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Not If I Save You First: Ally Carter

Book: Not If I Save You First
Author: Ally Carter
Pages: 304
Age Range: 12 and up

NotIfISaveYouNot If I Save You First is a recent thriller by Ally Carter. 10-year-old Maddie, daughter of a senior secret service agent, is best friends with Logan, son of the recently elected President. The two children are inseparable and the White House is their fiefdom. After a near-kidnapping of the first lady, however, Maddie's dad moves her to a remote cabin in Alaska, with basically no outside human contact. Six isolated years and hundreds of unanswered letters to Logan later, Maddie is furious with both Logan and her father. When Logan is sent on a visit to the cabin as a punishment, she has every intention of making him pay. When Logan is kidnapped, however, Maddie finds herself with no choice but to go after her childhood friend. A thrilling chase and quest for survival follows, full of twists, turns, and tidbits about the Alaska wilderness. 

Maddie is a resourceful, if somewhat bitter, character. Her life in Alaska has taught her various survival skills, though she maintains hints of her previous glam-loving self (such as a bedazzled hatchet). She is more than a match for her enemies, but is vulnerable to Logan's charms. Logan, despite a reputation as a rebel, turns out to have some self-defense skills, too. Here's Maddie:

"... Maddie walked to the river and gathered the biggest rocks she could then placed them like an arrow, pointing the way. She piled a few smaller stones on top, just high enough to be noticed in a few inches of snow and ice, but not so high that they might topple.

Then Maddie lowered her hood. She brought her hand to the side of her face and pressed her palm against the largest of the rocks until her bloody handprint shone like an eerie beacon, announcing the world: Trouble came this way.

But trouble was Maddie's family's business, so she did the only thing that made sense. She followed it." (Page 89)

And here's Logan:

""So what's your name?" Logan wanted to sound casual, maybe crazy. A sane person would be terrified by now, he knew, ranting and rambling and promising to give the man with the gun anything he wanted. 

But Logan had learned a long time ago that there was nothing you could give a man with a gun to make him happy. Men with guns were only satisfied when they took. And Logan was going to hang on to the last of his self-respect for as long as he possibly could." (Page 101)

Not If I Save You First is a bit far-fetched in terms of the plot, but the details about survival in the Alaskan wilderness feel authentic. The conflict and growing attraction between the characters rings true, also (though I never really understood why Logan didn't write back to Maddy). Anyone who has enjoyed Ally Carter's other books while certainly want to give it a look, as will fans of teen survival or spy stories. Not If I Save You First is a fast-paced read that you'll want to devour in a single sitting - ideally on a warm summer day, or beside a cozy fire. Recommended!

Publisher: Scholastic 
Publication Date: March 27, 2018
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).


Some Ideas for Encouraging Kids Who Can Read but Choose Not To

A couple of friends have said something to me lately along the lines of: "So, [my elementary-age child] can read, but never chooses to read. What can I do?" I've shared various posts in the past with suggestions for encouraging reading from birth. But this is a more specific question. What do you NOW when, whatever you have or haven't done before, your child just isn't that interested in reading. Here are a few thoughts for parents about trying, after a late start, to ignite a joy of reading:

ReadAloudHandbookRead Aloud: Even though it might be awkward to begin, studies show that one of the best ways to get kids engaged in reading is for the adults in their lives to read aloud to them. Reading aloud, even to kids who can read themselves, offers tremendous benefits. [This is especially true if the dad reads when you are talking about boys, but either parent reading is great.]

  • Reading aloud shows kids that you value reading.
  • Reading to them shows kids that you value them enough to take time out to read together.
  • Reading together fosters closeness.
  • Reading to your children helps you to expose them to books that they aren't ready to read on their own. 

I'm currently reading Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix aloud to my 8-year-old daughter. While she's a reasonably strong reader for her age, she is in no way ready in terms of skill or emotional maturity to read a book like this on her own. I pause to define words or to clarify plot points. Or (in one memorable case) so that I can comfort her when she cries over a character. There is no question in my mind that reading this book together, over the months that we've been at it, has brought us closer together. Probably it has helped with her vocabulary, too, but for me that is incidental. Reading together is helping her to bond with books, to LOVE reading. And that's the goal. 

It doesn't matter when you read. Many families read together before bed. Personally, I get too sleepy for that, so I read to my daughter while she eats breakfast. On lazier summer days, we can often move over to the couch when she's done, and keep going. If you're going on a road trip, the parent who isn't driving can read aloud to the whole family. You just have to be a bit creative to find the time. 

As a caveat, if you find reading aloud awkward, you might also try listen to an audiobook together in the car, or in the kitchen while you're preparing dinner. You can play them on Alexa, your phone, etc. As another caveat, if a book you are reading together isn't working for you or for the child, it is completely fine to stop and try another instead. You want the experience to be joyful. See Jim Trelease's The Read-Aloud Handbook for lots more on this topic. 

LightningThiefNot sure what to read? What you want is something that is popular and engaging and that they might not be ready to read on their own. Harry Potter or the Percy Jackson Lightning Thief books are two good places to start. You want the book to be something that you are interested in reading also, not something that you are reading out of some sense of duty. Kids can tell. Is there a movie coming out that you want to see that is based on a book? Try reading that. A new film version of A Wrinkle in Time came out recently. Louis Sachar's Holes is an excellent book and an excellent movie. There are loads of choices. A quick google search for "movies based on children's books" brings up any number of lists. And of course you could ask and see if your child has any suggestions. Which leads us to... 

Let Them Choose: I say this all the time, but I can't emphasize it enough when you are talking about a child who can read but chooses not to. You simply must let her choose what she wants to read. If you are pushing her to read the books that you loved a kid, or that you think will strengthen her reading skills, or that will give her a leg up on the Battle of the Books contest in the fall, please stop. I've heard parents lament that their kids aren't reading when in reality, their kids are reading. But what they are reading doesn't count because it's graphic novels or joke books or activity books. You should celebrate anything that makes your child want to read, and go out and find more of that. 

My daughter has been reading constantly this summer. I am so, so, so grateful for this. For the most part, she is only reading graphic novels, notebook novels, and picture books. I have mixed some chapter books that I think she would like into her book baskets (Clementine, Ivy and Bean, The Bland Sisters), but she mostly ignores these. This is fine with me. I'm just glad that she has found books that she wants to read. 

If your child isn't reading, my best piece of advice content-wise is to try graphic novels and/or notebook novels (Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Dork Diaries are the two biggest series, though there are certainly others). There are graphic novels available for a range of age levels and interests. The ones I would start with for newer readers are the Lunch Lady series by Jarrett Krosoczka and the Babymouse and Squish series by Jennifer Holm and Matt Holm. For slightly older kids, the Babysitters Club graphic novels are hugely enticing, as is the Amulet series. Just pick up a few at the bookstore or the library, and leave them in the backseat of the car.  Which brings us to...

Make Reading the Most Desirable Option (Sometimes): One of the most successful things I ever did in terms of encouraging my daughter to read was to ban her from using her tablet for car rides of less than 30 minutes. I actually did this because I didn't like feeling like her chauffeur, and that's what I told her. But then I put some books in the car. Now she starts reading the minute she gets into the car and doesn't stop. She frequently stays in the car (in the relatively cool garage) when we get home, so that she can finish what she's reading. So, I still end up feeling like a chauffeur sometimes, but I don't mind, as long as she's reading. The point is that whenever we are in the car for a short drive she is a captive audience, with no choices but to talk to me or read. Seems like a win-win, doesn't it? 

Another friend told me that she bans devices for the first hour of any road trip in her family. I've heard of other people who ban devices while on camping trips, or even on vacation in general. Maybe there's dead time between races at swim meets, or when you're out at a restaurant, or at grandmas's house. It couldn't hurt to have a book handy for such situations.

