2,252 posts categorized "Newsletter" Feed

Links I Shared on Twitter this Week: March 16: #KidLitCon, #KidLitWomen, Playgrounds + #LoveOfReading

TwitterLinksHere are highlights from the links that I shared on Twitter this week @JensBookPage. Topics this relatively busy week include #DiverseBooks, #dyslexia, #gender, #GRA18, #GraphicNovels, #HarryPotter, #KidLitCon, #KidLitWomen, #librarians, #math, #MentalHealth, #phonics, #play, #ReadAloud, #resilience, #SchoolLibraries, #SocialMedia, boys and reading, grading, growing bookworms, learning, reading, and schools.

Top Tweets of the Week

Research-Tested Benefits of Breaks to help reset focus in |  https://t.co/2mT78mqi5C

SnowyDayBlack Kids Don’t Want to Read About Harriet Tubman All the Time - A call for more books about everyday experiences of black kids from

Cybils Awards

Today on the blog: Interview w/ , author of middle grade speculative fiction winner THE DRAGON WITH A CHOCOLATE HEART

Diversity + Gender

CCBC 2017 Book Statistics are now available

TurtlesAllTheWay Offer Windows, Mirrors on | via https://t.co/Z1Qf9k7iVz

On Ways that We Recommend Certain Books for Certain Kids, and how we (teachers, parents, librarians, booksellers) need to do better, by

How Empowering Girls to Confront Conflict and Buck Perfection Helps Their Well-Being |

Banishing “Boy Books” and “Girl Books” from the Lexicon – Stop limiting choices by

BoldGirlsReadingGuideIntro to Children’s Books Ireland’s new initiative, , a celebration of girls + women in children’s books by

Seeks Solutions to in Children’s Publishing |

Events + Programs

The Rising New York Road Runners Program (available nationwide) gives kids a chance to earn Marketplace credits for their school by running

RT @PernilleRipp: Voting is open for Global Read Aloud 2018 Picture Book Author/Illustrator Choice https://t.co/rDSChdPZUH

Growing Bookworms

MinecraftZombieYES! My Secret Reading Identity by Julia Guthrie | realizes she needs to celebrate her own true interests to avoid hypocrisy in what she tells https://t.co/SVtt0KiTpm

Enjoyment of , not mechanics of reading, can improve for boys | Laura Scholes describes call in UK + Australian |

Kids to Love : 3 Strategies That Work from https://t.co/8mB0lQi1br

Kidlitosphere / #KidLitCon

What’s New on Website? – shares updates re: Providence March 2019 | There's already a list of those planning to attend!

KidLitConNoDetailHere's the scoop on 2019-Providence! from co-organizer

New blog post from | & Be the Change You Seek!

+ bloggers + authors: Now is your chance to VOTE on Panel Discussions for 2019 (Providence RI, 3/22/19)

is a year away but look who’s coming! – March 22-23 Providence 2019 Early Attendee List

Registration for March 22-23, 2019 (next year) is now LIVE! – | Organizers:

On Reading, Writing, Blogging, Publishing and Social Media

theory keeps kids thinking (+ thus keeps them ), reports

How to cure your addiction | via | (Is it ironic to share this on social media?) https://t.co/odBmALhA8g

Are Made for Book Lovers, tiny towns that have made their speciality -  https://t.co/3l8p6HjyNW

Parenting, Play, + Learning

StarWarsmathLearn Well, You Will with Workbooks | gives thumbs up to these new supplemental learning books from

In Britain’s Playgrounds, ‘Bringing in Risk’ to Build Resilience -

The “10,000-Hour” Myth: Why Deliberate Practice Isn’t Enough to Succeed + people should also focus on their innate strengths | via

Schools and Libraries

OPINION: Here’s a way teachers can help break down equity barriers in high school: to students -   https://t.co/Sg1lLHRoYO

Author calls “places of recognition for young people” in new PSA from

44 Positive Practices That Are "Fixing" Today per | , , + much more

Rethinking How Students With Are Taught To Read :

InnovatorsMindset3 Thoughts for Improving Attendance in – Educators could make feel more valued + more engaging

The Goal of Instruction is to Get , Not to Use Phonics When Reading, guest post from

How to Create a Gradeless Classroom in a School That Requires | |

Does your have Striving ? You should hire qualified says | Focusing on would help "fix" education system

YouYourChildSchoolHow To Find A Your Kids Will Love (And That You Will, Too) | A conversation w/ |

In , the Kids Are Not All Right | on promoting students' mental well-being

A brief note on walkouts - a cautionary note for who suspend the usual consequences from


60 Titles for 3-6 Year Olds | from + 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.

How to Get Your Screen-Loving Kids to Read Books for Pleasure: Kaye Newton

Book: How to Get Your Screen-Loving Kids to Read Books for Pleasure
Author: Kaye Newton
Pages: 170
Age Range: Adult Nonfiction

ScreenLovingKidsReadHow to Get Your Screen-Loving Kids to Read Books for Pleasure is a well-researched, user-friendly guide for parents on this specific topic. Author Kaye Newton isn't a teacher or reading expert - she's a parent who struggled with her own children's falling off of reading during adolescence, and set out to look for solutions. While there's not a lot in the book that was new to me, because I read a lot in this area, I think that Newton did a nice job of distilling recommendations from sources like Jim Trelease, Donalyn Miller, Penny Kittle, and others. She also has a nice set of book recommendations that are designed to "hook" kids, with titles grouped by age range and category (history, nonfiction, humor, etc.). The books she recommends include many of what I would consider the "new classics" as well as some traditional classics, with a reasonable (though not extensive) representation of diverse titles. 

I agreed with and applauded most of Newton's recommendations throughout the book. She strongly supports giving kids choice in what they read, and she doesn't get hung up on reading levels or literary quality. She's a proponent of anything that involves long-form reading, vs. brief snippets on texts and Facebook, including fiction and nonfiction, magazines and audiobooks. She strikes me as not completely sure about graphic novels, but she goes with the research and agrees that they are "real reading" and can be used to hook readers. She's solid on choice and putting the pleasure in pleasure reading. 

I wasn't completely on board with some specific recommendations that she makes for boys and reading because I feel philosophically that boys should be encouraged to read books with female protagonists. But I think that the general audience of parents who are trying to encourage reluctant readers will find the specific recommendations helpful. Similarly, I'm not a fan of giving kids rewards for reading. And to be fair, neither is Newton, but she does outline cases where she thinks they can help, for particularly resistant readers. But those are my only, minor, quibbles.

I found myself highlighting many passages as I read through How to Get Your Screen-Loving Kids to Read Books for Pleasure. Newton starts by telling parents why they should encourage their kids to read for pleasure, with a nice section on the benefits for teens and preteens (stress reduction, improved concentration, increased empathy, etc.). She views encouraging reading as a parent's job, and she doesn't let parents off the hook in terms of modeling reading, though she's generous with her definitions. For example, one suggestion to increase summer reading is to designate a time that the whole family reads, but that reading could include articles for work, the newspaper, or other choices.

Newton is empathetic to the difficulties that parents can face in striving for more reading time (it's hard to get kids to put down their screens), but stays positive about the reasons to do so. She takes on various questions, like whether it's ok for kids to re-read (yes), whether it's ok to read on an e-reader, what to do about kids who are reading above their grade level, how to help kids with learning disabilities, and so on. She urges parents to surround their kids with reading material, whether from the library or other sources, and provides  suggestions for making reading "the most interesting and accessible activity in the room." 

As my daughter is not yet an adolescent (thank goodness), and is at this point still an avid reader (thank goodness), there were parts of this book that were not as relevant for me. I won't be setting up book clubs any time soon, for instance. But I still enjoyed reading this book, because I agreed with so much of what Kaye Newton had to say. I did pick up a few new ideas, too. How to Get Your Screen-Loving Kids to Read Books for Pleasure is a fairly quick read (with lots of lists and bullets). I think that any parent seeking to engage a reluctant teen or preteen reader could find something useful to try. It's also good just for refreshing one's general intent to raise readers (and be a reader). All in all, I definitely recommend giving this book a look! 

Publisher:  Linland Press
Publication Date: January 10, 2018
Source of Book: Review copy from the author

© 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).

Links I Shared on Twitter this Week: March 9: #WomensHistoryMonth, #SchoolLibraryMonth, #STEM + #ReadingCommunities

TwitterLinksHere are highlights from the links that I shared on Twitter this week @JensBookPage. Topics this week include #audiobooks, #BookLists, #EarlyLiteracy, #Flipgrid, #InquiryMindset, #nonfiction, #PictureBooks, #ReadAcrossAmerica, #reading, #ReadingAloud, #SchoolLibraries, #STEM, child development, Growing Bookworms, play, schools, science fiction, and Women's History Month. 

Top Tweet of the Week

Authors Share Their Favorite Kids’ Books About Girls, Written by Women

Book Lists

31 New Biographies to Celebrate by

JourneyDynamic Featuring Boisterous, Spirited Girl Protagonists! for boys or girls to read, a from https://t.co/7Nie2CI2uM

14 to Introduce Concepts | from   https://t.co/1n0f44k8AM

New : About Dogs from

RA RA Read: + Notebook Novels, from Jennifer Wharton |

Scythe100 Must-Read Young Adult Books, new by | books by books by: + more

RT @CharlottesLib: Nothing is quite like a Wrinkle in Time, but after much careful thought, I made a list (8 Great Books for Kids Who Love A Wrinkle In Time @BNKids) I was happy with! What would you add? http://ow.ly/YhDN30iMQSD

Cybils Awards

Today on the blog: An Interview with , author of winner SCYTHE

Events + Programs

Happy Birthday ! Here are Ideas to Celebrate Read Across America Week & Dr. Seuss from

New Blog Post (+ new blog!): We’ve Secured Hotel Providence for KidLitCon 2019 (3/22+23/19)! | + are rock stars! https://t.co/uM1YVrrajf

GhostApril is | This year's theme is Making Connections at Your , w/ spokesperson | Details:

Growing Bookworms

Five Tips For Helping Kids Read Better | Stella Tokar Blog | https://t.co/8CJYBfkn6S

Four Steps to Get Screen-Loving Kids to Read Books, guest post by at |  https://t.co/mVdV8CB7xJ

Fostering a With FlipGrid

HybridsNow, more than ever, young children need to be read to – | "Parents must read to children. must be in every community" |

The importance of teaching children early skills | | Why is important + when to begin

On Reading, Writing, Blogging, and Publishing

On , shares her guidelines for Buy vs. Borrow, and asks for yours

GraveyardBookCan you recommend a book?…Maybe, or maybe not? | will "recommend w/ caution + w/ an eye on the past as well as the present"


Delaying May Protect Against Developmental Disorders - |

How to Spot - New guidelines focus on helping better identify teens who may be struggling, as rates climb | https://t.co/C19zOJDB5S

Schools and Libraries

overhaul in schools | District aims to reduce quantity + improve quality where it remains |

CantSayCantPlay“There’s no room for you here…you can’t play” | Thoughts on how to keep kids from excluding others from in the from LBurkins https://t.co/V28cKz4Dst

What are public to do when a student is clearly , but does not qualify for asks  https://t.co/gnBVs25pGu

When You Know Better- Edition | shares thoughts (evolved over time) on round robin + in the

Kids learn better when they’re moving. Just ask this Memphis and dance coach. | via

InquiryMindsetHow To Ease Into Independent Inquiry Projects | + |

Ideas for choosing that build a love for story + help students master key + content-area standards |

Ideas for including more in classrom , w/ book suggestions, from

Why Tech Executive Susan Wu Says Her Plan to Disrupt Is Different - |

RT @MrsPStorytime: Do you need funding for your school library? Check out the grant channel . Thx for the valuable resource!

, the -Out Movement, and Excellence. What can we do as educators to change the testing culture education has become? asks  https://t.co/brE35TpmHr


Global study finds more women go into fields where they have fewer options. In places like US w/ more options, they make other choices | Susan Pinker https://t.co/rxsr68SCvu

Eight ways to introduce kids to at an early age | Toys w/ manipulative elements + more

This is surprising: students protest at over smartphone addiction |

© 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: March 7: Middle Grade Reviews, Librarian for a Day + #MegaPrincess

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 sent out every three weeks.

Newsletter Update:  In this issue I have three book reviews (middle grade) and three posts with links that I shared recently on Twitter. I also have a post about my daughter's recent experience being Librarian for a Day at school, and one about her latest literacy milestone (correcting my grammar). 

Reading Update:  In the last few weeks I finished two young adult and eight adult titles. I read/listened to: 

  • Tara Altebrando: The Opposite of Here. Bloomsbury USA Children's Books. YA Fiction. Completed February 7, 2018, print ARC. Although I usually love Altebrando's books, this one didn't work for me for some reason. Finished but did not review. 
  • InSomeOtherLifeJessica Brody: In Some Other Life. Farrar, Straus and Giroux Books for Young Readers. YA Fiction. Completed February 20, 2018, on Kindle. This was a fun look at alternate worlds, and I do recommend it, though it was a vacation read and I don't plan a formal review.  
  • Christopher Swann: Shadow of the Lions. Algonquin Books. Adult Mystery. Completed February 10, 2018, on MP3. 
  • Kate Quinn: The Alice Network. William Morrow. Adult Mystery. Completed February 17, 2018, on Kindle. This was an interesting historical novel about female spies in World War I, also featuring an investigation shortly after World War II (moving back and forth between two young adult protagonists). I think that fans of Code Name Verity who are ready for some adult content would enjoy it. 
  • C. J. Tudor: The Chalk Man. Crown. Adult Mystery. Completed February 19, 2018, on Kindle. This book, about a mystery with roots back in the narrator's 1980's childhood, was full of twists, and kept me guessing. 
  • Karen Odden: The Lady in the Smoke. Alibi. Adult Mystery. Completed February 23, 2018, on Kindle.I found the mystery in this historical novel a bit hard to follow. 
  • Kate Saunders: The Secrets of Wishtide (A Laetitia Rodd Mystery). Bloomsbury. Adult Mystery. Completed February 28, 2018, on MP3. This historical mystery about a middle-aged widow who investigates delicate society matters on behalf of her lawyer brother is a promising start to a new series. The audio was excellent. 
  • Kristen Welch: Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World. Tyndale. Adult Nonfiction. Completed March 3, 2018. This book was much more religiously-oriented than I had expected, but I definitely found some useful thoughts on raising kids who are grateful vs. kids who are overly-entitled. 
  • Lee Goldberg: True Fiction (Ian Ludlow). Thomas & Mercer. Adult Thriller. Completed March 4, 2018, on Kindle. This is fun popcorn read, hopefully not realistic, but a page-turning adventure. 
  • Laura Lippman: Sunburn. William Morrow. Adult Suspense. Completed March 6, 2018, on Kindle. This one is definitely intriguing and will keep you guessing. 

ScreenLovingKidsReadI'm currently listening to Murder in an Irish Churchyard by Carlene O'Connor (third in a series). I'm reading How to Get Your Screen-Loving Kids to Read Books for Pleasure by Kaye Newton. My daughter and I are still reading Harry Potter Five (The Order of the Phoenix). For her own reading, she enjoyed a variety of new graphic novels that I picked up for her before our recent vacation. Mega Princess by Kelly Thompson and Brianne Drouhard consumed her enough to put off going to the pool at my parents' condo, so that was a pretty strong vote of approval. 

MegaPrincessLately I have a hard time getting her to stop reading to do other things, like finish her homework or go to sleep. She always says the same thing to me: "It's your fault. You taught me to love reading." This is undeniable, though we are starting to have discussions about the fact that even when we love reading, we sometimes have to prioritize other things. 

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

Literacy Milestone: Correcting My Grammar

LiteracyMilestoneARecently my daughter passed what I believe is a new milestone on her path to literacy. She corrected my grammar. She was washing her very dirty feet before bed. I said: "Wash 'em good!". She immediately piped back with "Well, Mommy. It should be 'Wash 'em well.'"

She's not wrong, of course. And I didn't have the energy to explain the concept of choosing to use less than perfect grammar in a particular situation. So I just agreed that she was right and let it go. But I thought that those of you who have been following her progress from first learning her letters would appreciate this milestone: recognizing and demanding proper grammar. 

Now if only I could get her to do her spelling homework without an enormous fuss... 

© 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: March 2: #Mathical Book Prizes, #RaisingReaders + #GrowthMindset + #Recess

TwitterLinksHere are highlights from the links that I shared on Twitter this week @JensBookPage. Topics this week include #GrowingBookworms, #GrowthMindset, #Mathical, #play, #STEM, Children's Book Week, classroom libraries, comfort dogs, electronic devices, Free Range Kids, parenting, reading, recess, and schools.

Top Tweet of the Week

What’s the Right Amount of ? | recaps some recent research | I still say the answer is NONE for elementary school kids, but that's my own conclusion 

Book Lists + Awards

BillionStarsThe 2018 Book Prize winners were just announced. I love this award that celebrates books that inspire kids to appreciate

I love this: A Visit to Massachusetts: Top 10 Stops Along the Way by https://t.co/kGcbizzSXV

Diversity and Gender

PrincessInBlackWe’re Ready: a post for about changing the gendered expectations that adults have for kids by |

Learning About : Links For Those Who Want to Know More After Seeing from https://t.co/YJHlRtam5w

Events + Programs

Reveal: The 2018 Children’s Book Week Bookmarks Are In With Big Old Names Attached —

Dolly Parton gives 100 millionth free book to children | | set up to honor her illiterate father

Growing Bookworms

Helping families find pockets of time to read with kids, excellent suggestions from | https://t.co/ytbZhmjj3O

RaisingKidsWhoReadRT @MindshiftKQED: One strategy recommended by : make the most appealing choice around by restricting access to other activities that think are less enriching

Growth Mindset

The Ripple Effects of by |


RT @PragmaticMom: Big News! and I are planning the next . It will be held March 2019 in PROVIDENCE, RI! We welcome your ideas for a theme. : let us know what you need and want from the KidLit community.

