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Posts from June 2013

Links I Shared on Twitter this Week: June 28

TwitterLinksHere are highlights from the links that I shared on Twitter this week @JensBookPage.

Books and Reading

Can anyone relate? Gaining Traction + Rediscovering my Reading Niche by Joel Malley | @NerdyBookClub

Sigh! Danny Heitman: The Young and the Bookless, on his college students not reading for fun @WSJ

Are children's books darker than they used to be? Not so much, says @Guardian via @PWKidsBookshelf #kidlit

Query for the collective brain: Kickbutt YA Heroines WITHOUT the Romance? @bkshelvesofdoom asks @greenbeanblog ?

Five Things You Need to Know About Young Adult Fiction from @catagator #yalit

Growing Bookworms

Fun post at Our Learning Collection linking to Book Nook Collections! …

Just got word that my order of the 7th edition of Jim Trelease's READ-ALOUD HANDBOOK has shipped. Highly recommended!

Applies 2 growing bookworms @ home too: On Having Faith (+Teaching Reading) | Kate Roberts | @NerdyBookClub #literacy

Lovely! A Busy [and tired] Mom's Guide To Reading Aloud from @booksbabiesbows #litrdup #literacy

15 great stay at home holiday activities from@TrevorHCairney #literacy

Libraries and eBooks

RT @tashrow New DRM Will Change the Words in Your E-Book | Gadget Lab | #ebooks

Interesting data. Younger Americans’ Library Habits and Expectations | Sites + Soundbytes by @tashrow


3 Independent Skills Your Child Needs for Kindergarten from @coffeeandcrayon

Great piece from Kevin Ashton on the necessity for creativity of saying no to requests via Donna Gephart

Summer Reading Lists

Summer reading suggestions for Kindergarten & 1st grade from parent + librarian @MaryAnnScheuer #kidlit

Great Kid Books: Summer reading suggestions: 2nd & 3rd grades from @MaryAnnScheuer #kidlit

More #Summerreading suggestions from @MaryAnnScheuer, these for 4th & 5th grades #kidlit

Rising 5th Grade Summer Reading List from @pragmaticmom  #kidlit

MORE Fun Summer Reads for Kidlit Mystery Fans! from @kidlitmysteries #kidlit

Read Aloud Books for Kids and Other Ideas For Summer Fun from @pragmaticmom #kidlit …

Ultimate Guide to Must-Read Summer YA Reading from @catagator at Book Riot via @PWKidsBookshelf #yalit

Other Book Lists

Some good choices. Favorite Children's Books from Facebook Fans of @momandkiddo #kidlit

NPR’s Backseat Book Club’s Call for Best Books for Kids 9-14 | @medinger makes suggestions #kidlit

© 2013 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.

Underneath: Sarah Jamila Stevenson

Book: Underneath
Author: Sarah Jamila Stevenson (@aquafortis)
Pages: 336
Age Range: 12 and up

Whether or not I should review books by authors I know on one level or another is something that I struggle with. In the case of Sarah Jamila Stevenson's Underneath, I'm going to come down on the side of saying that I know Sarah too well to really review this one. I did review her previous novel, The Latte Rebellion, but that was a couple of years ago. Since then we've been working together on the Cybils, as well as a couple of other projects. She designed my blog's logo (isn't it beautiful?), and she's been to my house. We're friends, in blog and real terms. So I think this one takes lack of objectivity a bit too far. 

But I do want to just tell you about Sarah's new book, and suggest that if the topic piques your interest, you give it a look. Because I liked it! Underneath is paranormal young adult fiction, but just barely. It's set in the real world and features a teenage girl who develops the ability to occasionally read other people's minds, under very specialized circumstances. She calls it "underhearing". 

Sunshine “Sunny” Pryce-Shah is, like Sarah herself, the product of an ethnically mixed family. This flavors the book, certainly, but is not what Underneath is about. This makes Underneath perfect for people who are looking for books featuring diverse characters, but don't want to read boring books that are about being diverse (see this post by Sarah's blog partner, Tanita Davis for a much more eloquent and detailed take on this topic).

