Growing Bookworms: Seizing the Opportunity to Validate #ReadingChoice

MaxAndTheMidknightsI recently bought my daughter a new book that I thought, based on reviews that I had seen, she would like. The book was Max & the Midknights by Lincoln Pierce (but could have been anything). She read the book, or part of it, anyway. Then she asked me how much the book had cost. Not sure where she was going with that, I gave her what I figured was the approximate price, $10. At that point she apologized to me because, as she tentatively explained, she didn't really like the book. She felt guilty about this knowing that I had spent money on it. 

I was surprised by this guilt, because I am a huge advocate of giving kids choice in their reading. To me it was self-evident that there would be books that I would give her to try that she wouldn't like. But apparently, I had NOT made this evident to my daughter. At least not when the books were paid for.  

As you may imagine, I was very quick to tell her that it was totally fine not to like the book, or any book, and that in her home reading she never has to finish a book that she doesn't like. [There will be books she has to finish for school - I can't help that.] I think she was relieved. 

InvisibleEmmieBeing too lazy to return the book (purchased online), I suggested that we could give the book to a friend who I thought would be more interested, or donate it to a toy and book drive going on at school that week. She decided to hold off on that for now, because she might want to give it another try at some point. Of course I told her that was fine, too. She had recently discovered that she loved a different book that I had bought for her a year earlier that she hadn't liked at first, so this made sense. 

Everything that I have read about growing bookworms (and I have read a LOT on this topic) says that the number on thing that keeps kids reading for pleasure is having free choice in what they read. I thought that I was giving my daughter free choice. I have hundreds of children's books in my house, many from publishers and many that I have purchased or received as gifts over the years. I take her to the library every week, too, and let her pick out whatever she likes. I buy her new and used graphic and notebook novels when I learn about them because she loves them and those are areas in which my own collection tends to be weak. I have always tried not to pressure her to read or finish certain books.

Despite all of that, she still felt guilty when she didn't like a book that I had picked out for her. I'm truly not beating myself up over that. But I do think it goes to show that kids really, really need us to tell them that it's ok NOT to like certain books. My message to other parents out there who want their kids to love books is, once again, do anything you can to preserve your child's reading choice. Tell them that you are doing so. Tell them that it's fine for them not to like the books that you liked or picked out, and fine to abandon books (even if they cost money). Seize opportunities, as I did this one, to validate reading choice.

The love of reading is a precious thing, and it can be more fragile than you think. Protect it where you can. At least, that's what I intend to do. 

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


Links I Shared on Twitter Recently: February 15: Benefits of Reading Fiction, Stories about Girls, and Intrinsic Rewards for Reading

TwitterLinksHere are highlights from the links that I shared on Twitter this week @JensBookPage. Topics this week include #BookAwards, #BookLists, #GraphicNovels, #GrowingBookworms, #IntrinsicMotivation, #Literacy, #LoveOfBooks, #math, #parenting, #play, #Podcasts, #RickRiordan, #schools, #STEM, and reading. I'll be taking next week off from Twitter for my daughter's school vacation week, but I'm sure that I'll save up some links for the following week.

Top Tweet of the Week

Fiction Really Will Make You Nicer and More Empathetic, New Meta-Analysis Says | | showed small improvement in social-cognitive performance vs. not reading or reading

Book Lists + Awards

AllOfAKindDon't miss the for the 2019 , honoring the "best in Jewish literature and scholarship" from

The 2019 Awards as unofficially selected by elementary | Featuring +

The 2018 Winners were announced this morning, titles ranging from to , inc. fiction, nonfiction, +

On a quest NOT to fill her daughter's lunch box with bad jokes, identifies a few recent for kids that are actually funny |

14 Children's Books with Characters Who Have Medical Challenges | the newest from

Jennifer Wharton rounds up 's own books + imprint, as well as other mythic fantasy series. Great guide for anyone looking to keep + fans

Diversity + Gender

LostGirlWhat about the girls? What do they hear when we treat their stories as if they don’t matter, as if they take up too much space? by

Events, Programs + Research

100th Anniversary Children's Book Week Poster w/ artwork by Revealed | |

Children’s Book Creators Join Forces to Provide High Quality Books to Two Worthy Organizations by |

Growing Bookworms

Great post challenging approaches that are used to nudge kids towards : "We are actively training them to think ‘books = hard, boring compulsory work that I should be rewarded for.’"

