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Read To Me Foundation fights for child literacy

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READ TO ME FOUNDATION has concentrated many years on research into the world of creating children books, and the literacy problems for our children in the US and the world today.

From the content of the story, weight or pound of the interior pages, book sizes, colors, book title, ISBN, LCCN, bar codes, teacher requests,bilingual issues in America, US printers, out of the US printers, needs of charity organizations, publishers, publishing systems, library requirements, children hospitals, Ronald McDonald Houses, prisons. We created a test run with children and their parents to determine likes and dislikes for colors, story ideas, illustrations, translations, Spanish versus Mexican translation, non English speaking parents and non Spanish speaking parents. Testing to gather the necessary, outside information needed by Read To Me Foundation to determine what would best serve our bilingual, children picture books, to support Literacy for our children.

It became evident that most professionals had their own opinions, including the IRS. But, the most important opinion was what Read To Me Foundation wanted to accomplish, and who they wanted to serve.

After all the research, data, and opinions, Read To Me Foundation made their decision to create high quality, colorful, illustrated, bilingual(English/Spanish) PICTURE BOOKS (in house). Books that would give an under-served child the feeling of pride, excitement, and eagerness to learn the joy of reading..... Through the ownership of (perhaps) their first beautiful book.

Read To Me Foundation has been a 501 c 3 charity for only a few years, yet, we feel we have made a tremendous mark in the FREE distribution of quality, hardcover, dustcover, NEW, bilingual (English/Spanish) children PICTURE BOOKS, to over 7,500 children. And we have more request to fill!

It is important for our foundation to keep abreast of the changes within the literary industry, and relay such reports or changes on our website.

As a result of our latest on going research, we came across several current articles that express a new wave for the DECLINE of children picture books. Several reasons were given for the possible extinction of the Picture Book.

First, the parent wants to encourage the child to read more text and look at fewer pictures. Second, the publishing industry has suddenly slowed down and as a result is taking on fewer new picture book authors or stories, and have opt for re-printing picture books that have proven successful throughout time.

Below are the various articles that we found on the Picture Book decline. Please read these articles to better understand the importance of Picture Books for our children, as well as Read To Me Foundation's philosophy to continue distributing bilingual children Picture Books.

Each article has only reinforced Read To Me Foundation's belief that the children’s Picture Book is something every child should have the opportunity to own, read and cherish, as well as pass it on to their children one day.

Picture Books are an important part of the road to Literacy for our children and should not become a dinosaur without a fight!

Regardless of the industries decision to throw the Picture Book aside, Read To Me Foundation intents to publish, print and give FREE to every child who needs to learn the joy of reading! We will not follow the FAD or the giant publisher’s trend. We will continue to strive for the most colorful, beautiful, fun, and high quality children’s PICTURE BOOK that every child deserves.

With that said, please read the following articles. You can make up your own mind as an educator, parent, charity, hospital, or publisher, the importance of the PICTURE BOOK.

Just remember “Pictures are worth a thousand words” and our children will create wonderful imaginations and journeys through the opportunity to read and see great illustrations through the Read To Me Foundation picture books.


Kids More Likely to Own a CellphoneThan a Book, Study Finds

"Michelle Manafy, editorial director at Information Today ( , says older generations need to open up their definitions of what "books" actually are.

"The very notion of literacy and reading itself has evolved beyond the capacity of many who grew up with linear reading experiences to understand," she says.

"If every kid has a phone, then maybe we need to be looking much harder at creating content optimized for this reading environment, to creating a reading experience that coincides with their voracious appetite and shorter attention spans, with their tangentially and serendipitously connected non-linear reading style and socially mediated tastes," says Manafy

Mobile technology blogger Jason Harris ( agrees with Davis and Manafy, and adds that the drop in reading skills are likely due to a combination of factors. "The world is changing in that mobile phones are falling into the hands of new populations, including young children," said Harris. "Of course, there's a competition for time in this age group, so if they're on their mobile phones then all leisure activities, including reading, will take a hit. But are reading scores falling because of this one factor? I doubt it.

"Are Parents to Blame? Marnie Webb, co-CEO of TechSoup Global( says the technology is not to blame for the decline in reading skills. As she puts it, the on us is on the parents to make sure the kids have the same access to books as they dophones."It doesn't have to be an either or. We can't make it an either or," says Webb. "But that seems to me to be up to grownups. I have to put the books in the kid's pocket. Just like we put the phone in the kids' pockets."Agreeing with Webb is Peggy Anne Salz, founder of , a leading blog on mobile search. Salz says the report is "a call to parents to participate in their children's education, a process they can only improve and enhance with anytime, anywheremobile access to educational materials."

"Read between the lines, and this is not about a connection between children having a mobile device and any drop in grade school literacy skills," adds Salz. "The reportargues there isa link between having literacy resources at home and a child's reading ability. That's an access issue that mobile devices can solve for children in the U.K.and around the world. "It is certainly true that mobile handset penetration is reaching a younger and younger audience, but that is not necessarily a direct catalyst to lowering reading scores. Whether the presence of books in a home affects a child's ability to read is another argument, but it seems strange to try and hook that on mobile phone usage. As technology evolves, so too will the way kids "read" and consume information, so basing studies on the presence of older forms of information digestion may become less and less appropriate.

UPDATE: I received a response ( after reaching out on Twitter to LeVar Burton, known famously for his love of reading and as the host of the children's show Reading Rainbow. What did the book lover think of the fact that more children own phones than books? "I believe kids need both."

Picture Books On Decline

This article came out last week in the New York Times.

Picture Book No Longer a Staple for children by JULIE BOSMANPublished: October 7, 2010 NY Times

Article I

Picture books are so unpopular these days at the Children’s Book Shop in Brookline, Mass., that employees there are used to placing new copies on the shelves, watching them languish and then returning them to the publisher.

(Picture Books On Decline « Writing and Illustrating Page 1 of15 1/17/2011)

“So many of them just die a sad little death, and we never see them again,” said TerriSchmitz, the owner. The shop has plenty of company. The picture book,a mainstay of children’s literature with its lavish illustrations, cheerful colors and large print wrapped in a glossy jacket, has been fading. It is not going away — perennials like the Sendaks and Seusses still sell well — but publishers have scaled back the number of titles they have released in the last several years, and booksellers across the country say sales have been suffering.

The economic downturn is certainly a major factor, but many in the industry see an additional reason for the slump. Parents have begun pressing their kindergartners and first graders to leave the picture book behind and move on to more text-heavy chapter books. Publishers cite pressures from parents who are mindful of increasingly rigorous standardized testing in schools. “Parents are saying, ‘My kid doesn’t need books with pictures anymore,’ ” said Justin Chanda, the publisher of Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers. “There’s a real push with parents and schools to have kids start reading big-kid books earlier.

We’ve accelerated the graduation rate out of picture books.” Booksellers see this shift too. “They’re 4 years old, and their parents are getting them ‘Stuart Little,’ ” said Dara La Porte, the manager of the children’s department at the politics and Prose bookstore in Washington. “I see children pick up picture books, and then the parents say, ‘You can do better than this, you can do more than this.’ It’s a terrible pressure parents are feeling — that somehow, I shouldn’t let my child have this picture book because she won’t get into Harvard.”

Literacy experts are quick to say that picture books are not for dummies. Publishers praise the picture book for the particular way it can develop a child’s critical thinking skills. “To some degree, picture books force an analog way of thinking,” said KarenLotz, the publisher of Candlewick Press in Somerville, Mass. “From picture to picture, as the reader interacts with the book, their imagination is filling in the missing themes.”Many parents overlook the fact that chapter books, even though they have more text,full paragraphs and fewer pictures, are not necessarily more complex. “Some of the vocabulary in a picture book is much more challenging than in a chapter book,” said Kris Vreeland, a book buyer for Vroman’s Bookstore in Pasadena, Calif., where sales of picture books have been down. “The words themselves, and the concepts, can be very sophisticated in a picture book.” They can, for example, rewritten with Swiftian satire, like “Monsters Eat Whiny Children” by Bruce Eric Kaplan, a new book about children who are nearly devoured as a result of bad behavior. Each year, the coveted Randolph Caldecott Medal goes to the most distinguished picture book published in the United States. (This year it went to “The Lion and the Mouse” by Jerry Pinkney, an adaptation of the Aesop’s fable with luminous images and no words at all.)

Still, many publishers have gradually reduced the number of picture books they produce for a market that had seen a glut of them, and in an age when very young children, like everyone else, have more options, a lot of them digital, to fill their entertainment hours. At Scholastic, 5 percent to 10 percent fewer hardcover picture books have been published over the last three years. Don Weisberg, the president of the Penguin YoungReaders Group, said that two and a half years ago, the company began publishing fewer titles but that it had devoted more attention to marketing and promoting the ones that remain. Of all the children’s books published by Simon & Schuster, about 20 percent are picture books, down from 35 percent a few years ago. Classic books like“Goodnight Moon” and the “Eloise” series still sell steadily, along side more modern popular titles like the “Fancy Nancy” books and “The Three Little Dassies” by Jan Brett, but even some best-selling authors are feeling the pinch. Jon Scieszka, who wrote “Robot Zot,” said his royalty checks had been shrinking, especially in the last year.