Underneath isn't even really about Sunny's ability to "underhear", when you get right down to it. It's more about the impact on Sunny and her family of her cousin Shiri's suicide, and about Sunny learning to stand on her own two feet in the absence of the cousin who was like an older sister to her. The underhearing is something else that Sunny has to come to terms with, sure, and a plot device that gives her certain information. But Underneath still feels more like realistic young adult fiction than fantasy. There's a fair bit about high school friendship dynamics, and there's a smidgen of romance. But when I think back on the book, I think more about Sunny and her family. 

I'll leave you with a couple of quotes:

"Little did I know how much she really would change. Little did I know that my anger then would be nothing compared to now. When she choked down all that pain medication and drove off into the mountains, did she even think about what would happen to the rest of us? Is she somewhere out there looking down at us regretting what she did, or worse, relieved she's not her? My teeth ache, I'm clenching them so hard." (Chapter Two)

"Hearing thoughts. Whenever I think about it, I get a nervous, gut-churning feeling inside. It's like a sci-fi movie. Except I'm no heroine, and I don't feel powerful. I'm just me, scared and alone. And angry." (Chapter Five)

So, if you like the idea of an emotionally hard-hitting novel about family and teen suicide, mixed with an intriguing supernatural ability, and featuring diverse characters, then Underneath is your book. I hope that you'll check it out, and I hope that you like it. I did. 

Publisher:  Flux Books (@FluxBooks)
Publication Date: June 8, 2013
Source of Book: Bought it on Kindle

FTC Required Disclosure:

This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through Amazon links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).

© 2013 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

The Whizz Pop Chocolate Shop: Kate Saunders

Book: The Whizz Pop Chocolate Shop
Author: Kate Saunders
Pages: 304
Age Range: 9 and up

The Whizz Pop Chocolate Shop has such an appealing cover and title that I pulled it immediately onto my short stack of books to read, without any real idea of what it was about. It wasn't quite what I expected (the chocolate shop in the book is long closed, and was never called The Whizz Pop Chocolate Shop in the first place), but I enjoyed it nevertheless.

The Whizz Pop Chocolate Shop is an adventure set in a modern-day version of London in which magic lurks around every corner, carefully hidden from non-magical folk. But no, it's not a Harry Potter knock-off. It's a lighter concoction, with a vain immortal talking cat, parents who are self-absorbed to the extent of missing, well, everything, and a villain who ends up being more pathetic than scary. 

The story begins when eleven-year-old twins Oz and Lily move with their parents into a house that their dad has just inherited from his great uncle. The house includes the workshop for the chocolate shop that the uncle used to run with his triplet brothers. Oz and Lily soon learn that the family was brought to house so that they, together with a magical young neighbor, could use their innate magic to help stop a crime. The whole thing is over-the-top ridiculous (eleven year olds working for a secret division of MI6, an invisible elephant ghost?), but quite entertaining. There are a couple of more serious elements to the story, but nothing as dark as you'll see in most current middle grade fantasy. 

I found the characterization in The Whizz Pop Chocolate Shop to be a little thin - I never had much of an impression of Caydon, the neighbor who joins Oz and Lily in their quest. Even Oz and Lily won't stay with me as characters, I don't think. But Saunders is great at building worlds that kids will find appealing, and that goes a long way. Like this:

"For a long moment they stood in silence, gazing around a large room that looked like a dusty cave crammed with extraordinary objects. It was dominated by a large, deep fireplace with a grill like a barbecue. A big metal cylinder, festooned with cobwebs, loomed in one corner and in the middle of the room was a long bench with a marble top. On top of this stood a flat, smooth stone with an ashy grate underneath it..." (Page 9) 

"This was amazing. He was in a cavern, its roof hidden by thick black shadows. The desert of darkness was punctuated by little puddles of lamplight, showing groups of furniture like rooms in an invisible house. At the far end of the space Oz saw a laboratory gleaming with glass tubes and jars. One pool of light contained a carved wooden bed covered with a faced green quilt; another contained a white bathtub like a boat, half hidden behind a screen covered with pictures of castles." (Page 79)

Although Saunders wraps everything up neatly at the end of The Whizz Pop Chocolate Shop, it would be a shame to let her Secret Ministry of the Unexplained (SMU) (not to mention the talking roses on Lily's wallpaper) fade away. Perhaps we'll see other adventures for Lily, Oz, and their talking cat. I, for one, would not be able to resist reading them. 

Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers (@RandomHouseKids)
Publication Date: March 12, 2013
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

FTC Required Disclosure:

This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through Amazon links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).

© 2013 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

Avoiding Summer Slide

The folks at (a partner with PBSKids) sent me this infographic about avoiding summer slide. I thought it was pretty neat, and am sharing it here:

Avoid-the-summer-slide also has lots of other summer reading ideas (developed in cooperation with PBSKids) and book-themed activities on their website, too. There are various printables and activites, a pledge you can take to read 10 books over the summer (with the potential for a Kindle prize pack), and weekly themed camps. The activities list can be filtered by age range, and offers a ton of ideas, like Turn Your Child Into a Letter Detective

But I think what I like best are those 3 suggestions at the bottom of the infographic above, for helping your child to avoid summer slide:

  1. Make sure your child has regular access to a library or a good variety of books. A lot of classic books are available online for free. 
  2. Make reading fun! Let your child choose her own books, or read together.
  3. Limit your child's access to TV and video games to one or two hours daily. 

Straightforward advice that I think could help a lot of parents. I'm happy to help spread the word. Happy summer reading!

Mr. Terupt Falls Again: Rob Buyea

Book: Mr. Terupt Falls Again
Author: Rob Buyea
Pages: 368
Age Range: 9-12 

Mr. Terupt Falls Again is billed as a "companion" to Rob Buyea's Because of Mr. Terupt. I suppose this is because Buyea wrapped things up pretty thoroughly in Because of Mr. Terupt. You don't need to read this as a sequel in the sense of having to find out how things play out. However, for all practical purposes, Mr. Terupt Falls Again looks like a sequel to me. It features the same teacher and the same kids, albeit in a physically different classroom. Yes, the seven kids from Because of Mr. Terupt are back with their teacher, Mr. Terupt, as sixth graders (and yes, just knowing that is a spoiler for the first book - it can't be helped). If you haven't read Because of Mr. Terupt, and you like realistic fiction set in and around schools, you'll want to rectify the situation immediately.

Like it's predecessor, Mr. Terupt Falls Again centers on a subset of the kids in a classroom, a classroom led by a risk-taking, energetic teacher. The perspective shifts from kid to kid, from chapter to chapter. All of the chapters are quite short, helping to move things along quickly. The book is divided into months across the school year. 

As in the first book, Buyea's understanding of kids, and of classroom dynamics, is evident on every page. This kids are as real as it gets. The problems that they face as sixth graders reflect their growing up. There are plotlines dealing with a girl trying to grow up too quickly (stuffing her bra, hanging out with older kids), a girl getting her first period (and not knowing what to do), and a boy resisting going off to boarding school next year. There are also the first inklings of boys and girls "liking" each other, though in a completely PG way.

There's a scene that takes place with the kids at a town carnival, forming into tentative couples, with the boys trying to win prizes for the girls. This SO took me back to the Fourth of July weekend carnivals in my own home town (though I didn't personally have any boys trying to win me prizes when I was in sixth grade). Buyea gets the feel of the carnival, and mix of the excited and insecure thoughts of the various kids, just right. I could practically smell the fried dough. 

There is a bit of suspense in Mr. Terupt Falls Again. Observant Luke notices that Mr. Terupt (who suffered a brain injury in the first book) is displaying some physical weakness. We don't know while reading along (and I won't say), what the "falls again" of the title refers to. There's also an abandoned baby, discovered by Jeffrey, lending pathos more than suspense, I suppose. As an adult reader, I worried the potential consequences of Lexie getting in with the wrong crowd. But I also appreciate very much the way that Buyea, in a non-didactic way, opens up paths by which parents and/or teachers can initiate discussions with kids.

Some of the resolutions in Mr. Terupt Falls Again may be a tiny bit idealized, but I personally don't think that there's anything wrong with showing the upsides of: 

  • Talking openly with your parents;
  • Being loyal to your friends;
  • Finding the right sport or hobby; and
  • Trusting your teacher

Rob Buyea is the real deal, creating authentic kids, and throwing realistic and age-appropriate problems at them. The Mr. Terupt books belong on the shelves of school and classroom libraries everywhere that fourth to seventh graders are to be found. While the "getting your period" and "stuffing your bra" plotline in Mr. Terupt Falls Again may make boys uncomfortable (even Mr. Terupt is a little uncomfortable), there is so much else here that will resonate with boys that I hope they'll read it, and talk about it, anyway. Highly recommended for kids, and their parents. Mr. Terupt Falls Again is a satisfying conclusion to this short series. I hope to see other books from Rob Buyea in the future. 

Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers (@RandomHouseKids
Publication Date: October 9, 2012
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

FTC Required Disclosure:

This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through Amazon links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).

© 2013 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 21

TwitterLinksHere are highlights from the links that I shared on Twitter this week (plus a few from last week when I was on vacation) @JensBookPage.

Book Lists and Awards

New book list at Stacked: Writing Duos, Or When Authors Team Up @catagator #yalit

10 picture books written +/or illustrated by African-Americans that celebrate spirit of summer | The Brown Bookshelf

New series launch @GreenBeanBlog: So You Want To Read Middle Grade? #kidlit

The Carnegie and Greenaway Medal Winners have been announced, reports @tashrow #kidlit

More books for kids who love Percy Jackson, various categories, from @pragmaticmom #kidlit

Diversity (or Lack Thereof)

Sigh! In the 101 top-grossing family films from 1990 to 2004, 75% of characters were male via @haleshannon

A look at diversity in middle grade fantasy and science fiction so far this year from @charlotteslib #kidlit

On the state of diversity in children's books @bkshelvesofdoom #kidlit

YA author Tanita Davis chimes in on the diversity gap in children's books #kidlit

First Book Tackles Lack of Diversity in Children's Books via @PWKidsBookshelf #kidlit

Growing Bookworms

I love this! Top Ten Signs You Are Raising an Avid Reader

Check out the lovely Reading Cave built by librarian @lochwouters. Would be easy to do at home, too...

Are eReaders the Answer for Dormant Readers? asks @readingtub #literacy #kidlit


Every Library + Museum in America, Mapped. Yes, there are more libraries than McDonalds Emily Badger @AtlanticCities

ALA Promises Expanded School Library Advocacy in 2013–2014 | @sljournal

Chicago To Add New School Libraries—Even As It Closes Schools | @sljournal

The Great Summer Library Challenge for Kids takes on Non-Fiction @momandkiddo + @bethanyntt +

Today's Summer Library Challenge for Kids focuses on Fiction | from @bethanyntt and @momandkiddo  #kidlit #literacy


Using Language Experience Stories for kindergarten readiness {Get Ready for K Through Play} from @coffeeandcrayon

Suggestions for Travel Games to keep kids busy without screens from @momandkiddo

This sounds fun! Summer Boredom Buster: Make Your Own Board Game! from @LiteracyLaunch

Very cool! 22 Children's book inspired dolls' houses | @playbythebook #kidlit


Americans: The world’s sleepiest students, and it's hurting #literacy @postlocal via @scholastic

Parents Who Own Bookshelves Raise Kids Who Do Better in School Gizmodo via @PWKidsBookshelf #literacy

Reading Literature Makes Us Smarter and Nicer | Annie Murphy Paul at via @medinger

Summer Reading

Now I need to re-read The Great Brain books! Summertime and the Reading is Nerdy by Erica S. Perl @NerdyBookClub

Delightful! Host a Summer Reading Party! by Jenny Meyerhoff | @NerdyBookClub

This is great! Irving Reads Initiative Provides Books for 20k Students for#summerreading | @nbcdfw via @Scholastic

Sounds smart to me. Terry suggests trying "Reading Buddy" programs during the summer @readingtub


Must-read for teachers: The Kids are Still All Right, Despite What Accelerated Reader Might Say | @thereadingzone

Teachers! @KirbyLarson is looking for guest posts about your experiences connecting kids with books @NerdyBookClub


Worth reading for any mom trying to also do something else: Writing + mother: how I (sort of) do both by @haleshannon

This bugs me, too (made-up dialog in nonfiction). Notes from The Nonfiction Dialogue Stickler of Doom @fuseeight

© 2013 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.

New RSS Feed for Blog, and My New RSS Reader Selections

My blogging host, TypePad, recently added FeedBlitz integration. I was already using FeedBlitz to send out my blog newsletters (daily and bi-weekly), but after finding some quirks in my existing RSS feed, I decided to create a new one via FeedBlitz. Here's are the links:




As far as I know, the other feed will continue to work, too. But on the new RSS readers that I've been testing, this new feed looks better (paragraphs, images, etc.). It also eliminates a weird glitch that I was seeing by which Feedly displayed the date that I created a post, rather than the date that I published it. Since I often hold reviews until closer to publication, this was irksome. 

So, if you feed this blog via RSS reader, it would be great if you could switch to the feed above. 

Speaking of RSS readers, as many of you know, Google Reader is going away on July 1st. After much experimentation, I've settled on a new solution that I think will work for me (though it won't be right for everyone). I've decided to use Feedbin on my computer. Feedbin is a paid service ($2/month), and it's actually pretty bare-bones, but it's simple, and does what I need it to do. The main reason that I chose it is that it offers direct integration with the Reeder iPhone app, which I like (one-time cost of $2.99).

I was using Feedly on my desktop, but I didn't like their iPhone app, and I found the Google Reader migration process fussy and difficut. I was using Feedler Pro on my phone, and I loved it, but it relied on Google Reader support to sync to my PC, so I had to drop it for now. So, on the advice of this article (which I found via this Twitter post) and after various other research and testing, Feedbin and Reeder are what I'm going to work with. For now anyway. 

Literacy Milestone: Baby Bookworm Read Her First Book Title to Me

LiteracyMilestoneAI've been sharing a few of Baby Bookworm's milestones on her pathway to literacy here on my blog. Last night she picked up a new picture book that I hadn't even read yet, and ran her fingers over the title. She said: "A ... H ... H ... A .... I. Ah Ha." And sure enough, with the exception of the fact that she thought that the exclamation point was an i, she was reading the title of Jeff Mack's upcoming picture book from Chronicle: Ah Ha!.

Now, I'm pretty sure her babysitter had read her the book earlier, so it's not like she was actually sounding out the words from scratch. She was remembering them. But still. She read the letters, and knew that they made up the words of the title, and read it aloud to me. I was pleased. And, of course, we promptly sat down to read the book.  

Has your family experienced any milestones on the path to literacy lately? 

© 2013 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. This site is an Amazon affiliate. 

Odessa Again: Dana Reinhardt

Book: Odessa Again
Author: Dana Reinhardt
Pages: 208
Age Range: 8 and up 

Odessa Again is a new early middle grade novel by Dana Reinhardt, who has previously published several young adult novels (including A Brief Chapter in My Impossible Life and How to Build a House) and one later middle grade novel (How I Learned to Fly). After her parents divorce, 9-1/2 year old Odessa Green-Light moves with her mother and younger brother to a rental house. In her new attic bedroom, Odessa accidentally discovers that jumping in a particular spot on the floor allows her to time travel. The first time, she goes back 24 hours. The second 23. And so on, making the time travel a limited time offer.

Odessa starts out by using this gift to create do-overs for rather mundane things (like the time she farts in front of the boy that she likes). However, she eventually undergoes a bit of personal growth, and learns to use her gift more wisely. 

Although Odessa Again is technically a time travel book, it's really much more a story of family relationships in the aftermath of divorce, and the evolution of friendships as kids get older. All presented with a very light touch. Odessa is far from perfect, but she does learn from her mistakes. Some of these mistakes are funny, while others are more painful. I found the family and friendship dynamics to be realistic, and Reindhardt writing style to be kid-friendly and humorous. Like this:

"There comes a day in the life of every big sister when it's simply no longer suitable to share a bedroom with your toad of a little brother.

For Odessa Green-Light, that day was a Tuesday." (Page 1)

and these:

 "Odessa had to admit that there were benefits to moving from a house you loves so your father could remarry someone who was not your mother, and the main benefit was that you got to have two Christmases." (Page 67)

"She grabbed her pen that was also a flashlight and crawled underneath her desk. Her father had given her this penlight. It said Clark Funds on it. She'd always wondered why Dad had given her Mr. Funds's pen, but now she was glad he did, because she'd have had a hard time finding the socket without it." (Page 96)

OK, that last bit of humor might be more for adults, but that's fine. It helps make Odessa Again a good book for families to read together. Reinhardt also sneaks in some non-didactic lessons about family loyalty, figuring out how to do what's right, and understanding that your friends aren't perfect. There are plenty of nice springboards for family discussion. Occasional illustrations by Susan Reagan help to keep the tone of Odessa Again light, and to make the book accessible to younger readers. 

Anyone who has ever wished for a do-over to fix some embarrassing or hurtful mistake will find the idea behind Odessa Again intriguing. And really, who hasn't considered what it would be like to travel back into one's own life, taking future knowledge with you? Odessa Again is a fun title that I think will appeal to middle grade readers, ages 8 and up. 

Publisher: Wendy Lamb Books (@RandomHouseKids
Publication Date: May 14, 2013
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

FTC Required Disclosure:

This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through Amazon links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).

© 2013 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

Press Release: New RIF Survey Finds Only 1 in 3 Parents Read Bedtime Stories to Kids Every Night

Macy’s and Reading Is Fundamental Launch Annual Be Book Smart Campaign June 21 to Support Children’s Literacy

RIF_Primary_VerticalWASHINGTON – (June 20, 2013) – Despite research on the importance of reading with children from a young age, few parents with kids age eight and younger are engaged in nightly reading, according to a new survey from Reading Is Fundamental (RIF) and Macy’s. The survey, conducted by Harris Interactive, finds that only one in three parents (33 percent) read bedtime stories with their children every night, and 50 percent of parents say their children spend more time with TV or video games than with books. More than 1,000 parents across the U.S. completed the survey online in April.

Bebooksmart-logo-redResults of the survey are revealed as Macy’s and RIF enter the 10th year of a partnership that will deliver its 10 millionth book to children in need nationwide. Be Book Smart launches tomorrow, June 21, and invites customers coast-to-coast to give $3 at any Macy’s register in-store to help provide a book for a child in their local community. Macy’s will donate the full amount to RIF, and customers will receive a coupon for $10 off an in-store purchase of $50 or more. The month-long fundraising effort ends July 21. Last year, Macy’s helped to raise $4.8 million to provide 1.6 million books to children who would not get a new book otherwise.

“Bedtime stories build the foundation for future achievement. For a decade, Macy’s and RIF have worked together to get books and literacy resources to children in need, giving children and parents tools they need to dream big,” said Carol H. Rasco, president and CEO of ReadingIs Fundamental. “While much news in this survey is encouraging, there is more work to be done – work that Be Book Smart and our partnership with Macy’s will help make possible.”

Full survey results are highlighted in an executive summary by Harris Interactive, and key findings include:

Findings on the amount of time spent reading

  • Eighty-seven percent of parents say they currently read bedtime stories with their children.
  • But only one in three parents (33 percent) read bedtime stories daily with their children.
  • Children of families with an annual household income below $35,000 are more likely to watch TV (40 percent) than read books (35 percent).
Findings on printed book use
  • Printed books (76 percent) are the format of choice for most parents of children age eight and younger.
  • Twice as many children prefer a printed book (20 percent) over an e-book (9 percent), say parents who read both types of books to their children.
  • Less than one in five parents (17 percent) use a combination of printed and e-books.
Existing research on literacy shows the importance of starting early:
  • Children who don’t read well by the end of third grade are four times more likely to drop out of high school than proficient readers, according to a report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.
  • Two-thirds of U.S. fourth graders – and more than four-fifths of those from low-income families – are not reading proficiently, according to the 2011 National Assessment of Educational Progress.
Many literacy studies also show a direct correlation between income level and the number of books in the household, creating even more obstacles to developing children’s literacy. RIF works to help overcome these challenges by delivering free books and literacy resources to children and families who need them most.

“We are proud to join our customers in supporting RIF’s work to help children have better access to books and develop a lifelong love of reading,” said Martine Reardon, chief marketing officer, Macy's. “In talking about our partnership with RIF, I hear so often about the memories created between a parent and a child through reading bedtime stories. This summer, we are especially excited to be hitting a milestone that will enable our 10 millionth book to be distributed as a result of Macy’s partnership with RIF.”

Since 2004, Macy's has helped raise more than $25.8 million for RIF. Through customer-supported fundraising campaigns, in-store events and volunteer activities, Macy's has donated funds and resources to further the important message of literacy for future success. Macy’s longstanding support has enabled RIF to promote literacy at all levels, from buying books for children and training educators to providing resources to parents.

Macy’s customers can take part in supporting children’s reading and bedtime stories by donating to the Be Book Smart campaign from June 21 to July 21, taking part in efforts to contribute the campaign’s 10 millionth book to a child in need.

Facebook Sweepstakes
As part of the Be Book Smart campaign, Macy’s and RIF will host a sweepstakes on Facebook to encourage supporters to share information about the campaign and post images of quotes from favorite authors to their personal timelines via a Facebook app. Each week, one winner will be awarded a $500 Macy’s gift card. For official rules and to enter the sweepstakes, visit or No purchase necessary to enter or win a prize.

This Bedtime Story survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive on behalf of Reading Is Fundamental between April 8-15, 2013 among 1,003 parents of kids age 8 or younger. No estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables, please contact Olivia Doherty at or 301-656-0348.

Because of Mr. Terupt: Rob Buyea

Book: Because of Mr. Terupt
Author: Rob Buyea
Pages: 288
Age Range: 9-12 

Because of Mr. Terupt is a book that's been on my shelf for quite a while. I picked it up yesterday when I had a whim for realistic middle grade fiction. Because of Mr. Terupt is about the positive impact of a first-time teacher on seven students from his fifth grade classroom in small-town Connecticut. Foreshadowing (and a blurb by John Irving on the cover) suggests that an accident will occur at some point, lending a larger plot arc to a story that otherwise consists of a tapestry of small classroom incidents.

Short chapters rotate between the perspectives of the seven students (there are others in the classroom, but they are not primary characters). The book is divided into sections by month, starting in September, and going through the full school year. Many of the chapters are quite short, helping to make Because of Mr. Terupt a quick read. 

The different viewpoints, while initially a bit daunting, are well-executed. By the end of the book, I scarcely had to look at the chapter titles to see who each narrator was. One girl writes her chapters like plays ("Act 1, Scene 1", etc.), which helps. The publisher also uses different fonts for each student's name in the chapter titles. The fonts are reflective of the students' personalities, and provide a quick visual cue for readers.

The characters represent different classroom archetypes (alpha mean girl, jokester/bully, math geek, angry boy, smart new girl, overweight pushover, and invisible girl). But there's more to each of them than that. Buyea does a masterful job in developing all seven in such a short book. Mr. Terupt, on the other hand, is a bit of an enigma. He is only revealed through his impact on the students, and the things that they observe about him.

Because of Mr. Terupt reminded me a bit of R.J. Palacio's Wonder, taking on classroom dynamics and interactions. Because of Mr. Terupt is a bit more broad, however, looking at bullying, various troubles at home, social stigmas, and tween girl drama. As an adult reader, I found some of the solutions to come a tad easily, but not grievously so. And I think that kids will find the problems true to life and the solutions satisfying.

Here are a couple of quotes, to give you a feel for the book:

""Mr. T, can we invite James and his friends to our party?"

Everyone was quiet and looked at me. Then Jessica said, "That's a great idea." And the rest of the class agreed. Mr. T had a smile stretched across his face. He just nodded. And I thought I saw him wipe at his eyes. I don't know why he did that, though." (Page 78, Peter) 


""You jerk," I said, without any real authority. Truth is, I didn't really care. It wasn't worth getting upset over. Besides, I'm sort of used to Peter's antics. I thought they were always harmless... Maybe I don't get upset with Peter because I know I'll always outwit him. That drives him nuts, and I love it." (Page 85, Luke)

Of course it's hard to give a complete feel without quoting all seven students, since their voices are fairly different from one another. But those were two representative passages. Rob Buyea taught third and fourth graders for six years before writing this book, and his understanding of kids comes through, I think. 

Because of Mr. Terupt exactly fit the bill for what I was looking for. It's realistic fiction, full of mostly small classroom and personal challenges, but with a higher-stakes crisis to lend suspense. Because there are so many viewpoint characters, most kids (boys and girls) will be able to find some narrator to relate to. I would think that teachers and other adult role models would enjoy it, too. Certainly a must-purchase for elementary school libraries, and a recommended read for anyone who enjoys school stories. I anticipate reading the sequel, Mr. Terupt Falls Again, soon. 

Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers (@RandomHouseKids
Publication Date: October 12, 2010
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

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© 2013 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 19

JRBPlogo-smallToday I will be sending out the 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 children's and young adult books and raising readers. There are 1685 subscribers. Generally, I send out the newsletter once every two weeks. This time, however, it's been three weeks, because I was on vacation last week (my daughter's first trip to Disney World).

Newsletter Update: In this issue I have nine book reviews (three picture books, three middle grade novels, and three young adult novels). I also have two posts with children's literacy and reading-related links that I shared on Twitter and one with the WordGirl word of the month for June.

Terry Doherty, Carol Rasco, and I are taking a bit of a break from the children's literacy and reading roundups for the summer (though I think Carol will squeeze in one more this week), but we'll continue to share reading links on Twitter. Look for the #litRdUp hashtag for items of particular interest. 

Reading Update: In the past 3 weeks, I finished 2 novels for middle grade readers and 3 novels for young adults. I read: 

Several of these were vacation reads, for my personal enjoyment - reviews may or not be to come, depending on how the week goes. 

I'm currently reading Olivia Bean, Trivia Queen by Donna Gephart on my Kindle, and Dust Girl (Book 1 of the American Fairy trilogy) by Sarah Zettel in paperback. I'm listening to Clockwork Princess (Book 3 of the Infernal Devices trilogy) by Cassandra Clare on MP3.

I recently introduced Baby Bookworm to The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson. I don't think she completely gets it, but she's enjoying it anyway. She's also enjoying 1, 2, 3 ... By the Sea: A Counting Book by Dianne Moritz & Hazel Mitchell. We took lots of Fancy Nancy, Berenstain Bears, and Little Critter books with us on vacation, because these are relatively text-dense paperbacks, and make excellent travel books. The Fancy Nancy books are particularly good for vocabulary-building. 

How about you? What have you and your kids been reading and enjoying? Thanks for reading the newsletter, and for growing bookworms. Wishing you lots of summer reading!

© 2013 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