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Posts from January 2014

International Book Giving Day: February 14th

Ibgd-blog-badge200pxFebruary 14th is already known through children's and YA book blogging land as the day that the Cybils winners are announced. (There's some other holiday that day, too, I think, but we're book people here. Right?) February 14th is also International Book Giving Day. The official site (see details here - this is a grass roots effort) recommends three ways to celebrate:

  1. Give a Book to a Friend or Relative.
  2. Leave a Book in a Waiting Room or Lobby.
  3. Donate a Book.

There's a cool poster, designed by Hungarian designer and illustrator Mariann Marayjust released for 2014: 


I found this poster at the home of Amy at Delightful Children's Books. She is one of the organizers of this event. Other International Book Giving Day posts are up at Susan Stephenson's blog, and at Playing by the Book (also organizers). 

I haven't decided how we'll celebrate at my house. (I give books to my daughter so often that giving her a book will hardly stand out). But I'll be giving it some thought. Meanwhile, you can follow along using the hashtag #giveabook on Twitter.

Happy Book-Giving! 

Reality Boy: A. S. King

Book: Reality Boy
Author: A. S. King
Pages: 368
Age Range: 14 and up

Reality Boy is A. S. King's latest young adult novel. It's told from the first-person viewpoint of (almost) 17-year-old Gerald, known far and wide as "the crapper" because of his role 12 years earlier as a reality TV star who would, well, express his disapproval by relieving himself in inappropriate places (like the kitchen table). Gerald's current experiences are interspersed with flashbacks to scenes shot for the television show (not all of which were actually aired). 

Gerald's defining characteristic is his anger. The things he has to be angry about are revealed gradually throughout the book, beginning with the television producers and fake nanny who exploited him when he was younger. The level of dysfunction in his family gradually comes clear, too. Gerald copes by wrapping himself in emotional saran wrap. He also spends a lot of his time zoning out, living in a fantasy world that he calls Gersday. (Ironic, for a former reality TV star to spend so much time living in a fantasy.)

Things start to change for Gerald when he meets a girl, Hannah, who has problems of her own. He also becomes friends with a boy, Joe Jr., who works at his family's circus. Learning that other people have flawed families helps to start Gerald back on the path to reality. 

It's very A.S. King to take this rather odd premise and produce a book that is hard to put down. Despite the fact that he's not all that likable, I still cared what happened to Gerald. I'd keep thinking "just one more chapter," and I would keep reading.

I personally found some of his fantasizing to be a bit much (there's a surrealist flavor to it, as in a scene in which he views three people that he's talking with as cartoon characters). And his language is definitely rather crude (though the truly bad language used by Joe Jr. and his family is masked like "$%#*ing", at least in the digital ARC). But it does feel authentic. Here are a couple of examples of Gerald's voice:

"It's Nichols. He only comes to this stand because he knows I can get him beer. He comes with Todd Kemp, who doesn't say much and seems embarrassed to be around Nichols most of the time because Nichols is such a dick." (Chapter 1)

"And the older I get, the more I think maybe I belong in jail. There are plenty of angry guys like me in jail. It's, like, anger central. If we put together all the jails in this country and made a state out of them, we could call that state Furious." (Chapter 1)

There is some underage drinking in this book, and there is sex. The sex isn't described in detail - in fact, most of the time Gerald just refers to "breaking rule #5" (his attempt to go slow physically with Hannah). But it's there. Gerald's older sister Tasha has noisy sex in the family basement - kind of a sub-theme to the whole book - though we again don't see it in detail. There is skipping of school, and an unsanctioned road trip. Reality Boy is probably not a book that Ms. Yingling is going to put in her middle school library. 

Still it's clear that the real miscreants in Reality Boy are not Gerald and Hannah, or even bullies like Nichols. The real culprits are Gerald's parents (and Hannah's parents), and, to a less direct extent, the fans who used an angry five-year-old from a dysfunctional home as entertainment.

