8 posts categorized "Personal" Feed

10 Years Blogging at Jen Robinson's Book Page

JRBPlogo-medI'm finding it difficult to believe that today is the 10 year anniversary of the day I started my blog. It does feel like an accomplishment. I've published ~3170 posts, of which ~1165 are book reviews. I've participated in and helped to organize the Cybils, KidLitCon, and the Children's Book Review Wiki. I've met (online and in person) many wonderful people, some of whom have become treasured real-world friends. And I've read a lot of great books. 

And yet ... as I reach my 10 year anniversary, I find myself at a bit of a crossroads with my blog. I've whittled away a 2-3 month backlog of scheduled reviews, and find myself ... disinterested in writing more. I'm not even reading children's and young adult books (except for the ones I read with my daughter), because I don't want to read things that I'll feel obligated to review. I'm still sharing my daughter's literacy milestones, and I'm still sharing literacy and book-related links on Twitter, and rounding them up here on a weekly basis. But those two things seem to be all I have in me at the moment, blog-wise.

Perhaps this is just because I'm feeling tapped out, between work (unrelated to the blog) and personal responsibilities. Or perhaps it's the way that children's book blogging has changed over the years (fewer comments, etc.). Or maybe it's just the time of year. I'm not sure.

What I do know is that posts, especially reviews will be a bit scarce on my blog in the coming weeks, as I try to dig my way out of this blogging funk. I thank you all for your patience, and wish you the health and happiness this holiday season. Many, many thanks to those of you who have been following this blog over the years. 

© 2015 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


Children's and YA Books I Have Shared with My Husband

In my review of The Living by Matt de la Peña, I mentioned this:

"as soon as I closed the book I said to my husband "You have GOT to read this" (something I reserve for only a select few titles each year)."

My husband doesn't read nearly as many books as I do, so I reserve the cream of the crop (and the more exciting/action-packed titles) for him.

My longtime blogging friend Susan Stephenson from The Book Chook said that she would be interested to know what other books I had passed on. She suggested that this might make a good blog post. So I discussed this with said spouse. We couldn't remember every book that I had recommended, but we did come up with a list of the titles that I had passed on that he particularly enjoyed. Here they are:

The Harry Potter Books by J.K. Rowling. This is admittedly an obvious one, but I distinctly recall telling him after reading the very first book that I thought he was going to like them. We ordered the second book from the UK, because it was published there earlier. And I recall my husband getting one of the later books out of the library, even though I had bought a copy, because he didn't want to wait for me to finish.

The Underland Chronicles (Gregor the Overlander) by Suzanne Collins. This middle grade series didn't get nearly the attention that Collins' YA series received later, but my husband devoured them. I had read them as library copies, but then I bought a full paperback set for him for Christmas one year. Here are links to my reviews of Books 1 and 2, Book 4, and Book 5

The first Diary of a Wimpy Kid book by Jeff Kinney. I handed this one to my husband at some point, and he enjoyed it, but never read the others. Recently, after we watched the first movie with our daughter, he decided that he would like to go back and read the other books in this series. Luckily there are quite a few now. I've reviewed Book 3, Book 6, and Book 7

The Hunger Games series, also by Suzanne Collins. Again, this recommendation seems obvious now after all the hype, but this may have been the first time my husband read an ARC, because I gave him the first book as soon as I had finished it and said something like: "Yes!" Incidentally credit goes to Liz Burns, who was the one who told me that I needed to get hold of that ARC at a conference one year. Here are my reviews of Book 1, Book 2, and Book 3

The Daughter of Smoke and Bone series by Laini Taylor. I wasn't actually sure about this recommendation, because the books in this series have a bit more romance than my husband is normally looking for. But we had met Laini at KidLitCon, and he decided to give it a try. He enjoyed these books, and thinks that Laini is a fabulous writer. 

The Living by Matt de la Peña, as mentioned above. I read this book in pretty much a single sitting, deaf to everything going on around me, which made it an easy recommendation. We are both looking forward to the sequel. 

The Fifth Wave by Rick Yancey. I read this one on Kindle, which I later regretted, because I wasn't able to pass along my copy (I'm the only e-reader in our household right now). I waited for it come out in paperback, but finally gave up and bought him the hardcover for this past Christmas. He is reading it now. Here are my reviews of Book 1 and Book 2

I'm sure there are others, but those are the ones that stood out for the two of us. I know it looks like I've just shared the really popular titles with him. But in fact, it's more true that I only share books with him that truly stand out for me (and that I think he will enjoy). This has proven to be highly correlated with books that end up doing well. So, the next time I hand my spouse the first book of a new series I will let you know, and you'll know that it is likely to be successful. 

© 2015 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).

Reflections on 8 Years of Blogging

JRBPlogo-smallToday marks the 8 year anniversary of the day that I started my blog. Here's what I said in my very first post:

"Hi! I'm Jen Robinson. Here are three things that you should know about me.