You do have to be a bit careful with this suggestion. You don't want to be always taking away the desirable thing (devices) and have reading be used as a punishment. But if you can find ways to limit the screen time, while also making sure that potentially interesting books are available, you give kids a chance to choose reading. 

ReadingInTheWildSummary: There's a belief among many reading advocates (Donalyn Miller comes especially to mind) that there exists a right book that will hook each child on reading. The trick is for the child to find that book at the right time. The best teachers and librarians work during the school year to match kids with those gateway books. But there's no reason parents can't do their part to help, especially during summer vacation.

You can try reading aloud to your child, something exciting that he wouldn't read on his own. You can try to figure out what sorts of books your child finds most engaging, and keep those around. You can ensure that there are times when your child does choose to read, even if it's only out of boredom because no screen is available. All of this is in the hope that your child will run across that right book, that gateway book, that will make him want to keep reading. 

The primary guiding principle that I follow in nurturing my daughter as a reader is to make the reading experience as enjoyable as possible. If in doubt about any decision I ask myself whether it adds joy to the process or not. Then I respond accordingly. Thanks for reading!

© 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 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  https://t.co/jnv4NofiCL

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 + https://t.co/1eDdWp84iC

Spotlight: NY-based program Literacy for Incarcerated Teens (LIT), profiled , provides material + support for teens https://t.co/X7WiCb9po4

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 https://t.co/KxTMzPilpv

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 https://t.co/QlmtTwsU8n

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 " https://t.co/48EhEdvRew

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

STEM

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" https://t.co/H0MCvOgkDZ

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 https://t.co/4l1J1kzWEE

STEM

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


Growing Bookworms Newsletter: June 27: #Babymouse, #SummerReading, and Waiting for New Series Installments

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

Newsletter Update:  In this issue I have a post about how I'm limiting my daughter's screen time this summer (in favor of books), and another that is an update on that and my general push to give her opportunities to read over the summer. I also have two posts with links that I shared recently on Twitter, and a quick post with a link to an interview that I did at Dani Duck's website

Reading Update:  In the last three weeks I finished two middle grade, one young adult, and four adult titles. I read/listened to: 

  • SpySchoolStuart Gibbs: Spy School. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers. Middle Grade Fiction. Completed June 17, 2018. This book, about a boy who is whisked off to a DC-area school for training young spies, is quite kid-friendly, and I will certainly give it to my daughter when she's a little bit older. As an adult reader, however, it didn't quite hold my attention. 
  • Laurel Snyder: Orphan Island. Walden Pond Press. Middle Grade Fiction. Completed June 21, 2018, on Kindle. This is an unusual and lyrical book about a mysterious island inhabited by nine orphans. A new young one replaces the oldest each year, when a small boat arrives. This one did hold my attention, read pool-side in Hawaii. In the end, though, I felt like I didn't quite understand it - like I was missing some profound conclusion. 
  • April Henry: The Girl I Used To Be. Henry Holt and Co. Young Adult Mystery. Completed June 22, 2018, on Kindle. This is a suspenseful YA novel about a girl who is investigating her mother's long-ago murder. There were some themes common to other books I've read recently, which gave me a bit of deja vu, but I still enjoyed the book and the characters. 
  • S. J. Scott, Barrie Davenport: 10-Minute Mindfulness: 71 Habits for Living in the Present Moment. CreateSpace. Adult Nonfiction. Completed June 2, 2018, on Kindle. This was a free selection that I got from Amazon, in the interest of learning more about mindfulness. There are lots of ideas for simple ways to add mindful moments to your day. 
  • PlayStuart Brown: Play: How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul. Avery. Adult Nonfiction. Completed June 10, 2018, on Kindle. This is a nonfiction title that is more about re-discovering play as an adult than about the benefits for children, but it's definitely interesting. 
  • Kelly McGonigal: The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do to Get More of It. Avery. Adult Nonfiction. Completed June 14, 2018, on MP3. This book I liked a lot. I listened to a chapter every few days, to give myself time to digest the different recommendations. It's based on a course that the author teaches with research-based, practical techniques for increasing willpower. And who couldn't use a bit of improvement there?
  • Jeff Goins: The Art of Work: A Proven Path to Discovering What You Were Meant to Do. Thomas Nelson. Adult Nonfiction. Completed June 20, 2018, on Kindle. This is about reinvention and creating a work life (or retirement life) with more meaning and satisfaction. I would like to have a bit of time to digest this one, but I haven't been able to make that happen so far. 

