Links I Shared on Twitter this Week: November 9: Picky #Readers, #Thanksgiving #MadLibs + Better School Attendance

TwitterLinksHere are highlights from the links that I shared on Twitter this week @JensBookPage. Topics this relatively light week include #BookLists, #Bullying, #CivilDiscourse, #GrowingBookworms, #JoyOfLearning, #PictureBooks, #Play, #reading, #ReadingAloud, #ReadingLogs, class size, literacy, parenting, schools, and teaching.

Book Lists + Awards

DragonsLoveTacos210 children's books I really, really love reading to my kids | via |

Best Books for 7 Year Olds According to a 7 Year Old | from | + tips for focusing on

Cybils Season, or how serving kids can benefit from the selections, which blend "high literary merit and kid appeal" from

Growing Bookworms

GeorgesMedicineThe | Why to your class should happen in every , w/ tips for doing it well) from

What to do with picky . Tips for from , ranging from to to | |

Great read for + : Let’s Talk About Again by "My biggest issue with reading logs comes from the inherent lack of trust that they communicate" |

In Which the 8 Year-Old Questions My Ethics | responds to 's recent post. It's all about nurturing

and the by Dawn Finch | What works best as ?


Tidbits in this week's Fusenews range from to to the "Golden Ratio of Sexism in Children's Literature"

Parenting, Play + #JoyOfLearning

ThanksgivingMadLibs Activity Ideas that Keep Kids (and Grown-ups) Off Screens from |

7 Strategies to Keep The Boring Out and Get Kids Interested in | written for but could apply to any nurturing

What the Times got wrong about kids and phones - via

Schools and Libraries

On and the of | "We need to weigh evidence consistently—treating as the same those studies that challenge our deepest beliefs as well as those that are wind beneath our wings"

Despite popularity w/ + , review of research finds small benefits to small classes -

Methods for Nudging and Families to Better - |

BlackthornKey4A Rant from on Series Books + the shelf space that long series can take up

7 ways to teach to by Tiffany Mitchell Patterson via |

By Doing: Using the Arts to Enhance and Stop | Guest post by

Another Study Finds What Every Knows – Having Students Draw Pictures Helps Them Learn |

How Can Support Equity and Excellence - rejecting models that effectively keep below grade level kids from moving forward | + Rebecca Kockler

7 Poor Thinking Habits We Must Fix to Think More Critically by + more | via

© 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.

Santa Bruce: Ryan T. Higgins

Book: Santa Bruce
Author: Ryan T. Higgins
Pages: 48
Age Range: 4-8

SantaBruceSanta Bruce is the fourth installment of the Ryan T. Higgins series that started with Mother Bruce (my review). There's also a new board book about Bruce, briefly discussed below. Bruce, I must say, is one of my favorite picture book characters. He is a consistently grumpy bear who is first (in Mother Bruce) roped into becoming the parent of four geese and later (in Hotel Bruce) expands his household to add three ridiculously determined mice. 

In Santa Bruce, Bruce is forced to stay awake through the holidays, because his family is excited to celebrate. Because he is cold, he puts on some (red) long underwear and a warm hat. This leads to (you can guess) "A case of mistaken identity." Young animals start showing up on the doorstep, wanting to tell Santa Bruce about their Christmas wishes. Left to himself, Bruce would send these pests away ("I don't want all their dirty little feet in my ..."). The mice, naturally, feel otherwise. Despite his determined resistance, Bruce finds himself out with a sleigh delivering gifts on Christmas Eve. 

The beauty of this book is that Bruce never brightens his expression. He grumbles and complains. He grits his teeth. He is put upon. And yet, he does what is asked of him, even when it is difficult. Picture a bear climbing a too-small tree to drop a package into a knothole, or a bear dressed like Santa losing his balance as he steps on a train set, and you get the idea. The primary text is always deadpan about Bruce's responses. Like this:

"Bruce decided to ignore the problem until it went away.

It did not.

It got worse."


"And with that, the parents left, shouting out with glee.

Bruce did not like glee."

This is augmented by dialog bubbles that add more detail, and give some of the supporting characters personality. These also give the adult reader more scope to add expression in reading aloud. This is a fabulous book for a parent and child to read together (though my daughter was too eager to wait for me, and read it on her own). 

