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Know Alaska -

Places You Can Visit


With summer break looming on the horizon, it's a great time for kids to learn about the Alaskan community where they live or will be visiting to find a list of local places they can go to learn more about Alaska. View the entire list here.. 


Kids Pick 'Em     


In this section a sampling of students from Alaska schools tell us in their own words about their favorite books.


Parents and teachers can use Kids Pick 'Em and the other resources in the Love of Reading section on LitSite to help generate creativity and inspire learning. Read more here...   


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Imagination Library Readers

Photo by Marco Gutierrez

Dolly Parton's Imagination Library in Alaska 

It's never to early to nourish a love for reading. By spring 2010, over 8,000 Alaska children from birth to age 5 were receiving free children's books in the mail -- every month. It began with Dolly Parton in Tennessee and has flowered in Alaska through the work of Best Beginnings, "Alaska's Early Childhood Investment." It begins with the first book for every child (The Little Engine that Could) and ends with each child's fifth birthday and Look Out Kindergarten, Here I Come! In between are 12 brand new, age appropriate, highly regarded children's books every month.

National statistics have shown that 60% of kindergartners in neighborhoods where children did poorly in school did not own a single book. Fourth graders with fewer than ten books in their home had lower average reading scores than their peers with more.

University of Alaska Anchorage researchers Drs. Hilary Seitz and Robert Capuozzo did a study of Imagination Library in the communities of Anchorage, Angoon, Fairbanks, Nome, and Seward. With families that had not yet participated in Imagination Library:
With families that had not yet participated in Imagination Library:
  • Almost 25% have ten or fewer children's books in the home
  • More than 14% say their children are only somewhat or not at all enthusiastic about books and reading
Contrast this with the Imagination Library families, where:
  • 94% have more than 20 children's books in the home
  • Over 80% report their children as very enthusiastic about books and reading
Free books for kids -- it's as simple as that. Find out how Alaskan kids are receiving free books through the Imagination Library here...
Alice Knapp reading out loud

Librarian Alice Knapp reading to her students at Mirror Lake

Tips for Reading Out Loud to Children  

  1. Good public speakers have to listen as much as they talk. Be alert to your audience's attention span, pick up on any extra fidget, any increased coughing, and adjust. Quickly.
  2. The three rules of holding attention are participation, participation, and participation. And what isn't participation is repetition.
  3. When in doubt, try multi-sensory material - sound effects, body movements etc.
  4. Unless the story ends with everyone tucked into bed, preschoolers have a hard time knowing it's over. Be sure to announce, "The End."
Get more tips on reading aloud and view a list of suggested books.
Danielle Ofri

Danielle Ofri  

(photo by Joon Park)

Poetry in Medicine: Take Two Sonnets and Call Me in the Morning

This new feature in LitSite's Narrative & Healing section by Danielle Ofri, MD, PhD, focuses on the healing properties of narrative and reading. The following is an excerpt from the narrative:

"When I make rounds with my students and interns, I always try to sneak in a poem at the end. I think poetry is important because it helps convey the parts of the medical experience that don't make it into textbooks. It's important because it teaches creative thinking -- something of immense value to doctors." Read the full narrative here...

Danielle Ofri, MD, PhD is Associate Professor of Medicine at New York University School of Medicine but her clinical home is at Bellevue Hospital, the oldest public hospital in the country. She is co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of the Bellevue Literary Review. Her newest book,"Medicine in Translation: Journeys with My Patients," is about the experience of immigrants and Americans in the U.S. health care system. She is the author of two collections of essays about life in medicine: Incidental Findings: Lessons from my Patients in the Art of Medicine and Singular Intimacies: Becoming a Doctor at Bellevue. Danielle Ofri's writings have appeared in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, the New England Journal of Medicine, the Lancet, and on CNN.com and National Public Radio. Her essays have been selected for Best American Essays (twice) and Best American Science Writing.