I have to say I was more than a little concerned when I saw the anti-Amazon vitriol on Facebook last week—especially when those angry sentiments were coming from people responsible for reviewing books for children. I wrote my own post about it, but I was thrilled when Debby Dahl Edwardson let me know that she had written an incredibly thoughtful post about Amazon’s recent acquisition of Marshall Cavendish titles, including her own acclaimed novel My Name Is Not Easy—a National Book Award Finalist that is nonetheless hard to find in your local bookstore:
People can go ahead and say what they please about Amazon but at least they’re not killing our books by not selling them. Amazon is very democratic this way: they sell everything. Yes, the move into publishing is a game changer. But then again, maybe the game needed changing.
I couldn’t agree more. Right now our team is working on book recommendations for the Birthday Party Pledge site. Should we link each title to Amazon.com? Are consumers likely to find these great multicultural books for kids at their local big chain or indie bookstore? Probably not. I really wish people who are concerned with ethical business practices would have more to say about the institutional racism in traditional publishing that marginalizes so many important voices…
An article in The New York Times reports that math scores (on Department of Education standardized tests) have improved over the past twenty years but reading scores have stayed about the same:
Reading achievement, in contrast, reflects not only the quality of reading instruction in school classrooms, they said, but also factors like whether parents read to children and how much time students read on their own outside school. And many children in the United States are spending less time reading on their own.
Since 1992, reading scores have gone up but not by much; in 2011 only 34% of fourth grade students were proficient at reading:
“I’m disappointed but not surprised by these results,” said Sharon Darling, founder of the National Center for Family Literacy, a group based in Kentucky that works to help parents support their children’s educational efforts at home. “Children spend five times as much time outside the classroom as they do in school, and our country has 30 million parents or caregivers who are not good readers themselves, so they pass illiteracy down to their children.”
That’s not the kind of legacy you want to leave behind. Stay tuned for the official launch of our literacy initiative…