I could relate to: How Visiting My Local Library Makes Me a Better Parent by |

On Reading, Writing, Blogging, and Publishing

BookLoveTungThese are wonderful: 14 Stunning Illustrations / from That Perfectly Capture the Introvert's | Can't wait to show daughter

are Books, Too! by 5th grade ELA | learn vocabulary + inference, find difficult topics more accessible, + lots more

Parenting + Play

One more reason to let kids : Research suggests that young kids can learn through | via |

UnderPressureWhy Girls Beat Boys at School and Lose to Them at the Office | "What if school is a confidence factory for our sons, but only a competence factory for our daughters?" | Parents, stop praising inefficient overwork

Is It Healthy to Study in Bed? Experts weigh in. Sounds like it's ok, but kids should re-read things from right before they fall asleep

Schools and Libraries

I liked this OpEd by about how CA are setting a poor example for re personal +

STEM

HiddenFiguresYAWomen's History in Is Hidden in the Footnotes - | New study uncovers female programmers who made important but unrecognized (beyond footnotes) contributions to |

and with Confidence by Jerry Burkhart via | Lack of confidence in math traces to past experiences + inaccurate beliefs about learning |

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


Things I'm Doing to Improve My Focus

Focus3_1I thought I'd do a quick update on how I'm progressing on my word of the year: FOCUS. It's going well. I have been making various changes inspired by several of my recent reads. [Links are at the end of the post.] Most importantly, I try to work for an hour or so in the mornings with no email or other notifications. I go to a different room from the one I usually work in, to provide a visual separation that says: "This is focus time." I really love the focus / deep work time, and hope to be able to expand the amount of time I can commit to it.

Even when I'm not doing that deep work time, I'm trying to work and live in a less distracted mode. Here are some of the things I'm doing for that:

  • DeepWorkI turned off text notifications on my watch and my laptop. Instead of getting actively alerted, I just check for texts when I'm already changing tasks. This does mean that I'm a bit less responsive to family and friends, but it also means that my attention is disrupted much less often. I especially appreciate this when I'm with my daughter. It's a slight headache when I'm actually expecting a text, because I have to keep checking, but I still find it worthwhile overall (and of course I could re-activate notifications in that case if there was something critical).  My phone does still vibrate for phone calls, which is how I would be notified if there was some problem with my daughter.
  • MakeTimeI removed social media from my phone (including Facebook messenger), so that I'm not tempted to use random moments of downtime to scroll down the various rabbit holes. I still have Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn on my iPad. I check them briefly in the morning after I read the paper. And I do check in on them on my computer sometimes during the day (and share things), but I try to always close the tabs in between checks, and only check when I'm between other tasks. I don't have any active notifications for social media (except for notifications of LinkedIn messages that go to my work email account).
  • I removed news apps from my phone and "breaking news" notifications from my watch. I read two newspapers every morning and usually check the WSJ app for updates while I eat lunch. I don't need other notifications in between.
  • I unsubscribed from a number of blog feeds, email newsletters, and podcasts. I'm trying to spend more time reading and listening to books.
  • I turned off email updating on my phone and erased the associated passwords. I left the app installed in case I get in to a situation where I really need to log in, but having to enter the password(s) is a real deterrent.
  • HyperfocusI started reading with a notepad and pen next to me, instead of my having my phone within reach. If I get distracted by something, or want to add a book to my reading list or something, I can write it down, instead of pulling out the phone. This makes me less likely to be distracted by some incoming text, etc.
  • On my computers (I have separate ones for work and blog/personal use) I shut my email programs down when not in use. I've had notifications for new email messages turned off for a long time.

These suggestions were compiled from the books below. I would recommend any or all of them. 

All in all, I'm pleased with how this journey towards being more focused is going so far. I feel less distracted, and like I have more of a sense of purpose about the work that I'm doing. These are both good things! 

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


Literacy Milestone: Appreciating the Smell of New Books

RevengeOfTheSisThis week an early copy of the upcoming Jedi Academy book by Jarrett Krosoczka and Amy Ignatow, Revenge of the Sis, landed on my doorstep. I knew that my daughter would be excited. I put the book in the car and gave it to her  when I picked her up from school. Perhaps some of you heard her piercing squeal of excitement - I am still recovering my hearing. 

