Links I Shared on Twitter this Week: May 26: Super Villains, Reading Spaces, #Coding + Conquering Busyness

TwitterLinksHere are highlights from the links that I shared on Twitter this week @JensBookPage. Topics for this relatively light week include #BookLists, #STEM, #SummerReading, bullying, coding, First Book, growing bookworms, math, parenting, reading culture, reluctant readers, schools, and time management. And speaking of time management, I wish everyone a Memorial Day weekend spent doing whatever means start of summer to you. As for me, I'll be sitting outside reading just as much as I can. 

Book Lists

Super Heroes and Super Villains, a + a couple of new arrivals   

8 Delightful Children's Books That Celebrate

Events + Programs

FirstBookSummer_ReadingHappy 25th Birthday to , still bringing books + resources to kids in need  

Growing Bookworms

Reading Spaces + creating a culture in , guest post by  

Ten Types of Books That Are Hooking My MOST Reluctant Readers by

Best Programs, Contests, and Challenges 2017, collected by

On Reading, Writing, Blogging, and Publishing

GeorgeShrinks-500x412THEY’RE ALIIIIIIIIVE! 2017 Out-of-Print Books Back From the Dead —  

This looks like a good list: 36 Twitter Accounts Teachers Should Follow

Thoughts (inspired by ) on how + other bloggers organize overflowing bookshelves

Parenting and Time Management

HappinessTrack#Happiness research shows the biggest obstacle to is being too busy

Practical Ways to Teach Young Children How to Respond to a Bully - Bethany Todd

This has really hit home for me lately: You Can Never Be Your Best If You're Too Busy  


Getting More Girls (& Boys) to Love by  

Do Digital Games Improve Children’s Skills by making fun?

© 2017 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook

Shorty & Clem: Michael Slack

Book: Shorty & Clem
Author: Michael Slack
Pages: 40
Age Range: 4-8

ShortyAndClemShorty & Clem is the story of two friends. Shorty is a relatively short dinosaur and Clem is a quail. They apparently live together. One day while Clem is out, a package arrives for him. Shorty is achingly curious about the contents of the package (wrapped in cheerful spotted paper). He doesn't feel right opening it, but, well, bouncing it, thumping on it, and other activities prove irresistible. Eventually Shorty succumbs to temptation and opens the package, finding something delightful. But he has to face the music when Clem comes home. Or does he? 

This book reminded me very much of the Elephant & Piggie books (with Shorty taking the role or Elephant), albeit with a hint more text, and obviously very different illustrations. For example, on one page spread Shorty says:

"I will drive it!"

He looks gleeful (if somewhat demented), sitting on the package. Then there's a page of sound effects: "VROOM, VROOOM, VROOOOM" "screetch" "CRASH!" as he drives the box/car around. I could just hear Gerald the Elephant saying "I will eat the ice cream!" under similar circumstance. 

But, you know, someone does have to fill the void left by the retirement of Elephant and Piggie. And Shorty and Clem are dynamic and funny. Michael Slack's exclamation-filled text is read-aloud friendly, with plenty of opportunities for drama. And the colorful characters are visually engaging. Clem, I think, is especially cute, with his big round eyes. (I'm not sure why Clem is male, to tell the truth, as he is basically wearing pumps, but whatever.) 

I think that Shorty & Clem could work well for a storytime read-aloud for preschoolers, or as an early reader for primary-age kids. Slack nicely captures the desperation that young kids feel when they have to wait to open a present. Oh, the suffering! Shorty's creative uses of the simple box are also inspired. I would not be at all surprised to see these two characters repackaged into an early reader format, and having further adventures. In any event, my daughter and I enjoyed them in picture book format. Recommended. 

Publisher: HarperCollins (@HarperChildrens
Publication Date: April 25, 2017
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

© 2017 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook. This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through affiliate links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).

#JoyOfLearning Articles from @medinger and @biblioracle on #SummerReading and #JoyofWriting

JoyOFLearningLogoI ran across two articles about nurturing the joy of learning last week. The first was about how schools should NOT assign mandatory summer reading, something with which I agree strongly. The second was about the importance of nurturing a joy of writing in students, in addition to a joy of reading. This was a good reminder to me, the mother of a child who declares herself a writer. I hope you find these articles useful. 

Yes, yes, yes! The best ? Not mandatory. Don't send home required lists.

John Warner: "As someone who loves and values books and reading and also has been teaching college writing for the past 16 years, I have a request: Please don't do that [send home required reading lists].

Seems paradoxical, I know. Why would a book lover like me discourage schools from requiring students to read over the summer?

Nurturing good reading habits is a long game, and whenever we tether reading to school, we hinder, rather than help, students. The National Counsel of Teachers of English has a list of best practices when it comes to effective reading instruction, including this: "Provide daily opportunities for students to read books of their own choice at school."

I'd like to add a personal recommendation: When not in school, let students read whatever the heck they want."

Me: I agree with John Warner 100%. I think it's fine to provide lists of titles that kids might enjoy, as a helpful tool. But to me, summer reading for kids, as it usually is for adults, should be about reading whatever is of interest at that particular moment. Comic strips, books of amazing facts, instruction manuals, notebook novels, verse novels, series titles, etc., etc., etc. 

JoyWriteA reminder of the need to maintain a joy of in the classroom + a response from to a new book

Monica Edinger: "All of this informs my beliefs when it comes to teaching writing to 4th graders. These include:

  • Creating situations where students feel invested in their writing
  • That they have audiences
  • That they find joy in the work
  • That they understand that there are many different ways and reasons to write — some being completely private, some to figure out a problem, and more.

Of late my impression is that writing instruction in schools is highly driven by testing, common core curriculum, packaged programs, and consultants."

Me: Monica shares an early experience in school that harmed her confidence in her writing for years, and discusses how that experience informed her methods of teaching writing today. She also shares her responses to Ralph Fletcher's new book on "cultivating high-impact, low-stakes writing." This post really struck me because my daughter right now loves to write. But I do worry that emphasis on structure and spelling and the like will take away that joy as she gets older. Monica's post made me realize that in addition to my efforts to keep reading at home as joyful an experience for my daughter as possible, I need to do the same thing with writing. I certainly intend to try!  

© 2017 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook. This post may contain affiliate links. 

Go Sleep in Your Own Bed!: Candace Fleming & Lori Nichols

Book: Go Sleep in Your Own Bed!
Author: Candace Fleming
Illustrator: Lori Nichols
Pages: 40
Age Range: 3-7

GoSleepInYourOwnBedI thought that Go Sleep in Your Own Bed! would be one of those books designed to encourage kids to, well, sleep in their own beds, instead of with Mom and Dad. But if that is the point that Candace Fleming is trying to make, she has an unusually subtle approach. Instead, Go Sleep in Your Own Bed is a silly tale in which a succession of animals each attempts to go to bed, finds someone else in the bed, kicks out said someone else, and then goes to sleep. Then we proceed to the next page spread, where that kicked out animal also finds his or her bed taken. This structure is repeated half a dozen times. There is a mild surprise at the end when the final animal is offered the choice to sleep in someone else's bed. 

What made this book work for me was Fleming's use of apt descriptive language. Like this:

"Oh, w-w-w-h-o-o-o-a is me," whickered Horse. 
And he shambled to his stable, cloppety-plod.

But when he settled down--
Who do you think he found?

(next page)

"Get up!"
whinnied Horse.
"Go sleep in your
own bed!"

For a book with so little text, those are some great descriptive words. "Whickered", "shambled", "clopety-plod". And of course there is a hint in "Mehhhhh" about what the next animal is going to be. Vocabulary-building and read-aloud friendly! 

Lori Nichols' illustrations add humor on every page, from chicken feathers flying everywhere when the chickens try to evict a horse to the expression of righteous indignation on the face of the horse when he finds a sheepish sheep in his bed. She also includes visual hints of what the next animal will be (e.g. a bunch of shaggy wool that looks like a mop, in the above example), making it more fun for younger listeners to guess the next animal. She uses dim backgrounds throughout, and closes the book with a cozy nighttime scene perfect for saying "Goodnight" to young listeners.

Go Sleep in Your Own Bed! is a comforting bedtime read, perfect for preschoolers. There's enough interesting vocabulary to keep primary listeners engaged, too, and enough silliness that it could also work as part of a farm sounds unit for a school or library storytime. Definitely worth a look, for libraries and families! Recommended!

Publisher: Schwartz and Wade (@RandomHouseKids
Publication Date: May 2, 2017
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

© 2017 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook. This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through affiliate links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).

Literacy Milestone: Having Her Own Genre Preferences

LiteracyMilestoneAI've always tried to give my daughter choice in what we read, of course. And she's always had preferences for particular books, and, eventually, particular authors and illustrators. When she was younger, I would let her pick whatever she liked from the library, even if that meant a whole stack of TV tie-in paperbacks. But recently, for the first time, she identified herself as a fan of a particular genre. Someone asked her what she likes to read and she said: "I'm really into graphic novels." To me, this is a milestone because she's defining herself as a person who likes to read a particular type of book. She's starting to understand her own preferences, and seek out the things that work for her. 

This incident also stood out for me because, well, I'm not particularly into graphic novels. I enjoy some of the ones for younger readers, particularly Babymouse and Lunch Lady. But I'm not a very visually-oriented person, and for longer, more complex stories I prefer text. Shifting my focus between the words and the pictures in a graphic novel is a distraction for me. 

KnightsOfLunchTable1But my daughter! She adores graphic novels. I've written before of her love for Lunch Lady by Jarrett Krosoczka, and for Real Friends by Shannon Hale and LeUyen Pham. She's also reading the Knights of the Lunch Table series and the Babysitters' Club full color graphic novel editions. She loves them all. She stays up late reading them, reads them in the car, and talks about them with whoever will listen. At this point, she prefer realistic graphic novels to fantasy [Zita the Spacegirl didn't work for her, for example], but I can imagine that changing in the future. We'll have to wait and see. Right now, I'm just celebrating that she knows what she likes, and seeks it out.

The other night I left a new graphic novel on her bed. I said: "I think you'll like this one." She said: "Is there a graphic novel in this book? Then, YES, I will like it." (Awkward phrasing, but she was trying to quote the scene in Elf where he says he likes sugar.) 

Me, I like mysteries and post-apocalyptic stories. My daughter's preferences will likely evolve as she gets older. But right now she is doing what readers do, figuring out what she enjoys, and then asking for more. 

© 2017 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook