Links I Shared on Twitter this Week: April 19: Climbing Trees, Creating Lifelong Readers + Reading on Paper

TwitterLinksHere are highlights from the links that I shared on Twitter this week @JensBookPage (with a few from last week, when I was on vacation and didn't do a link roundup). Topics include #DiverseBooks, #GenderRoles, #giftedness, #GrowingBookworms, #HigherEd, #Jeopardy!, #kidlitosphere, #literacy, #play, #Poetry, #ReadAloud, #ReadingLevels, #ScreenTime, #STEM, #teaching, parenting, and reading.

Top Tweets of the Week

Maya Awards for Creating Lifelong Readers & Maya Angelou Teacher Award for from +

The Biggest ! Winner says that fact-based children's books helped him win b/c "They are chock-full of infographics, pictures + all kinds of stuff to keep the reader engaged" via

Book Lists

Rounding up the Books for kids published in 2019 —

6 Great Books for Teachers, Parents & Grandparents who love children's books | Any that includes "Five on Brexit Island" is worth a look |

Highly Engaging Sure to Hook | from

Diversity + Gender

UnderPressureTeaching Girls to Be Great Competitors - Jennifer Breheny Wallace | "new research shows that many girls have trouble managing the stress and emotions that go along with competition"

Happy Spring! The April Linkup is (+ other blogs)

Author | Bringing into children's books | Why 'seeing yourself' matters for kids |

MomentOfLiftEquality for Women Must Start at Home (Even the Gates Home) - shares essay from her forthcoming book about empowering women

Events, Programs + Research

Guest Post | Danielle Goldman & , a program to make fun + encourage

I love this: Bus Driver Entertains Kids w/ by providing 'bucket of books' On Her Bus Route | Kids can grab books + in pairs, a guest reader comes on Friday afternoons to read to all

I love it! Netherlands makes trains free on for those who show a book instead of ticket |

ReadAloudHandbookA “million word gap” by kinder between children raised in rich environments vs. kids who aren’t read to at home at all |

The Progressive Poem is happening now. Here’s an update from

Growing Bookworms

10 Ways to Make Home a Path to Lifelong by adding more fun by Kyla McDonald | Backwards reading day, joke books, baking + more

Why Bitsy Parks doesn't worry too much about tracking her students' "I'm striving to lay the foundation for a love of reading"

How We Set Up in | Book clubs give students the chance to "engage in meaningful discussion"

Higher Ed

Why Has the Cost of Outpaced Inflation? - shares reasons, concludes "College presidents, trustees + politicians should feel some shame as they are the leaders in this cash grab" |

On Reading, Writing, Blogging, and Publishing

Worse for Comprehension than on Paper, Leads to Overconfidence, New Meta-analysis Concludes -

Parenting + Play

FreeRangeKidsClimbing trees is safer than organized sports + great for physical + emotional development | via

Why is Important for - via | Comprehensive w/ lots of references

Why & How to Nurture Wherever You Live (urban, suburban, rural) |

The Corruption Continuum | parents help kids seek limited spots in elite colleges | "there’s no way to peel away all the parent-conferred advantages and extras, for they’re inherent, multifaceted, and I think inevitable"

Why you should consider watching w/ your kids + list of the best ones to watch w/ them

Schools and Libraries

FewerThingsBetter"We're a Family" and Other School Norms that Can Cause Burnout | talks w/ about doing fewer things better in

Does help talented go ahead faster? Survey finds emphasis on developing creativity + critical thinking instead of acceleration above grade level

Parents Make a Big Difference in School Quality. I’m Living Proof. Thomas Sheppard |

What If Teachers Could No Longer Give B-minuses? Do we want our system to be a sorting system or a system? The case for |

Standardized really isn’t the problem. The issue is using as a (poor) proxy for quality. How can we have better accountability systems? asks

Sigh: Alum Rock school district cuts all to balance budget | | Not our district, but nearby

Interesting analogy from | What Can Learn from about Differentiating Instruction


Tuesday Spin Off: Books that illustrate the of | | , +

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

Literacy Milestone: Making a Crossword Puzzle

LiteracyMilestoneAThe other day my daughter decided, for reasons that aren't completely clear to me, to make her own crossword puzzle. She started by coming up with a list of words, all related to trees. Then she formed them into a connected grid (each word connected to one other word by one letter, nothing too complex). I pointed out one spelling error that necessitated a correction to the grid, and she had to start over again, but she was enjoying the process, so that was no problem. 

