-fiction? Take a look at the Great Family Reads section. Has your niece read every book known to man? There are some brand new books on this list that she may not have seen yet.
Do you struggle to find just the right book to entice your child to read? These selections are sure kid-pleasers that will meet any interest. The ReadKiddoRead holiday gift list has something for everyone: realistic fiction, science fiction, and non-fiction; animal stories, mythology and adventures; sad stories and stories that will make your kids laugh out loud.
So browse our list. We promise that each book is one that children and teens will want to read and then share with their friends. And then read again. These are keepers! A remote-control car may break and a child is sure to outgrow a sweater, but a book stays.
Blue Willow Bookshop, Houston, Texas
Great Family Reads
National Geographic Book of Animal Poetry
200 Poems with Photographs That Squeak, Soar, and Roar!
Compiled by J. Patrick Lewis
Stunning photographs combine with wonderful poems to create a family treasure for all to share. Travel around the world and learn about all kinds of animals in the process.
100 People Who Made History
Meet the People Who Shaped the Modern World
By Ben Gilliland
Take a look at scientists, athletes, and artists among others whose actions shaped the world we know. From Aristotle to Pele. From Elvis to Einstein, these brief biographies entertain and inorm at the same time. Fun to use as a reference or to pick up and browse.
Treasury of Greek Mythology
Classic Stories of Gods, Goddesses, Heroes & Monsters
By Donna Jo Napoli
The past five years have brought us a variety of stories based in mythology, from Percy Jackson and The Olympians to The Chronus Chronicles. This gorgeous volume retells the classic stories that have inspired these tales.
Dragons Love Tacos
By Adam Rubin and Daniel Salmieri
For ages 3-5
Did you know that dragons love tacos? They love parties, too. A dragon's absolute favorite thing is a taco party. But don't include any spicy salsa, or the fireworks will begin! Full of deadpan illustrations and lots of humor, this is a book parents will be happy to read over and over again.
This is Not My Hat
By Jon Klassen
For ages 4 – 8
"This hat is not mine. I just stole it," proclaims the minnow as he swims away with a charming grey bowler hat. He's certain the large, sluggish fish who owns the hat will not miss it. Boy, is he mistaken! The large fish notices and speedily pursues his hat, with entertainingly predictable results. Children will enjoy reading this independently or with an adult and picking out their favorite characters along the way.
Bink & Gollie: Two for One,
By Kate DiCamillo & Alison McGhee; illustrated by Tony Fucile
For ages 6-8
Bink and Gollie are headed to the state fair. Bink would love to win the World's Largest Donut at the Whack-a-Duck game and Gollie tries her hand at the talent show. Not all goes well, but readers are sure to agree that sometimes, a friend is all you need.
Jack Stalwart series
By Elizabeth Singer Hunt
For ages 7-9
Meet Jack Stalwart. He's your average nine year old boy, except he's also a secret agent, trying to find his missing brother. In each book, he travels to a different country, protecting a different national treasure. Kids will love the action-packed adventures and, without even noticing, they'll pick up the facts and foreign languages cleverly slipped into each book.
The One and Only Ivan
By Katherine Applegate
For ages 8-12
This is the story of Ivan, a silverback gorilla who lives in a tiny zoo in a strip mall. One day, Ruby, a baby elephant arrives, and Ivan promises to take care of her. He gradually realizes that life in this cramped, dirty zoo is no place for Ruby, and he schemes for her release.
By Lee Bacon
For ages 8-12
Joshua Dread is having a rough year in middle school. Bullies pick on him, and he seems to be causing pencils to explode, leaving burning handprints in his wake. To top it off? The supervillains – The Dread Duo – are his parents, and they're trying to destroy the world. Fast-paced action and a very clever storyline will appeal to both boys and girls.
Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life
By James Patterson
For ages 8 and up
Rafe Khatchadorian has enough problems at home without throwing his first year of middle school into the mix. Luckily, he's got an ace plan for the best year ever, if only he can pull it off: With his best friend Leonardo the Silent awarding him points, Rafe tries to break every rule in his school's oppressive Code of Conduct.