Reality Boy is a book that will stay with me. It's not for everyone, but for high schoolers and adult readers, it is compelling and emotionally piercing. A. S. King always makes the reader think, and Reality Boy is no exception.  

Publisher:  Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (@LBKids)
Publication Date: October 22, 2013
Source of Book: Advance review copy from the publisher

FTC Required Disclosure:

This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through Amazon links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).

© 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

Links I Shared on Twitter this Week: January 10

TwitterLinksHere are highlights from the links that I shared on Twitter this week @JensBookPage. It was a bit of a light week overall, but, happily, there are a number of excellent articles dedicated to growing bookworms. 

Book Lists and Awards

Some good books in the Newbery / Caldecott 2014: Final Prediction Edition from @FuseEight #kidlit

These are standouts | Picture Book Gems of Years Past 10 years recommended by @fuseeight #kidlit

Neat to see so much #kidlit in the top 20 books of last year (w/ a middle grade title at the top) via @100scopenotes

Another good list: 2013 Best Children’s Fiction from @tashrow Waking Brain Cells #kidlit


At Random Musings of a Bibliophile @brandymuses reviews the fabulous The Latte Rebellion by my friend @aquafortis

The folks @bookriot are looking to cover more books by people of color, and are looking for your author suggestions


2013-badge-chocolateandpink (1)It's that time of year | Launching A #KidLit Celebration of Women's History Month, 2014!

The 2014 SLJ’s Battle of the Kids’ Books is ramping up! via @bkshelvesofdoom #kidlit

Growing Bookworms

Nice! Through the Years: Reflections on Raising a Reader by Monica Babaian @txlibrarianbabs @NerdyBookClub

The Importance of Reading Bedtime Stories to Big Kids | @Scholastic #literacy

Because kids need books! Ten Ways to Find Children's Books on the Cheap from @BooksBabiesBows #kidlit #literacy

Excellent! Matt Renwick’s Top 10 Takeaways from The Read Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease @NerdyBookClub @ReadByExample

On her daughter finding "Her Book", "THE book that spoke to her" by @GigiMcAreads @NerdyBookClub

Excellent resource! Chapter Books to Read With Children 5-12 from @TrevorHCairney #literacy


Twenty Questions from @escapeadulthood to Start Your Year with a Bang. I like "What's my perfect day?"

On Reading, Writing, and Publishing

Stacked: The Reductive Approach to YA Revisited: Contemporary YA & Generosity to Readers @catagator #yalit

Food for thought from @haleshannon at Squeetus: The young adult book tropes that ate the world

Schools and Libraries

A great idea! Nonfiction in the School Cafeteria | @ReadByExample #literacy

© 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.

Fighting Blog Burnout: An Infographic

Back in November, Sarah Stevenson and I presented at KidLitCon on Book Blogger Burnout. We came up with some suggestions for fighting burnout, and Sarah turned those into a nice little handout for the session. But we thought that this information would naturally lend itself to an Infographic. Sarah, who in addition to being an awesome YA author is a graphic designer, produced this Infographic from our ideas (click on the image for a larger view). 


Feel free to share this, pin it, whatever. We hope that it will help some of our blogging friends to dig their way out of the periodic bouts of burnout that seem to hit us all. Happy 2014!

© 2014 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

Prairie Evers: Ellen Airgood

Book: Prairie Evers
Author: Ellen Airgood
Pages: 228
Age Range: 8-12

Prairie Evers by Ellen Airgood is a middle grade novel about a year in the life of a ten year old girl who is adjusting to her family's move from North Carolina to upstate New York, where her mother grew up. Prairie's first person tale begins on New Year's Eve, when she learns that her beloved Grammy has decided to move back to North Carolina. Lonely, Prairie decides to start raising chickens (and one rooster, it turns out).