Article II

R I F Reading Is FundamentalGiving Children Access to Print Materials Improves Reading PerformanceWhat impact, if any, does access to print material have on our children’s reading? In an unprecedented, near exhaustive search uncovering 11,000 reports and analyzing 108 of the most relevant studies, children’sbook lending and ownership programs were shown to have positive behavioral, educational, and psychological outcomes. The study, “Children’s Access to Print Material and Education-Related Outcomes,” was commissioned by Reading Is Fundamental (RIF) and conducted by Learning Point Associates, a nonprofit education research and consulting organization and affiliate of AmericanInstitutes for Research (AIR). The meta-analysis found that access to print materials:Improves children’s reading performance. Findings from the rigorous studies suggest that providingchildren with print materials helps them read better. Among the studies reviewed, kindergarten students showed the biggest increase in reading performance. Proves instrumental in helping children learn the basicsof reading. Providing children with reading materials allows them to develop basic reading skills such as letterand word identification, phonemic awareness, and completion of sentences.Causes children to read more and for longer lengths of time.

Giving children print materials leads to moreshared reading between parents and children. Children receiving books also read more frequently and forlonger periods of time.

Produces improved attitudes toward reading and learning among children. Childrenwith greater access to books and other print materials—through either borrowing books or receiving books toown—express more enjoyment of books, reading, and academics.

Article III


Evaluating the Cost of Picture Booksby: Lisa Von DrasekEarly Word Kids


Some have suggested, in response to a recent New York Times article’s claim that picture book sales are down because parents are pushing young children into chapterbooks, that the real issue is economics. The retail price of the average picture book,$16 to $18, is too high, they say. After my rebuttal on the merits of picture books, I received this comment from a famous best-selling author by email,



"Our publisher pals need to re-think ….the high prices they are charging…$18 for a book when you are struggling to keep/find a job is impossible. The esteemed young adult author, Marc Aronson stated recently on CCBC_Net listserv(available only to subscribers), that these “books are so slim they disappear, a parentfaces a relatively high cost (say $16) for a relatively short immersion experience (32, 40,48 pages plus the effort the parent puts into engaging the child spread by spread).”



WHAT?!!!!!Consider the Return on Investment Rounding up, let’s say a hardcover picture book is twenty dollars. Let’s consider TheVery Hungry Caterpillar. In many households, it is read every night for four months, or 120 hours. This experience is seventeen cents a reading. “Plus the effort the parentputs in engaging the child spread by spread.” Is Marc Aronson looking for a fight? That “effort” is bonding with a young child, that “effort” is building early literacy skills, that “effort” will pay off in untold dividends in a stronger vocabulary, ability to track cause andeffect, and create the beginning of the understanding that one can derive enormousenjoyment from the words on a page. Let’s add to this – shared meaning and fun.A child who is having a whiny moment can be reminded of Llama, llama Red Pajama. A child inappropriately seeking attention can be distracted with a story on a bus or atrain. Whether in hard copy, on a Nook or an iPad, a picture book can save a restaurant meal from a too hungry, too tired child meltdown.



Evaluating the Cost of Picture Books | EarlyWord: The Publisher | Librarian ConnectionPage 5 of 20 1/17/2011



Need a study? “Children’s Access to Print Material and Education-Related Outcomes,” says that not having access to print materials (i.e., books) in the home is detrimental to a child’s ability to succeed in theelementary school years. Want to talk money?Let’s compare to other monetary wants of childhood…The DVD of • a new movie, $30. • New cool electronic hamsters, $15 dollars a piece, collect them all! Accessories, $20 aset. • A dancing Micky Mouse $93• PlayScool Alphie, $45. • Can a parent leave a movie theater or museum less than $40 lighter in the wallet? • One dinner at McDonalds for a family of four? Where is your $16 to $18 going? We can agree that the artist and the writer should get paid. How about the art director who created the object? The editor who discovered,nurtured the writer and championed the book? The publisher who produced the books, balanced the books, and kept things onschedule? The marketing people who had to shine a light on THIS book in a crowded market, let librarians, booksellers, and parents know about this fabulous new illustrator? Mr. Aronson also suggests some ways to get books in the hands of parents and children for less money (for instance, creating subscription plans). Let’s not reinvent the wheel. There is a way.



Paperback. The top selling paperback picture books on Amazon are $6.00 and $7.00.Scholastic Book Clubs distribute through classrooms and sell paperbacks at affordable prices. Reading is Fundamental gives books away ( Is there a place where a parent can go for expert advice on picture books for their child? A community center where professionals have selected the best of what is available andshare this knowledge freely with anyone who walks through the door? A place where parents can borrow books read to their children? Oh, right — THE LIBRARY. How much will borrowing a pile of picture books cost? Nothing, nada (admittedly, that’snot really true. Tax dollars paid for them and for that expert). If the books for children in your local library are ratty and old, use your voice to demand a children’s librarian who is knowledgeable, to raise funds for new books.



