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Justin Minkel

I'm a teacher (3rd grade ELL's), author (Clubhouse Clash), and dad.

I am good at languages, teaching, writing fantasy novels, & telling my 4-year old daughter three stories a night.

Location
Fayetteville, Arkansas
Website
www.mutasia.com/web/guest/shop/productdetail?p_p_id=mutasia_ProductDetail_portlet_WAR_konakartportlet&prodId=67

Activity

  • Justin Minkel replied to a comment by Jen Gurecki

    Bridging the Book Gap: Because Income Shouldn't Determine Access via magazine.good.is

    Jen Gureckiover 1 year ago

    Dear Justin, you pose a rather interesting, yet complex question. In my community, what we are attempting to accomplish is a collaboration between literacy initiatives that spans a child's primary and secondary education experience. I am the ED of Adventure Risk Challenge (www.arcprogram.org) and our 40-day literacy and leadership course addresses summer learning loss and the gap in literacy and outdoor opportunities for underserved youth. AimHigh (www.aimhigh.org) is a new program in our area working underserved middle school youth during the summer, and they will be referring their graduate to our program. Finally, we've got Tahoe Truckee Reads (http://tahoetruckeereads.org) , targeting elementary school youth. What I've found is that when we put books in the hands of the young people we work with, they are amazed at the rewards of reading an entire book on their own time over the summer. They read on their expeditions, in their bunk beds, and between activities. I don't have an answer on how to grow this nationally, but it's important to believe in the potential of young people to enjoy reading. I think we've written that off--there's a common assumption that young people are only interested in small bites found on social media. But that's not true, and as educators we can go against the grain of worksheets and computer games and put bound books in the hands of young people.

    Justin Minkelover 1 year ago

    Thanks so much for this thoughtful post, Jen. Adventure Risk Challenge sounds wonderful. You bring up a critical point--to bring the idea of home libraries to scale, we should consider a child's whole life, ideally starting in pre-K and continuing through middle or high school.

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  • Justin Minkel replied to a comment by Bearii

    Bridging the Book Gap: Because Income Shouldn't Determine Access via magazine.good.is

    Beariiover 1 year ago

    I must be missing something here... my family was quite poor growing up, but they had an amazing idea - we went to the PUBLIC LIBRARY!!! I fell in love with books there, spent hours reading there, and brought home all the books I could carry. We didn't live near a library, I walked several miles at first, then eventually saved enough pennies by working after school to buy a very used bike to ride to the library. Why not support the local public library and turn children on to those wonderful resources???

    Justin Minkelover 1 year ago

    I don't think it's an either-or; I think public libraries are up there with public schools in terms of value to society, and I take my own kids to our library almost every day. But I do think for most children and adults, there is something different about owning an especially beloved book--for me, it's a marked-up copy of The Hobbit, which I've read about a dozen times, usually when traveling to a new place (college, West Africa), or back home.

    I grew up in rural Stone County, Arkansas, where the public schools and the public library were fairly poor. But my parents made sure I had three shelves full of books I loved, and my dad would mail me a new one each time he went away on a business trip. I used to run barefoot down the gravel road to our mailbox, hoping to see The Great Brain or Where The Red Fern Grows waiting for me like a birthday present. I would run in the fields outside our house with imagined characters from those books. The books are still lined up on that same bookshelf my dad hammered together when I was in 2nd grade, ready for my daughter and son to read when they get a little older.

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  • Justin Minkel replied to a comment by Bethann Merkle

    Bridging the Book Gap: Because Income Shouldn't Determine Access via magazine.good.is

    Bethann Merkleover 1 year ago

    This is a great initiative! I work for an English-language literacy resource organization in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada (the heart of French-speaking Canada). A lot of our work involves a) working with families to encourage good reading habits and literacy skills at a young age, and b) helping adults with literacy challenges later in life.

    I would 100% underline, bold, and all caps my agreement with those individuals encouraging people's use of libraries at all stages of life. I literally grew up in libraries, including volunteering (while still in elementary school) in my school and public libraries. They are still some of my favorite places in my hometown. And they really need public support.

    That being said, for folks looking to put books in childrens' hands, sometimes more than one idea helps. Here are a couple of others that came to mind, as I read Justin's article:
    1. Gift of Reading - an initiative of the Literacy Foundation: http://www.fondationalphabetisation.org/en/children/gift_of_reading/collection/.
    2. Drop Everything and Read - we did this in my elementary school when I was a child, and I waited for it every year with great anticipation! It was so great to be authorized to do nothing but read. http://dropeverythingandread.com/
    3. Sustained Silent Reading was another favorite part of my elementary school days. :)
    4. For fundraising purposes, there are actually a number of crowd funding platforms which allow individuals (not just 501(c)3s and schools) to accept funds. They include kickstarter (http://www.kickstarter.com/), indigogo (http://www.indiegogo.com/) and others.

    Justin Minkelover 1 year ago

    Many thanks, Bethann...these are fantastic.

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  • Justin Minkel commented on a link

    Bridging the Book Gap: Because Income Shouldn't Determine Access via magazine.good.is

    Justin Minkelover 1 year ago

    I have been overwhelmed by the thoughtful insights, stories, and projects of all who have responded to this piece. I have a question for all you brilliant minds and great hearts, geared toward the kinds of systems-thinkers this GOOD community clearly includes:

    How could we scale up the idea of home libraries as a literacy intervention especially for lower-income kids? Richard Allington's research found that giving low-income students 12 books to take home over the summer had equal to double the impact of summer school, without confining students to 2-3 months of worksheets while their friends were out riding bikes and enjoying summer break. My own students had the greatest growth of any class I've taught, measured by reading assessments like the DRA as well as their results on the state standardized test. (Despite all being lower-income and most being English Learners, 92% passed the state reading test and 96% passed math.)

    There must be a way to take this idea from a bunch of random stalks and blossoms to a cultivated garden, from a scattering of great projects to an actual policy approach on the parts of districts, state departments of ed, and the U.S. Department of Ed, along with foundations and other partners, to put great books into the hands of great kids.

    Given a choice between worksheets and phonics computer games, on the one hand, and a love of literature--whether traditional paper books or ebooks--I would choose the literature, and it is proven to have a tremendous impact on reading growth as well as that enjoyment of books for their own sake.

    Any ideas out there?

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  • Justin Minkel replied to a comment by Jennifer Simmons

    Bridging the Book Gap: Because Income Shouldn't Determine Access via magazine.good.is

    Jennifer Simmonsover 1 year ago

    Justin: Thank you for responding! I'm really excited about getting started. I'm a children's librarian in a public library, so I don't know if DonorsChoose.org is the right fit, it appears that this is for teachers only. That's ok, though, I'll figure it out.

    The "Jonathan Minkel" thing is an error on my part (smack to the forehead) That post is from me (jss5773) addressing you, Jonathan, with the wrong first name. Totally embarrassed, but that's what happened.

    I'm so glad to be on here at good.is. I'll keep you posted as to how my project is progressing.

    Thanks again for all you do!

    Jennifer Simmons

    Justin Minkelover 1 year ago

    That's hilarious...I guess my Carolinian cousin is a figment of my imagination. ; ) Best of luck with the project, and thank YOU--I can't think of a more instrumental role in children's relationship with books than to be a children's librarian. Our own library (Fayetteville, 2005 national Library of the Year) has played a tremendous role in my 4-year old daughter and 18-month old son's childhoods, so I'm grateful for your work as a parent as well as a teacher.

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  • Justin Minkel replied to a comment by Philip Athans

    Bridging the Book Gap: Because Income Shouldn't Determine Access via magazine.good.is

    Philip Athansover 1 year ago

    I would love to find a way to add this mission into my own organization's agenda for 2013. I'm the founder of the National Buy a Book Day Foundation ( http://www.buyabookday.org/home.html )and this is exactly the sort of problem I'm hoping to help solve.

    Justin Minkelover 1 year ago

    That's fantastic, Philip. Please let me know if you have any questions. What a great mission for a foundation.

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  • Justin Minkel replied to a comment by phill1

    Bridging the Book Gap: Because Income Shouldn't Determine Access via magazine.good.is

    phill1over 1 year ago

    Great idea! I'd also like to tell you about Better World Books. They have a large variety of used books that are very reasonable. I've used them many times to build my classroom library and to give books to students.

    Justin Minkelover 1 year ago

    Great resource. Every year I go to our local used bookshop to rejuvenate my class library. Thanks for sharing this.

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  • Justin Minkel replied to a comment by Garden Angels

    Bridging the Book Gap: Because Income Shouldn't Determine Access via magazine.good.is

    Garden Angelsover 1 year ago

    Justin - I would love to repost this on our MomswithBooks.com website. Is that alright?

    Justin Minkelover 1 year ago

    Thank you, Garden Angels and Liz! It has been remarkable to realize how many kindred-spirited individuals and groups are out there acting on the behalf of kids.

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  • Justin Minkel replied to a comment by vmyers

    Bridging the Book Gap: Because Income Shouldn't Determine Access via magazine.good.is

    vmyersover 1 year ago

    Books are so key to kids' learning and can broaden their horizons like nothing else -- plus they add unquantifiable quality of life to not just the children but to their families. What an inspiration! Kudos to you. First Book is another great program that gets free books into the hands of children by connecting teachers to generous publishers and people who provide warehouse space that makes distribution more do-able. Check it out here http://www.firstbook.org/ or read about it here www.aft.org/newspubs/news/2012/052512firstbook.cfm

    Justin Minkelover 1 year ago

    Thanks for sharing this. One of my favorite (and unexpected) outcomes of the project was my students reading to their younger brothers and sisters. Maria told me one day, "Mr. Minkel, I was reading the BFG to Esperanza (her 3-year old sister), and I think she understood it, because she kept laughing at the part about whizzpoppers!" The home libraries also became a repository of family reading materials--magazines as well as books--in some cases. For families in which the parents aren't literate or are not literate in English, siblings play a tremendous role in building the literacy of their little brothers and sisters.

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  • Justin Minkel replied to a comment by Paul Ahrens

    Bridging the Book Gap: Because Income Shouldn't Determine Access via magazine.good.is

    Paul Ahrensover 1 year ago

    Hi Justin,

    As a former teacher, educational researcher, parent, and now the leader of a education company (www.litart.com) devoted to enhancing literacy using high quality children's literature, I love your idea. In fact, our company grew out of a similar idea, specifically, making sure every student experiences at least one great book everyday and one great chapter book every month. We agree the first part is having access to books. The next step is enhancing the way students and adults share books and reading time. Please let me know about any schools, teachers, or families would like access to our materials and I will use our small in-house fund to make them available for free.

    Best,
    Paul Ahrens
    President
    Global Learning Inc.
    LitART Literacy Programs

    Justin Minkelover 1 year ago

    Paul, that's an incredibly kind and generous offer. I have a fairly complex question for you and for any readers out there:

    I'm struck by the disconnect between, on the one hand, the tremendous impact projects like this have on students' love of reading and their reading progress, and on the other, the scarcity of district/state/federal initiatives that put quality literature in children's/family's hands to keep as the foundation of a home library. Any thoughts on how to scale up the idea of home libraries as a literacy intervention, particularly for lower-income students?

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  • Justin Minkel replied to a comment by David Cumby

    Bridging the Book Gap: Because Income Shouldn't Determine Access via magazine.good.is

    David Cumbyover 1 year ago

    A great initiative and project idea for others, but it seems to me a regular partnership with and encouraging use of the Public (and school) libraries in your individual areas should be able to fill some of the gap ... That is the mission of the Free Public Library and the school library movements. Of course, there is an added benefit in giving children personal/home ownership rather thn just a loan of age-appropriate, interesting books.

    Justin Minkelover 1 year ago

    That's a great point, David. I live in a town (Fayetteville, Arkansas) with an incredible library, and I'm constantly amazed by the services and resources it provides for free, beginning with babies and continuing through teens.

    Classroom libraries are critical, too--I've seen wonderful class libraries with bookshelves stacked with high-quality books and beanbags for the kids to plop down on, and I've seen class libraries even for young kids that consist of10 or 15 tattered books jammed in a bin in a corner.

    Given how much money our school system spends on other reading-related interventions (textbooks, workbooks, software), high-quality literature and informational texts should be seen as an investment worthy of solid annual funding.

    Join the discussion

  • Justin Minkel replied to a comment by David Cumby

    Bridging the Book Gap: Because Income Shouldn't Determine Access via magazine.good.is

    David Cumbyover 1 year ago

    A great initiative and project idea for others, but it seems to me a regular partnership with and encouraging use of the Public (and school) libraries in your individual areas should be able to fill some of the gap ... That is the mission of the Free Public Library and the school library movements. Of course, there is an added benefit in giving children personal/home ownership rather thn just a loan of age-appropriate, interesting books.

    Justin Minkelover 1 year ago

    That's a great point, David. I live in a town (Fayetteville, Arkansas) with an incredible library, and I'm constantly amazed by the services and resources it provides for free, beginning with babies and continuing through teens.

    Classroom libraries are critical, too--I've seen wonderful class libraries with bookshelves stacked with high-quality books and beanbags for the kids to plop down on, and I've seen class libraries even for young kids that consist of10 or 15 tattered books jammed in a bin in a corner.

    Given how much money our school system spends on other reading-related interventions (textbooks, workbooks, software), high-quality literature and informational texts should be seen as an investment worthy of solid annual funding.

    Join the discussion