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Posts from February 2016

Playful Learning: Disney World

DSC02408My husband and I took our daughter to Disney World for her winter vacation. Yes, we live in California. But when you grow up on the East Coast, Disney World remains preferable to Disneyland any day of the week. Plus my parents live in Florida, and we are able to see them when we visit. 

I neglected to have my daughter do her school-assigned homework of working on math and reading apps over vacation. In truth, I didn't even realize that this work had been assigned, because it didn't even occur to me that Kindergarteners would be assigned homework (particularly screen time) over vacation. But that's a topic for another day. In any event, we did find plenty of opportunities for playful learning while on the trip. For example:

  • We played i-spy during car and bus rides. Our most common variant of the game is: "I'm looking for something that starts with the letter ..."
  • We discussed the way that the type of loading for rides affects how quickly and how smoothly the line moves. What can I say? I have advanced degrees in Industrial Engineering. I can't NOT think about this stuff. Now my daughter is starting to understand it, too. 
  • NestMy daughter constructed an elaborate bird's nest, complete with privacy sign. (We were staying in the Fort Wilderness cabins.) She considered this practice for becoming an architect.
  • We counted the number of birds and animals that we saw as we were walking around. 
  • We followed a series of treasure maps in Adventureland in the Magic Kingdom. This is a pretty cool program where you find each location, place a special token there, and then get a clue to the next location. My daughter was quite disappointed, however, when she got to the end (after literally working on this for a couple of hours) and there was NO treasure. But during the process she was positively giddy with excitement. And it was definitely good practice at understanding  maps. 
  • We practiced reading signs everywhere we went. My daughter can now flawlessly read the one about keeping your legs, hands and arms inside the vehicle at all times. 
  • We practiced telling time, and calculating how much time until a particular time window would begin or end. This was for FastPasses. 

We didn't read very many books, because she was usually asleep by the time we got back to our room. But I think that the memories will be priceless. 

© 2016 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: Read Across America Day, #JoyOfReading + #STEM

TwitterLinksHere are highlights from the links that I shared on Twitter this week @JensBookPage. Topics this week include book awards, book lists, science fiction, magical books, diverse books, the Cybils Awards, gender, Children's Book Week, Read Across America Day, Pi Day, growing bookworms, reading logs, reading aloud, poetry, reading, play, schools, teaching, growth mindset, and STEM. 

Awards + Book Lists

"Winners, Losers, and Something in Between" @HornBook awards panel recap featuring @RogerReads @charlotteslib + more 

A #ScienceFiction Pathway Part I | 10 books to introduce kids age 0 to 3 to #SF from @TesseractViews 

What #PictureBooks to Read to the Kids If You Love #Jazz Music from @Everead  #BookList

Read Around Town: 10 #PictureBooks about Hair + Hair Salons from @mrskatiefitz  #BookList

Favorite Books About Mail + Writing Letters, #BookList from @rebeccazdunn  #kidlit

Great Science Fiction for Middle Graders | lots of recommendations from @TesseractViews @sljournal  #kidlit 

Magical Books Like Narnia for Kids, a @momandkiddo #BookList  #kidlit

A Tuesday Ten from @TesseractViews | #Diversity in Children’s #ScienceFiction 


Cybils-Logo-2015-Round-SmHappy @Cybils Day! The #Cybils winners are LIVE! Fabulous titles in categories ranging from #PictureBook to #YA 

A #Cybils blog post: The 2015 Winners: What’s Being Said  #kidlit #YA 

Would You Like to Help Contribute to the #Cybils Blog? | We are looking for #BookLists 

Diversity + Gender

CCBC Multicultural Statistics for #kidlit received by @CCBCwisc in 2015  #DiverseBooks via @100scopenotes

Simon & Schuster Creates Imprint for Muslim-Themed Children’s Books @xanalter @NYTimes  @SimonKids #DiverseBooks

Interesting: @Target takes gender-neutral approach with new kids home brand @MercuryNews 

True: Boys could enjoy stories about girls, and vice versa – if only we'd let them | @redbreastedbird @Guardian 

Events + Programs

2016CBWPosterThe poster for 2016 Children's Book Week, designed by Brian Won, shared @USAToday  @CBCBook

A Week of Dr. Seuss Activities for Preschoolers to prep for #ReadAcrossAmericaDay 3/2 from @growingbbb  #literacy 

Super Fun and Creative Pi Day (March 14) Activities for Kids from @momandkiddo  #PlayfulLearning

#BannedBooksWeek 2016 to Focus on banned books written by people of color  #DiverseBooks @PublishersWkly 

Growing Bookworms

How To Make Reading Fun + Create Lifelong Readers, w/ help from @StudioJJK #LunchLady #GraphicNovels @FirstBook 

10 Strategies to Help a Reticent Reader Love to Read by Susie Rolander @NerdyBookClub  #RaisingReaders

Supporting Independent Readers + Independent Reading by sharing excitement re books by @jserravallo @NerdyBookClub 

Starting Chapter Books: Worry-Busting Advice and 9 Top Picks from @Everead  #literacy #RaisingReaders 

5 Alternatives to Reading Logs, including shelfies + book trailers from @RACzyz #4OCF  #JoyOfLearning

Promoting Early #Literacy Around the House: The Bedroom, tips from @mrskatiefitz (e.g. "Review the day") 

Why I #ReadAloud to My Tween Son: conversations + time together + love of reading @5M4B @5minutesformom 

On Reading, Writing, Blogging, and Publishing

For his 10 year blogiversary, @gregpincus is flashing back to his top posts. #1 was Fibs!  #poetry #STEM

When Reading Becomes a To-Do. On reclaiming the #JoyOfReading + helping kids find it from @PernilleRipp 

How Not to Worry about Teenagers Reading. Jeff O'Neal responds @bookriot to recent @NewYorker piece 

Some lovely quotes about the joy of #reading gathered by @BookChook  @neilhimself @DrMayaAngelou + more 

Don't Say "Your Child Can't Read" | "How do you encourage young learners to explore and embrace literacy?" @Edutopia 

YES! Why I let my children read books about upsetting things by @snelsonbooks @washingtonpost 


Have Toys Changed? asks @sxwiley thinking on @DavidElkind2 Power of #Play + whether today's toys foster imagination 

Schools and Libraries

"Some suggestions for using controversial texts in the classroom" (+ more) from @DonalynBooks @NerdyBookClub 

Solutions for Stressed-Out High-School Students - schools are rethinking tests, start times + more @WSJ 

9 Proven Ways to Make Learning Irresistible (How to find flow in your classroom...) by @DavidGeurin  #JoyOfLearning

Why is it so many schools struggle to educate boys in a way that engages them? @VealHeidi @BAMRadioNetwork  #EdChat

7 Ways Teachers Can Have A #GrowthMindset, e.g. less "I'm not good at technology" @TonyKlinePhD @BAMRadioNetwork 

It's "time to consider all the things are children CAN do... not all the things we think they CAN'T do" @TonySinanis 

It's "not unfair to require high-level #reading ability to get into higher-level #education" @ReadingShanahan 

Who do #grades serve most? Adults, says @mssackstein | How do you make class about #learning not grades? 


Math Stories Your Child Will Actually Enjoy | @sparkitivity @ReadBrightly  #STEM #kidlit

The Power of Unsolvable Problems. University course for engineers tackles tough tasks, builds resilience  @WSJ

© 2016 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: World Read Aloud Day 2016

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 has refocused recently, and now contains content from my blog focused on growing joyful learners, including bookworms, mathematicians, and learners of all types. The newsletter is sent out every two to three weeks. 

WRAD2016Today is World Read Aloud Day, championed by LitWorld each year to call attention to the importance of reading aloud to children. The #WRAD website says: "World Read Aloud Day motivates children, teens, and adults worldwide to celebrate the power of words and creates a community of readers taking action to show the world that the right to literacy belongs to all people. World Read Aloud Day is celebrated by millions of people in more than 100 countries thanks to people like you who participate and spread the word across the globe!" I was happy to see this morning that #WRAD16 is trending on Twitter, with lots of lovely photos for your viewing pleasure. 

Newsletter Update: In this relatively brief issue I have a post about my daughter's latest literacy milestone (doing book reports, alas), a quick idea for keeping math fun for kids by following sports, and a post about using lemonade stands for playful learning. I also have a couple of posts with quotes from recent #JoyOfLearning articles as well as two posts with other links that I shared on Twitter (including lots of links related to Growing Bookworms). 

Reading Update: In the past three weeks I read/listened to four adult titles. I read:

  • Robert Crais: The Two-Minute Rule. Pocket Books. Adult Mystery. Completed February 10, 2016, on MP3.
  • Brett Battles: Rewinder. 47North. Adult Science Fiction. Completed February 13, 2016, on Kindle.
  • Brett Battles: Destroyer. 47North. Adult Science Fiction. Completed February 20, 2016, on Kindle.
  • Brett Battles: The Cleaner. Dell. Adult Mystery. Completed February 22, 2016, on Kindle.

What can I say? I was on vacation, and I only wanted to read page-turners. Brett Battles is excellent for that. His books are all well-plotted and with a nice sense of setting. The characterization is a bit thin sometimes, but for poolside and airplane reading, these books were perfect. I'm currently reading In Praise of Slowness: Challenging the Cult of Speed by Carl Honore by and listening to Blood Trail by C. J. Box. 

The books my husband and I (and our babysitter) have been reading to our daughter in 2016 can be found here. We didn't get much reading done while on vacation last week. We were in Disney World, and she pretty much fell asleep on the way back to our hotel every night. But we received her latest Scholastic book order immediately upon our return, and she's been gobbling those down quickly. She was most excited about a new Critter Club book. 

What are you and your family reading these days? Thanks for reading the newsletter, and for growing bookworms. 

© 2016 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

Playful Learning: Building A Lemonade Stand

Recently we had an unexpected preview of summer here in San Jose. My daughter decided to make lemonade. She picked the lemons, squeezed them (after I helped by cutting them in half), added sugar and water, and mixed (with a little help from me). There were only six lemons, so the total quantity of lemonade was not large. Nevertheless, she decided that she wanted to have her first lemonade stand. I said: ok, get some cups, go make a sign, and find something we can use for a table. The result is shown below. 


She wanted to go to a little park near our house (more traffic than in front of our house). She brought, on her own initiative, some cones from soccer, to draw people's attention. It was a beautiful day, but there was a not a lot of traffic to our little stand. I had warned her that a) it was Super Bowl Sunday and people were busy; b) people who are out running or walking usually don't have money; and c) we don't live in a high traffic neighborhood to begin with. She said that she would not be disappointed if no one came, but of course that was easier said than done.

In the end, I texted a couple of friends from the neighborhood, and they were kind enough to stop by. Two or three other small groups, people we didn't know, were also nice enough to stop and support my daughter's efforts. One woman said: "Well, you have to stop for a kid with a lemonade stand." I do recall reading that in Life's Little Instruction Manual. I was in any case grateful to them all. 

Outcome: we ran out of lemonade, and my daughter made $6. A success all around. 

We did learn some business lessons. We need a bigger sign, a bigger table, and a lot more lemonade if we are going to do this again. But my daughter also got:

  • Practice spelling (you'll note that I did not assist with the sign)
  • Practice with math in handling the money, adding up prices for people, and making change.
  • Practice with building. Her original "table" was a couple of over-sized plastic blocks propped up on empty spring water bottles. This was not stable, but was kind of cute. 
  • Practice measuring (adding the sugar).

She also learned valuable lessons about marketing, persistence, and (I hope) gratitude to the friends who support us. 

At the end of the day my daughter noted that she had made $6, which was $1 per lemon. Not bad for a lazy Super Bowl Sunday morning. I thought that it was time well spent. And certainly a lot better than doing educational apps on the iPad.

© 2016 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: Playful Learning, #1000BlackGirlBooks + #STEM

TwitterLinksHere are highlights from the links that I shared on Twitter this week @JensBookPage. I also shared some links in more detail yesterday, with quotes and comments. Topics in this post include Bank Street Children's Book Awards, Black History Month, Lunary New Year, diverse books, Disney Reads Day, social media, e-books, growing bookworms, picture books, play-based learning, schools, introversion, and testing. 

Cybils-Logo-2015-Round-SmOne other note: in the interest of nurturing playful learning in my own child, I will not be posting next week, during my daughter's school vacation week. I expect to have lots of fun experiences to share on my return. Wishing everyone a Happy Valentine's Day, Happy Cybils Winner Day, and a relaxing President's Day. If you have kids in school, I hope that they do NOT have homework over the vacation. 

Book Lists and Awards

It's Official - 2016 Bank Street Children's Book Committee Awards are here! @randomlyreading @bankstreetedu #kidlit 

2016 American Indian Youth Literature Awards via @tashrow  #kidlit

17 Important #PictureBooks to Read for #BlackHistoryMonth from @ReadingRainbow @JenniBuchanan 

Some #PictureBooks on Friendship and Loneliness, classroom favorites from @PernilleRipp  #kidlit

Happy Year of the Monkey! A #BookList from @HornBook celebrating Lunar New Year 

18 Middle Grade Mystery Books, old and new, from @momandkiddo  #BookList 


This is awesome! @Tanita_S_Davis shares a #Cybils Valentine for children's book loves everywhere 


Girl's drive to find #1000BlackGirlBooks hits target w/ outpouring of donations | @GuardianBooks  #DiverseBooks 

"Where are the children’s books that celebrate working-class values and voices" @ElenCaldecott @GdnChildrensBks 

The Out-of-Print #DiverseBooks that @FuseEight would bring back if she could 

Events + Programs

DisneyReadsDayTomorrow is the first annual @Disney Reads Day in support of #literacy + @FirstBook  #MagicOfStorytelling 

Exiting the Echo Chamber: #CTTCB16 Social Media Institute | notes from @145lewis  @FuseEight @colbysharp @SevenImp 

Philly Girl Scout Creates Community Lending Library by @CarlyOkyle @sljournal 

Growing Bookworms

How To Buy Baby's First Favorite Book (and Be the Best Aunt Ever) by @thebibliot @bookriot  @PWKidsBookshelf #Beekle 

Guest Post by Amber Dlugosh @DavidGeurin | 6 Assumptions That Were Killing #Reading In My Classroom  #EdChat

Good advice here: What (NOT) to do when your child falls out of love with books. @kateywrites #RaisingReaders 

"talking with kids about their reading (choices) is part of being a thoughtful, intentional parent" says @Everead 

Advice to #Teachers On #ReadAlouds: ‘Pull a Favorite Book, Stop What You Are Doing, and Read to Them’ @Scholastic 

On Reading, Writing, Blogging, and Publishing

In latest @Scholastic podcast, @Savageartist talks with editor Liza Baker about the Power of #PictureBooks 

92 Percent Of College Students Surveyed Prefer Physical Books To E-Readers (more satisfaction) | @DigitalTrends 

Majority of UK parents worried about children's digital reading, survey finds @GuardianBooks  #eBooks

Lovely! Favorite Quotes About #Reading and Writing from @growingbbb 

Playful Learning

If We Know Play-Based Learning Works, Why Don’t We Do It? Don't we want kids to learn with joy? @MindShiftKQED News 

Fun example of #literacy play in @sxwiley kindergarten church class: treating  letters  like blocks  #JoyOfLearning

Schools and Libraries

In the Classroom: Thoughts from 4th grade teacher + author @medinger on Teaching kids About Slavery w/ #BookList 

Calling Them Out or Lifting Their Voice? @cathymere reflects on kids who don't like sharing in large groups  #EdChat

Supporting Introverts in a 1st Grade Classroom by Courtney Pawol @ChoiceLiteracy  #teaching #introversion

When We Harm Rather than Help – Some Thoughts on Reading Interventions from mom + teacher @PernilleRipp  #education

#Nonfiction #PictureBook Wednesday| @carriegelson shares the delightful effect of nonfiction in her classroom 

American Mensa's @scotteatsbacon on Keeping Advanced & Gifted Kids Safe + Motivated to Read  @ReadingRainbow 

17 Powerful Leadership Thoughts for #Teachers from #METC16 shared by @DavidGeurin  @gcouros @RafranzDavis


New Ways to Teach Young Children to Code: apps, games, and logic puzzles - ideas from @SueSWSJ @wsj  #STEM

A Group of American Teens Are Excelling at Advanced Math @pegtyre @TheAtlantic  #STEM #EdEquity


The testing opt-out movement is growing, despite government efforts to kill it @ValerieStrauss @washingtonpost 

New, Reading-Heavy SAT Has Students Worried @anemonanyc @NYTimes  #testing #education

Thanks for reading! Have a great weekend!

© 2016 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

#JoyOfLearning Articles from @sxwiley + @JustinMinkel + @ErikaChristakis

JoyOFLearningLogoToday I have quotes and comments on articles about letting kids play on snow days (I know, a repeat topic, but it's good to keep talking about this), ways that teachers can make school more enjoyable for kids, and what preschoolers need from grownups that they aren't getting (more playful learning, among other things).  

"Let them #play in the snow" says @sxwiley, chiming in on topic of #homework on snow days 

Scott Wiley: "I fear our system has moved into a dangerous direction. Are we are more concerned about kids forgetting something that they "learned" in school because they are playing in the snow than encouraging them to enjoy what's happening outside their own doors? (Side note: If they forget it that quickly, did they really learn it?) We seem to be emphasizing knowing things over living life. Hmm. Not what I hope for the future leaders of our society."

Me: What can I say? Scott is echoing my own beliefs on this topic. Kids learn by playing. A snow day is the perfect opportunity to relax and let that happen. I wrote about this topic here

3 Ways Teachers Can Make School Suck Less by @JustinMinkel @EducationWeek  (hint: don't take away recess)

Justin Minkel: "I often have a more modest goal for myself as a teacher, focused less on the future than the present. As a baseline, minimum requirement: Make sure school doesn’t suck...Our students don’t have that choice (of being there or not). They’re in class because they have to be. Let’s fill their days with as much joy, laughter, and purposeful work as possible. Let’s convey to the children in our class that we care about their lives, we’re interested in their ideas, and we enjoy their company."

Me: In this rather blunt piece, Minkel posits that while there are many less than fun things about school that teachers can't change, they can do three things to help: 1) leave recess alone; 2) talk less and listen more; and 3) stop yelling. I especially liked Minkel's point that taking away recess, especially for kids who are in school for a full day, is counter-productive. 

What Kids Need From Grown-Ups (But Aren't Getting) @NPRCoryTurner talks w/ @ErikaChristakis  #EdChat #PlayfulLearning

Erika Christakis: "When you look at how kids learn, they learn when something is meaningful to them, when they have a chance to learn through relationships — and that, of course, happens through play. But a lot of our curriculum is organized around different principles. It's organized around the comfort and benefit of adults and also reflexive... I think the No. 1 thing is that children need (to foster in preschool is) to feel secure in their relationships because, again, we're social animals. And children learn through others. So I think the No. 1 thing is for kids to have a chance to play, to make friends, to learn limits, to learn to take their turn."

Me: I enjoyed this interview, and am interested to read Christakis's book: The Importance of Being Little. In the article, I particularly appreciated Christakis's defense of kids having plenty of unscheduled time. This is something that I KNOW my daughter thrives on, but the older she gets, the harder it is to protect that time.

For what it's worth, I also think that it's unfortunate that Christakis resigned from her teaching post at Yale (see the NPR article for details if you are not familiar with this controversy). I respect her choice, but I think that the students could have learned a lot from her. 

Thanks for reading! I welcome your feedback on these and other topics related to growing more joyful learners. 

© 2016 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 post may contain affiliate links. 

Quick Idea for Keeping Math Fun: Follow Sports

I posted s a couple of weeks ago on Encouraging Your Child to Like Math: Why and How.  I've decided to continue this topic as a series of shorter, actionable tips. Here is today's tip for helping kids to enjoy math: watch (and participate in) team sports. Sports, particularly team sports, are all about numbers. And many kids are already interested in sports. Sometimes passionately interested. All you have to do is throw in some questions, like this:

  • So if the Red Sox have 7 and the Yankees have 1, how many more runs do the Red Sox have? 
  • If this quarter lasts 15 minutes, and the clock is showing 6 minutes, how many minutes are left until the end of the quarter?
  • If Duke is leading by 8 over UNC, how many 2 point baskets does UNC need to make (unanswered) to tie the game? How many 3 point baskets to take the lead? 
  • And so on...

You can do this with pretty much any sport. It helps if there is a scoreboard visible somewhere, so that your child can see the numbers himself. But it's not strictly necessary. If your child's under-six soccer team is losing 3 to 1, ask her how many goals they need to tie the game. Obviously, the older kids get, the more complex your questions can be.

Baseball is particularly good. Baseball is all about numbers. I would imagine that many, many people over the years have gotten their introduction to numbers by filling in baseball scorecards. (See Linda Sue Park's middle grade novel Keeping Score for a great depiction of this). I wasn't thinking about any of this consciously when my daughter was a baby, but when I was feeding her a bottle, I would sometimes watch baseball (with her head turned from the screen). I would want to keep talking to her, so I would give her some play by play about the game. And even then, I would throw in little math references. "Oh, that's two strikes. Only one more." 

The other day we were early for a birthday party, and there was an indoor soccer game going on, with a scoreboard. My daughter pretty much started on her own figuring out how much the home team was winning by, and how much time was left (ok, we had to ask someone how long the periods were). This, because I've trained her to think this way over nearly six years. For her, it was just a way to pass the time, I think. 

So, a fun and easy way to encourage kids to like math is just to follow sports. Of course you have to actually talk about the numbers. But this flows so naturally when talking about sports that anyone can do it. Happy numeracy-building! 

© 2016 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

Literacy Milestone: Doing Book Reports

LiteracyMilestoneAThis one is not, alas, a universally happy milestone. My daughter's kindergarten class has started doing book reports. Each child can pick out a book to bring home in a special book bag each Monday. The book has to be returned on Thursday with a book report. The book reports are to be written in a little notebook, using a proscribed format. The kids did get to decorate the cover of the notebooks, and the whole thing was billed as a special fun treat. But I was skeptical from the beginning. 

My daughter was excited for the first book report. Her first book was Froggy Learns to Swim by Jonathan London and Frank Remkiewicz. We have another Froggy book at home, and she enjoyed this tale of a frog too intimidated to learn to swim. She whipped through the four questions comprising the book report: "Who are the characters? What is the setting? What happens in the Story? Did you like the story? Why or why not?" She seemed to feel some sense of accomplishment.  

BlankCopyBookReportBut then she got the book report back the next Monday, with criticism for not having used complete sentences, or put the words in the right place on the template (there's a lined page on the back - she was supposed to draw pictures on the front). She found this feedback as she was starting to work on the report for the second book (Love You Forever, which she had picked because the cover made her think that it was going to be funny).

And before you could blink, her joy was gone. She started moaning about not wanting to do this second book report, with four drawings and four (or more) full sentences. This is exactly what I was afraid of. For another friend (whose family perhaps read the directions more closely initially), there was never joy. The mom had to force her son to do even the first report. If you ask me, kindergarten is too young for book reports. [Please know that I do not blame the teacher in any way - this is a grade-wide initiative at our school, and I'm sure there are "standards" that the kids are supposed to reach.]

I talked with another mom about this at school the next day, and her take was that the kids need the writing practice, because they are going to have to write full paragraphs next year. And I get that writing practice, and thinking about the elements of the books that you read, are necessary skills for kids to work on. Eventually. In some way. But I feel like there could be a better way...

The bottom line for now is that I am watchful.  If I find that these book reports are taking away my daughter's joy of reading, something I've worked for nearly six years to build, I'm going to look into having her not participate. Because I feel, quite strongly, that it is more important that she continue to love books than that she does book reports in kindergarten.

What do you all think?   

© 2016 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: #Teaching, #STEM, Reading Choice + more

TwitterLinksHere are highlights from the links that I shared on Twitter this week @JensBookPage. Topics this week include book lists, chapter books, science books, diversity, Global School Play Day, Black History Month, growing bookworms, book reviews, creativity, schools, libraries, Genius Hour, STEM, and reading choice. I also shared a few #JoyOfLearning links, with quotes, in a post yesterday. 

Book Lists + Awards

A #BookList with timeless appeal from Jennifer Wharton: Pink and Fancy #PictureBooks  #kidlit 

Read Around Town: The Dentist's Office, 10 #PictureBooks about dentists + teeth from @mrskatiefitz  #BookList 

18+ American Folktales and Tall Tales for Kids from @momandkiddo  #PictureBooks #kidlit

Review Round-Up: Books for Beginning Readers (easy readers + chapter books), January 2016, by @mrskatiefitz  #kidlit 

A good list: Top 10 (or so) Chapter Books for Transitioning Readers by @librarianarika @NerdyBookClub  #kidlit 

A Tuesday Ten @TesseractViews |#kidlit that takes place on the Red Planet (Mars)  #BookList

2016 AAAS/Subaru Prizes for Excellent in #Science Books: @tashrow shares winners in #PictureBook, middle grade, YA 

2016 @EJKeats Book Awards for best new talents announced. Congratulations to @Devas_T + @PhoebeWahl  #kidlit 

2016 Best Fiction for Young Adults list is out from @YALSA@tashrow shares the top 10  #YA #BookList

2016 Great #GraphicNovels for Teens, a #BookList from @YALSA shared by @tashrow  #kidlit


African-American Experience Children’s Literary Reference Guide (books published 2011-2016) — @fuseeight  #kidlit

Increasing #Diversity in #kidlit Reviews: Behind the Scenes w/ @sljournal "Gatekeeper" @LibraryVoice @ReadWhileWhite 

Where are the #diverse children's books? | @mumfordmumford @MPRNews  @LEEandLOW @mattdelapena 

Events + Programs

GSPDPlay, Baby, PLAY! Why teachers should participate in Global School Play Day on Feb. 3 #GSPD @GSPlayDay  #PLAY

Interview of founder of 24th Annual African American Children’s Book Fair @brownbookshelf  #BlackHistoryMonth 

Informational #PictureBooks Celebrating African American History | Joy Fleishacker @sljournal  #BlackHistoryMonth

McNuggets with a side of 'Paddington': McDonald's serves books in Happy Meals for 2016 @paperhaus @latimes 

Growing Bookworms

Thoughts from @frankisibberson on new Every Child a Super Reader book by @ernestmorrell + @pamallyn @Scholastic 

"Anytime we tell someone that what they’re reading is wrong.. we make them like reading a little less" @JulieFalatko 

#RaisingReaders: How My Parents Raised Readers w/out Being Avid Readers, guest post by @housefullbkwrms @SunlitPages 

Good advice here from @BookChook | Three Parent Plans to Create a Strong Reader  #GrowingBookworms 

Reading Ahead! How to Keep Your Advanced Reader Challenged and Interested - @JenniBuchanan @ReadingRainbow 

Why It's Never Too Early To Start Reading With Your Kids | @HPCAParents @canpaedsociety  #RaisingReaders 

Going Schoolwide w/ Reading Engagement: Start with Success (+ lots of interesting books) says @ReadByExample 

Keeping Independent Reading FUN is Critical to Student Achievement | Judy Newman from @Scholastic at @NEAToday 

On Reading, Writing, Blogging, and Publishing

UK author SF Said campaigns for more children's book reviews in newspapers says @TheBookseller  via @PWKidsBookshelf 

.@Amazon Is Said to Be Planning an Expansion w/ up to 400 Retail Bookstores @nickwingfield @NYTimes 


Stanford educator Denise Pope says students need more sleep, family time, @chalsuccess in @MercuryNews  #EdChat

RT @TedFujimoto: How to Raise a Creative Child. Step One: Back Off  #creativity #edchat #deeperlearning

Playful Learning

10 Ways to Make Handwriting Practice Fun, guest post by @Creekside_Learn for @momandkiddo  #JoyOfLearning

How Turning #Math Into Maker Workshop Can Bring Calculations to Life + get kids clamoring for more @LindaFlanagan2 

Schools and Libraries

Enough with the Teacher Talk- Ideas from @PernilleRipp for Getting More Student Talk (like, just ask the question) 

The Professional Books that Changed Me as a Teacher (and why for each) by @PernilleRipp  #teaching #EdChat

Tips for Parents in Week 1 of School (& Some for Teachers Too!) from @TrevorHCairney in Australia  #learning

'Micro Schools' (< 150 kids) Could Be New Competition for Private K-12 @AriannaProthero @EducationWeek 

What Character Strengths Should Educators Focus On and How? (Results from Boston study) @Kschwart @MindShiftKQED 

So You Teach a Whole Class Novel – A Small Idea to Help keep the process positive for all students @PernilleRipp 

"one of the most valuable things educators can do is to help kids accept + celebrate mistakes" @AndReaBeaty at #4OCF 

Laughter In the Library: Reading and Sharing Books That Make Kids Smile by @LarnetteS @NerdyBookClub  #kidlit

Kindergarten teacher: Don’t blame us if your kids are overworked. It isn’t our fault @ValerieStrauss @washingtonpost 

The 4 essentials of a successful #GeniusHour (1: let students explore their passions) by @jillbad @ESchoolNews 

Thoughts from @ReadByExample on how to handle #reading logs in high school (try using social media)  #teaching


Finding the #Math in Storybooks for Young Children, why and how | Herbert P. Ginsburg @MindShiftKQED  #STEM 

Full #STEAM Ahead: Why Arts Are Essential in a #STEM #Education | @mbteach @Edutopia 

Do Elite Colleges Lead to Higher Salaries? Only for Some Professions (Yes for business, no for #STEM). Study at @WSJ 

#CommonCore standards for mathematics expect students to conceptually understand math @dailyjournalnet  #STEM

© 2016 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

#JoyOfLearning Articles from @MattPetronzio + @MariaGuido + @Scholastic + @thomascmurray

JoyOFLearningLogoI've been sharing a variety of articles related to education on my primary Twitter feed, and on my @JoyfulLearners feed (the latter is a sub-set). Four that I wanted to discuss here address encouraging girls (and kids in general, especially minorities) to learn coding, giving kindergarteners more recess time instead of pedal desks, and using classroom read-aloud time to give kids "joyful" experiences. I welcome your feedback on any of these (or other Joy of Learning) topics. 

Really good article: 8 ways you can empower girls to learn coding by

Matt Petronzio: "The lack of women and girls in computer science is a well-documented problem. Now it's time for the average person to finally do something about it. In the 1980s, even when companies primarily marketed personal computers to boys, there was more gender parity in the professional field. About 37% of computer science undergraduate degrees were awarded to women in 1984; that number decreased to 18% in 2014. It's estimated only one in every four schools in the U.S. teaches coding, even though56% of teachers think it should be mandatory....Here are some initial steps you can take to meaningfully advocate for getting girls into computer science in your own community."

Me: This is a solid piece with actionable steps and links to various organizations (like @GirlsWhoCode) that are working on this issue. My daughter's preschool participated in Hour of Code last year, and I was a bit disappointed not to hear anything from her elementary school this year. She loves to work her way through the problems on Code.Org, and I love that she is learning how to think in ways that support coding. It's not that I'm set on her becoming a computer programmer, but I think that a) coding ability can be useful in a lot of contexts; and b) coding teaches you a logical way of thinking, which is useful no matter what you do. 

Breaking the Code: Unleashing the Talents of Girls + Students of Color @thomascmurray @EdSurge  #STEM @GirlsWhoCode

Tom Murray: "Will she (his five year old daughter) remain confident and continue to love her current passions of math, science and technology? Statistics suggest not... Our nation must find ways to engage the amazing talents of our female students and those traditionally underserved—our students of color, not just those in wealthy school districts... The core of the conversation around computer science isn’t about coding. It’s not even about preparing students to be software engineers or “tech workers.” It’s about expanding access and opportunity for all students, empowering them to pursue their passions and unleash their genius."

Me: This opinion piece very much mirrored my own thoughts and fears for my math-loving five-year-old daughter. It's fine with me if she doesn't end up an engineer or a programmer - but it's not fine with me for her to have those options quietly removed from her future path when she is in elementary school. I actually think that her school is likely to do fairly well in this regard, but this is a much larger national issue. 

This is true! Our Kids Don't Need ... Pedal Desks, They Need Recess says at

Marie Guido: "Why are kindergartners even sitting in one place long enough to need pedal desks? That’s a question we should be asking ourselves...Like generations before them, kids just need to get out and play. Why are we over-complicating this? At a time when we so sorely need advocates and solutions for vanishing recess in schools, focusing on alternatives that keep kids in the classroom doesn’t seem like the best money or time spent."

Me: My friend Tanita Davis added, in response to my tweet: "Oh, SO TRUE. Sure, a new gadget is fun, but guess what: RECESS IS FREE & widely available!!" I could maybe see pedal desks for older kids, especially kids with ADHD who have trouble staying still during class. But for kindergartners? This is ridiculous. My daughter's favorite time of the kindergarten day is ... wait for it ... recess. As it should be. 

Why Joyful Classroom #ReadAloud Experiences Are Essential for Young Readers by Maria Walther @Scholastic 

Maria Walther: "In this post, I’ll share just a few of the many reasons why (classroom) read aloud is essential in the era of higher standards... (Conclusion:) If we want children to integrate meaning and ideas across texts, they have to have experiences hearing a lot of texts. They need a rich textual lineage—a wealth of reading experiences from which to draw. We are setting ourselves up for failure if we put forth all these grand ideas of voluminous independent complex text reading, but then don’t offer students voluminous, joyful read aloud experiences each and every day."

Me: Obviously this post caught my eye because of Walther's use of the word "joyful". But I do agree with her on the importance of teachers reading aloud in the classroom. I especially liked her point that "read alouds spark big questions and big thinking", and her suggestion that the first question to ask after reading a book aloud is: "What did you notice?". I hope that my daughter's teachers read aloud to her as she progresses through school. Time will tell... 

© 2016 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 post may contain affiliate links. 

Growing Bookworms Newsletter: February 3

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 has refocused recently, and now contains content from my blog focused on growing joyful learners, including bookworms, mathematicians, and learners of all types. The newsletter is sent out every two to three weeks. 

Newsletter Update: In this issue I have a review of an excellent upcoming middle grade book, as well as recommendations for two math-themed apps. I have two posts with my daughter's latest literacy and mathematical milestones, a post about whether kids should be studying or playing on snow days, and another about ways to encourage young children to enjoy math. I have a couple of posts with quotes from recent #JoyOfLearning articles. Finally, I have a quick announcement about my new gig blogging for the EdWords site, with a link to a revised 10 Tips for Growing Bookworms

Because there is so much else to share this week, I've left out my two other posts wrapping up other links that I shared on Twitter over the past two weeks. You can find those here and here

Reading Update: In the past two weeks I read/listened to one middle grade and three adult titles. I read:

  • Megan Frazer Blakemore: The Firefly Code. Bloomsbury USA Children's Books. Middle Grade Fiction. Completed February 1, 2016 (printed ARC). Review to come. This one is lovely. 
  • C. J. Box: In Plain Sight (Joe Pickett, Book 6). Berkley. Adult Mystery. Completed January 22, 2016, on MP3.
  • Leonard Sax: The Collapse of Parenting. Basic Books. Adult Nonfiction. Completed January 28, 2016, on Kindle.
  • C. J. Box: Free Fire (Joe Pickett, Book 7). Berkley. Adult Mystery. Completed February 1, 2016, on MP3. This series gets more addictive with every book. 

I'm reading Creative Schools: The Grassroots Revolution That's Transforming Education by Sir Ken Robinson and The Case of the Girl in Grey by Jordan Stratford and Kelly Murphy. I'm listening to The Two Minute Rule by Robert Crais

The books my husband and I (and our babysitter) have been reading to our daughter in 2016 can be found here. She just gleefully used up all of her savings on items from this month's Scholastic flyers. Her items include things like a notebook and some tools for digging for shark teeth, but also books. I like that she's happy to spend all that she has on books and related items. 

What are you and your family reading these days? Thanks for reading the newsletter, and for growing bookworms. 

© 2016 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

Mathematical Milestones: Estimating #PictureBooks

MathMilestoneIn this new blog series, I am documenting some of my daughter's milestones on her path to numeracy. She will be six in about 2 months and is in kindergarten. The first entry in the series is here

The other morning my daughter, somewhat out of the blue, demonstrated her understanding of estimation. She was looking through a stack of picture books for something to read during breakfast. She called out to: "Mom, what's three eights and one five?"


I had to go look to figure out what she was talking about. She had counted the bottom eight books and measured the height of that part of the stack with her fingers. Then she moved her fingers up to find two other same-size sets, and then counted the remaining books at the top of the stack. Then she counted the actual books, to see how close she was. It was pretty good - the estimate was 29 and the actual number of books was 31. 

I think that she picked up on the idea of estimation from two different places. First, there's an early reader that we enjoy called Gumballs: A Mr. and Mrs. Green Adventure (link goes to full review). In this title, an alligator uses estimation to win a contest (guessing the number of gumballs in a jar). Second, her kindergarten class did a math project a couple of weeks ago involving little bags of M&Ms. The teacher asked the kids to estimate the number that they would find in their bags. So she had the idea of estimating in her head, though we hadn't discussed it recently at home. 

Estimation is a useful skill, so I was pleased to see my daughter using it. Thanks for reading! I hope that some of you will find this of interest. 

© 2016 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