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What to Read on Your Summer Vacation

As if you didn't already have enough summer reading suggestions, here's a mix of recent hot links and a book review to add to your options.

In case you missed it, last week Sarah Garland wrote an excellent overview of the pre-K-3 movement, which seeks to revolutionize early learning through an ambitious list of connected initiatives: universal access to free public preschool, mandatory full-day kindergarten, curriculum that is seamlessly connected from preschool to 3rd grade, and increasing parent involvement.

Though the basic premise seems logical—connect preschool and K-3 educators so they can build a seamless transition from one to the other—in practice, lean budget times and lack of a clear model for the work may put some brakes on the momentum generated by funders and a few leading states and districts. The article was produced by The Hechinger Report, a nonprofit, nonpartisan education news outlet based at Teachers College, Columbia University, in New York City.

Also last week, the New York Times' Room for Debate featured a discussion on kindergarten readiness and the question of whether the kids or the classroom need to change to meet children's needs.

If you'd rather listen to your summer reading than read it, check out BAM! Radio's Educators Channel for recent podcasts on today's parents, the importance of play and how to spur children's internal motivation by moving beyond rewards and punishments. (And you get to hear me weigh in a bit on that last topic.)

And finally, the book review: I've been reading Preschool in Three Cultures Revisited, an update of a 20-year-old classic in the fields of early learning and anthropology. University of Chicago anthropologist Joe Tobin and colleagues revisit preschools in China, Japan, and the United States to see how things have changed after two decades. It's a fascinating glimpse into three cultures and how globalization and the changing economy are affecting care of young children. Preschool staff from each site get to see video from the other sites and react to it—that's one of the parts I found most interesting. For example, American early educators were stunned to see older Japanese children in preschool helping care for infants and toddlers. There, that's an introduction to communal responsibility. Here, that could be grounds for a lawsuit.

If you'd like to see what they saw, you can order edited DVDs of the original and follow-up research videos here.

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