Three Times Lucky
By Sheila Turnage
For ages 9 and up
Mo (short for Moses) LeBeau washed into town during a hurricane, and for the past 11 years. One day, a detective comes to town, trying to solve a mysterious murder. Mo and her best friend, Dale Earnhardt Johnson III, try to solve the mystery themselves, leading to hilarious situations and some tough realizations as well.
One for the Murphys
By Lynda Mullaly Hunt
For ages 10 and up
When she and her mother are severely beaten by her stepfather, Carley Connors is put into foster care. She resents her foster family for their seemingly perfect life, but slowly she finds a connection with them, making plenty of mistakes along the way, but truly wanting to fit in. It's a simply lovely story.
The Mark of Athena
Heroes of Olympus, Book Three
By Rick Riordan
For ages 10 and up
The third book in the bestselling series continues the story as the demigods try to determine who will be The Prophecy of Seven.
By Ashley Edward Miller and Zack Stentz
For ages 12 and up
The authors of the screenplays for Thor and X-Men: First Class tell the story of Colin Fischer, a high school freshman with Asperger's. When a gun goes off in the school cafeteria, Wayne Connelly, the school thug, is the prime suspect. Colin knows that Wayne is not to blame and sets out to prove his case.
Eve and Adam
By Michael Grant and Katherine Applegate
For ages 13 and up
When a horrible accident severs her leg, Eve wakes up in the hospital to find her mom, the head of a biotech firm, checking her out and taking her back to the lab. There her leg heals suspiciously fast. Solo, an orderly at the lab who seems to know far more than someone in his position should, forces Eve to realize that all is not as it seems. A fast moving thriller, told in the alternating voices of Eve and Solo.
By S.J. Kincaid
For ages 13 and up
Tom Raines spends his days in a futuristic Las Vegas, conning people out of money at reality video games. His skill in video gaming leads to his recruitment to Pentagonal Spire, where he trains to defend the U.S. in space-based battles. The descriptions of Tom's training are completely engrossing, as is this riveting look into the future.
The problem: kids aren't reading!
What is RQ, and why is it important to track?
The impact of a low RQ
Frequency and Duration
Parents: take your children's future into your own hands
The RQ Quiz
The problem: kids aren't reading!
"Johnny Won't Read" (USA Today headline, 8 July 2004)
"My dad is still into the whole book thing. He has not realized that the Internet kind of took the place of that" (college student quoted in Chronicle of Higher Education, Jan 2007)
"I Hate Reading" (Facebook page, with 550,783 "likes")
"Children think reading is 'uncool' and boring" (BBC reporting on a poll of teachers, 22 June 2012)
These are disturbing statements, but they echo everywhere with the same message: more and more kids don't like books. They pack leisure hours with TV, social media, cell phone calls, and texting, not time alone with a volume in hand, and they abhor the novels and textbooks their teachers assign.
For a growing portion of the young, the phrase "reading for fun" doesn't make sense.
The U.S. Department of Education documents this trend among teenagers, asking them three times over a 20-year period how often they "read for fun." In the chart below, note that the percentage of 17-year-olds who read "Never or hardly ever" more than doubled to nearly one in five, while those who read "Almost every day" dropped nine percentage points.
This is the wrong direction, and it dismays educators and advocacy groups that have insisted again and again on the power and benefits of books. That such a longstanding activity central to individual growth and a vibrant society should undergo so steep a decline in so short a time signals a genuine crisis.
Meanwhile, the Bureau of Labor Statistics yielded the following meager amounts of leisure reading by teenagers in successive results of its American Time Use Survey. The Survey asks individuals to keep a diary of the time they spend on various activities, and reading comes up as a negligible pastime.
The consequences are vast and distressing. If the decline were simply a shift in tastes toward other diversions, we might accept it as but a normal change in the course of American society. But reading is different from TV, video games, athletics, socializing, the Internet, and other leisure activities—reading is vital to a child's success in life. The benefits of leisure reading are enormous:
- Readers do better in all subjects including science, math, history and civics
- Provides higher verbal ability and better college readiness and success
- School work is easier for readers–readers are more likely to stay in school
- Stronger civic and cultural engagement including volunteering and voting
- Leads to better workplace readiness and performance
- Reading is a deep source of joy and curiosity
- It increases our imagination, creativity, empathy and understanding
As Dana Gioia, former-Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, put it a few years ago, "If I could only know one number about a kid at 18 that would predict how successful he'd be in life, it would be his reading proficiency."