She erased the words from the final grid, leaving the list of words to be filled in. She thought that she was done, but I pointed out that to make it a true crossword puzzle she needed to next convert the words into clues. Which she did, with a little bit of help from me. (I'm not sure she knew much about, say, a birch tree.)

She then make a clean copy, which she could duplicate using our printer/copier. She presented a copy to her friend for his birthday, and made him do the puzzle (with some help) before opening the rest of his present.  My husband also got a copy to work on, of course. The image of the puzzle is shown below (click to enlarge). 


What I loved about this project was that it wasn't based on any kind of assignment. It was just something that seemed fun to do. And in the process she learned a bit more about crossword puzzles. I'm guessing she will also remember how to spell "cedar" in the future (though this has admittedly limited applicability in her day to day life).

I don't remember ever making my own crossword puzzles as a kid, but I have certainly had my phases of doing crossword puzzles over the years. How about all of you?

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 Recently: April 5: A #LiteracyTsunamic, the #STEM #GenderGap, and the Scholastic #KFRR Results

TwitterLinksHere are highlights from the links that I shared on Twitter this week @JensBookPage. Topics this busy week include #Audiobooks, #BookLists, #ChildDevelopment, #ComputerScience, #Education, #FreeRangeKids, #GenderGap, #Giftedness, #GRA19, #GrowingBookworms, #HigherEd, #Homework, #KFRR, #literacy, #LoveOfReading, #phonics, #Play, #ReadingLevels, #ReadingLogs, #Scholastic, #ScreenTime, #STEM, #Writing, and parenting.

Top Tweets of the Week

What Superintendents, Cabinets, and School Boards Need to Know About the (aka ) by |

The : Encouraging Girls to Persist in and , 3 barriers w/ proposed solutions | via , ,

Book Lists

NanetteBaguette5 that remind us to trust kids' development + foster independence in childhood

New -themed : the truly wonderful smattering of and titles for kids out in 2019 that struck as worth knowing

14 about Perspective + Observation, new from

Events, Programs + Research

FrontDeskAnnouncing the Global Read Aloud Choices 2019

Press Release Fun: Casting Call for Creative Kids to participate in new shared by [I checked: you need to be able to go to the New York recording studio to do this.]

by the Books! Highlights and about the recent children's book blogging conference from

Thoughts on why a not normally journal of should think twice before issuing a call for overtly political papers slanted in only one ideological direction, from

What Do Today’s Get Right And Wrong In How They Take Lecture Notes? – | Recent study shows more laptop note-taking, less organizing of notes + less self-testing than optimal


Where do I belong? The gifted person's lament. Challenges faced by gifted kids + teen + tips for parents to help from |

Growing Bookworms

KFRR_Fig3_I find this deeply depressing: New Kids + Family Reading Report shows large drop in both + between ages 8 and 9. Some highlights here [Click image for larger version of graph, source:

Great recap of definitions + resources for parents regarding kids' from Terry + more

Tips from for to help kids who aren't at home (something hard for to control)

Alternatives to (the dreaded) Home/School | Great ideas from coach

Higher Ed

Everything in Can Be Gamed by the Privileged. Eliminating Merit in Admissions Will Only Boost Their Advantage | | We need MORE high-quality education + ways to extend it to low-income kids

This is encouraging: U.S. college students excel in , outscore China, India + Russia |

On Reading, Writing, Blogging, and Publishing

SeeYouAtHarrysWhat Good Does It Do To Break A Child’s Heart? by | Books about sad topics can "open minds + inspire thoughtful discussion" + help kids grow

Terry has been posting themed questions each month. Her April questions are: What is (or was) your favorite , and have you created one w/ your kids? | Do share!

Print books still the most popular format. reading has flattened, while are on the rise says recent survey via

Read What You Love Until You Love to Read, eventually you get bored of the simple stuff says | The best way to yourself is to develop a

It's not every day you see driving a political scandal: Baltimore Mayor Takes Leave of Absence Amid Criticism Over ‘Healthy Holly’ Books

Parenting, Screen Time + Play

FreeRangeKidsMaking a Case for Free-Range Childhood | |

I Started Letting My Children Get Bored. Then, Something Amazing Happened | Good stuff from via

Why (in terms of the brain) Trigger the Nightly Meltdown—and How to Help Your Child Cope with shutting down |

One Year as a Free + Not Looking Back – shares her students' largely positive experience (less / , more socializing w/ friends in person instead of on )

Schools and Libraries

To Boost , Just Add Movement, w/ 6 ways to add more movement to instruction |

When You Disagree With Your Child's Teacher (or the policies at the school), What Can You Do? asks fellow | Seems relevant to me re: things like , +

DeeperLearning Doesn’t Have to Be Boring | + visited across the country, found "powerful learning was happening most often ... in electives, clubs + extracurriculars" + where kids get more agency + choice

is Key to Student Achievement. Many schools sap that motivation w/ rewards + punishments. But Schools Can Crush It |

Does Work? hears few regrets from teachers who did makeovers in class, suggests focusing on h/w where it's actually needed for

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

Growing Bookworms Newsletter: April 3: Reading Instead of Blogging Edition

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 to four weeks.

Newsletter Update: In this very brief issue I have a post about the way my daughter is pushing my husband and I to cut back on screen time when she is with us. I also have one literacy milestone, about her newly expressed desire to be a journalist. I've also shared updates with my Twitter links for each of the past four weeks. Rather than include all of that, I'm going to only include the most recent one in my mailing. The links to the other three are here: March 8, March 15, and March 22. I also have a summary of our recent reading below. 

Reading Update:  In the last four weeks I finished three middle grade titles, two young adult titles, and eight adult titles (three fiction and five nonfiction). I was helped in my reading time by the fact that my husband took my daughter away for one weekend. I read/listened to: 

  • TheGetawayJeff Kinney: Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Getaway. Harry N. Abrams Books. Middle Grade Fiction. Completed March 8, 2019, read aloud to my daughter.
  • Jeff Kinney: Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Ugly Truth. Harry N. Abrams Books. Middle Grade Fiction. Completed March 22, 2019, read aloud to my daughter.
  • Jeff Kinney: Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul. Harry N. Abrams Books. Middle Grade Fiction. Completed March 27, 2019, read aloud to my daughter.
  • TwoCanKeepKaren M. McManus: Two Can Keep a Secret. Delacorte Press. Young Adult Mystery. Completed March 16, 2019, on Kindle. I found this a compulsive read that kept me thinking. I enjoyed it enough to immediately download McManus's previous book and read that. 
  • Karen M. McManus: One of Us Is Lying. Delacorte Press. Young Adult Mystery. Completed March 23, 2019, on Kindle. I enjoyed this one, too, and look forward to McManus's future work. 
  • Naomi Schaefer Riley: Be the Parent, Please: Stop Banning Seesaws and Start Banning Snapchat. Templeton Press. Adult Nonfiction. Completed March 10, 2019, on Kindle. This book is very good and I recommend it to all parents. Here's a quick summary of Riley's premise: there are known and suspected problems that stem from kids spending time on connected devices. There are few documented benefits. We are as a society performing a big uncontrolled experiment on our kids by giving them as much access to devices as we are. Any small benefit that they might get from time on a device pales in comparison to the benefits of other ways they could spend their time: playing outside, reading books, writing stories, and being with other people face to face. 
  • Chris Bailey: Hyperfocus: How to Be More Productive in a World of Distraction. Viking. Adult Nonfiction. Completed March 11, 2019, personal copy. This book was part of my recent reading spurt about focus. I got some good ideas from the first part, about being disciplined in how we allocate our time and attentional space to activities. I didn't find the second part of the book, about "scatterfocus" as relevant to where I am right now, but I still flagged quite a few passages. 
  • NoMoreMeanGirlsKatie Hurley: No More Mean Girls: The Secret to Raising Strong, Confident, and Compassionate Girls. TarcherPerigeen. Adult Nonfiction. Completed March 15, 2019, personal copy. This book has some useful insights about the behavior of middle grade girls. Hurley also includes tons of activities that she recommends parents do with their daughters to help build self-esteem, resilience, etc. These for the most part felt a bit contrived to me (and to my daughter). But I still intend to go back through my many post-it flags and look for more concrete ideas to help my daughter navigate the social milieu of elementary school. 
  • James Tucker: Next of Kin (Buddy Locke, No. 1). Thomas & Mercer. Adult Mystery/Thriller. Completed March 15, 2019, on Kindle. This was  some sort of Kindle Deal that I picked up. I found it quite suspenseful and read it pretty much in one sitting during my reading weekend. It definitely kept me awake! It was a bit more violent than I prefer, though, and there were a couple of (to me) significant loopholes in the plot.
  • AtomicHabitsJames Clear: Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones. Avery. Adult Nonfiction. Completed March 17, 2019, personal copy. This is a strong book about habit formation. I've read a fair bit about this topic, but still found some new concepts that I think will be useful. I especially appreciated Clear's premise that what people should strive for is to continually make small improvements. Compounded effects will turn these into big improvements over time, if we can apply good habits  (e.g. exercise) consistently. Clear also has some nice followup resources on his website. 
  • Carlene O'Connor: Murder in an Irish Pub. Kensington. Adult Mystery. Completed March 19, 2019, on MP3. I've enjoyed this Irish Village series, but this one crossed the bounds of implausibility a bit too brazenly for me (how is it that a rookie guarda officer is given such ridiculous free rein to investigate a potential murder?). The characters and setting are charming, but I think I'm done with this series. 
  • Nicholas Kardaras: Glow Kids: How Screen Addiction Is Hijacking Our Kids - and How to Break the Trance. St. Martins Griffin. Adult Nonfiction. Completed March 24, 2019, on Kindle. This book ... is terrifying. Kardaras talks a lot about video game addiction in boys and young men, and a bit about the toxic effects of social media. He cites both research studies and his own experience as a clinical professor and rehab expert. He is a very strong anti-screen voice. I definitely felt sometimes like he was slanting which studies he discussed - he came across as much less balanced than Naomi Schaefer Riley (discussed above). But I'm still glad that I read the book, and I will likely have more to say about it in the future. It is well worth a look for people who are concerned about these issues. 
  • C.J. Box: Wolf Pack (Joe Pickett, No. 19). G.P. Putnam's Sons. Adult Mystery. Completed March 29, 2019, on MP3. I had just listened to the previous book in this series, and picked this one up as soon as it was available. I had taken a  bit of break from the series, but found myself glad to be back in Joe Pickett's game warden world. 

WimpyKidOldSchoolI'm reading Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport in print and Mistakes Were Made (but Not by Me) by Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson on Kindle. I'm listening to Vermilion Drift by William Kent Krueger. I'm reading Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Old School by Jeff Kinney aloud to my daughter. I'm enjoying our stretch of reading Wimpy Kid books more than I would have expected. They sometimes make me laugh, and they bring up occasional topics worthy of discussion. Most importantly, my daughter loves them. She's read them all many times over. I think having me read them aloud to her is her way of sharing this interest that she has with me. This is something that I am happy to support (even if there are other books that I would have personally chosen if it were up to me. Which it isn't).