The other thing that makes Santa Bruce fun (and fun for adult readers, too, not just for kids) is the sly humor that Higgins throws in. My favorite scene in Santa Bruce shows  Mama Bunny and Papa Bunny sitting by the wood-stove in their cozy den. Four baby bunnies are nestled in bed. The last room of the den contains "Grown-up Bunny who still lives with his parents" and is typing away on a computer, wearing headphones. This made me laugh out loud. The scenes with young animals sitting on Bruce's lap are also priceless, especially the porcupine who wants "ninety-nine red balloons." It's just a top-notch combination of text and illustration, centered around a strong, sympathetic main character. 

It is possible that my love for Bruce is enhanced by the fact that I am sometimes grumpy (especially when someone is keeping me from getting my sleep). Nevertheless, I predict that Santa Bruce is going to be one of my family's favorite reads over the coming Christmas holiday. I think that any family in which Bruce is already a favorite (and where Christmas is celebrated) will want to add Santa Bruce to family holiday reading. Libraries will certainly want to add this one to their shelves. 

1GrumpyBruceOh, and if you are looking to introduce a younger child to Bruce, I also recommend the new board book: 1 Grumpy Bruce: A Counting Book. Each page spread features a count of something, from "2 uninvited skunks" (scent wafting from their tails) to "9 porcupines wanting hugs" to "10 woodchucks chucking wood".  Of course we end with "still 1 grumpy bear." The board book features simpler illustrations, but totally captures Bruce's grumpiness and Higgin's keen sense of absurdity. It is well worth a look! 

You don't necessarily need to have read Hotel Bruce and Bruce's Big Move (which I actually haven't read) to appreciate Santa Bruce, but I would recommend reading the first book, Mother Bruce, for context. I highly recommend both Santa Bruce and 1 Grumpy Bruce for families and libraries everywhere. 

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion 
Publication Date: September 4, 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).

Literacy Milestone: An Appreciation for Biographies

LiteracyMilestoneAI've mentioned previously that my daughter's third grade teacher has been encouraging the students to read nonfiction (driven by common core, I suppose). My graphic novel-obsessed daughter had never previously displayed much interested in nonfiction. But she adores and wants to please her teacher, so she started picking up these little Who Is / Who Was biographies from the school library. The other day she remarked: "I never knew biographies could be so interesting." And so she is hooked (not to rival graphic novels, but she's reading multiple biographies each week). 

WhoWasAnneFrankShe mostly chooses biographies of women. She's read about Jane Goodall, Anne Frank, Marie Curie, Laura Ingalls Wilder, and J. K. Rowling, as well as Walt Disney and Dr. Seuss and a few others that I am probably forgetting. She periodically chimes in with facts about one or another of these figures. She was particularly fascinated by Anne Frank, and has been talking about her quite a bit. 

As for me, I'm happy to know that there are lots of books remaining in the Who Was/Who Is series, and that quite a few of those are about women. We do also have some nonfiction in graphic novel format, and have been reading a couple of fact-filled  Magic School Bus books each week. But it is biographies that are capturing her attention at this step along her pathway to literacy. It's fun seeing her develop as a learner and a reader. 

Did your kids have a biography phase? 

© 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: November 2: #ReadingAloud, #Kindness, #IntrinsicMotivation + #Reading Instruction

TwitterLinksHere are highlights from the links that I shared on Twitter this week @JensBookPage. Topics this fairly busy week include #BookLists, #Giftedness, #GrowingBookworms, #IntrinsicMotivation, #KidLitCon, #Literacy, #LoveOfReading, #ReadAloud, #rewards, #ScreenTime, #testing, #vaccines, bullying, reading #Phonics, schools, spelling, and writing.

Top Tweets of the Week

HeyKiddoWhat’s appropriate for kids to read? There’s value in exposing them to the tough stuff, says | I will want my daughter to read when she's 12 or so (though not quite yet)

The Importance of to Kids: or, Do Kids Grow Out of Read-Aloud Time? No, says mom | "the most important value that reading aloud offers is its connection"

Book Lists

: What Would You Include If Someone Asked for a Quick List of Recent Titles Starring Black Kids? — has suggestions in various genres

TenNineEightBest + to Give as Gifts That Kids Don't Already Have, according to

RA RA Read: for the absolute beginner, resource list from organizer Jennifer Wharton

Seven Scary Books, Perfect October from

Educational Equity + Screen Time

Offline and Underserved: New Study Shows Most Affects Already Likely to Fall Behind | |

This is exactly what I would have expected - it takes a lot of bandwidth to keep your kids off of screens. RT: @Jean_Twenge The new digital divide: The most vulnerable kids are spending more time with screens.