The next thing I heard from the back seat was: "Oh, I love how new books smell!", accompanied by a deep sigh of satisfaction. Nothing more was heard from the backseat until we had arrived at our destination. As it should be.

BookLoveTungI don't believe that I've ever talked with my daughter about the wonders of "new book smell," though she did recently see this concept in a cartoon by Debbie Tung. [Click through to see 14 examples from Debbie's new book, Book Love, at Introvert Dear.] But here she is, showing yet another sign of becoming a true book lover. It was a small moment, but it made me happy. I thought that my book-loving friends would enjoy it, too.

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: February 8: #Reading Deeply, Improving #Memory + Encouraging #Boredom

TwitterLinksHere are highlights from the links that I shared on Twitter this week @JensBookPage. Topics this week include #BookAwards, #BookList, #boredom, #DigitalReading, #dyslexia, #EducationalEquity, #Giftedness, #grades, #JoyOfReading, #KidLitCon, #MentalHealth, #phonics, #Play, #reading, #SchoolChoice, #sleep, #SocialMedia, #WorldReadAloudDay, parenting, schools and teaching. This week's "Top Tweet" has been circulating really well - it is apparently resonating with teachers. 

Top Tweet of the Week

Understanding a Teacher’s Long-Term Impact | Fostering skills like does more for students' futures than helping them raise their https://t.co/wKjr2IScGc

Book Lists

YouAreNotSmall50 Of The Best Books For Beginning Readers | Katherine Willoughby via |

Favorite and Funny Books for 9-10 Year Olds, kid-tested from | Many kids are hooked on via funny books https://t.co/KELCowPwBq

Diversity + Gender

Only 2% of are black men, yet research confirms they matter. So why are there so few in ?

Events, Programs + Research

KIDLIT_con_poster_final_web_smCongrats to our Panelists honored at Awards! – | is March 22-23 in Providence

Celebration! talks w/ 4 educators + authors about joys of

Who knew? Rock-A-Bye Adult – Study Shows Grown-ups Enjoy Better And Consolidation In A Rocking Bed – https://t.co/5p8WyM5JIS

Growing Bookworms

Technology is the enemy and how I (still try) to get my kids to read | The mom at I love kids books laments letting the lure of video games get in the way of her boys |

Creating an Action Plan to Jumpstart a Better Experience for the kids who aren't there yet in their by https://t.co/aIc2pCICGt

On Reading, Writing, Blogging, and Publishing

ClariceBean'We need to talk about children’s books in a grown-up way’ | Lauren Child joins judging panel for | Wants to champion "left-field ways of looking at the world" in

Excellent conversation-starter today | Has changed how (and what) we read? Do we still read deeply? What about digital natives? | In my response I referenced + |

Thought-provoking article about how compounds knowledge by consuming information that is focused + has a long half-life (vs. that expires fast)

Books Are Not Dead. They're More Essential Than Ever | is fundamental to human beings. strengthens our imaginations. |

Parenting + Play

YesBrainHow with Your Children Can Help Them Develop a ‘Yes Brain’ | |

Opinion | Let Children Get Bored Again - | is useful, especially when you let your mind wander

When your gifted child disappoints: Good stuff in this post about struggles that can arise when a child struggles w/ relationships, underachievement, difficulties w/ socialization + more

Why You Shouldn’t Feel Bad About Canceling Extracurriculars | I love this@HonorsGradU equation | Stress of making activity happen > benefit of activity = CANCEL regret-free! |

'Sharenting': Can Parents Post Too Much About Their Kids Online? | via

Schools and Libraries

PowerOfQuestioningGo Rogue, But Be Prepared for a Fight When it Comes to Giving Up - It "isn't just about not labeling ..., it is about shifting a mindset about what learning is and how it should look in a classroom" https://t.co/smTkOdAqFY

Meet the ‘crazy’ moms saying one of Pa.’s top-rated school districts can’t teach |

An Open Letter: To , From a explores reasons some people depend on more flexible options, as well as some reservations https://t.co/vIsRJT8eO5

Isn't , It's A Million Little Mutinies, people making choices for their families |

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