Article IV

by Theresa Walsh Giarrusso



The decline trend of Picture Books really aggravates me because there are stages to learning to read and write and one of the stages is looking at the pictures and children interpreting them for themselves! Let your kids look at picture books! Stop pushing chapter books so early!



Article V

Momania: AB... Page 1 of 4



Kids love to study the drawings for details. They like to figure out what is going on. Observe the action. Create their own story about what they are seeing. Pictures help them figure out order of action. They help develop a narrative. They help them learn to include details in their own stories. Some of our favorite books have little to no words. Tomie dePaola’s “Pancakes for Breakfast” is a family favorite about an old woman who has togather the milk, eggs and churn butter just to make her pancakes. The kids love telling the story of what all the woman has to do and how she is feeling and how her pets feel when they eat allher batter. “Eloise Takes a Bawth” is another book the kids will still study for hours. They follow the trails of water leaking through the Plaza hotels floors from Eloise’s tub. They study Eloise’s toys in the bathtub. They thoroughly examine all the guests’ costumes at the big Venetian ball at the end of the story. I have owned Richard Scarry’s “Cars and Trucks and Things that Go” since I was a child. The poor book is so tired from two generations of children flipping through it searching for GoldenBug..The loss to a child of not sitting with a parent or older sibling, turning those thirty-two pages, poring over the art, repeating joyfully those juicywords, cannot be replaced.



A week of Starbucks’ Lattes — $24.50

The cost of a Michael Jordan sneaker?

— Seriously. Snuggling with a five-year-old, laughing over John Scieszka’s Truckery Rhymes?Priceless-

Talking about all the different cars (the banana car, the pickle car), all the animals, and the locations. (I love the big car wreck at the end with ketchup and oranges everywhere)



We love to talk about what we see on each page. What is happening in the scene. How the people look. How are they feeling. That is very worthwhile time to spend with your kids. Parents need to know that at a lot of schools kindergartners, first graders and even secondgraders are limited in the books they can check out at the school library.



Often at the beginning of the year, they aren’t allowed to check out chapter books because the schools know there issomething for children to learn by looking at books. I was told when I was the News for Kids editor at the AJC that it is important for children to read some books on level, some above and some below. So even if your child is ready for chapterbooks, picture books are not going to hurt them and it may help them enjoy books so they want to read more.



There is plenty of time for children to read chapter books. Let their imaginations run wild. Let your kids look at picture books!



Facts About Children's Literacy

Children who are read to at home have a higher success rate in school.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), a divison of the U.S. Department of Education1, children who are read to at home enjoy a substantial advantage over children who are not:


Twenty-six percent of children who were read to three or four times in the last week by a family member recognized all letters of the alphabet. This is compared to 14 percent of children who were read to less frequently.

The NCES1 also reported that children who were read to frequently are also more likely to:

  • count to 20, or higher than those who were not (60% vs. 44%)
  • write their own names (54% vs. 40%)
  • read or pretend to read (77% vs. 57%)
  • According to NCES2, only 53 percent of children ages three to five were read to daily by a family member (1999). Children in families with incomes below the poverty line are less likely to be read to aloud everyday than are children in families with incomes at or above poverty.
  • The more types of reading materials there are in the home, the higher students are in reading proficiency, according to the Educational Testing Service.3
  • The Educational Testing Services reported that students who do more reading at home are better readers and have higher math scores; however, students read less for fun as they get older.3
  • According to the National Education Association, having kids read a lot is one of the crucial components of becoming a good reader. Young readers need to become practiced at recognizing letters and sounds. The only way to get good at it is to practice.4
  • The U.S. Department of Education5 found that, generally, the more students read for fun on their own time, the higher their reading scores. Between 1984 and 1996, however, the percentage of 12th grade students reporting that they "never" or "hardly ever" read for fun increased from 9 percent to 16 percent.
  • A poll of middle and high school students commissioned by the National Education Association6 found that 56 percent of young people say they read more than 10 books a year, with middle school students reading the most. Some 70 percent of middle school students read more than 10 books a year, compared with only 49 percent of high school students.


        Other facts

  • The substantial relationship between parent involvement for the school and reading comprehension levels of fourth-grade classrooms is obvious, according to the U.S. Department of Education.7 Where parent involvement is low, the classroom mean average (reading score) is 46 points below the national average. Where involvement is high, classrooms score 28 points above the national average - a gap of 74 points. Even after controlling for other attributes of communities, schools, principals, classes, and students, that might confound this relationship, the gap is 44 points.
  • The National Assessment of Educational Progress8 tested children nationwide for reading skills. The results for reading tests for fourth-grade students were: Below the most basic level 38 percent; Proficient 31 percent, and Advanced 7 percent.
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