Is my Child ? You'll need more than test results to tell. shares 10 things can teach about

Growing Bookworms

ReadWriteLeadBuilding a Literate Community | share's her school's journey to "encourage the both in our staff and in our students" | I wish all did this | via

A fun idea from | The Rainy Day Bookshelf (keep a special set of books and supplies handy for rain/snow/bored days)

"if we are going to model and share (w/ ) what real do, then we need to be transparent and a little more honest about our own lives" + set more realistic targets for kids

Jeff Kinney | ‘Let children read anything; I’ll never say no to a book’ | Showing kids that is FUN


: Part 2 Getting Your Book Into the Hands of Kids | This Panel on perspectives is definitely up my alley |

Kindness / Positivity

InnovatorsMindsetStarting With Positive Assumptions – If start by assuming positive intent, positive action is more likely to result

How a is improving my life by | “When we see other people around us acting in generous or kind or empathic ways, we will be more inclined to act that way ourselves,” - via

7 ways can teach girls to build one another up, instead of tearing one another down |

On Reading, Writing, Blogging, and Publishing

A Helpful Guide to Better | Links to resources on choosing what to read, tracking book recommendations, taking notes, etc.

Starting 11/1 - Become a : 30 Days to a Habit | will be encouraging readers to by bringing books everywhere + following her prompts

Parenting, Play + Motivation

GiftOfFailureThis is good advice: Park the helicopter, parents. Here’s how (and why) to teach kids to be self-advocates. |

Intentionally Cultivating Abundant, | I so agree that "Leaving a child to their own devices still actually does involve quite a lot of effort on our part"

Confirms It: People Are Not Pets. Research on the efficacy of rewards tells us that we can’t bribe others (including ) into doing what we want.

Parents + , wondering how to implement the Rx for kids to get more ? The seems like a good option |

Schools and Libraries

PassionateReaders"When year after year tell us loudly that they cannot be great because of how they spell, then ... (we need) to examine what message we are giving students."

Just . "There should always be a time to just read aloud (in the ). Every day." A reminder from

10 Ideas for Creating a Strengths-Based Culture in | "People are more confident, passionate, and do better work when you focus on what’s right with them instead of what’s wrong with them."

RaisingKidsWhoReadOpinion | Why Are We Still Teaching the Wrong Way? - via |

Just how are we about ? thinks there may be a quieter majority who believe in basics AND / programs + that the wastes precious time

Research evidence on prevention at odds with what some are doing - severe punishments can exacerbate the problem |

Schools: EdPolicy / Politics

Asking candidates the right questions about | |

Here’s what happened after California got rid of personal belief exemptions for childhood . "Dubious" medical exemptions increased + "can be had for a price". Sigh. via

In the News: NYC Knew Some in Its $773 Million Plan Were Doomed. They Kept Children in Them Anyway -

NC State study reinforces bleak view of results (or lack thereof) for state for 3rd graders | via

Sketching a Workable Way Forward on - + | "it’s possible to boost pay by 20%, pay terrific teachers six figures, leave class sizes stable, and do it w/ a measured, disciplined increase in revenue"

In More High School Classes, the Is on a Screen. Facing a , some districts try


Is the real problem the test, not students? | Is working as we'd hoped? via

© 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: Halloween 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 weeks.

Newsletter Update:  In this issue I have three book reviews (two picture books and one young adult mystery), two literacy milestones (transitioning to reading more text and utter satisfaction with a new series installment). I also have a post about what's been working for my family in reducing screen time. I also have three posts with links that I shared recently on Twitter, full of reading- and education-related news. 

