Links I Shared on Twitter this Week: July 13: #Reader Identity, the #MarshmallowTest + #FlexibleSeating (or not)

TwitterLinksHere are highlights from the links that I shared on Twitter this week @JensBookPage. Topics this week include #BookList, #Dystopias, #FlexibleSeating, #GrowthMindset, #LearningStyles, #Literacy, #SummerReading, #Treehouse, #YA, gender roles, failure, play, Project LIT, reading, and science.

Top Tweet of the Week

JediPrincipalThe cries of joy from my daughter will be audible all across the neighborhood when she gets home today. Yes, we received an early copy of the new book by from today. [releases July 31st]

Diversity + Gender

Musings on strength, failure + gender in by | "I think a better reaction against the truly awful, helpless Mary Sues of the past is not ‘strong’ female characters, but realistic female characters"

Book Lists

Favorite Dragon and for Kids, new from

SummerBrainQuestKid Tested : Activity + Information Books | from | Making fun

10 Captivating to Read This Summer | from Dena McMurdie | I found a few worth checking out here

Events + Programs

First Project LIT Summit: shares the welcome address w/ background on this program started by high schoolers to combat w/ quality +

Spotlight: NY-based program Literacy for Incarcerated Teens (LIT), profiled , provides material + support for teens

Buckle-up for the Road Trip! | | Family events to meet authors + costume characters

Growing Bookworms

She Just Asked Google To Remind Her to “Read All the Books On the Bottom Shelf” reflects on how not pushing her agenda on her daughter probably led to her daughter CHOOSING to read this summer

PassionateReadersOn and Its Importance – need to help kids understand who they are as readers + set a path to grow, says |

Show and Tell Idea for from w/ printable resources

Growth Mindset + Self Control

"Find your passion" is bad advice, say Yale-NUS and Stanford psychologists | Sitting around waiting to find passion runs counter to + developing via

Try to Resist Misinterpreting the - "Early research with the marshmallow test helped pave the way for later theories about how undermines "

On Reading, Writing, Blogging, and Publishing

UgliesFor Teens, Seems Pretty Real — And That's Why They Like It : |

Resilience, strength, empathy: How books are helping my daughter find her place in the world -

You can never have too many books | This photo tour by Anne Rooney of her daughter's overstuffed bookshelves made me smile |

The series, by Andy Griffiths -- zany, over-the-top, can't-put-it-down stories | celebrates the latest release w/ words from the author about the series' kid-engaging vision

Parenting + Play

WildThingsAreGrowing Children's Imagination & Creativity by | Sample ways to encourage story-based by age group

Stop the Slide! Prevention Tips for 6- to 8-Year-Olds from Schools and Libraries

A counterpoint: The Case Against |

I found it refreshing to see someone advocate for Finding the Middle Ground in arguments (listen, assess other arguments for their strengths, etc). Thanks

How to help struggling when they are young | | in training need more support


LightningThiefApplying the Power of to Excite Students About | , +

How to boost skills in the early grades - |

Will New Standards Improve Elementary Education? | |

© 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.

Willa of the Wood: Robert Beatty

Book: Willa of the Wood
Author: Robert Beatty
Pages: 384
Age Range: 9-12

WillaWilla of the Wood by Robert Beatty is the first book that I've felt compelled to review in quite some time. Honestly, not many books are capable of making me stay up late to finish these days, but this one did. It is suspenseful, beautiful, and thought-provoking, while featuring unique and memorable characters. The end brought a little tear to my eye. Willa of the Wood is set in the same Great Smoky Mountain region as Beatty's Serafina series (see reviews here and here), but features a brand new protagonist.

Willa is a Faeran, or night-spirit. She lives with her clan, most notably her grandmother, Mamaw, deep in the wood. She's been trained to be a jaetter, which is basically a thief, stealing money, food, and artifacts from the humans who are starting to populate the area. But unlike most of the jaetters, Willa possesses ancient abilities once common among her people. She can change skin color, and blend in with the forest. She can speak to plants and animals. She can ask a tree for help as she climbs, and find branches bending to help her. She knows little about the "day-folk" (homesteaders), but much about the problems that have arisen within her clan over her lifetime.  

The home of Willa's clan, and her abilities, reminded me a little bit of the world in Zilpha Keatley Snyder's Green Sky trilogy. Here's a description:

"She was part of this clan, and it was part of her, as inextricable as root and soil. Willa looked up, beyond the throng of the Faeran that surrounded her, toward the ceiling. The hall had been built for many thousands of people to gather here, but far fewer than that remained. The walls of the great hall rose up all around, vast expanses of dark brown woven sticks reaching to a large gaping hole broken to the sky above. What was left of the decaying ceiling and walls was held aloft by the ancient, massive woven-stick sculptures of giant trees, the columns of their trunks soaring upward to spreading canopies above. Thousands of hand-curled leaves glimmered with emerald green, and brilliant kaleidoscopes of ornately woven birds of all shapes and sizes and colors seemed to be flying through the branches of the trees." (Page 93, ARC)

I don't want to give away anything about the plot. Suffice it to say that Willa finds herself in peril on several occasions, and has to call on both her inner resources and special skills to survive. Parts of the story, as with the Serafina books, are quite dark. Although this book is certainly middle grade, I will personally wait until my eight-year-old is a bit older before recommending it to her. 

Other things worth knowing about the book: 

  • There is diversity. In addition to the Faeran, the humans include both white homesteaders and Cherokee tribe members. 
  • There are also loggers, and quite chilling depictions of the evils of clear-cutting old growth forests (as seen from the perspective of someone who knows the trees personally, and thinks of them as if they were people). The loggers were a bit one-note as villains, but I doubt most kids will mind that. 
  • A caring adult (human) plays a major role in the story, as he and Willa help one another. I found this refreshing - in so many children's books adults are either absent or presented as villains or buffoons. Beatty offers a nuanced treatment of the different viewpoints of Willa (who would never harm an animal) and the man (who has cut down trees to build his home, etc.). She is baffled, for instance, over the idea that he can own land.
  • Animals also play important roles in the story. 

In short, Willa of the Wood is wonderful, and has my highest recommendation. It is not necessary to have read the Serafina books to read this one. Though I certainly recommend those, too, Willa tugged more at heart. 

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Publication Date: July 10, 2018
Source of Book: Advance review copy from the publisher

© 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. 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: Distinguishing between Reading and Skimming

SwingItSunnyThe other day my daughter demonstrated a milestone in her understanding of reading. She's been a bit better over summer vacation about telling me which books she's read, so that I can add them to her reading list. (I don't push her about this, because I don't ever want her summer reading to feel like a chore, but I document what she tells me.) She put a stack of three books on the kitchen table the other morning. Then she sorted them into two stacks.

She waved Swing It, Sunny by Jenni Holm and Matt Holm at me and said: "I read this one." Then she set aside El Deafo by Cece Bell and Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Ugly Truth by Jeff Kinney and said: "I just skimmed these."

LiteracyMilestoneAAnd so I added Sunny to the list. This was a re-read, but it's not a book that she's read over and over and over again the way she has with El Deafo

I'm not sure where she picked up the wording for skimming, but she's actually been doing it with certain books for a while. She will skim her way through the entire set of 10 Lunch Lady books by Jarrett Krosoczka while we are eating dinner and talking at the table afterward, for instance. She'll also sometimes tell me that she didn't really read a particular graphic or notebook novel because she "only looked at the pictures." 

Once a child is reading on her own, the concept of keeping track of which books she has read becomes a bit murky. And that is totally fine. The important thing is that she's enjoying her time with the books, whether she is reading, re-reading, skimming, or just looking at the pictures. 

I will also add that as adult readers, we skim ALL the time. I read two newspapers every day. This would be virtually impossible without skimming. So skimming actually a useful reading skill to develop. Practicing by skimming books that one has already read makes a lot of sense. 

Thanks for reading, and for growing bookworms!

© 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: July 6: #Reading Promotion and Summer #Vacation / Learning for #Teachers

TwitterLinksHere are highlights from the links that I shared on Twitter this week @JensBookPage. Topics this relatively light week include #BoardBooks, #BookLists, #ClassroomBookADay, #GraphicNovels, #GrowingBookworms, #Math, #ReadAloud, #STEM, adventure stories, book challenges, pensions, professional development, teaching, and vacation. 

Top Tweet of the Week

Raising Kids Who Want To Read : Parents "should model reading, make pleasurable, to your kid in situations that are warm + create positive associations"

Book Lists + Awards

RealFriendsPress Release Fun | The Debut of the 2018 Excellence in Graphic Literature Awards | Some great on the 2018 nominee lists shared in this post [including nominee Real Friends, one of my family's favorites.]

Here's the first installment of the Top 100 Poll Countdown from | #100-91

Favorite for 4th of July | a timely from

Perfect : Adventure Books for Kids: A Gigantic of Exciting Page-Turners from | fantasy, mystery, humor, history + more, all adventurous

How I Am Growing by | A Few Professional Development Books for to Boost Work |

Growing Bookworms

ItsAllAboutTheBooksSetting Them Up For A Lifetime Of by Clare from | "I believe once a person has truly experienced the they will find their way back to a vibrant reading life"

"there is a simple way (for ) to help their students to be better readers, to love reading, + to grow and learn ... All they need to do is give kids time and let them read" independently

Promotion: Transforming the Reading Culture of a K-8 Building by + | + other ideas for

Be a Reader Leader – What Administrators Can Do to Promote a Culture in | time, protecting + more

On Reading, Writing, Blogging, and Publishing

South Carolina Police Challenge 2 of high school's Titles for "indoctrination of distrust of police" |

BookScavengerMy 10-year-old self would have adored the real-world book scavenger hunt + other experiences described in this post by BOOK SCAVENGER author

Schools and Libraries

Food for thought in this piece by | Why Are We Still Personalizing If It’s Not Personal? | Individualization has diminishing returns + increases potential for isolation

Newly retired assures fellow that they work harder in the summers than even they realize, and that their Teacher Brains never stop running

"Taking time to rest and recharge is essential for us as educators" | shares the strategies that are working for him this summer |

Why California Is Losing Teachers and Laying Off Secretaries - | This challenge with pensions has certainly been the case where I live

is the new hiding in plain sight. This piece by looks at some pros (autonomy to ) + cons (questions about


ChokeHow to help children overcome - speaks w/ |

RT @carolynjones100: San Francisco school finds key to raising math scores: Teacher training via

8 Fun Ways To Keep Learning Alive Through the Summer | | + lots more

© 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.

Literacy Milestone: Making Inferences between #ReadAloud Sessions

HarryPotterPhoenixAlthough she has of course been making inferences based on what she's been reading for a while, my daughter took a leap forward in this behavior last week. This post is a spoiler if you haven't read Harry Potter 5, and you should stop reading here.

I read my daughter the part of  Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix in which Harry and his friends have been captured in a mis-deed by Umbridge. Hermione tricks Umbridge into going somewhere with just Harry and Hermione, to check their progress on a "weapon" that they have allegedly been developing for Dumbledore. My daughter was eager to know where they were going, but we had to stop reading to eat dinner.

After dinner she was working on something else. She suddenly looked up and said: "Mommy, is Hermione taking Umbridge to Grawp?". While this wasn't technically correct it was pretty close, and I was proud of her for thinking of it. 

LiteracyMilestoneAWhat this means is that she continued silently working away at where Hermione might be taking Umbridge even after our reading session was over. This is one of my favorite things to do, too, and one of the reasons that I like to read mysteries before I go to sleep. When I turn off the light I speculate on what I think will happen next. I'm happy to see my daughter sharing in this delightful occupation.

I do sometimes actively encourage this behavior on a smaller scale when we are reading aloud. I'll stop and ask her what she thinks is going to happen next. I try not to do it too much because I don't want our read-aloud sessions to feel like work. But I'm glad to see her developing this skill naturally as we read more.

This is also an argument for reading longer and more complex books together, and taking frequent pauses to allow for reflection.  And it's a validation for stopping at suspenseful points in a book when you do pause.

Oh, participating in my daughter's journey to literacy / love of books is just a joy. Thanks for reading! It is also a joy to be able to share these little milestones with people who appreciate them. 

© 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