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Posts from April 2016

#JoyOfLearning Articles from @GreaterGoodSC + @emmersbrown + @hey_sigmund

JoyOFLearningLogoToday I have three play and learning-related articles to share with you. The first is about how universities can learn (and in some case are learning) from preschools about the benefits of a more playful approach to learning. The second is a Washington Post piece that shares prepared remarks for a speech by the new Secretary of Education about how our public education system needs to return to a more well-rounded approach. The third is a piece by a psychologist about the benefits that kids derive from play. 

What Preschools Can Teach Universities, on adding #PlayfulLearning to university setting  @GreaterGoodSC

Nicola Whitton: "One way to develop a generation who can take risks is through playful learning. Play supports socialisation and decreases stress, develops imagination and creativity, and enables learners to have new experiences and learn from their mistakes. While it is integral to early years education, a focus on assessment has all but driven play out of schools. The relative flexibility of higher education curricula and teaching approaches provide opportunities to give learners chances to play, experiment, experience, and fail—and, most importantly, learn from those failures."

Me: I thought that this article made an interesting point, that universities are more able to introduce concepts of playful learning than K-12 schools, in some cases, because the curricula offer more flexibility. Of course I also think that we need to do more to incorporate playful learning in K-12 (and especially K-3) schools. This article also makes the link between play and the learned ability to manage failures in life. 

Not just reading + math: Education Secretary to call for return to well-rounded education @PostSchools @emmersbrown

Emma Brown: "King plans to say that No Child Left Behind -- the main federal education law that was signed in 2002 and required schools to show progress in math and reading test scores -- had the unintentional consequence of narrowing the curriculum for too many children.

“For so many students, a wide range of possible subjects in school, powerfully and creatively taught, can be exactly what it takes to make the difference between disengagement and a lifelong passion for learning. But today, that’s not happening enough,” King plans to say (in a scheduled speech, according to prepared remarks)."

Also in King's planned remarks is this: "I count myself among those who worry that the balance has shifted too much away from subjects outside of math and English that can be the spark to a child’s interest and excitement, are actually essential to success in reading, and are critical to a child’s future."

Me: I found Secretary King's comments encouraging. He's basically saying that in order for more kids to find their passion for learning, the curriculum needs to become more broad, and that the emphasis on testing in recent years (along with other resource constraints) has led to some reduction other topics, like social studies and science. He goes on to discuss why kids deserve and need a well-rounded education, particularly in areas like STEM where there are both gender and socioeconomic gaps that arise early. Overall, I found this speech encouraging. 

The Remarkable Power of #Play - Why Play is so Important for Children + how to nurture creativity  by @hey_sigmund

Karen Young: "Free play is critical for children to learn the skills that are essential to life – skills that cannot be taught in a more formal, structured setting. In every way, play is practice for the life. A lot of play involves imitating grown-ups – their work, their roles, the way they interact. Learning how to play is as important as anything that can come from play."

Me: This article was shared by someone in a Facebook group that I participate in. Karen Young is a psychologist, and she talks about the developmental benefits that kids get from play, with reference to what the research says. She also has a section on how to nurture kids' creativity through play, full of good advice like asking open-ended questions and nurturing "their abstract thinking by inviting them to list unusual uses for everyday objects."  This is a good overview article for those who don't have the time or inclination to read a whole book on the importance of play, but would like a solid introduction to reasons, benefits, and suggestions. 

© 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. 

Learning Math from the Scholastic Reading Club Flyer

ScholasticFlyerMy daughter has been a fan of the Scholastic Reading Club flyers since preschool. She's now in kindergarten, and in addition to using the flyers for selecting books, I've started using them to get her a bit of practice with additional and division and general money sense. This has been a gradual process. Our iteration has gone something like this:

  1. I just chose for her. (Preschool)
  2. I let her go through and circle everything that caught her eye, and then I still chose which ones to order. (Start of kindergarten)
  3. I asked her to put stars on her top 3. I ordered mainly those, with a couple of extras that I would pick. (A couple of months into kindergarten)
  4. I started pushing back when she would pick things that were expensive (like a fossil excavation kit). She would then offer to pay, out of her allowance, for things that I wasn't willing to pay for. 

This month she picked her three items, and I pushed back a bit because two of them were relatively pricy (e.g. Dig it Up: Lots of Rocks for $10). She suggested that she pay for half of the order and I pay for half. I said ok, and then she went through and added up the total cost of the items that she wanted, and then (with a little help) divided the total in two. Then she counted out the money from her "spend" box. She ended up selecting four items costing a total of $30, for which she paid me $15 (there was some birthday money involved). I then quietly added two paperbacks that I thought were both a good deal - I don't think that she will notice by the time the order arrives. 

Bottom line is that my child is very interested in what books (and other things) she's going to be able to get from the Scholastic flyer. This makes her eager to do the math, if that's what it takes to get to what she wants. So here I am showing her that math is useful, and giving her a bit of light-hearted practice. It's just a matter of keeping one's eye open for these types of opportunities. 

© 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

The Magical Animal Adoption Agency, Book 2: The Enchanted Egg: Kallie George

Book: The Magical Animal Adoption Agency, Book 2: The Enchanted Egg
Author: Kallie George
Illustrator: Alexandra Boiger
Pages: 144
Age Range: 7-10

The Enchanted Egg is the second book in Kallie George's Magical Animal Adoption Agency series of illustrated chapter books, following Clover's Luck. These books are simply perfect for younger elementary age kids who enjoy books about caring for animals, and/or books about magic. In this installment, young Clover is once again left in charge at the Magical Animal Adoption Agency, where she started working three weeks earlier. Her boss, Mr. Jams, has gone off to find any expert who can help them care for whatever comes out of a mysterious large egg. Trouble ensues during Mr. Jams' absence, and Clover fears that as a small, non-magical being, she may not be up for the challenge. Young readers will, of course, know better. 