  1. I love stories, especially in book form, and most especially mysteries, thrillers, and children's books. To that end, I would like to offer support to the people who produce stories (writers and publishes), and offer ideas to the people who love stories.
  2. I strongly believe that all children should be given the opportunity to learn to love books and reading for pleasure. I'll be on the lookout for suggestions for parents to help raise children who read, inspirational success stories, and literacy news and resources.
  3. I think that many adults could benefit from reading children's books, too. I think that if more adults read children's books they would a) find them enjoyable, b) help to support the children's book industry (thus bolstering item 1 above), and c) offer tremendous validation to children (thus supporting item 2 above).

I'm saddened by the declining rate of reading for pleasure in the our adult population in the U.S. I'm even more saddened when I hear of children growing up illiterate, or literate, but too busy to take time to read. I've started this blog as a tiny step to do something about that. Thanks for reading! More to follow..."

And more has followed. This is post #2697 at Jen Robinson's Book Page. Typepad says that I have >800,000 page views and >10,000 comments (including my own responses to other people's comments). I now have my own snazzy logo, designed by the talented Sarah Stevenson.

Cybils2013SmallI'm involved with the Cybils, Kidlitosphere Central, KidLitCon, and the Children's Book Review Wiki. I've participated in dozens of Carnivals of Children's Literature. Pretty good, for someone who's not much of a joiner. I've participated in these things because in the Kidlitosphere, I've found my people, and I love interacting with them. The community of children's and young adult book bloggers has become something of an extended family for me, and this makes me very happy. 

I'm still reviewing children's and young adult books, and sharing literacy news and tips. In many ways, my blog hasn't changed much over the years. I think the two biggest changes are:

  1. LiteracyMilestoneANow that I have a child, my literacy tips and musings, as well as some of my reviews, include a more personal component. I've been sharing my daughter's literacy milestone, for example, and the books that she loves (even when I don't love them myself). This may make the blog a bit less "professional" (if it ever was), but I think it adds something, too. 
  2. When I run across blog posts or news articles about literacy, I no longer post about them directly on my blog. These days I share those things out on Twitter (and, to a lesser extent, Facebook) right away. Then I round up the links once a week in a single blog post, without any commentary. I'm not sure whether this is a good change. I don't discuss these stories as much as I would like these days. On the other hand, I'm able to share more of them, and with a broader audience. So there are pros and cons. But really, it doesn't matter whether it's good or not, because this is what I can manage right now. And if there's one thing I've learned in 8 years of blogging, it's that you have to do what you can, and not let the things that you can't do stress you out. 

As I said in my first post, I am a person who loves books, and who believes strongly that kids should have the chance to love them, too. But I'm also a person who chose to go into engineering and start a software firm (from which I make my living). Even though I chose a different career path, this blog allows me to do something constructive with my love for books and literacy. For that, I am very grateful. And I expect that I'll be here blogging for a long time. Whether you've been with me for the whole 8 years, or are just popping in today for the first time, or anywhere in between, thanks so much for 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. This site is an Amazon affiliate. 

Baby Bookworm is 2 Months Old Today

Amazing as it seems, our daughter is two months old today, and closing in on 8 pounds. She's still two weeks away from her original due date (June 18), but would have been considered full term if she was born today. She's doing really well with eating, and we're hoping that she'll start to sleep for more than an hour or so at a time one of these days. We still have to keep her a bit isolated from people (especially children), because her immune system isn't very well developed, but she doesn't seem to mind.

She's definitely showing her own personality already. She is very stubborn, and knows what she wants. But we think that being stubborn has helped her to do as well as she's doing, so we have no complaints [check back with us in about two years on that subject ;-)]

She's still not very interested in looking at pictures, so I'm continuing to read chapter books to her. We read Pippi Longstocking this week. I hadn't actually read that one myself in a long time, and was interested to see how it would hold up. It was a much easier read-aloud than The Secret Garden (our previous book), and without the same richness of language. Still, I found it a good mix of description and dialog for read-aloud, and found many passages laugh-out-loud funny.

Pippi remains one of my favorite literary characters - one of the ultimate "cool girls of children's literature". She is strong and independent. She can not only take care of herself, but she can amuse herself. Although thoughtless in some ways, she's incredibly kind in others (hiding gifts for Tommy and Annika to find, for example). She is a lot of fun.

The book is a product of its time and place. There are some references that are a bit dated (Annika always wears dresses, the neighborhood mothers complain about their maidservants, a four and five year old child are left alone in a house that catches fire, and there's no implied criticism, etc.). I was a bit floored by the last chapter, in which Pippi gives Tommy and Annika guns to take home as gifts. If Baby Bookworm was older, I'd certainly have to do some explaining while reading this book. But that's one of the benefits of reading books aloud, isn't it? I'm glad to have spent some time with Pippi this week.

I have Ballet Shoes queued up next (I was going to do The Penderwicks, but realized that I had listened to that one on audio, and have to procure a printed copy).

I send out my best wishes to those participating in this year's 48 Hour Book Challenge at MotherReader. Perhaps next year I'll be able to participate again. Happy reading, all!

A Baby Bookworm at Home

I just realized that I forgot to put the word out on my blog that our Baby Bookworm came home from the hospital last week, after five weeks in the NICU. She still has about a month until her original due date, but she's gaining weight like a champ, and doing really well.

I'm still reading her The Secret Garden. She also likes those black and white board books by Tana Hoban (White on Black, etc.). Alas, I forget who recommended those. Her library continues to grow by leaps and bounds, and I'm looking forward to reading more and more books to her over time.

Still not sure when I'll be back to blogging. Right now a higher priority is finding a way to get more than 2 hours of sleep a day. But I do miss you all, and hope to be dipping a toe back into the Kidlitosphere soon.

Thanks again to everyone who has sent our Baby Bookworm good thoughts. I really do believe that they've helped. And all of the positive thoughts (and books) from my Kidlitosphere friends has been a reminder, not that I needed one, that a virtual community can absolutely be a real community. And a very special one to boot.

More soon...

Baby Bookworm Update

Just a quick update to let you all know that Baby Bookworm is doing well. She's one month old today. She's still in the hospital, but the doctors think that she'll be ready to come home very soon. We just need her to eat a bit more reliably on her own, and gain a little more weight. She's up to a pound above her birth weight now, so she's well on her way.

Many thanks to everyone who took time to send good wishes (here, on Facebook, on Twitter, etc.), and to the many friends who have sent our daughter books. She's going to have a wonderful library, made that much more special by having been a community effort.

I actually started reading her first chapter book to her this week: The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. She seems to find it calming. I know that I do. I'll provide more updates on our reading experiences, as time permits.

Thanks again for the good wishes! And it seems an appropriate time for me to wish all of the mothers out there an early Happy Mothers Day.

Baby News and Blog Hiatus

It was only a month ago that I announced that Mheir and I were growing our own little bookworm. My news today is that our daughter was born last Monday, April 5th. She's doing well, but she arrived about 10 weeks early, so she'll be in the hospital for at least the next few weeks.

I'm spending as much time at the hospital with her as I can, and am thus taking a bit of a leave of absence from the blog. I won't be posting or accepting any offers of books for review. Terry will be continuing the Children's Literacy Roundups as she can, but I won't be contributing right now. I'm putting all of my energy into my little girl.

For those who might be interested, the first book that we read to her was One Night at the Zoo by Judith Kerr (reviewed here - last week's reviews were previously written and set up as delayed posts). We're starting to order books from the wish list that I set up last month, and appreciate the suggestions that many of you made. We can't wait to get our little one home from the hospital, and to read to her in a more cozy environment.

I will be sending out one issue of my Growing Bookworms email newsletter this week, so that subscribers know what I'm up to. My apologies to the many people who just signed up for the newsletter (subscribers flooded in after a recommendation from Donalyn Miller). I'm sorry about the timing - but I hope that you'll stick with me, as I'll be back to posting, and sending the newsletter, as soon as I can. Thanks for your patience!

Personal News: Growing Our Own Bookworm

I'm not in the habit of sharing much personal news on my blog, beyond my plans to watch Red Sox games (30 days and counting to opening day). But I have some personal news that is going to be relevant to my blogging, and it's well past time to share.

JenAndMheir Mheir and I have been together for more than 20 years (we met in college) and have been married for six years. During our time together, we've given many, many children's books as gifts, and talked with lots of people about the importance of raising readers. We've purchased beautiful custom bookshelves, and filled our house with books.

Jpg_book007And now, we've decided to try our hand at growing a bookworm of our own. This may be surprising news to readers who assumed that anyone who talks about children's books as much as I do must already have several children at home. But we're expecting our first child in mid-June. A girl. The doctors say she's quite healthy, and she's certainly energetic already. We're having all of those reactions common to first-time parents - from excitement to terror. But happy. Definitely happy.

My blog friends won't be surprised at all to learn that we're reading to her already. We haven't been able to judge her reaction to the books yet, but Mheir is starting to have some favorites. I'm already keeping a reading journal for her, as Susan recommended recently at Booklights. [Mine is html-based, so that I can easily share the lists on the blog, if I so choose.]

Ironically, growing a bookworm of my own will probably mean that I have less time to talk about children's books and growing bookworms here on my blog. But I'll certainly be enhancing my knowledge in the picture book category in the short term. And I look forward to having the chance to put my "Tips for Growing Bookworms" into action longer-term.

I ask for your patience in the coming months, when my blogging will be a bit less regular than usual. Mheir and I would also love to hear your book recommendations for babies. We've started a wish list on Amazon - I used Betsy Bird's Top 100 Picture Books poll for some ideas, and I'll be tuning into Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast with extra attention, too. Of course we have some ideas of our own, too, but we could always use more.

Thanks for sharing in our news!