When fall comes, Prairie, who was previously homeschooled by Grammy, is sent to school for the first time. Prairie's dark skin (she is part Cherokee Indian), southern accent, and thirst for knowledge all mark her as different, and she finds herself at the bottom of the school's pecking order. But she soon learns that having just one friend can make all the difference in the world. 

What made Prairie Evers work for me was the delight that is Prairie's voice, with its combination of down-home Southern accent and occasional advanced vocabulary. Here are a couple of examples, but honestly, the whole book is like this:

"Then I ducked my head and hoped the Lord would not strike me down. Mama's folks had perished in a car accident, and it was very tragic. I knew that the way you know something in your head, but I always felt guilty I didn't feel it more in my heart. But the thing was, I never really knew them." (Page 3)

"You could have knocked me over with the smallest, downiest chicken feather. I could not imagine a worse idea. Mrs. Perkins's kids back home went to school and they'd told me plenty about it. In school you were trapped inside all day, and you had to sit still in a chair, and you had to learn by memorizing textbooks instead of reading all the interesting books Grammy used with me." (Page 62)

"I scowled with my whole entire self." (Page 64)

I love fish out of water stories, and I found Prairie's social struggles in school to be realistic. Besides her one friend, there's no magic bullet that results in her suddenly being accepted (though bringing a rooster to school turns out to be a step in the right direction). I also like the way Prairie Evers highlights advantages and disadvantages of both homeschooling AND traditional schooling, without judgement one way or the other. 

There's also a wonderful bit later in the book in which Prairie comes to understand that although she loves her friend Ivy, the two girls think differently about things, and have different strengths. Prairie Evers is a book that quietly shows kids (without preaching) that it's ok for people to be different, and that kindness will often be noticed and appreciated.

None of the other characters, including Ivy, are as fully fleshed out as Prairie (though some of the chickens are pretty interesting). But Airgood does tackle other issues besides Prairie's missing Grammy and adjusting to school. There's Prairie's mother's re-introduction to a judgmental community, after a wild youth, as well as Ivy's unhappy home life. Prairie's parents' financial struggles are also treated openly (they live by making crafts and selling them at local farmer's markets). But it's still clear, despite not having a lot of money, that Prairie and her parents consider themselves pretty lucky. 

All in all, Prairie Evers is a breath of fresh, country air. It reminds me a bit of Linda Urban's Hound Dog True, and a bit of Jill Alexander's The Sweetheart of Prosper County. But really, Prairie is entirely herself, unique and likeable and sure to be appreciate by any 8-12 year old (particularly girls). Recommended, particularly for elementary school library purchase. 

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books (@PenguinKids)
Publication Date: May 24, 2012
Source of Book: Review copy from the author

FTC Required Disclosure:

This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through Amazon links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).

© 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

WordGirl's Word of the Month for January: Resolution

WordGirlResolutionIt's not exactly original, but WordGirl's Word of the Month for January is certainly fitting. RESOLUTION: A promise we make with ourselves.

I'm not all that big on resolutions, per se. But I have set three goals for myself (and my daughter) for this year:

  1. Sleep more/better
  2. Read more
  3. Exercise more

I'm actually finding this helpful. When I have a choice in my activities (when the things that I HAVE to do are under control), I just think: "what will help me with my three goals?". And then I choose accordingly. Resolutions can help people to prioritize. 

What are your resolutions, reading or otherwise?

© 2014 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

The Living: Matt De La Peña

Book: The Living
Author: Matt De La Peña
Pages: 320
Age Range: 12 and up

The Living by Matt De La Peña has it all. It's a high stakes survival drama, with a mysterious conspiracy, containing the seeds of a possible apocalypse. There are also teen interactions that include racial and socioeconomic conflicts. I read The Living in less than a day, simply unable to stop, regardless of what was going on around me. And 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). 

The Living is told from the limited third person perspective of Shy, a half Mexican teen from a small California town near the border of Mexico. Shy is spending the summer before his senior year working on a luxury cruise ship (setting out deck chairs, handing out towels, etc.). Shy is in mourning for his Grandma, who died recently and suddenly from an illness called Romero's Disease. He is also reeling from his unsuccessful attempt to stop a passenger from committing suicide, an incident related in the prologue.

As his next 8-day voyage begins, Shy learns that a mysterious man in a black suit is asking questions about him. He also gets worrying news from his family at home. And he's confused by his interactions with beautiful and slightly older fellow staff member Carmen, who has a finace. All of these concerns fade into the background, however, in the face of a natural disaster that leaves Shy fighting for his life. 

Shy is a solid character. He lives with his mother, older sister, and nephew (Grandma lived with them, too). The family members are close, but struggle financially. Shy is good-looking and plays for his high school basketball team, and he's not inexperienced with girls, but Carmen knocks him off balance. On the cruise ship he encounters racism and rudeness from the wealthy passengers, and starts to develop an understanding of the socioeconomic chasm in front of him. But this is all reasonably understated - he's also a teen boy who likes girls, worries about his family, and tries to do the right thing. 

There is some kissing/making out in The Living, though no on-screen sex. There is also quite a lot of death, and some gore. But no more so than in many apocalyptic type novels (and less gore than some). I wouldn't hesitate to give this to anyone who was able to handle The Hunger Games series.  

De La Peña's plotting is tight and fast-paced. Short chapters help keep readers turning the pages, and make The Living a good choice for reluctant readers. The action really flows starting mid-way through the book, and then rarely lets up. The Living is not a book to start when you only have a few minutes to read. This is a book to save for when you have a free afternoon, and can devour the whole thing. 

Here's a snippet to give you a feel for De La Peña's writing:

"In the morning the sea had been perfectly calm and beautiful, like a postcard. Now it was a thousand hostile waves crested in white foam and crashing into one another. The massive ship moaned as it pitched and surged under Shy's shell tops--the bow bucking slowly into the air and then falling, bucking and then falling. Thick black clouds hung so low in the sky it felt like the ship was traveling through a rain tunnel." (Page 88)

There is definitely a cinematic flavor to The Living, helped out by the deluxe cruise ship setting, and the acknowledged fact that the young crew members are chosen for their good looks (this point felt a bit overdone for me, but it is true to the survival story genre). The Living would make a great movie, though I think it would be expensive to film due to required special effects. It ends with many threads left dangling, and I am eager for the next book, The Hunted, due out in fall of 2014. Highly recommended for teens and adults. 

Publisher: Delacorte Press (@RandomHouseKids)  
Publication Date: November 12, 2013
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

FTC Required Disclosure:

This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through Amazon links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).

© 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

Books My Family Received for Christmas

My daughter received quite a number of books for Christmas. I must confess to having purchased quite a few of them myself. Here is the full stack:


And here they are listed, with comments (and links):

Jules Feiffer: Bark, George. A friend on Facebook recommended this one back in October, when I was looking for books to read aloud to a mixed age group of preschoolers. I didn't end up using it for that, but I ordered it, and saved it to be a Christmas present. Baby Bookworm think it is hilarious. 

Mo Willems: That Is Not a Good Idea! OK, the truth of the matter is that I coveted this book for months, and used Christmas as an excuse to buy it for my daughter. I'm happy to report that she enjoys it, though I don't think she 100% understands the trick that the author pulls on the reader. But she will!

Beverly Cleary: The Complete Ramona Collection. This was a gift from Baby Bookworm's godparents. It was on our Amazon wish list because I look forward to reading it to my daughter when she's just a little bit older. And I wanted to have the books here, ready, when we are. Thanks, G&G!

Charles M. Schulz: Peanuts: A Charlie Brown Christmas. My husband picked this one up. The television special is one of his favorites. He also got the Record a Story: 'Twas the Night Before Christmas, but that book is just annoying (it makes noise every time you touch it, and we couldn't figure out how to actually record). 

Eileen Rosenthal & Marc Rosenthal: Bobo the Sailor Man! We loved the first two Bobo books (my reviews of I MUST Have Bobo! and I'll Save You Bobo!). I happened to learn right before Christmas that there was a third book out, and couldn't resist. 

Deborah Hautzig & Diane GoodeThe Story of the Nutcracker Ballet. My husband and I spent some time in a bookstore between a Nutcracker show and dinner reservations. I decided to bring this back for our daughter (who isn't quite old enough to sit through the show - maybe next year). 

On the same bookstore visit, I picked up Rosie Revere, Engineer, by Andrea Beaty & David Roberts (reviewed here), and Toys Go Out by Emily Jenkins & Paul Zelinsky. This is what happens to me when I go to bookstores. I had a copy of Toys Come Home, and it seemed like we would eventually want to start reading this series from the beginning. I gave Toys Go Out a try with my daughter the other night, but the lack of pictures on the first two pages put her off. "Maybe later."

Cynthia Rylant: Mr. Putter and Tabby Bake the Cake. My dear friend's daughter loved this series when she was younger, so they picked out this one for Baby Bookworm. I suspect it will be the start of an appreciation of this series in our house, too. They also sent Caroline Repchuk's My Little Supermarket, which is very fun, and The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt & Oliver Jeffers, which was on our wish list. Thanks, my friends! 

I also gave my daughter several books that I had ordered from Scholastic Reading Club. In truth, I probably would have given them to her anyway, so they were a bit of a cheat as Christmas presents. But that's how I roll this time of year. And actually, one of them, a set of three Elephant & Piggie books by Mo Willems in paperback editions, was the (book) hit of Christmas day. We had to stop opening presents and read all three immediately (I Love My New Toy, There Is A Bird on Your Head, and My Friend Is Sad). The other, Dav Pilkey's A Friend for Dragon, we haven't read yet, for some reason.

I think that's it for her pile, not including sticker books and workbooks and the like. I also received Rainbow Rowell's Eleanor and Park (from the same friend who I sent a copy to, in a delightful coincidence) and The Essential Scratch and Sniff Guide to Becoming a Wine Expert: Take a Whiff of That by Richard Betts. A copy of Cynthia Lord's Half a Chance arrived on my doorstop from Scholastic on Christmas Eve, and that felt like a Christmas present, too. My husband received a Boston Red Sox Stocking Stumpers book.

We naturally gave away quite a few books as gifts, too. But I'll have to share those another day. Did the holiday season bring new books to your house, too? Wishing you plenty of time for reading in the New Year. 

© 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. 

Literacy Milestone: Reading in Bed in the Morning

LiteracyMilestoneAMy daughter slept late this morning (the last day of vacation). Before she got up, I heard her talking quietly to herself in her room. I peeked in, and found her lying in bed, "reading" Rob Scotton's Secret Agent Splat! to herself.

I was glad to have seen this, but I regretted having interrupted, because as soon as she saw me she put the book aside. It was like I had caught her doing something that she wasn't ready to reveal.

There was no time for me to even snap a photo. But in my mind, I have a lovely picture of my Baby Bookworm, lying in bed on a lazy Sunday morning, entertaining herself with a picture book. The beginning of wonderful days to come, I hope.

© 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.  

Scholastic Declares January Book Fit Month

I don't normally share many news releases. But I couldn't help but notice that Scholastic launched a "Get Book Fit" initiative the day after I declared that my goals for 2014, for myself and my daughter, were:

  1. Get more/better sleep
  2. Read more
  3. Exercise more

So, 1 and 3 are about fitness, while 2 is about books. One might easily argue that we are trying to "Get Book Fit" in my household, too. Though really, Scholastic is focusing only on mental fitness in this particular initiative. Still, it seemed worth sharing.


“Like” Scholastic on Facebook to Scratch Off Daily Tips, Get the Chance to Win Books and Get Kids #BookFit for 2014

Redlabl-logoNew York, NY – January 2, 2014 – With the countdown to the Winter Games in full swing, Scholastic, the global children’s publishing, education and media company, is calling all teachers and families to pledge January 2014 as “Get Book Fit” Month, and encourage their kids to train their brains by reading more books. To help kids get Book Fit, Scholastic has launched a free Facebook calendar app, providing parents and teachers with daily “scratch off” tips from experts on ways to motivate their children to stay mind-healthy throughout the month. Parents and teachers can join the campaign by “liking” Scholastic’s interactive “Get Book Fit” calendar at and by following the latest on #BookFit on Twitter (@Scholastic).

Throughout the month of January, families can visit Scholastic’s “Get Book Fit” interactive calendar to get free daily resources, including book recommendations and tips from experts at Scholastic, articles from Scholastic Parent and Child® magazine, and ebook picks from Storia®, Scholastic’s free ereading app. Plus, top athletes including gold medalist Kristi Yamaguchi, Amar’e Stoudemire from the New York Knicks and Justin Tuck from the New York Giants share the books that inspired them the most. Every Sunday, families can find “Spotlit Sundays,” which will highlight must-reads for every age group from Scholastic Reading Club, and Fridays will be “Freebie Friday” day, where fans can enter for the chance to win free new releases from Scholastic. 

“Just as any athlete needs to practice a sport in order to get better, kids need to practice reading to keep their brains sharp and become proficient readers,” said Maggie McGuire, Vice President, Scholastic Kids and Parents Channels. “The new year reminds us to start new, healthy habits and getting ‘Book Fit’ is a perfect way to remind kids that reading is part of having a healthy lifestyle.” 

To kick off the campaign, Scholastic’s experts curated a list of Top 10 Ways to Get “Book Fit”:

1.      Prep your home to be “Book Fit”. Make reading material available in the rooms at home where your kids spend most of their time, easily accessible on tabletops, in bins or on bookshelves in each room. Include magazines, newspapers, comic books, how-to guides, and reading material that will tap into your child’s interests and passions.
2.      Reward a child’s reading efforts with a medal. Incentivize the reading experience. In celebration of the upcoming Winter Games, award your child with a gold, silver or bronze medal based on how much he or she read that week.
3.      Make the library your athletic stadium. Get library passes and dedicate a day and time each week to visit the library. Make the search for new books into a game such as “library bingo,” where kids can actively search the library for specific genres, characters, etc. during their visit.
4.      Create a family game night to exercise kid’s minds. Select games that encourage critical thinking, spelling and language-building. Introduce new games to them over the course of the year. Get your kids involved in choosing what the game will be – and what healthy snack should be served while playing!
5.      Bring a book to life. Get kids moving with an activity based on the book he or she is reading. Is he or she reading about sports? Try out that sport that weekend. Reading about cooking? Bake something new with your child. Challenge your kids to try different experiences, enhance skills and open their eyes to things they have never tried before. Read it. Live it.
6.      Host a “book marathon.” Challenge readers at home or in school to to read several books by his or her favorite author. Try different book series to encourage your child to read every day.
7.      Make reading a friendly competition among family and friends. Challenge kids to see who can read the most books. This friendly competition can teach a child valuable social skills and good sportsmanship. They can re-read their favorite book again and time the difference between the first and second reads. Use our handy Scholastic Reading Timer app to track your child’s reading minutes.
8.      Make family reading time a daily routine. Practice, practice, practice! Set aside time in the morning, after school or at bedtime, without distractions, and read as a family. Be sure to read aloud to your child as often as you can this year. The more you do, the more likely you are to show your child that reading is fun. Reading aloud helps children build their vocabularies, develop background knowledge they will need to understand the meaning of text when they read on their own, and inspire a lifetime love of reading! Mix it up with your favorite poetry, a news story, short stories, chapter books, and novels.
9.      Organize a family and friends reading club. Reading clubs encourage all members to think critically about what they read and to help bring ideas for the next month’s book. This will encourage children to work as a team and be open-minded about the opinions of others. Teachers can help out by sending “themed months” ideas paralleling students’ current class work.
10.  Host book-swap parties. Have your child collect books he or she has already read and have his or her friends do the same. With parents’ permission, host a book-swap party at your house, with fun themes like “Fantasy Swap” or “Laugh Out Loud Funny Reads”. Teachers can host a “book swap” party among students the beginning of each month. They’ll walk away with not only new books, but also their friends’ recommendations, fostering a team effort to getting “Book Fit.”

For more daily tips and to win free books, “like” Scholastic’s page on Facebook and visit the Book Fit calendar app. For more information about Scholastic, visit the media room.

Here at home, I'm doing two things to help my daughter and I "Get Book Fit" this month:

1. Instead of watching television while I ride my exercise bike, I'll be reading on my Kindle. I could never read regular books while biking without getting motion sick. But it turns out that I can prop my Kindle on a nearby couch arm and read just fine. 

2. Tracking all of the books that my husband and I read aloud to our daughter, rather than just the (very small number of) chapter books. I did this when she was a baby, but stopped as she got older, largely because a glitch in my blogging software made it difficult. That glitch is fixed, so I'm going to try again. My hope is that seeing that visual progress on my blog will motivate me to find more read-aloud time throughout the days. 

Wishing you all a book-fit, book-filled 2014!

Links I Shared on Twitter this Week: January 3

TwitterLinksHere are highlights from the links that I shared on Twitter over the past two weeks @JensBookPage. The top two stories for me this week were the announcement of the 2013 Cybils finalists, and the announcement of the new National Ambassador of Children's Literature, Kate DiCamillo. 

Book Lists

I can't share everyone's year-end list, but Tasha's is strong | Top 25 Picture Books of 2013 from @tashrow Waking Brain Cells

Good stuff! Young Adult Sci-Fi That Will Get Readers Psyched About Science | Lydia Kang @HuffPostBooks via @tashrow

Let’s Get Metafictional (books that show the audience that they are aware of themselves as a created work) from SSHEL

Top 10 Picture Book Lists for Kids from @momandkiddo at What Do We Do All Day? #kidlit

Top Kids' Book Lists of 2013 {Chapter Books} - What Do We Do All Day? from @momandkiddo #kidlit

Books for Kids: Favorite Easy Readers from 2013 - @growingbbb #kidlit

A Tuesday Ten: Invention in Picture Books | Views From the Tesseract #kidlit

20 Of The Best Children’s Books Of 2013 @buzzfeed by @colbysharp + @donalynbooks #kidlit #yalit


Cybils2013SmallOn the #cybils blog: Author and Publisher Reactions to Being @Cybils Finalists #kidlit

On the #cybils blog: The Ones that Got Away: Favorites that Didn't Make the Shortlists #kidlit

RT @ixtumea: My Top Cybils' 2013 YA Nonfiction picks: …

Stephanie @scharle4 has rounded up all 77 #CYBILS Finalists!! Her goal is to read them all. Join her! #kidlit

GottaBook: The Cybils' Short Lists Announced (and I'm on one!) from @gregpincus #kidlit

ScholasticcdaRT @ScholasticCDA: We're thrilled to see some Scholastic books among the finalists for the 2013 @cybils awards!

Some fun #Cybils Statistics in advance of the short list announcements (tonight at midnight mountain time) #kidlit

Countdown! to the #Cybils shortlists (coming New Year's Day) from @aquafortis Finding Wonderland @Cybils


Great resource: Rounding Up The Diverse Middle Grade Speculative Fiction Books of 2013 @charlotteslib #kidlit

Just in from @FuseEight - #kidlit for 2014 featuring Kids of Color: Things Are Looking Up

Seeking Wonderful Young Adult Novels That Deal With Race @NPRBooks | They already have LATTE REBELLION by @aquafortis

Growing Bookworms

Fun stuff! 12 Days of Christmas - A #Literacy Feast @readingtub Family Bookshelf

Hooked on books: Author James Patterson wants kids to share his love of reading : Herald Student News via @tashrow

Why Reading Sucks: Talking honestly with kids might make them more passionate readers @PernilleRipp @sljournal

Kidlit News (inc. National Ambassador Announcement)

NatAmbInterview with Kate DiCamillo, New National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature by @100scopenotes @sljournal

Kate DiCamillo Named New National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, 2014-2015 @CBCBook "Stories connect us"

Don't miss the December Carnival for Children's Literature 2013 @MoloneyKing #kidlit

See all of the 2013 Nerdies from @NerdyBookClub via this link: | some #cybils overlap, different goals, all #kidlit

Rest in Peace, Ned Vizzini. The #yalit world is sorry to see you go. Nice piece @Vulture via @bkshelvesofdoom

On Reading, Writing, and Publishing

RT @tashrow It Seems Weird How Cheap Amazon Kindles Are — Until You See This Crazy Stat – Business Insider #ebooks

Food for thought: Nancy Drew + the Case of the Politically Incorrect Children’s Books @TabletMag via @bkshelvesofdoom


This, I like: Secret Parenting Tip: Get Your Kids To Leave You Alone for 10 Minutes from @momandkiddo

Programs and Research

eScienceCommons: A novel look at how reading novels changes the brain (+ has a lasting effect) via @bkshelvesofdoom

Schools and Libraries

Why Is the Only Way Up to Go Out (of the classroom)? asks @thereadingzone

© 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.

Growing Bookworms Newsletter: January 2

JRBPlogo-smallHappy New Year! Today I will be sending out the first 2014 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 children's and young adult books and raising readers. I usually send out the newsletter once every two weeks, but I skipped last week because of Christmas, so this issue has a bit of extra content. I'm also sharing my goals for 2014 in this post, so read on if you are interested. 

Cybils2013SmallNewsletter Update: In this issue I have seven book reviews, ranging from picture book through young adult. I also have a new literacy milestone post regarding my daughter, and a post with my reactions to the just-announced Cybils shortlists. I have two posts with links that I shared on Twitter recently. Not included in the newsletter this time around I published:

Reading Update: In the last three weeks I read one middle grade, three young adult, and two adult titles. I read:

For the entire year my total was 143 books read (not counting picture books): 42 early reader to middle grade, 54 young adult, and 47 adult titles. You can view the full list here. Seems like going for 50, 50, 50 for 2014 would be a good goal, doesn't it? One book a week in each of my 3 categories, with a couple of weeks of slack. I doubt it will work out quite that way, though. I read more adult books than usual in 2013 because I was sick a lot, and I hope that situation will not be repeated. 

I'm not making formal resolutions, but I do have 3 goals for 2014:

  1. Get more/better sleep
  2. Read more
  3. Exercise more

I have these goals for my daughter, too. Regarding #2, it's not that I want reading to be a contest, or that I'm really going to pay attention to exactly how many books either of us reads. It's more that when I'm deciding how to spend my time (and my daughter's time), and I have a choice, I'm going to try to steer us towards sleeping, reading, or getting exercise. This morning, for example, before starting work I spent 40 minutes reading on my Kindle while riding my exercise bike, thus working on 2 of my goals at the same time. 

I'm currently reading Half a Chance by Cynthia Lord (due out in late February) and Reality Boy by A.S. King. I'm hoping to get a post up tomorrow about the new books that my daughter received for Christmas, so I'll tell you more about what she's reading then.

I'm also keeping a promise that I made to a follower of my Facebook page, and attempting once again to track all of the books that I read aloud to my daughter in 2014. I've started with a typelist in the right-hand sidebar of my blog, but will transfer to a page of the blog later on. 

Wishing you all a happy and book-filled 2014! Thanks for reading, and for growing bookworms. 

© 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