RightTheWrongsI'm still listening to 11/22/63 by Stephen King. It's good, but very long. I'm reading To Right the Wrongs (Erin Blake #2) by Sheryl Scarborough, a sequel to a YA thriller that I read last month. In truth, I'm in a little bit of a reading slump - I have a ton of things on my nightstand and my Kindle, but I want more books that are so exciting that I can't put them down. I have a bunch of new arrivals that I haven't tried yet and new samples downloaded, so we'll see...

I'm still reading Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix with my daughter. We are just through O.W.Ls with Harry, Ron, and Hermione, and have met Grawp. I need to find us more reading time, so that we can get through the exciting ending quickly. I was rather annoyed yesterday to learn that a friend told my daughter who the characters each end up married to. Sigh. I've been so careful not to spoil things for her. But that's the downside of reading such a well-known series. 

KristysBigDayI have been doing better lately at keeping up my daughter's list of books read. Her current obsession is the Babymouse books. She collected a huge stack of them last time we were at the library, and has been whipping through them. She also quite liked The Cardboard Kingdom, a new graphic novel by Chad Sell.  She continues to re-read from her favorite authors (Raina Telgemeier) and series (Jedi Academy, Dork Diaries, Babysitters Club).  She's dying for new releases in all three of these series, but these aren't coming until later in the summer.

Come to think of it, I'm ready for new installments in a couple of my own favorite series (notably Louise Penny and Tana French). It would be hypocrisy on my part to be waiting for release of those books while pushing my daughter to read books that she's not interested in / obsessed with. Fortunately for both of us, I am not doing that. It's summer, and we both read what we choose. Off to the library tomorrow. My guess is that we'll be checking out more Babymouse books. 

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


How My Schemes for Keeping My Daughter Reading this Summer Are Working So Far

In recent posts I shared How I'm Preparing for my Daughter's Summer Reading and Some Thoughts on Limiting Screen Time (in part so that she would have more time for reading). Summer vacation is, happily, still young, but I wanted to share a few notes on how things are working out so far.

Book Bins

BookBinJensBookPageEarlier I ordered a set of 3 collapsible storage bins to put in the car, bathroom and next to the kitchen table to keep summer reading books handy. These were so successful that I soon ordered a second set, so that we would have six book bins to distribute around the house and cars. There are currently two in our cars, two in bathrooms, one in the kitchen, and one in her bedroom. How are they working out? Well:

  • Every time I go into the downstairs bathroom I find the bin scooted over to be closer to the toilet.

  • My husband picked up a book from one of the bins and started reading it. My daughter noticed him reading it and reported this to me. (Modeling reading is good, right?)

  • My daughter ALWAYS reads in my car now, because "the best books are in Mommy's car.

  • She has complained about the mix of books in some of the bins - I apparently slipped in too many books that were not already favorites. I told her to change them up as she likes. However, I also continue to drop in new books that pop up, on the chance that they might strike her fancy. 

Library Trips

ClownCarnivalWe visited the library recently and checked out 26 titles, including many of the Babymouse books, and a new-to-use series of Scooby-Doo-themed Choose Your Own Adventure books. She's been whipping her way through those, and we'll have to go back soon. Now that I think about it, I think I should repurpose the bin in her bedroom and dedicate that one to library books, to make it easier for her to see them.

Screen Time Restrictions

I now have a policy in place that she can have 30 minutes of screen time each day, but only AFTER brushing her hair and teeth, getting dressed, eating breakfast, and tidying up (putting away clean laundry, etc.). I didn't hold to this policy while we were on vacation, but since we've returned, well, she hasn't been able to meet her requirements to even get to the screen time. Which is a success as far as I'm concerned. Examples:

  • The other day she grumbled "I hate 30 minutes of screen time policy." But not five minutes later I heard her singing in the playroom, while doing something else. I'm not sure what it was, but it was some sort of active, creative play.
  • She used to get out of bed early and get straight onto her tablet on weekends. Now that she's lacking that incentive, she's been sleeping later,which I think she needs. Most days she also reads in bed for a while after she wakes up.

All in all, the screen time policy is a win so far. 

Vacation Reading

We went on a four-night vacation to Hawaii last week. I made sure that our current Harry Potter book was on my Kindle, and we did read from it, though only once. She read the new graphic novel that I had purchased, Cardboard Kingdom, several times. And for what it's worth, I modeled reading by the pool for many, many hours. 

© 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


Some Thoughts on Limiting Screen Time

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

LibraryBooksYesterday she:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© 2018 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook


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

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

Top Tweet of the Week

BookWhispererMust read: "much of what we describe as the “achievement gap” is caused by differential access to books... Kids need books everywhere. They need , , + public ." https://t.co/wYJkWe22No

Book Lists

50+ Chapter Books (to add to your reading) good for Preschoolers + 3 Year Olds, from https://t.co/v3OFirzDlD

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

Diversity + Gender

Summing up a recent Controversy in |

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

Events + Programs

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

Growing Bookworms / Summer Reading

On creating : "if we have not made a concerted effort to create life-long readers when they leave our system, perhaps we have failed in our ultimate goal", w/ questions for leaders https://t.co/XkwcP7MD0S

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

— The Greatest Gift Your Kids Will Give You |

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

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

Kidlitosphere

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

On Reading, Writing, Blogging, and Publishing

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

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

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

Parenting

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

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

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

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

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

Schools and Libraries

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

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

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

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

It's Time to End Mandated Summer Assignments - rounds up ideas for promoting + instead https://t.co/BLQ86Dp8Rg

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

© 2018 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook.


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

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

Top Tweet of the Week

The Marshmallow Test: What Does It Really Measure? responds to larger follow-up study suggesting affluence rather than willpower matters https://t.co/zaZcGLpd3y [One of my most popular links ever.]

Book Lists

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

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

Diversity + Gender

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

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

A Closer Look at 2017 Latinx Books from |

Events, Programs, and Research

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

HartRisleyInteresting new results re: the '30 Million Word Gap' | Larger studies find much smaller gap + some would prefer to remove 'deficit thinking' of gap-focused mindset https://t.co/ECU6CzzWUd

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

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

Teachers: Prepare your class for the 10th annual K-4 contest. This year's theme is Heroes (human or animal) https://t.co/t3G3L2GWYf

Growing Bookworms / #SummerReading

RT @MrsPStorytime: Need tips for ? I've gathered up so many FREE resources and activities to share with you! https://t.co/pig0jzD2jI

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

Here's another teacher taking solid action to encourage in the classroom: Learn more about in podcast  https://t.co/YqCNzlK0z7

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

Digital Device + Free Texts = Reading All Summer Long by

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

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

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

Kidlitosphere

KIDLIT_con_poster_final_web_smAnnouncing the Poster, designed by Isabel Roxas!

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

On Reading, Writing, Blogging, and Publishing

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

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

Parenting + Play

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

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

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

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

Schools and Libraries

Interesting discussion on idea of opening to slow the

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

How Is Increasing Engagement, w/ implementation tips  https://t.co/bBg5kvS7ds

STEM

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

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

© 2018 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook.