Having "Reader" Be Part of My Daughter's "Self-Concept"

SchoolhoueRockMy daughter recently auditioned for the school play. They are doing Schoolhouse Rock.  Everyone gets a part - the auditions are about the director getting a sense of the kids and what roles they should play. This year, one thing the director had the kids do was stand up and say one thing about themselves, naming something that they like or like to do. One boy we know said he that likes go-karts.

My daughter didn't get a turn on the first day and was able to discuss with me what she planned to say when her turn came around. She was deciding between saying "I like reading" or saying something about how she cares about her family and friends. (Secretly thrilled) I suggested that she go with the first option, because it would be more specific to her. I would think that all 1st to 3rd graders care about family and friends. This logic resonated with her, as she remarked that no one else had yet said anything about reading. 

RaisingKidsWhoReadLater the same day (serendipity), I happened to be looking back through Raising Kids Who Read by Daniel T. Willingham. I came across a section in which Willingham talks about what it takes to raise a child who chooses to read. He said that it’s not enough for your child to have a positive attitude about reading and be a competent reader. The child needs to have “reader” be part of his or her “self-concept”. He illustrates the idea of self-concept (basically how you see and define yourself) using examples of Twitter bios (where people are forced to introduce themselves using relatively few word). He says:

"If “reader” is part of your self-concept, it will occur to you as a viable activity more often. “What will I do on that two-hour train trip? I could bring my iPod. Oh, I should bring a book too.” And of course, the more you read, the more “reader” becomes cemented as part of your self-concept. What I do and what I think of myself reinforce one another. Conversely, children who do not have “reader” as part of their self-concept are not likely to think of it as an option. They may be neutral or even mildly positive in their attitudes toward reading but do not see it as “one of the things I do.”” (Page 24, Raising Kids Who Read)

“Reader” is certainly a major part of my own self-concept, and has been for as long as I can recall. Knowing that my eight-year-old has "reader" as part of her self-concept is something for which I am deeply, deeply grateful.

I'm grateful to:

  • ReadAloudHandbookEveryone who has bought books for her, since before she was even born. (Did you know that some of my blogger friends arranged a virtual book shower for me? I still treasure those books, in each of which I've written the giver's name. Special thanks to Sarah Stevenson, who brought me the books.)
  • Authors like Daniel Willingham, Jim Trelease and Donalyn Miller, who have given me sage advice in my quest to raise a child who loves to read.
  • The many others from my learning network, bloggers and tweeting teachers and commenters on the blog, who are simply too many to name. 
  • The real-world friends with whom we have traded books and recommendations and ideas. 
  • The publishers and authors who have supported my blog over the years by sending books, more and more of which are finding their way into my daughter's increasingly greedy hands.
  • My daughter's teachers and school librarian, who have all encouraged her to develop and grow as a reader.
  • Most of all, my husband. He has encouraged and supported my daughter's growth as a reader from reading to her in the womb to reading The Action Bible with her every night before bed during this school year.

Of course the journey is far from over. It's well-known that kids' interest in reading for pleasure tends to decline over time, as other occupations and interests get in the way. But I will do everything that I can to protect my daughter's conception of herself as "reader". Many thanks to all of you who I know will be rooting for us along the way. 

© 2019 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage. Links to books may be affiliate links, for which I receive a small commission. 


Growing Bookworms Newsletter: January 16: Focus, Reading Achievement, and the Percy Jackson Books

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 two literacy milestones (reading the Percy Jackson books and using a Word-A-Day Calendar). I also have a post about whether my reading is an experience or an achievement. I also share my "one word" for the year: FOCUS. I have three posts with links that I shared recently on Twitter, full of reading- and education-related news. 

Reading Update:  In the last four weeks I finished eight adult titles. I read/listened to: 

  • MomentsChip Heath and Dan Heath: The Power of Moments: Why Certain Experiences Have Extraordinary Impact. Simon & Schuster. Adult Nonfiction. Completed December 19, 2018, print library copy. This book is about how certain experiences have a bigger impact on you, and how you can sometimes engineer those moments for positive change. It provided me with food for thought, and I've recommended this book to friends. The writing style is also quite engaging. 
  • Susan Furlong: Fractured Truth (Bone Gap Traveler Novel). Kensington. Adult Mystery. Completed December 29, 2018, on Kindle. I didn't like this book as much as I enjoyed the first one, but it was still a good travel book over the holidays.
  • James Rayburn: The Truth Itself. Blackstone Publishing. Adult Thriller. Completed December 29, 2018, on Kindle. This I read in one sitting on the plane ride back from Boston. I don't remember much about it now, but I did enjoy it. 
  • Janet Evanovich: Look Alive Twenty-Five. G.P. Putnam's Sons. Adult Mystery. Completed 1/3/19, on MP3. Another popcorn book from Evanovich. 
  • 10PercentHappierDan Harris: 10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works--A True Story. Dey Street Books. Adult Nonfiction. Completed 1/9/19, on MP3. I rarely listen to nonfiction, but I quite enjoyed this memoir about how Harris changed after discovering (and becoming quite rabid about) meditation. He's a bit of a jerk at first, but he improves quite a lot over the course of the book. 
  • David DeSteno: Emotional Success: The Power of Gratitude, Compassion, and Pride. Eamon Dolan/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Adult Nonfiction. Completed January 11, 2019, on Kindle. I picked up this Kindle deal as part of my quest to learn more about willpower. DeSteno's thesis is that instead of needing to use willpower at all, people can learn to channel gratitude, compassion, and pride to make self-control relatively effortless. I'm not completely sold (and he waxed a bit grandiose for me near the end of the book), but it's an interesting approach. 
  • Nataly Kogan: Happier Now: How to Stop Chasing Perfection and Embrace Everyday Moments (Even the Difficult Ones). Sounds True. Adult Nonfiction. Completed January 13, 2019, personal copy. This was a Christmas gift from a dear friend that went straight to the top of my stack. It's full of little tips about acceptance and living in the moment, some of which I think I will be able to really use. I actually downloaded a gratitude journal app while reading this, and am appreciating it so far. 
  • Dana Stabenow: A Cold-Blooded Business (Kate Shugak, Book 4). Gere Donovan Press. Adult Mystery. Completed January 15, 2019, on MP3. This is a series that I am slowly making my way through. I really like Stabenow's writing, and the uniqueness of the Alaska setting. 

CharlieBoneI'm currently reading The Power by Naomi Alderman, a Christmas gift from my husband. I'm reading Readicide: How Schools are Killing Reading and What You Can Do About It by Kelly Gallagher on my Kindle (the research is a little dated, but it's still brilliant). I'm deciding what audiobook to listen to next, having just finished a Kate Shugak book. I've just started reading Midnight for Charlie Bone (Children of the Red King #1) by Jenny Nimmo aloud to my daughter. I've been thinking that these might be a good fit for her, and couldn't pass up a used copy for fifty cents in the Friends of the Library bookstore last week. We're enjoying it so far, but we are not very far in yet. 

BearsAndBlossomsIn terms of her own reading, my daughter is still working her way through The Lightning Thief (the first Percy Jackson book) by Rick Riordan. As I mentioned last time, it's a pretty challenging book for her, so she takes regular breaks to read and re-read graphic novels and picture books. Santa was kind enough to bring her most of the Bears on Chairs series by Shirley Parenteau and David Walker, a set of picture books that she had fallen head over heels in love with. We've been reading those a lot, and I'm sure that the library is happy to have back the copies that we've been monopolizing for, literally, months. We've also been seeking out other books illustrated by David Walker.

MysteryClubMy daughter was very excited when a copy of Mystery Club, the second graphic novel by Aron Nels Steinke about Mr. Wolf's Class arrived from the publisher. She was completely unable to do her homework until she had finished it, and she highly recommends it to all middle grade graphic novel fans. I couldn't get much out of her about what she liked specifically. She said: "everything!" She also continues to read biographies from the Who Was ... ? series, and has had to move on to reading about some male historical figures (having exhausted her school library's selection of books about women). 

Thanks for reading, and for growing bookworms! Wishing you all plenty of reading time in this still new year. 

© 2019 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage


Literacy Milestone: Word-A-Day Calendar

LiteracyMilestoneALast month I wrote about my daughter's passion for "clarifying" (looking up and creating post-it notes) vocabulary words for her school reading. In the comments on that post, Karen Yingling from Ms. Yingling Reads suggested that I get her a Word-A-Day Calendar for Christmas. I thought this was a good idea and ordered the 365 New Words-A-Year Page-A-Day Calendar 2019.

WordADaySo far the calendar has been a hit. We keep it on the breakfast table and read about each new word together over breakfast. I add context and help with pronunciation where needed. Then my daughter tears the day's sheet off, punches a hole in the corner, and adds it to a string she's using to save them. I think she plans to show the string to her teacher at some point. 

It's not clear how many of the words she'll actually internalize and remember, but we are having fun with the experience. And in truth, I'm learning some new words, too. ("Adust: scorched, burned"). 

Reader's Digest used to have some sort of vocabulary quiz. I would try myself on those when I was a kid. This is what bookish people do, right? They read dictionaries and use book-a-day calendars and read and read and read, absorbing words everywhere they go. Special thanks to Karen for the excellent suggestion! 

Thanks for reading, and for growing bookworms!

© 2019 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage


Links I Shared on Twitter this Week: January 11: #ReadAloud Classics and Diverse Classroom Libraries

TwitterLinksHere are highlights from the links that I shared on Twitter this week @JensBookPage. Topics for this short week (I also had a post on Monday with links from over the holidays) include #BookLists, #EdPolicy, #focus, #GenderDifferences, #GraphicNovels, #HistoricalNovels, #KidLitCon, #learning, #LearningStyles, #literacy, #ReadAloud, #reading, #SchoolChoice, #STEM, #testing, #writing, schools and teachers.

Book Lists

ParentTrapBest Classic Books - You Haven't Read Yet! Another from | Love inclusion of

8 Featuring - from + more

Weird, Creepy, and Occultic Fixated Male Lead Characters, identifies a new micro-niche

Found a couple of new to add to my daughter's wish list here: (Some of the) Best MG of 2018: , Ep. 67 https://t.co/5j6I01OPg3

Diversity + Gender

“Boy/Girl Books:” Fighting Stereotypes While Honoring + not ignoring differences in what kids want | "a more benefited all my students"

Events, Programs + Research

KIDLIT_con_poster_final_web_smLook Who’s Coming to - March 22-23 –

Study Confirms The Power Of Are Calmed By Putting Them Into Words – https://t.co/H0oB6FzSyv

New paper Night-time screen-based media device use associated w/ risk of poor results for adolescents' sleep and health-related quality of life

Growing Bookworms

I LOVE this call from for families to set aside (Joy of Missing Out) time and have everyone lie around + (w/ free , no devices + no parents sneaking in work) https://t.co/wRoXnuULiF

This is cool: Illinois using giant murals to encourage - | Another painted lockers like + https://t.co/bzY1hCP082

On Reading, Writing, Blogging, and Publishing

Historical-fiction-for-the-school-libraryThe past is the future - a look at benefits of for kids - by Dawn Finch

Interesting discussion question from Terry | Is an achievement (look! I read 156 books!) or an experience? | I worry that I've tilted a bit towards reading to learn things and away from myself...

The 10th Annual Mrs. P Be-a-Famous Writer Judges Choices are Announced! Meet the Honored Classrooms! -

! Life-saving AND awesome | Book shields woman during deadly shooting

CharlottesWebHarperCollins Launches Children's Book , monthly + dedicated to classic + contemporary

Parenting

Sad truth here: There is no room for ‘average’ students these days says | " has become a high-stakes Rube Goldberg machine, propelling our kids from one to the next with no end in sight." https://t.co/mqlZvNbICi

Personal Development + Learning

How to Do Great Things | shares highlights from Richard Hamming's book about | I am personally working on , discussed in the post

Schools and Libraries

Should Fewer Black Receive Services? Were there ever racist placements? Guest post from former principal https://t.co/rvrhReoDAH

Instruction: How Can We Offer Experiences Instead of "Stuff" – https://t.co/6XQz7RclHM

Design with Care: Information Displays Can Impact Ira Nichols-Barrer, Steve Glazerman and Jon Valant

WhyDontStudentsLikeSchoolIn debate, it's instructors (many in favor) vs. psychologists (mostly debunking), but interviews suggest some common ground | [w/ quotes from @DTWillingham)

I was pleased to see this in my local paper today: Foundation aims to inspire

Why Are Leaving Their Jobs? Chester E. Finn, Jr. identifies 5 examples "of the industry’s conspicuous failure to anticipate and forestall the HR woes"

Feel Like Things Are Being Done To Them, Not With Them. They trust each other, not "a growing array of institutions + organizations"

STEM

The problem with high-stakes and women in - | Could it be ? |

© 2019 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage.


Is Reading an Achievement or an Experience?

My friend Terry Doherty has started a new monthly feature over at the Reading Tub blog in which she poses "a reading-ish question" for discussion. In her kickoff post Terry asks whether reading is an experience or an achievement. She notes that many year-end blog wrap-ups that she read recently included people asking things like:

"When did reading for the purpose of enjoyment/escape/relaxation/etc. morph into a something else?

What was the “something else”? Basically, three things:

  • A (self-imposed) competition to reach specific goals.
  • A means of self-promotion and selfie-ism.
  • A measuring stick of personal success or failure."

Terry reflects on this in terms of her own reading, and she inspired me to think about it, too. (Please do head over and read Terry's post, and share comments with her there.)

48hbc_newI don't do much in terms of imposing specific reading goals on myself. I've never been one to participate in reading "challenges", even though many people love them, because they make reading feel like work to me. I did participate in the MotherReader 48 Hour Book Challenge back in the day, but for me it was just an excuse to read all weekend, not something I was trying to win. I've read roughly 150 books in each of the past few years, but I don't set out to read a specific number, nor to increase it in quantitative terms (though I am always seeking out more time to read). 

However, I have made a pretty dramatic shift in what I've been reading over the years. I'm reading a much, much higher percentage of adult books now, vs. reading children's and young adult books, as well as a much higher percentage of nonfiction. Back in 2006 I read 156 children's and young adult books and 49 adult books. Five of the adult books were nonfiction. In 2018 I read 45 children's and adult books and 114 adult titles. 50 of the adult titles were nonfiction.

I'm not sure what to make of the shift towards reading more adult books, but I think that has a lot to do with burnout regarding reviewing. Since starting my blog, adult titles have been more recreational for me, while the kids and YA titles were "work" for the blog. Work that I enjoyed, sure, but still work in a sense. So I think the shift to reading more adult titles does reflect a wish to read more for my own personal enjoyment. It is a bit odd that I'm shifting away from reading kids' books right as my daughter is starting to read middle grade, but maybe that reflects the fact that reading books to recommend them to her is still work. A highly enjoyable part of my job as a parent, sure, but still work in a sense. If I'm reading adult mysteries and thrillers, that's just for me. 

The shift to reading more nonfiction, on the other hand, is different. Here I'm reading much more with a goal of learning and self-improvement. Like most working parents, I'm juggling a lot of things in my life (job, family and blog). I find I can justify taking the time to read if I'm reading something useful, in a way that I've had trouble justifying the reading time otherwise. For example, I'm using a chunk of my listening time to listen to podcasts about current events or productivity improvement. This even though I'm already primarily listening when I'm doing something else productive (exercising, cooking, folding laundry, etc).

IdRatherBeReadingDon't get me wrong. I've enjoyed most of the nonfiction titles that I've read (see my 2018 reading list here). I've learned a lot about things that I am deeply interested in (parenting, raising readers, happiness, communication, willpower, time management, etc.). I have a number of nonfiction books stacked up on my nightstand and Kindle that I very much want to read. I'm also not saying that people can't read nonfiction for pure pleasure (many people adore biographies, and more power to them). But I'm a bit concerned that in my specific case I'm replacing too much of my reading for the joy of it with reading for edification.

As Terry noted in her own case, this is certainly not the message that I want to send to my daughter. I want her to fall in love with books, and fall into them headlong (as she's currently doing with The Lightning Thief). I want it to continue being difficult to get her to leave the house, because she just has to finish this chapter. I want to get back in touch with my own childhood self, the kid who got sunburned reading on a raft in a lake, and couldn't go on a two mile car ride without a book and a backup book. 

But it's not going to be as easy as just deciding to read more of the mysteries and thrillers that I love. My reading time is limited, and I do have a lot of books that I want to read for various self-educational and self-improvement purposes. Clearly, I'm going to have to work to find more reading time somewhere, and try to mix it up a bit more. I think I'll start by reading novels before I go to sleep, instead of trying to read something more useful and then falling asleep. The price for that switch may be falling asleep later, and being more tired, but I think it will be worth it.

Wish me luck! Thanks for listening. 

© 2019 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage