AASL names 2009 Innovative Reading Grant recipient

Contact: Melissa B. Jacobsen

AASL Communications Specialist

(312) 280-4381



For Immediate Release

May 4, 2009

CHICAGO – The American Association of School Librarians (AASL) is announcing that "Reading 2.0: Attracting Middle School Readers in the 21st Century," developed by Cathleen Friedmann, school library media specialist at Metairie Park Country Day School (MPCDS) in Metairie, La., has received the 2009 Innovative Reading Grant, sponsored by Capstone Publishers. "Reading 2.0" will be honored at the AASL Awards Luncheon during the ALA 2009 Annual Conference in Chicago.

Friedmann said library statistics at MPCDS reflect a sharp drop in reading between fifth grade and middle school. "Reading 2.0" hopes to motivate sixth graders to read and reward them for doing so by infusing the latest technological gadget for readers, the Kindle, into the school library media center. "Reading 2.0's" main goal is to improve sixth graders' reading scores on the ERB standardized test administered in the Spring semester of the school year.

"Taking an old skill – reading – and transforming it with technology into a new pleasure can propel students into a new attitude about their academics," Friedmann said. "Technology is changing the way students think and communicate… By the time students have arrived in sixth grade, reading is about developing the skill of understanding the nuance of the words on a page. They should be emerging readers who are interested in making the leap toward responsibility for their educational successes. Reading is the gateway to that success; technology is a means to that end, not the end in itself."

Sixth graders entering the MPCDS school library media center will find a common area available to them for spending their unstructured time reading with the Kindle. Through research, Friedmann found that the addition of learning commons helps raise a student's comfort level to enter the library, browse and return. Students will be given the opportunity to browse selections by downloading the first chapter of a book to read before making their final selection. Once a student has finished a title, they are offered the opportunity to tag specific titles to encourage their peers to read books that have been "test driven" by their peers. Friedmann's feels that her project will allow students to make their own learning choices and to "embrace the intrinsic nature of reading."

In her letter of recommendation for the project, Patricia Austin, professor at the University of New Orleans and a mentor to teachers at MPCDS said, "In the many schools where I observe, I have never seen a school more committed to creating a literate environment that promotes a love of lifelong reading."

The AASL Innovative Reading Grant is sponsored by Capstone Publishers (Capstone Press, Compass Point Books, Picture Window Books, Stone Arch Books and Red Brick Learning). Established in 2006, the $2,500 AASL Innovative Reading Grant supports the planning and implementation of a unique and innovative program for children that motivates and encourages reading, especially with struggling readers

The AASL Awards Luncheon will be held from noon to 2 p.m. on Monday, July 13 during Annual Conference. The fee to attend is $59. Special guest speaker for the luncheon will be Barbara Kerley, award-winning author of several books, including "Greetings from Planet Earth" and "What to do about Alice." For more information about this event and more AASL programs in Chicago, visit

www.aasl.org, a division of the American Library Association (ALA), promotes the improvement and extension of library media services in elementary and secondary schools as a means of strengthening the total education program. Its mission is to advocate excellence, facilitate change and develop leaders in the school library media field.