Legislators Introduce Right to Read Act to Fund School Libraries, Literacy Efforts| News Bites

The Right to Read Act would help fund certified school librarians and well-resourced libraries across the country; the Philadelphia superintendent is looking for help from the city's public library system; Levine Querido launches a Spanish imprint; and more in News Bites.

The Right to Read Act would help fund certified school librarians across the country; the Philadelphia superintendent is looking for help from the city's public library system; Levine Querido launches a Spanish imprint; and more in News Bites.

Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) and representative Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ-03) introduced the Right to Read Act (S. 5064/H.R. 9056), which attempts to “address disparities in access to school library resources and surge federal investment in support of increasing student literacy across America.”

The Right to Read Act is designed to ensure all students have access to a school library staffed by a certified school librarian. If passed, it would increase student access to fully staffed and well-resourced school libraries and reauthorize the Comprehensive Literacy State Development grant program ($500 million) and the Innovative Approaches to Literacy program ($100 million).

The legislation is supported by the American Library Association and American Association of School Librarians.

“The American Association of School Librarians (AASL) believes that all students have the right to read freely and deserve equitable access to a school library staffed by a state-certified school librarian,” said AASL President Kathy Lester. “School librarians professionally curate diverse, inclusive collections of materials; motivate and guide student reading; teach information/media literacy skills; and integrate technology for teaching and learning. An effective school library supports the entire learning community and is essential for student success. AASL endorses the Right to Read Act of 2022 and thanks Senator Reed, Representative Grijalva, and their staff for introducing this important legislation.”

Read part of the legislators’ press release announcing the bill below:

Philadelphia schools seek help from Free Library

The School District of Philadelphia wants the city’s Free Library of Philadelphia to help with schools that don’t have certified school librarians, according to the district’s superintendent Tony Watlington.

“We are in conversation with the Free Library of Philadelphia about a potential partnership to fill some immediate gaps with the absence of libraries and librarians in some of our schools,” Watlington told KYW Newsradio.

The district has more than 200 schools and fewer than 10 certified librarians.

“The leader of the Free Library of Philadelphia has committed to being an equal partner with the School District of Philadelphia so that we can figure out ways to work together to fill some of the voids K-12. Not just in high schools, but K-12,” Watlington said.

The Free Library, however, has its own staffing issues to contend with, so any assistance will not be immediate.

The Free Library director Kelly Richards said the Free Library wants to help the city’s students but noted that it doesn’t have the capacity for its branches to stay open five days a week, so that is the priority of the system at the moment.

BookFest@Bank Street set for Oct. 15

Authors, illustrators, editors, reviewers, and scholars will take part in three panel discussions at the virtual BookFest@Bank Street on October 15.

Donna Barba Higuera, winner of the 2022 Newbery Medal and Pura Belpré for The Last Cuentista, will keynote. Newbery winners Meg Medina, Margarita Engle, and Pam Muñoz Ryan will discuss their award-winning Latinx middle grade novels during the “Complex Characters in Complex Times: Lessons for our Lives from Middle Grade Latinx Authors” panel. Jason Chin and Andrea Wang will discuss their picture book, 2022 Caldecott winner Watercressalongside other picture book creators. And family members of the legendary, Caldecott-winning illustrator Jerry Pinkney, who died in October 2021, will discuss his career and legacy.

The festival costs $35 and registration is open.

Levine Querido launches Spanish imprint

Publisher Levine Querido is launching a Spanish-language imprint. Ediciones Levine Querido is “devoted to bringing great literature for young people to Spanish-language readers, through collaborations with authors, illustrators, translators, and publishers from around the world.”

The inaugural list of three titles, ranging from picture book to YA, consists of:

Donna Barba Higuera’s La Última Cuentista (Newbery and Pura Belpré Medal winning The Last Cuentista Spanish Edition)

Camille Gomera-Tavarez’s Buenos Espíritus (High Spirits Spanish Edition)

Cat Min’s la tímida Willow (Shy Willow Spanish Edition)

In Spring 2023, they will release Noche antigua (Ancient Night Spanish Edition) by David Álvarez and words by David Bowles; La forma de un hogar (The Shape of Home Spanish Edition) by Rashin Kheriyeh; and Lo que le contó el Jaguar (What the Jaguar Told Her Spanish Edition) by Alexandra V. Méndez.

James Patterson donates $2 million to PEN America

Author James Patterson has donated $2 million to PEN America to help build communications capacity and assist in funding the organization's efforts to defend free expression in the United States, online, and around the world.

The gift toward PEN America’s centenary campaign will help PEN America mobilize writers, editors, and publishers to step up their support and equip the organization as a force to fight threats to free speech in the 21st century.

Solve for Tomorrow Contest open for entries

Public schools across the country can now enter the Samsung Solve for Tomorrow Contest, using project-based learning to show how to use STEM to tackle local issues with national implications. The 13th annual competition is open to public school teachers in grades 6 to 12 and offers a chance to win part of a $2 million prize.

New this year, Samsung is encouraging applicants to use responsibly sourced materials in their prototype and align their project ideas with the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals

Deadline to enter the contest is Wednesday, November 29. To learn more, visit here.

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