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

  • WildRobotEscapesPeter Brown: The Wild Robot Escapes. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. Middle Grade Science Fiction. Completed October 13, 2018, library copy. This is a lovely sequel to The Wild Robot - highly recommended! 
  • Reihan Salam: Melting Pot or Civil War?: A Son of Immigrants Makes the Case Against Open Borders. Sentinel. Adult Nonfiction. Completed October 12, 2018, on Kindle. This is a thought-provoking book that strives to recommend a sustainable middle ground in terms of immigration policy. I learned a lot from it. 
  • Stephen Hawkins, Danile Yudkin, Miriam Juan-Torres, and Tim Dixon: Hidden Tribes: A Study of America's Polarized Landscape. More in Common. Online Report. Completed October 14, 2018 (printed the downloadable report). This is the result of a fascinating study that categorized people via a survey into seven "tribes" based on their shared values, and then did interviews. The authors conclude that most of the polarization in the country is actually driven by loud voices at the extreme left and right, representing only a small proportion of the population. The "exhausted majority" is basically tired of the whole thing and wants things to calm down. It's a long report (~150 pages) and a bit hard to read online, but certainly worth a look. 
  • Adam Alter: Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked. Penguin Books. Adult Nonfiction. Completed October 18, 2018, on Kindle. My takeaways from this book: reinforcing my desires to keep my daughter off screens as much as possible and away from social media for as long as possible, and to try to curb my own screen time (especially social media time). But there was a lot in the book that wasn't relevant for me, so it was a bit a of a slow read.
  • Joy Ellis: Fire on the Fens. Joffe Books. Adult Mystery. Completed October 19, 2018, on MP3. A suspenseful installment to a series that I enjoy. 
  • TruthHector Macdonald: Truth: How the Many Sides to Every Story Shape Our Reality. Little, Brown and Company. Adult Nonfiction. Completed October 28, 2018, on Kindle. I agreed with the author's central tenet ("There is usually more than one true way to talk about something. We can use competing truths constructively to engage people and inspire action, but we should also watch out for communicators who use competing truths to mislead us."). Truth is well-researched and covers a lot of persuasion / spin / truth related ground. But the book itself was a little longer than it needed to be for me. I got bogged down at times and had to switch to something else. But I did learn a few things. 
  • Steven Johnson: Farsighted: How We Make the Decisions That Matter the Most. Riverhead Books. Adult Nonfiction. Completed October 30, 2018, on MP3. There's some useful information in this book about decision-making, but I found the author a bit condescending by the end of the book. I think it might have been better in text vs. audio so that I could skim. 

I'm currently reading Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products by Nir Eyal and Ryan Hoover and also Them: Why We Hate Each Other and How to Heal by Ben Sasse (which I am really enjoying).  My non-fiction kick continues unabated, though I did just download a couple of novels that I'm interested in on MP3. In general, I'm on a quest to better understand some things (divisiveness in the country, happiness, impact of screen time, etc.), and the books are helping. I'm listening to a few podcasts, too, and that's been interesting. 

BearsAndBlossomsMy daughter and I are continuing to read picture books together while she eats breakfast. Lately we've been reading through our collection of Halloween-themed books. Our favorites are Just Say Boo! by Susan Hood and Jed Henry and Otter Loves Halloween by Sam Garton. We are also reading and re-reading books from Shirley Parenteau and David Walker's Bears on Chairs series. My daughter flat-out adores these books, particularly Walker's illustrations. I finally had to break down and buy her Bears and Blossoms, after running out of renewals at the library. [I'm sure you can all imagine that this required a lot of arm-twisting.] We're also reading some of the Magic School Bus picture books together. 

WhoWasAnneFrankIn terms of her own reading, she has been enjoying biographies (Who Was Anne Frank?, Who Is J.K. Rowling?, etc.). Hmmm. I guess we are on a nonfiction kick together, though I think that's a coincidence. She's reading about Laura Ingalls Wilder right now, and I've suggested using that as a springboard to start reading the Little House books together. We'll see... 

She's read the new Dork Diaries book several times and has already finished the Diary of a Wimpy Kid book that came out yesterday. Kudos to Scholastic Reading Club and her teacher for building excitement by getting the books into kids' hands on release day! We continue to visit the library every week and bring home everything from the Hamster Princess to Catstronauts to Lego Ninjago graphic novels to picture books. And Babymouse. Always Babymouse. 

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