IOnlyHavePiesIn terms of her own reading, she's developed a bit of an obsession with books from the Scholastic Wish imprint, after receiving a couple as hand-me-downs from a friend. These are what I would classify as introductory romances. The back cover says that they appeal to 4th-7th graders. Last week she checked out an armful of them by Suzanne Nelson, with titles like I Only Have Pies for You and Macarons at Midnight. She takes at least one of these books with her everywhere she goes, though I'm not sure that she's yet finished any of this batch. She's still, when it comes to chapter books, in a mode of dipping into and out of books of interest.

AmeliaEarhartHer reading group book for school is Mr. Popper's Penguins by Richard and Florence Atwater. She's also asked for books with clues where kids are solving real-life puzzles. She didn't finish the first 39 Clues book, but she's interested in the genre. I'll be putting some books into her hands that I think might fit the bill. She continues to re-read her favorite graphic novels and picture books - I don't even log them anymore because there is little new information to report about this. She will be getting two new nonfiction graphic novel biographies for her upcoming birthday that I think she'll like (thank you, uncle and auntie), as well as a picture book that I am tired of renewing repeatedly from the library (Peep and Ducky: It's Snowing). I also got her Book Love by Debbie Tung, featuring cartoons about an introverted book love. 

Can you believe that my baby bookworm is going to be nine?

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

Pressure from my Daughter for Screen-Free Family Time

My daughter  has been on an anti-cell phone kick for a while now. She is deeply resentful when she feels that my husband and I are texting or otherwise on devices when (she feels) we should be focusing on her. Her views have actually helped drive me in the direction of cutting back (see my post on improving my focus), because a) she's not wrong and b) I don't want to set a screen-obsessed example for her.

A couple of weeks ago she suggested/requested that my husband and I have a contest to see who could go longer without being on a screen. The loser would pay the winner $9 and pay her a $1 finders fee for organizing the contest. We agreed and on a Sunday at noon we put our cell phones into a drawer. Rather to my surprise, we both made it until her bedtime. I made it until my own bedtime and won the contest when my husband returned a few texts late in the evening. I wouldn't have made it past the early morning, though, because I like to read the newspaper on my iPad.

Going without my phone all afternoon was interesting. I didn't really mind not texting. But I did find things that I couldn't do. Adding groceries to my Wunderlist shopping list. Checking scores in the NCAA tournament. Listening to my audiobook while I folded the laundry. It was kind of refreshing, to tell you the truth, though I wouldn't / couldn't do it every day.

ScreenFreeWeekLogoI do recommend screen-free time as something that families should try out, though. It's a great way to make sure that you are focusing on one another, instead of giving diluted semi-focus to a bunch of other people or things. I later mentioned Screen Free Week to my daughter. Naturally, she wants us to try to participate. I told her I didn't think I could do it during the work day (though sitting around all week reading books while she's in school sounds heavenly right about now) but that I'd be open to trying it when she's at home. I'll have to report back on what we do there. I think it will most likely be a screen-minimum week that has exceptions for things like:

  • Family movie night
  • Texting with her friends' parents about playdates
  • Taking photos with my iPhone

GlowKidsBut if you ask me, screen minimum sounds pretty good, too. The more I read about kids and screens (and reading about topics that I'm interested in is what I do), the more I want to keep my daughter off of them as much as possible (and myself, too). More on that another time, but I refer you to Be the Parent, Please: Stop Banning Seesaws and Start Banning Snapchat by Naomi Schaefer Riley and Glow Kids: How Screen Addiction Is Hijacking Our Kids - and How to Break the Trance by Nicholas Kardaras. 

For right now I am cherishing the fact that my daughter has (somewhat anyway) absorbed the idea that HER time is better spent reading, writing, drawing, and playing than sitting around tapping away on a tablet. I love the fact that she feels the need to encourage this sentiment in her parents. Oh, she still watched more movies on her tablet than I would have liked during a recent long car ride to the Sierras. And she still sometimes gets sucked down the rabbit hole things like of making memojis on my cell phone. Just as I occasionally find myself scrolling down the Facebook wall. But we're trying. This Saturday afternoon, even without a contest, we spent some time in matching recliners each reading our respective (print) books, without a device in sight. And I was content. 

Thanks for reading!

© 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.