What is RQ, and why is it important to track?
The habit of leisure reading originates in the home, not in the classroom. Teachers focus on knowledge and skills, not on the personal habits and interests of each student. They know that out-of-school activities influence class performance, but they haven't the time or the authority to do much more than make recommendations. Most importantly, for children to become avid readers, they have to love what they read, and reading required for a class too often doesn't excite them. Parents create the home environment for reading, they take kids to libraries and bookstores, monitor media consumption, and serve as reading role models themselves. How well they do it determines their children's future more than any single teacher.
To help parents with it, James Patterson has joined with reading experts to develop a scalable measure of youth reading: Reading Quotient (RQ). It's a brief questionnaire that yields a precise score. To determine RQ, we follow an equation: frequency + duration + volume + challenge = RQ. Like IQ, it measures intellectual ability, but in a specific, two-fold way: first, the ability to comprehend works of greater and lesser complexity; and second, the disposition to read, to devote regular periods to reading at home without interruption, to do high-volume reading. It's an aptitude plus a tendency, and it evolves through practice. The more often youths read and the more books they absorb over time, the higher their RQ—and the higher their achievement and personal well-being.
The lower their RQ, the more limited their futures may be.
The following pages explain why RQ is so important, compiling research on pleasure reading and academic achievement, job prospects, and personal life. We outline, too, the rationale for the RQ Test, the questions and the scoring. The research complements Patterson's ReadKiddoRead initiative, providing empirical support for the claim that high-RQ is the most effective way to ensure that a child will fulfill their full potential in whatever field they chose as adults. As Patterson has stated, "We need a radical shift in our kids' reading habits. We're asking parents to pledge to put reading above all." His words are warranted by research from government offices, private foundations, and academics. Here we offer concise information useful to the real agents of improvement—not teachers and schools, employers, or public officials—but mothers and fathers.
The impact of a low RQ
Low reading rates are linked to weaker performances in every school subject. Having a low RQ also contributes to a lack of engagement in later in life, including civic and volunteer opportunities, and a loss of career and income potential.
"Students who are on target in eighth and ninth grade to be ready for college-level reading," it stated, "are substantially more likely to be on target to be ready for college in English, mathematics, and science" (see The Forgotten Middle: Ensuring that All Students Are on Target for College and Career Readiness before High School). Of those students who met ACT's reading benchmark, 65 percent met the math benchmark and 31 percent met the science benchmark. If they didn't meet the reading benchmark, other scores plummeted: only 14 percent in math and a mere one percent in science.
Another set of data from U.S. Department of Education found firm correlations between NAEP scores in several subjects and the presence of books in a student's home. Presumably, the presence of books correlates to a home where reading is a central activity.
The impact of books in the home applies not only to academic tests. Readers also live better lives. Here is a breakdown of civic and cultural activities by reading and non-reading populations (using National Endowment for the Arts data):
Participation in Cultural and Social Activities
|Percentage of U.S. Adult Population|
|Literary Readers||Non-Literary Readers|
|Perform Volunteer and Charity Work||43.0||17.0|
|Visit Art Museums||44.0||12.0|
|Attend Performing Arts Events||49.0||17.0|
|Attend Sporting Events||45.0||27.0|
The impact spreads from cultural participation to employment as well. When we examine reading scores, it is important to include the correlation with job success also, for workplace readiness is for many high school students more important than college readiness. Here, too, the correlations are strong. When students earn low reading scores, they lose job opportunities and income potential. The U.S. Department of Education reported the following trends in reading ability and workplace results.
Those who don't are at risk for the rest of their lives. Indeed, when social scientists survey the most unsuccessful individuals in our society, they find low reading and low literacy every time. The National Assessment of Adult Literacy found that on literacy scales, individuals in prison scored significantly below individuals living in regular households (see Literacy Behind Bars).
The National Commission on Adult Literacy stated that of the 2.3 million adults in prison in 2006, "56 percent have very low literacy skills" (see Reach Higher, America: Overcoming Crisis in the U.S. Workforce, p. v).
Our conclusion must be: low reading rates are an academic problem for students; they become a workplace and productivity problem for employees and employers, and a civic and quality-of-life issue for the nation. The costs in human lives and social health are inestimable.
One aspect of these results seems counter-intuitive. How can hours spent reading books that don't bear upon course assignments not hinder academic performance? But this isn't the case. According to the 2011 National Survey of Student Engagement, an annual poll of 500,000 first-year and senior college students, heavy leisure readers tend to do more homework than light leisure readers.
- Nearly half of first-year students who read more than 20 books in the preceding year spent more than 15 hours per week on homework vs. only about a third of those who did not read
The fact that heavy leisure readers do more homework than light and non-readers overturns assumptions that fun reading competes with school reading. The evidence is that it complements school reading. We might explain the direct relationship by a basic similarity. Both actions involve focused attention, the inclination to sit alone with a single text without interruption. Here we find another basis for the value of leisure reading.
However diverting and un-academic it may appear, fun reading trains youths to concentrate, to plunge into another world of words and representations. As they read, they exercise their minds, arranging actions into plot, imagining the motives of characters, envisioning settings, processing information, and learning new terms.
Reading is a mental workout, toning the brain to more reading, deeper thinking, sharper concentration, and vaster reservoirs of words and knowledge.
Research proving the benefits of leisure reading improving mental cognition does not distinguish between popular fiction and arduous works such as Shakespeare's plays. Both activities involve considerable mental labor, and the correlations cited earlier suggest that reading for fun actually eases the labor of academic reading. It cultivates basic intellectual powers necessary for students to comprehend the kinds of texts they will encounter in school, the workplace, or daily life, everything from Supreme Court decisions to philosophical arguments, technical manuals and business reports.
This leads to another finding among reading researchers that echoes the NAEP results from 2011. It is that volume of leisure reading is a crucial factor in a student's success. As a report by the National Institute of Child Health affirmed, "Literally hundreds of correlational studies find that the best readers read the most and that poor readers read the least. These correlational studies suggest that the more children read, the better their fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension" (12).
Some researchers even attribute achievement gaps between high- and low-income students more to relative amounts of leisure reading than to any other factor, particularly given the effect of summer vacation on reading skills (see Allington and McGill-Franzen, and also Cunningham and Stanovich). They conclude that raising the amount of leisure reading over time has direct benefits such as gains in fluency (defined as the ability to read quickly and accurately, without stumbling, an ability that grows, precisely, with more reading).
Researchers Anne Cunningham and Keith Stanovich have maintained that high reading volume isn't a result of high reading ability. Instead, it is a source of high reading ability.
A few years after this study, researchers at Center for the Study of Reading at University of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign examined vocabulary acquisition through independent reading and came up with similar conclusions about the enormous cumulative impact a few minutes of reading each day produces.
They found that for children who do a fair amount of independent reading, this could lead to the acquisition of 5,000 to 10,000 new words a year, and thus account for the bulk of their annual vocabulary growth (See Anderson and Nagy, p. 9). Leisure reading produces vastly more vocabulary gain than classroom instruction—once again, shifting some of the responsibility of a child's intellectual growth to the parents. Indeed, even "a moderate level of daily reading," they affirmed, "can lead to gains of several thousand words per year." Children who don't do it, fall farther and farther behind their peers.
Differences in reading ability between readers and non-readers widen over time. With regular leisure reading, "an upward spiral of causality" develops. The process is self-reinforcing: reading more allows children to read more.
Reading volume is important not only to verbal aptitude, but to study and work habits, too. High school and college courses often assign long novels, dense chapters in textbooks, and experiments reported in scientific literature. Workplaces ask employees to read dense technical guidebooks, business and government reports, client communications, and other, often lengthy texts. They require adequate comprehension skills, that is, the ability to read a text and summarize it accurately, but they also require a disposition to stick with them for hours at a time. It takes stamina and habit. One can't read a William Faulkner novel a few pages at a time in 10-minute snatches and keep track of the plot and characters. One can't break off in the middle of a chapter in a new software manual and return to it an hour later without starting from the beginning. In the Reading Between the Lines report cited earlier, ACT determined that one primary distinction between successful and unsuccessful college students is the ability to read "complex texts" such as Faulkner's novels.
The critical value of reading volume indicates why the "fun" element is so important, for enjoyment is what lengthens reading hours and increases material covered. If youths don't like the books in their hands, they regard leisure reading as a chore, not a pleasure, and it doesn't expand. They have other activities available—TV, texting, socializing—and unless reading is a prized option, it won't happen.
The importance of matching books to your child's age is underscored by the Common Core project, a National Governors Association initiative of standards for reading and math that have been adopted by 46 states. Appendix A of the project's English Language Arts section states:
- Once or twice a week [20 points]
- Two or three times a month [15 points]
- Never or hardly ever [0 points]
- 40-60 minutes [20 points]
- 20-39 minutes [15 points]
- 10-20 minutes [10 points]
- Less than 10 minutes [0 points]
- 9-12 [20 points]
- 5-8 [15 points]
- 1-4 [10 points]
- None [0 points]
- Most of them [20 points]
- Some of them [10 points]
- None of them [0 points]
Additionally, Common Core notes, at the same time that college texts have increased in difficulty, high school readings have decreased in difficulty. Once again, the burden falls on parents to discover books whose reading challenges will serve their children well after high school.
Parents: take your children's future into your own hands
The research proves the impact of a reading-oriented home. High-RQ ends in workplace and academic success, and it begins in a parent's guidance and example. From reading storybooks to a toddler to handing likable novels to a teenager, parents sustain reading as a family value and joyous interlude. It requires consistency and diligence, daily efforts to create and preserve it against a hundred duties and diversions that draw children and adults away from books.
Given the impact of RQ, frequent, sustained reading should have the same status as nutritious food and abundant sleep. A mother who feeds her kids fruits and vegetables and milk, but who neglects a copious reading diet, forgets a decisive component of child rearing. Books must be a practice and a presence, a behavior as ordinary as bathing and a fixture as abiding as the kitchen room table.
The obvious first step is to stock the home with books. RQ needs a supportive environment, and it won't thrive unless books are common and available at all times. With books in every room in the house, children and teenagers experience them as part of the comforts and routines of the family, of bedtime, of privacy. Parents bolster the permanent place of books with magazines and newspaper subscriptions. Each issue comes and goes, but they send the message that reading isn't only a ticket to an imaginary world, but the primary means of following events in the real world, too.
If parents involve children in collecting books, making the public library and local bookstore a regular destination, it becomes an activity with a value all its own. RQ gets an instant boost when a 10-year-old is set loose in the children's section free to choose as many books as he or she wants.
With the tremendous growth in TV, computer, and video games, there is also the decline in print consumption. The American Time Use Survey reveals the same rates of media consumption by older teenagers (15-19 years old), along with miniscule reading minutes.
In spite of all the encounters with words other than through printed matter, NAEP reading scores for 12th-graders in 2009 were four points lower than scores in 1992, before the Digital Age revolutionized teenage leisure time. So, although youths have more access to media and information, the decline of reading print also declines reading scores.
The kind of reading children and teenagers typically do on screens doesn't foster critical reading and writing abilities. Books provide a richer and deeper experience than the Twitter tweet or the Facebook comment. Young people need longer texts requiring lengthier engagement, with more characters, varied settings, complicated plots, and three hundred pages of words.
Neuroscientist and reading researcher Dan Gustafson puts it this way: "The human brain resembles a muscle that strengthens through effort, and just as a person only becomes a stronger weightlifter by lifting more weight, the same ultimately is true of a successful reader." Greater length produces a tougher mental workout.
This breakdown of media consumption among teens, and its effect on these teens' reading levels, is disturbing. But parents have the power to reverse these trends. And they can take the first step towards fostering a high RQ in their children by taking the simple RQ Quiz.
The RQ Quiz
Once parents have established the conditions for high-RQ, they must inculcate the habit, encouraging, coercing, tempting, and leading their children to read voluntarily at home and elsewhere. As their children grow up, they need to monitor how effectively it produces the habit. The question to ask is: How often and how long and how much?—and they need a clear and simple standard of measurement in order to gauge how they are doing.
The first question is:
- How often does your child read a book at home that is not one required for school?
- Every day or almost every day [25 points]
How frequently is your child leisure reading at home? NAEP scores indicate a substantial difference between daily readers and once or twice a week readers, a difference that the scoring should reflect. Also, we divide NAEP's single category "Almost every day" into two categories, "Every day" and "Almost every day" in order to distinguish more sharply the optimum frequency.
Question 2 is:
- When your child reads a book outside of school for pleasure, how long does he or she spend reading in one setting?
- More than 1 hour [25points]
It is important also to measure your child's reading duration. We set the bar at 60 minutes for two reasons. One, it is a reasonable expectation to apportion one hour to reading out of the five hours of leisure time that the average teenager enjoys (according to the American Time Use Survey). Two, we consider a 60-minute amount of time the minimum necessary for youths both to make reading a distinct, habitual activity and to acquire the disposition to handle homework assignments and complex texts.
Question 3 is:
- How many books does your child read per year for pleasure, not homework?
- More than 12 [25 points]
This is the volume question. Parents can monitor frequency and duration, the subjects of Questions 1 and 2, simply by checking each day and recording number of minutes. Volume is more complicated and more diagnostic, too, for it measures how competent and avid a youth reader happens to be. A 13-year-old who reads every day for one hour but covers only as many pages as a 13-year-old who reads daily but only for 30 minutes might indicate a problem. To assess it, a parent would have to examine the reading materials. Is the low-volume reader choosing overly difficult or insufficiently engaging books? Are there factors to consider pertaining to the mingling of readings—for instance, novels, comic books, and informational texts in jumbled combination?
Question 4 is:
How many of the books your child reads are age-appropriate or above?
- All of them [25 points]
This is the challenge question. A Harry Potter book for a five-year-old is too hard, while a Magic Tree House book for a 13-year-old is too easy. A high school student who flies through a Pokémon comic book every week reaches high volume but the material is too simple to build much knowledge and reading skill.
RQ depends upon much more than reading more than 12 books per year, of course, and we expect youths to add other items such as youth-oriented magazines, informational texts, and the sports page into their daily mix. But to determine a child's fluency and interest, the age-level book measure serves well. To find engaging books of the right certain length and density, vocabulary, and background-knowledge demand, parents have two helpful sources. One is their children's English teachers and local and school librarians. Also, they may consult ReadKiddoRead.com. In it parents may find hundreds of exemplary texts matched to age levels from Kindergarten to 12th Grade, including fiction, poetry, drama, biography, essay, history, and science. Parents will be well-equipped to select books for their children to exceed the "More than 12" threshold.
These questions produce an RQ score for parents. Anything less than 100 points is a call for change. If Question 2 earns only 20 points, the strategy is clear: add 20 minutes to every reading session. The tactics may range from increasing library visits to allowing kids more choice of reading to discussing books with kids to hard-line stands ("you can't watch TV unless you do another 20 minutes of reading")—anything that works. If Question 3 earns 20 points, parents and kids find a couple more books of the right complexity level, testing one after another until the child sticks with it and raises the yearly rate.
RQ is not a final grade. It's a diagnosis, isolating areas for improvement. The tactics will vary but the goal is simple: more leisure reading. Would you describe your child as an avid reader of books? Has reading become one of his/her favorite pastimes? The RQ score is a quantitative measure, but the ultimate goal is to instill an attitude in your child. How to make it happen, though, is complicated, especially when children and teenagers have so many other duties and diversions, both homework assignments and peer pressure, drawing their attention. But all parents should agree that it is worth the effort since all children will benefit in substantial measure, by becoming avid, life-long readers.
List of sources
ACT, "Reading Between the Lines: What the ACT Reveals About College Readiness in Reading" (2006)
—–"The Condition of College and Career Readiness, 2011"
Allington, Richard L., and Anne McGill-Franzen, "The Impact of Summer Setback on the Reading Achievement Gap," Phi Delta Kappan 85 (2003): 68-75.
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Center for Postsecondary Research, Indiana University, National Survey of Student Engagement.
Cunningham, Anne, and Keith Stanovich, "Reading Can Make You Smarter!" Principal (Nov/Dec 2003): 34-39
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Knowledge and Applied Skills of New Entrants to the 21st Century U.S. Workforce (2006—
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—–To Read or Not to Read: A Question of National Consequence (2007)
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—–Literacy Behind Bars: Results from the 2003 National Assessment of Adult Literacy Prison Survey (2007)
—–"Findings in Brief: Reading and Mathematics 2011" (2012)
Wolf, Maryanne. Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain (2007)
Dear Moms and Dads, Dear Coaches, Dear Friends Who Gather to Watch the Game,
Are you ready for some football… basketball … hockey …soccer? It's a sure thing your kids are! You can be an ALL-STAR parent and not even miss one of the season's big games! And we don't just mean you'll be playing and watching and cheering, but you'll be reading the best books about sports out there. ReadKiddoRead wants to get you and your kids talking about some great sports books with the TAILGATE BOOK CLUB. Follow these three steps to make the most of pre-game time, half-time, and all the days in between time.
Step 1: Pick a book each week based on the ReadKiddoRead TAILGATE BOOK CLUB BOOKLIST, and have all your friends and their kids read it before game day.
Step 2: Gather everyone together for the game. During half-time, put the TV on mute and dive into your TAILGATE BOOK CLUB by filling-in-the-blanks on our get-talking sheets–you can find these here. Print out copies for everyone!
Step 3: Don't forget the salsa.
TAILGATE BOOKCLUB BOOKLIST
Great Picture Books
For ages 2-6SPOT LOVES SPORTSBy Eric Hill
For ages 1-4
The youngest kids in the family can participate in your Half-Time book club. Spot, an enduring favorite character of kids who crawl and toddle, goes to the park to race, play soccer, and have an altogether thirsty-making and fun-filled day in his latest board-book adventure.
TYRANNOSAURUS DADBy Liz Rosenberg; illustrated by Matthew Myers
For ages 4-6
Tobias's dad, like so many dads, is always busy, always working. (Unlike most dads though, Tobias's father happens to be a Tyrannosaurus.) Tobias tries everything he can think of to get his father to come to his school's Field Day. Dad finally shows up and steps in as the umpire in a baseball dispute. Now who's going to argue with a dinosaur?
Great Beginner Reads
For ages 6-9TEAMMATESBy Peter Golenbock; illustrated by Paul Bacon
For ages 6-9
It took a kind of courage that few of today's kids can imagine for Jackie Robinson to step onto the baseball field as a Brooklyn Dodger in 1947. It also took courage for one of his teammates, Pee Wee Reese, to step up, put his arm around Robinson and talk – right there, in front of the crowd. This event is captured in the simple words, drawings and old photos of this picture book.
You Never Heard of Willie Mays?By Jonah Winter; illustrated by Terry Widener
For ages 7-9
Not only does this non-fiction picture book tell all about Willie Mays and his astonishing baseball career, it's as much fun to read as watching a game. As a boy, Willie idolized Joe DiMaggio; as a teen, he copied Joe's style, and as a young man he brought that style and his talent to the New York Giants, which had just been integrated. With play-by-play descriptions and action-filled illustrations, this biography gives new independent readers lots to contribute to Halt-Time Sports Book talk.
And check out:You Never Heard of Sandy Koufax?!By Jonah Winter; illustrated by Andrew Carriho
For ages 7-10
There Goes Ted Williams: The Greatest Hitter Who Ever LivedBy Matt Tavares
For ages 7-11
We know that baseball is more than a game. It is the stuff of legend. This biography focuses on Ted's childhood and his early dedication to practice, practice, practice. And it paid off in his record-breaking career. He is a sports hero we can continue to admire, and with this engaging picture book, a new generation will know his story and profit from his example.
And check out:HENRY AARON'S DREAMBy Matt Tavares
For ages 7-10
For ages 9-12BASEBALL SAVED USBy Ken Mochizuki; illustrated by Dom Lee
For ages 8 and up
Shorty and his father build a baseball field and create teams while they are in a Japanese-American internment camp during World War II. The games do more than help pass the time; they lift spirits and self-respect and offer reasons for hope.
Hey Batta Batta Swing!: The Wild Old Days of BaseballBy James Charlton and Sally Cook, Illustrated by Ross MacDonald
For ages 8 and up
What was the game of baseball like when it began more than a century ago? First off, back then, you could get a runner out by soaking him. Soaking? It was "a very early rule that allowed a runner who was off base to be put out by hitting him with a ball." Ouch. This entertaining array of baseball facts will surprise even the biggest baseball fans.
Hope Solo: My StoryBy Hope Solo
For ages 8 and up
She's a soccer sensation; the starting goalkeeper for the U.S. women's national soccer team; an Olympic gold medalist. And with this book, adapted from her adult Memoir of Hope, she will be an inspiration for young athletes.
THE UNDERDOGSBy Mike Lupica
For ages 8-12
From the title and vivid cover readers may guess that this is a book about a determined team of middle school football players struggling to beat odds stacked high against them. Of course, they're right, but there's a lot more to this story. It is also about their hometown facing a serious recession when the local sneaker factory closes under the pressure of bigger companies. How Will Tyler, captain of the Bulldogs, helps his team, his out-of-work father, and the whole town makes for a novel that is a touchdown!
And check out:Game ChangersBy Mike Lupica
For ages 8-12
For ages 12 and upTrue Legendby Mike Lupica
For ages 11-14
Fifteen-year-old high school basketball star Drew Robinson faces a tough decision: should he take an opportunity to switch schools and play for a ritzy private school (where he's sure to get all sorts of special treatment)? Drew makes the switch and begins to enjoy his new status, but soon his game begins to suffer. Told with the clear voice and honesty of sportswriter Mike Lupica, this novel has plenty of sports choices along with a hard-earned lesson.
The Final FourBy Paul Volponi
For ages 12 up
Teens get right inside a game in the semifinal round of the NCAA men's basketball championship, as they get to know two players on each of the competing teams: The Michigan Spartans and the Troy Trojans. Newspaper articles, interviews, journals, and flashbacks interspersed with game action, reveal Michael, Malcolm, Roko and Crispin's backstories, motivations and aspirations and show how their different backgrounds and their individual problems shape them. The characters are real, multi-faceted, and set on winning.
And check out:Crossing LinesBy Paul Volponi
For ages 12 up
The Moves Make the ManBy Bruce Brooks
For ages 12 and up
The basketball story, with game scenes wonderfully described, is wrapped around a story of friendship and coming of age. Jerome Foxworthy's got the moves – on the court and off. And he's cool, despite some tough breaks – he's sure of that. Still, for some reason he doesn't quite understand, he's decided to teach Bix Rivers, a mentally-ill kid at school, how to play the basketball. Maybe it will help Bix cope with all the troubles he's got. Basketball has always been good for what ails Jerome.
Game ChangerBy Margaret Peterson Haddix
For ages 12 up
In a novel that combines sports story, mystery, and fantasy, KT, a softball star, blacks out during a game and wakes up in a different world. In KT's new reality only academic success is admired – not athletic or other talents. As she struggles to understand this world, KT questions everything, especially the values in the life she led, where kids had to define themselves by predetermined categories: good student? jock? gamer? The lines were clear – and now KT sees, limiting. There is much to think about and talk about in this involving take on sports.
The ContenderBy Robert Lipsyte
For ages 13 and up
This long-lived classic young adult novel, about a seventeen-year-old high-school dropout from Harlem, is as powerful today as it was when it was first published. Alfred Brooks's dead-end job, the gang of kids who are after him, and his friend's spiral down the road of drug addiction leaves Albert in need of hope. He finds it at a gym where he discovers not just his talent for boxing, but also lessons about hard work and determination.
Every fan loves to know stats and talk about them. These books will get you started.
NFL Record and Fact Book 2012By Editors at the NFL
Great Baseball Feats, Facts and FirstsBy David Nemec, et. al.
Sports Illustrated Almanac 2012By Editors of Sports Illustrated.
NHL Official Guide and Record Book 2012By the National Hockey League