Lots of good stuff (including the fabulous awards) in today's Fusenews | + more


RaisingGratefulKidsI thought this was a good article: How to Raise More Grateful Children - Jennifer Breheny Wallace in | https://t.co/IRPpshl4JL [I purchased this book about raising grateful kids after reading the article.]

Schools and Libraries

Our Classroom : Connecting, Stretching, Evolving, thoughts on growing readers via by + |

FreeRangeKidsSigh: When School Kids Lose Their Time - | via |

This is somewhat disturbing: Children struggle to hold pencils due to too much tech, doctors say |

Making Comfort Dogs an Everyday Part of | https://t.co/MOzn1BHWeA


Guest Post by Joy Lin | Why is Important for Success (real problems + situations are expressed in words)

© 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.

My Daughter's Experience Being Librarian for a Day

LibrarianForADayAs an annual fundraiser, my daughter's elementary school PTO holds auctions for kids to be "Teacher for a Day" or "Principal for a Day". This year for the first time there was an option to be "Librarian for a Day." As you might imagine, we snapped that one up. My daughter's main day as librarian was yesterday. She's also going to get to go back on the day that her class checks out books, so that she can experience that as librarian. Without hesitation, my daughter pronounced yesterday a "great" experience. 

CorneredBooksShe was particularly excited that she got to "corner books" with tape. The next day she stopped our breakfast reading early so that she could find a book and demonstrate this process for me. She was very proud of her ability to do it neatly. She also enjoyed (in the library) stamping books and using the Dewey Decimal system. I predict that some re-organization of our books is going to be in my future. 

4thGradePhotoWithout question, she had an excellent time. For me, this was a somewhat nostalgic experience. In sixth grade my best friend and I volunteered in our elementary school library in the mornings before school. My recollection is primarily of shelving books, but I loved that library, and still look back fondly on the experience. [To the left is my fourth grade school photo, taken in the library.]

My thanks to the school librarian for making this such a good experience for my daughter. Anything that keeps her excited about books is well worthwhile, I think. 

© 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

The Losers Club: Andrew Clements

Book: The Losers Club
Author: Andrew Clements
Pages: 240
Age Range: 8-12

LosersClubThe Losers Club by Andrew Clements is a delight from start to finish. It's about a sixth grade boy named Alec who gets into trouble at school because he loves to read so much. He's constantly reading in class, instead of paying attention, and getting sent to the Principal's Office. Already on thin ice on the first day of school, Alec learns that he has to start going to after school care this year. He is pressured to join a sort or other club, when again all he wants to do is read. In a flash of inspiration, Alec starts a reading club. He calls it The Losers Club because he doesn't want to be distracted, and he wants to disincentivize other kids from joining. The idea is that he and his sole fellow club member, Nina, will just sit at the same table and read quietly for three hours every day. Of course, a bit  more than that ends up happening. 

The Losers Club is a love letter to kids who like to read, and to the many books that they love. Classics old and new are mentioned on practically every page, with a full list provided at the end of the book. But The Losers Club isn't one of those books that librarians and teachers will love, and kids will find heavy-handed. Alec is a real, three-dimensional character, with strengths and weaknesses. He has a bit of a crush on Nina (completely middle grade-appropriate), enjoys water-skiing, and is mildly bullied by former friend Kent. Kent and Nina, as well as Alec's family members, also feel realistic. There's a nice mix of action (Kent kicking balls into the wall behind the Losers Club table, and Alec challenging him) and introspection (and kid who reads as much as Alec does is going to be somewhat introspective). 

One thing that I especially enjoyed about The Losers Club was that Alec's parents, well, parent him. When his performance slips at school, they take action. They give him advice. They notice when he's cranky and ask why. Kind of a refreshing change all around, compared to much of middle grade literature. Alec even exchanges advice here and there with his very different little brother. Oh, and as an added bonus, Alec's parents are huge Star Wars fans, and Yoda-speak is primary form of dialog in his home. Alec is actually named after Alec Guinness, and his brother is named for Luke Skywalker. Super fun! This would make a wonderful audiobook, I suspect. 

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

"But Alex was a special case. Every time he had landed in the Hot Seat, he had been caught doing something that teachers usually liked: reading. It wasn't about what he was reading or how he was reading--it was always because where and when he was reading. 

Maybe his mom and dad were to blame for spending all those hours reading to him when he was little. Or maybe The Sailor Dog was to blame, or The Very Hungry Caterpiller, or possibly The Cat in the Hat. But there was no doubt that Alec had loved books from the get-go. Once he found a beginning, he had to get to the middle, because the middle always led to the end of the story. And no matter what, Alec had to know what happened next." (Page 2)


"Some people had comfort food, but Alec had comfort books--stories so familiar that they made reading feel like coasting downhill on a bike, or water-skiing on a smooth lake. And Charlotte's Web was one of his all-time favorites." (Page 33)

My daughter, who is almost eight, was curious about this book. When I told her about it, she asked if she could read it when I was finished. I'll be interested to see if she likes it, and whether it inspires her to want to read any other books (like Charlotte's Web). 

Certainly, The Losers Club is a book that belongs in libraries serving middle grade readers everywhere. Andrew Clements is the master of school stories, and The Losers Club is no exception (and a complete bonus for anyone who loves books). Highly recommended!

Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers  (@RandomHouseKids
Publication Date: August 1, 2017
Source of Book: 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).

How to Sell Your Family to the Aliens: Paul Noth

Book: How to Sell Your Family to the Aliens
Author: Paul Noth
Pages: 224
Age Range: 8-12

HowToSellYourFamilyHow to Sell Your Family to the Aliens by Paul Noth is a lightly illustrated, over-the-top middle grade science fiction novel, possibly the first of a series. Happy Conklin, Jr. lives with his parents and his five sisters in two rooms in the basement of his grandmother's lavish mansion. Although Hap's father actually dreams up all of the inventions that have made the family wealthy, he is perpetually punished/banished because of his choice to marry a poor Romanian laundress (Hap's mother, who is offscreen for most of the story).

Grandma Conklin has tested various inventions on her grandchildren, most of whom possess lingering oddities. Hap, though only 10, has a full beard, and needs to shave every day to even begin to fit in at school. One sister is a kleptomaniac who apparently hides her spoils in some other dimension, because they are never seen again. Other sisters, twins, only look alike because one of them possesses a pair of glasses that can make her look like anyone, and she chooses to look like her sister. Another, Kayla, can more or less see the future (it's complicated). Only the cheerful youngest, Baby Lu, is unmarked. When a threat to Baby Lu from Grandma arises, Hap (with some suggestions from Kayla) springs into action. What follows is a madcap caper involving an intelligent lizard, a less intelligent wrestler, a dwarf FBI agent, and, yes, aliens. 

How to Sell Your Family to the Aliens is a quick, fun read, sprinkled with quirky inventions and occasional scenes related in comic strip format. Here are a couple of snippets, to give you a feel for Hap's voice. He's not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but he is determined to help his sister.

"My grandma only baked cookies once a week, and even then they weren't for me but for my dad. And actually she didn't bake them herself either--her personal chef id. My dad's inventions paid for her to have a chef, three maids, a butler, a bunch of security guards, a chauffeur, and a footman, who I guess did something to her feet. I don't want to know what." (Chapter 1)


"By Kayla's timeline, I was supposed to be in the Chartreuse Vestibule. But this was just some yellow hallway! I must have made a wrong turn.

Up ahead, a pug-faced man hurried into the hallway, walking toward me, while looking at an expensive leather clipboard." (Chapter 11)

Noth's black-and-white illustrations lend humor throughout, ranging from a schematic of the mansion to various drawings that are not what the aliens look like, but are drawn by Hap "to fool people who are flipping ahead in the book to find out what the aliens look like." 

How to Sell Your Family to the Aliens is a super-fun addition to the ranks of middle grade science fiction. The illustrations should make it accessible to newer readers, and the premise (selling an annoying family to aliens) is hard to resist. I hope that there are other books to follow - I would enjoy spending more time with Hap and his family. Recommended!!

Publisher:  Bloomsbury USA Children's Books (@BloomsburyKids)
Publication Date: April 3, 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).

Links I Shared on Twitter this Week: February 16: #Cybils Awards, #ALA Awards, #Library Lovers Month + More

TwitterLinksHere are highlights from the links that I shared on Twitter this week @JensBookPage. Topics this week include #ALAYMA, #BookLists, #Cybils, #homework, #math, #STEM, book awards, comics, intrinsic motivation, letter grades, libraries, publishing, sexual harassment, teaching. My daughter is on school vacation, so there will be no roundup next week. I'll be back in early March!

Top Tweet of the Week

Big news, fans! Award Winners will be announced 2/14, at 9:30 am PT | Excellent , , , , , + more

Book Lists + Awards

CharlieAndMouseALA announces 2018 youth media award winners | | Congrats to + all others honored

My Top Ten Books I Booktalk Every Year by | Looks like a good for jr. high

RA RA Read: and other gross and silly books | Jennifer Wharton shares some read-alikes |

Cybils Awards

ArmstrongAndCharlieToday's featured REVIEW: Middle Grade Fiction finalist Armstrong and Charlie by | review by |

Today's featured REVIEW is Fiction finalist After the Fall (How Humpty Dumpty Got Back Up Again) by | review by

Events + Programs

Happy Library Lover's Month! | bloggers share their special memories of

Growing Bookworms

ReadingZoneIndependent reading: It’s for everyone! | @Scholastic http://ow.ly/YgcJ30ikeI5 | Ideas for strengthening independent in secondary students


Sexual Harassment in the Children's Literature Industry | 's post today is a good starting point to catch up on recent discussions

See also: Children’s Publishing Reckons with Sexual Harassment in Its Ranks (w/ many many comments) |

And one more: Sexual Harassment and Post- 2018 Thoughts (not necessarily at the same time) —

On Reading, Writing, Blogging, and Publishing

RefugeeIt’s never too late to become a reader! Sometimes you just haven't found the right medium by |

The True Power of Technology from | Giving kids (+ adults) a way to be seen, to find our remote tribe https://t.co/Au2kucutkI

Moving From “Stealing” to “Remixing” With Credit – shares example from

On and the Female Cliches (like "I am weak but he made me strong") that Hurt Us All | from teacher + prolific reader


As Examples With Use of Devices & Technology | We need rules for kids AND for us, has suggestions

Schools and Libraries

DrivePinkIn The DRIVEr Seat | Thoughts from Scott Jones on nurturing intrinsic motivation in , inspired by 's DRIVE https://t.co/lb1j8wxfXx

Dear Parents: Here's What You Should Know About Letter - | via

No, Elementary School Isn't Good for Kids | | via


RT @MindShiftKQED: "This project started as a way to show young children engaged in rigorous mathematics in ways that were play"

© 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.

Death and Douglas: J. W. Ocker

Book: Death and Douglas
Author: J. W. Ocker
Pages: 372
Age Range: 8-12

DeathAndDouglasDeath and Douglas by J. W. Ocker is a well-written middle grade murder mystery full of both atmosphere and black humor. Douglas, the protagonist, lives with his parents in the family mortuary. When a serial killer strikes his small town, Douglas and two friends (one the son of the local police chief) take it upon themselves to investigate. Naturally, they get a bit more than they bargained for. 

Douglas is an unusual character. He wears suits and neckties most of the time. He attends funerals partly to help, but mostly as a hobby. His favorite place to hang out is the local graveyard, where the two gravediggers call him Spadeful. The gravediggers regale him with tales of monsters and vampires, which the impressionable Douglas at least partially believes. Douglas, raised in a funeral home, understands that death is a natural outcome of life. However, he finds murder, the deliberate causing of death, shocking. 

There's a mix of introspection (about the nature of murder, about whether Douglas wants to grow up to continue the family business, etc.) and action (sneaking out of the house at midnight, venturing down into the mortuary workroom to look for clues, etc.) in Death and Douglas. The stories from the gravediggers and the general atmosphere of the book made me wonder for a time if Death and Douglas was a fantasy, but it stays just to the reality side of the line. But it's certainly on the over the top side.

What made Death and Douglas stand out for me was Ocker's writing. I could select practically any page to give you an example of a deft description or surprising insight. I stopped highlighting about 1/4 of the way through the book. Here are a couple of examples:

"A small black crow of a boy leaned against the roof of a dead man. The boy's features, where they were black, were extremely black, and where they were pale, extremely pale. A carefully combed slick of thick black hair defined his northern border, three parallel off-shoots of which angled across his forehead like they had been gouged there by the claw of a cat." (Page 1) 


"Around him, Cowlmouth was starting to kindle its autumn fires. It was still early September, and only a few impatient trees lifted a red- or yellow-flaming torch in the midst of their mostly green branches. In another few weeks, every birch, every elm, and every oak would be in full five-alarm conflagration before finally fading to brown and being buried under snow for the winter." (Page 16)


"Murder, that was different. Murder was a puzzle to be solved in stories. A word to be ignored on the boring newscasts his father like to watch. Murder was an adult word. A coffee-drinker's word. The type archaically printed in newspapers. It didn't have a meaning in real life. Not in Douglas's real life, anyway. Not in Douglas's Cowlmouth." (Page 42)

"Coffee-drinkers" is used throughout the book to refer to adults. "What the hockey sticks" is used, by Douglas's best friend Lowell, instead of "What the hell." There's just enough insider-jargon to make readers feel like they are part of the little group that consists of Douglas, Lowell, and new friend Audrey. It's a fun book to read, in terms of writing and characters. Cowlmouth is practically a character, too, a quirky small town with a big carnival, a place where residents go all out for Halloween. You get the sense as a reader that the author put in a considerable amount of time thinking about the setting and characters before writing the book. 

Although Death and Douglas is written in such a way to be accessible to younger readers (Amazon lists it for 8 and up, and I don't disagree), I wouldn't give this to a particularly sensitive, nightmare-prone child. There are real murders that take place, and kids in peril. For most kids, I think that the book is over-the-top enough to not feel real, and thus not feel too scary. For me, it was an enjoyable read, well-written and memorable. Recommended! 

Publisher:  Sky Pony Press 
Publication Date: October 31, 2017
Source of Book: 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).

Links I Shared on Twitter this Week: February 9: #BookGivingDay, #ReadAloud, Libraries, and Coping w/ Book Blahs

TwitterLinksHere are highlights from the links that I shared on Twitter this week @JensBookPage. Topics this week include #BlackHistoryMonth, #BookGivingDay, #BookLists, #bullying, #Cybils, #Parenting, #PeterRabbit, #RaisingReaders, #ReadAloud, #reading, #STEM, book awards, homeschooling, libraries, and schools.

Cybils-Logo-2017-Round-SmAlso, please note that the Cybils award winners will be announced on Valentine's Day, February 14, at 9:30 am Pacific Time. Tune in to http://www.Cybils.com/blog to find high-quality, kid-friendly titles honored in categories ranging from fiction picture books to board books to young adult nonfiction, including poetry, graphic novels, and speculative fiction. Bloggers have been reading and reviewing and discussing books in each category since the fall, and the winners they have selected (not to mention the fabulous shortlists) are well worth a look!

Top Tweet of the Week

InfinityAndMeTen about Observation and Perspective | by https://t.co/68AmyiTx2y

Book Lists

18 Biographies | from https://t.co/Staij8p1gs

22 Books That Celebrate Lesser-Known African Americans and Their Contributions to History | Charnaie Gordon

Untold History: 50 Books about Extraordinary Black Mighty Girls and Women | from


UndefeatedToday's featured REVIEW: Jr High Finalist Undefeated: Jim Thorpe and the Carlisle Indian School Football Team | review by

Today's featured REVIEW is MG Speculative Fiction finalist A Face Like Glass by | Review by

Today's featured REVIEW is Elementary/Middle Grade finalist Beauty and the Beak | review by

Events + Programs

BookGivingDay2018International is Next Week (2/14)!!! has the scoop

The 2018 Pupil Library Assistant of the Year Award | How neat that the UK celebrates students who support their libraries

Growing Bookworms

NationalAmbassadorStop Using the Label 'Struggling Reader,' Author + National Ambassador for Young People's Literature Advises |

What Does It Mean When a Book Flood Fails? "we should not underestimate the challenge of what we're trying to do" by

: Every Day, Every Student by | We need to model , demonstrate its importance

Some Small Ideas from to Help Students Self-Select Books Better | , TBR lists, + more https://t.co/htFCSXEEIV

5 reasons to to your child, today and always by via | Introduce great stories, bond, + more

Highlights: How We Taught Our Preschooler to Read from

On Reading, Writing, Blogging, and Publishing

PeterRabbitA Suggestion to Read or Listen to with Before Watching the Movie | I always prefer to read the book first

When That Book Won't Do | Some tips for seeing readers through the occasional Book Blahs, from


Lessons from the Mother of a Child Who Was Bullied | is generous enough to share valuable lessons learned https://t.co/p1aY00epTc

What is YOUR Earliest Memory? Understanding How Develops in Young Children.

Schools and Libraries

LearnerCenteredLearner-Centered Innovation – new book just released by (whose blog I follow) |

Nice feature about a small-town library stepping in to report community news -

No books at home? Anaheim library’s ‘permanent loan’ program aims to fix that for kids – via https://t.co/TBC1DYcUHb

© 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.