Some Thoughts on Limiting Screen Time

For the summer, my husband, daughter and I agreed on a policy of no more than 30 minutes per day of screen time for her (with long plane trips an exception). Right as school let out, I added a modifier to that. I said that the screen time could only happen after she had tidied her room and playroom, put away any clean laundry, eaten breakfast, gotten dressed, and brushed her teeth. Because my daughter is one who prefers to kick around in her PJs all day, eating a super late breakfast, this modifier has initiated some whining. BUT it's already been hugely successful in getting her to diversify her activities.

LibraryBooksYesterday she:

  • Spent an hour making an elaborate birthday card for a friend.
  • Set up a Lego station in the front hall.
  • Started a new project on her Loopdeloom.
  • Dressed her new (hand-me-down) American Girl doll in a cute softball outfit.
  • Read several short graphic novels.
  • Went to the library with me to check out 26 books.

All of this took place before her 30 minutes of device time, which ended up happening late in the afternoon.

Yes, the whole process ended up cutting into my newspaper reading and exercise time a bit. And yes, the house is much, much messier now than it would have been if I had let her start on her tablet the minute she got up and stay on it for 3 hours (and has certainly happened in the recent past). But she is DOING things instead of passively WATCHING things, which is a clear improvement overall. 

Oh, and this morning she slept later than she has all school year. She was getting up early on the weekends out of eagerness to get to the device. Knowing that she won't get to it right away, she stays in bed longer, which is surely a good thing.

LoomSo, here is my advice, for what it's worth, if you want your child to spend more time reading or playing or doing crafts:

  • Set a hard limit on device time / screen time (at least at home, and/or for when the child is alone. Family movies and things can be additional).
  • Add some constraints, things that have to be accomplished BEFORE the screen time takes place. If these are things that she will do anything to put off, so much the better.
  • Communicate the policies clearly to your child, explaining your reasons. My daughter and I had a discussion about how much better it is for her to spend her time reading, playing, etc. than tapping away on a screen. We talked about how when she doesn't spend time online she is less cranky. Because she had recently spent 2+ weeks without ANY screen time (as a consequence of a misbehavior), she knew what I was talking about, even if she didn't like it. 

The idea here is to convey, if you can, that you are setting the limits for the child's benefit, not your own. And this is the truth. I hate the mess around the house that results from more free play. I miss the quiet time to exercise without being interrupted while she's on her tablet. But in the big picture, the activities that she's choosing to do instead of the device time are clearly better for her development. And I can use the requirement to clean up the mess as a way to put off her device time again today. 

© 2018 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

Links I Shared on Twitter this Week: June 15: #BookAccess, #OwnVoices, #LoveOfReading + Enjoying Summer

TwitterLinksHere are highlights from the links that I shared on Twitter this week @JensBookPage. Topics this week include #AchievementGap, #BookLists, #ChildDevelopment, #curiosity, #GraphicNovels, #gratitude, #GrowingBookworms, #IntrinsicMotivation, #OwnVoices, #parenting, #play, #ReadAloud, #reading, #rewards, #teaching, Bill Gates, Donalyn Miller, and libraries.

Top Tweet of the Week

BookWhispererMust read: "much of what we describe as the “achievement gap” is caused by differential access to books... Kids need books everywhere. They need , , + public ."

Book Lists

50+ Chapter Books (to add to your reading) good for Preschoolers + 3 Year Olds, from

A Mighty Girl's Ultimate Guide to Girl-Empowering for Kids | | | Most of my daughter's faves are here

Diversity + Gender

Summing up a recent Controversy in |

Where Boys Outperform Girls in : Rich, White and Suburban Districts - (girls outperform boys on English tests either way) +

Events + Programs

FactfulnessVery cool: Bill Gates is giving a digital copy of the book FACTFULNESS (which I read b/c of his rec + really enjoyed) to all US college students graduating this spring:

Growing Bookworms / Summer Reading

On creating : "if we have not made a concerted effort to create life-long readers when they leave our system, perhaps we have failed in our ultimate goal", w/ questions for leaders

Make Room For Both Types of urges to give kids true free choice, unrestricted time so that they learn to LOVE reading | May all of my daughter's future teachers know this

— The Greatest Gift Your Kids Will Give You |

"I’ve learned that if I can keep my eye on the big goal of creating lifelong , I can’t rush them through this stage (choosing series books vs. "good" books). It is a critical stage in the life of a reader"

MrsSmithSpySchoolThoughts from on the benefits of , w/ designed to keep it FUN [Her book Mrs. Smith's Spy School for Girls is super-fun too]


Fusenews: A Giant Dance Party Changes Nothing (but it is fun) — has various tidbits to share

On Reading, Writing, Blogging, and Publishing

The Lion, the Witch + the Wardrobe voted the children’s book most UK adults want to read again, beating out The Secret Garden | | 2/3 of adults agree in bed helps w/ sleep

Your Brain on (Why Your Brain Needs You to Read Every Day) by | brain connectivity, more fluid reasoning, emotional intelligence + more

Read a book --- it could save your sanity » Study of 15k+ seniors found ' risk of developing dementia was significantly lower than non-readers via


RaisingHappinessA Family Guide to Surviving the Summer by | Creating new routines, limiting + raising expectations for chores sound right to me

How to not melt the couch, and other life skills to teach your kids this summer - Karen Weese | This is a pretty good, if ambitious, list ranging from how to iron to how to be a good guest |

The Perils Of Pushing Kids Too Hard, And How Parents Can Learn To Back Off | + |

Mr. Rogers's Simple Set of 9 Rules for Talking to Young Kids - Maxwell King -

How to Improve Verbal Communication With Your Child: "3) Read Together — Even When They Can Read Themselves. It is impossible to overstate the importance" of this

Schools and Libraries

Why Every Kinder and 1st-Grade School Day Should Begin with Inquiry + Imaginative by Olivia Wahl | Referencing

EverythingBeyond the Comfort Zone: Language Arts on how she gets buy-in from before letting kids reads books w/ controversial content

Noticing the Good Stuff in the : A Suggested Practice | | Share a |

Don't Use Gimmicks to Motivate Students - they take away - strive to inspire autonomy instead, says

It's Time to End Mandated Summer Assignments - rounds up ideas for promoting + instead

If This Is the End of Average, What Comes Next? | raises concerns w/ conclusions in book re:

© 2018 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.

Interview At Dani Duck's Website

An interview that Dani Duck did with me is live at her blog today. Questions included: "Why is reading so important to you?" and "Describe your perfect reading area."

Here's a snippet:

"My favorite place to read is in a comfortable chair somewhere outside, with a view, in the shade. I once spent an entire day reading on a lounge chair on a little peninsula in Bar Harbor, Maine. I had ocean on three sides of me, and multiple books to read. It was pure bliss. In my mind, I sometimes try to go back to that spot. But these days, my backyard and a cup of tea or a glass of wine works pretty well, too."

But I hope you'll click through to see the whole interview, and add Dani to your blog roll while you're at it. Happy Friday!

© 2018 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

Links I Shared on Twitter this Week: June 8: The Marshmallow Test, Summer #BookLists + #FreeRangeKids

TwitterLinksHere are highlights from the links that I shared on Twitter this week @JensBookPage. Topics this week include: #BookAccess, #BookLists, #GrowingBookworms, #GrowthMindset, #KidLitCon, #LoveOfBooks, #math, #OwnVoices, #play, #PoetryFriday, #SummerReading, #SummerSlide, #TeachersWrite, boys and reading, libraries, parenting, reading, willpower, and writing.

Top Tweet of the Week

The Marshmallow Test: What Does It Really Measure? responds to larger follow-up study suggesting affluence rather than willpower matters [One of my most popular links ever.]

Book Lists

WatermelonSeed 2018: for Preschool, TK + Kindergarten (ages 4-5) from (w/ links to other lists by age - follow Mary Ann's blog to see those)

30 Mighty Girl Books About Summertime Adventure, Growth, & Discovery | from | I bet boys would like these too |

Diversity + Gender

This: Expanding Empathy: Boys should be reading "Girl" Books says | "We shortchange boys and underestimate them when we don’t expose boys to stories with girl main characters"

Research on in Youth Literature, coedited by + Gabrielle Atwood Halko, is a new “peer-reviewed, online, open-access journal,” via

A Closer Look at 2017 Latinx Books from |

Events, Programs, and Research

The Incredibles to use superpowers for Card Sign-up Month in September | |

HartRisleyInteresting new results re: the '30 Million Word Gap' | Larger studies find much smaller gap + some would prefer to remove 'deficit thinking' of gap-focused mindset

Lots of food for thought here: The "Debunking" of Hart & Risley (30 million word gap) and How We Use -

, community of , , who believe people who write can teach more effectively, has 2018 virtual summer writing camp via

Teachers: Prepare your class for the 10th annual K-4 contest. This year's theme is Heroes (human or animal)

Growing Bookworms / #SummerReading

RT @MrsPStorytime: Need tips for ? I've gathered up so many FREE resources and activities to share with you!

This post brought a little tear to my eye: How + her team Gave Every 7th grade Student a Book on the Last Day of School

Here's another teacher taking solid action to encourage in the classroom: Learn more about in podcast

BookWhispererStrategies for Building A Culture of Independent in a 9th Grade English Class | |

Digital Device + Free Texts = Reading All Summer Long by

For thinking ahead to next year, here's a guide from founder on Getting Started with

How To Find Good Children's Books: The Best Tips and Tricks from | , professional sites, + more |

Challenge for Kids — 2018 Edition | Ideas from + for making a fun adventure | Read a then draw your own in chalk


KIDLIT_con_poster_final_web_smAnnouncing the Poster, designed by Isabel Roxas!

Hey there bloggers, here's a call for Roundup Hosts from

On Reading, Writing, Blogging, and Publishing

The Endless Possibilities of Story & : 3 ways + story change lives from

Guest Post : on Keeping it : Handling Tough Topics in Fiction | "First, don't be depressing"

Parenting + Play

GoodNewsBadBehaviorWhy Children Aren't Behaving, And What You Can Do About It : interviews author |

The Overprotected American Child: Parents + communities are figuring out ways to give their children more independence + become more self-reliant adults

What Kind Of Parent Are You: Carpenter Or Gardener? | shares interview w/ | often focus too much on who their kids will be as adults

An Overlooked Skill in : How to Have Fun - It's not just kids who benefit from more |

Schools and Libraries

Interesting discussion on idea of opening to slow the

3 Reasons for to Recognize Effort and Growth Over Achievement and Outcomes

How Is Increasing Engagement, w/ implementation tips


HowToBakePiNeat idea: How To Bake ∏ (Pi): An Edible Exploration (w/ for ) of the of Mathematics by | Thoughts on the book from |

Latinx + African-American less likely to pass advanced , classes according to recent data

© 2018 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.

Growing Bookworms Newsletter: June 6: #SummerReading Edition

JRBPlogo-smallToday, I will be sending out a new issue of the Growing Bookworms email newsletter. (If you would like to subscribe, you can find a sign-up form here.) The Growing Bookworms newsletter contains content from my blog focused on growing joyful learners, mainly bookworms, but also mathematicians and learners of all types. The newsletter is usually sent out every three weeks.

Newsletter Update:  In this issue I have one literacy milestone post (recognizing publishers) as well as a two-part series about encouraging summer reading. I also have three posts with links that I shared recently on Twitter. These include tons of booklists, as well as suggestions from others about encouraging summer reading. I still don't have the motivation for writing full book reviews but I have included a bit more detail than usual here about the books that I've been reading. I'm also dabbling in quick recommendations on Twitter, to help get the word out about books that I like. 

Reading Update:  In the last three weeks I finished one middle grade, three young adult, and eight adult titles. (Well, I did skim parts of a couple of the adult titles.) I read/listened to: 

  • LightningGirlStacy McAnulty: The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl. Random House Books for Young Readers. Middle Grade Fiction. Completed May 27, 2018, print review copy. This book is about a girl who was struck by lightning when she was in second grade. This left her a math genius with more than a touch of OCD. As the book begins she is sent to middle school after being homeschooled since third grade. The book chronicles her troubles fitting in and eventual personal growth. It's very well done, and I recommend it. I would have loved it when I was about 11. 
  • Anna Sheehan: No Life But This. Candlewick Press. Young Adult Dystopia. Completed May 20, 2018, on Kindle. This was the sequel/conclusion to A Long, Long Sleep, but it featured a different narrator and was less suspenseful than the first book. I didn't enjoy it nearly as much. 
  • Mike Mullin: Surface Tension. Tanglewood Press. Young Adult Thriller. Completed May 25, 2018, on Kindle. This YA novel about a book who accidentally witnesses a terrorist attack and ends up pursued by the terrorists was fun and timely. I personally had a bit of trouble suspending belief, but I think that teens will enjoy it. 
  • Sheryl Scarborough: To Catch A Killer (Erin Blake #1). Tor Teen. Young Adult Mystery. Completed May 26, 2018, on Kindle. This YA mystery about a teen applying forensic techniques to solve her mother's long-ago murder also stretched the bounds of credibility a bit, but I enjoyed it enough to download the sequel. I did skim over some of the details about forensic analysis, though I think that there will be teens who will love that aspect of the book. 
  • William Stixrud and Ned Johnson: The Self-Driven Child: The Science and Sense of Giving Your Kids More Control Over Their Lives. Viking. Adult Nonfiction. Completed May 16, 2018, on Kindle. Control is something that we are working on in regards to my daughter, and I did find this book useful. 
  • DarkAngelElly Griffiths: The Dark Angel (Ruth Galloway). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Adult Mystery. Completed May 23, 2018, on Kindle. Love, love, love this series, and did not see the personal twist at the end coming. 
  • William Kent Krueger: Thunder Bay (Cork O'Connor). Atria Books. Adult Mystery. Completed May 24, 2018, on MP3. This was a solid installment to this series - I will be ready for the next book soon, though I am spacing them out a bit so that the series will last. 
  • Ken Langone: I Love Capitalism: An American Story. Portfolio. Adult Nonfiction/Memoir. Completed May 25, 2018, on Kindle. I didn't actually read this entire book, but I read the first few chapters, skimmed the middle, and then read the last chapter. I thought that Ken, a now-wealthy co-founder of Home Depot who came from working class beginnings, had a lot of smart things to say. I liked him very much. 
  • Sarah Mackenzie: The Read-Aloud Family: Making Meaningful and Lasting Connections with Your Kids. Zondervan. Adult Nonfiction. Completed May 25, 2018, on Kindle. This book is excellent and I would recommend it to any parent looking to rekindle the motivation to read with kids. I can't say that I picked up a lot of concrete new suggestions, given how much I've already read on this topic, but it did make me more determined not to let reading TO my daughter slip this summer. 
  • QuirkyMelissa A. Schilling: Quirky: The Remarkable Story of the Traits, Foibles, and Genius of Breakthrough Innovators Who Changed the World. PublicAffairs. Adult Nonfiction. Completed May 28, 2018, on Kindle. This is another book in which I skimmed portions of the text (details about the backgrounds and accomplishments of the quirky innovators profiled). My interest was more in their commonalities and the conclusions drawn by the author about how and why certain traits are conducive to serial innovation. 
  • S. J. Scott, Barrie Davenport: 10-Minute Mindfulness: 71 Habits for Living in the Present Moment. CreateSpace. Adult Nonfiction. Completed June 2, 2018, on Kindle. This was a free selection that I checked out. I'm not completely on board with the mindfulness concept, but I've seen enough recommendations that I wanted to know a bit more about it. This quick read gave me a few ideas. 
  • Eric Bernt: The Speed of Sound. Thomas & Mercer. Adult SF/Thriller. Completed May 27, 2018, on MP3. This book features a doctor who works with a genius patient on the Asperger's spectrum. The patient's world-changing invention is the target of multiple powerful factions, making it a strong blend of both thriller and science fiction. I look forward to the publication of the sequel. 

SpySchoolI'm currently listening to 11/22/63 by Stephen King, a recommendation from my sister (and a great value for one of my audio credits, because it is quite lengthy).  I'm reading Enough As She Is by Rachel Simmons on my Kindle, and reading Spy School by Stuart Gibbs in paperback. I'm still reading Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix with my daughter. We just read he part where the Weasley brothers set off crazily inventive fireworks all over Hogwarts, as a protest of Umbridge. My daughter adored that part. 

I haven't been doing a great job of keeping up my daughter's list of books read, because she usually doesn't tell me when she finishes something, and she does power re-reads of her favorite graphic novels back to back at a pace with which I can't hope to keep up. But I have tried to update the list with books that I do know about. Her current obsession is the Diary of a Wimpy Kids books. It's rather surprising that she left them for so long, but she is whipping through them now.

Amulet1We also just checked a bunch of the Amulet books out of the library - she had read them previously from library copies a few months ago, and is ready to read them again. She's been really reading up a storm lately - to the point that we have to force her to stop reading to do things like eat family dinner, get dressed, and go to sleep. I am, of course, hoping for this avid reading behavior to continue over the summer. 

Thanks for reading, and for growing bookworms! I wish lots of lazy days of summer reading for you and your children in the coming months. 

© 2018 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