Clover is an engaging heroine, insecure but determined, and slowly coming to a stronger sense of her own strengths. She has largely absent parents (necessary for this sort of story), but at least there are two of them, and they do make sure to leave her with food.

The book is filled with delightful magical tidbits, like a ghost baker who makes cupcakes so light that they float and a little Leprechaun girl dressed all in rainbow colors. These are lovingly captured by Alexandrea Boiger's pencil illustrations, large and small. One of my favorite details is on page four. The text says: "The back door of the Agency was hidden by dark green vines. The vines gave the door a secret feel, which Clover liked." On this page, a delicate drawing of vines covers the left and top margins. Small drawings bring to life everything from cupcakes to magical animal bathing apparatuses, while full-page illustrations bring the reader into Clover's world. 

Really, what's not to like about a book that starts with this:

"An egg is full of possibilities. Especially an enchanted one. The tiniest egg can hold the most fearsome dragon. The biggest egg, the shiest sea serpent."

and includes a tiny green kitten who can form his tail into the shape of a question mark? The Magical Animal Adoption Agency series belongs in classrooms and libraries everywhere. I look forward to sharing these books with my daughter when she is just the tiniest bit older. Recommended!

Publisher: Disney Hyperion (@DisneyHyperion)
Publication Date: November 3, 2015
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

© 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 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: Using Books to Feel Closer to Someone Far Away

LiteracyMilestoneAA couple of weeks ago, my husband went away with friends for the weekend. My daughter, a true Daddy's Girl, was ok during the day when she was busy. But when bedtime came, she became very droopy. Usually my husband is the one who reads to her at bedtime, and she just wanted Daddy. Alas, all we had were books.

To cheer her up on the first night, I suggested that we read The Donut Chef by Bob Staake, reminding her that it was one of my husband's favorites. She countered by asking me for books about daddies and daughters that we could read. She specifically requested Pink Me Up by Charise Mericle Harper (review here). We could not, however, find Pink Me Up. (What can I say? We have a lot of picture books in the house. I'm still looking for that one.)

I did find a book called Giddy-Up, Daddy! by Troy Cummings, and we read that. Then I pulled out Mitchell Goes Bowling by Hallie Durand and Tony Fucile. I read that one to her, substituting her name for Mitchell's name, and "she" for "he" throughout. She did not want me to read Because I Am Your Daddy by Sherry North and Marcellus Hall, because that was one for Daddy to read to her himself. The next night, after attending a birthday party, she was too tired for books.

And there you have it. While I've seen my daughter turn to books for comfort before, this is the first time that I've seen her specifically use books to make her feel closer to someone she was missing. I suspect I'd better stock up on books about kids and grandparents, for the days immediately following my parents' upcoming visit. 

Do your kids do this? Use books to remind them of people? Or use books for comfort in other ways? If not, you might want to try it. Because it definitely works for us. Thanks for reading!

© 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: National #Poetry Month, Reading Choice, #Play + more

TwitterLinksHere are highlights from the links that I shared on Twitter over the past two weeks @JensBookPage. Topics include book awards, Meg Rosoff, picture books, nonfiction, early readers, book lists, speculative fiction, Beverly Cleary, Women's History Month, National Poetry Month, the Cybils Awards, diversity, women in tech, Mathematics Awareness Month, growing bookworms, reading choice, STEM, schools, libraries, testing, and playful learning. 

Awards and Book Lists 

Kudos to @megrosoff winner of the 2016 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award @awardofficealma  #kidlit #YA

Hans Christian Anderson Award Winners announced by #IBBY  @tashrow #kidlit

#PictureBooks Celebrating books + libraries  from @PernilleRipp

#PictureBooks about anger, frustration + general crankiness from @momandkiddo  |  I would add #MayaWasGrumpy

Top 10 Books to Encourage Discussions around Social Justice by @jenorr  #kidlit

Review roundup of books for beginning readers  from @mrskatiefitz #kidlit

Aliens, dystopias, future worlds, space adventure, invention: ideas to hook 9-12 y.o. kids on #SciFi  @TesseractViews

March Madness: 6 Terrific Books for Young Basketball Fans... 

Books for Kids who Like Books by Beverly Cleary from @momandkiddo  #kidlit

12 #Nonfiction Books w/ Rave Reviews from Kids | @Bookopolis @ReadBrightly  #BookList

For #WomensHistoryMonth  | Some #Nonfiction #PictureBooks recommended by @RandomlyReading


Today on the #Cybils blog, an interview with @bridgetheos  about #nonfiction winner I, Fly

Diversity + Gender

'We Stories' aims to get white families talking about race, racism through children’s books via... 

I do think that this is a growing issue: The One Kind of #Diversity Colleges Avoid = ideological / political... 

Increasing #diversity in children's books still a challenge  Allison Colburn @CoMissourian @diversebooks

If you think #WomenInTech is just a pipeline problem, you haven’t been paying attention  @math_rachel @SheilaRuth

Events + Programs (including National Poetry Month)

Nice! @MrsKatieFitz takes her two girls on a #Poetry Picnic  #NationalPoetryMonth

Tips from @MaryAnnScheuer for sharing #poetry with kids  #NationalPoetryMonth is coming up!

Make #Poetry Fun and Relevant for Every Child: Interview w/ poet/educator Laura Shovan  @Kateywrites #PoetryMonth

#NationalPoetryMonth Celebrations for #Mathematics Awareness Month @missrumphius  #poetry #STEM

Growing Bookworms

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let My Toddler Destroy His Board Books  @BookRiot How he shows #BookLove

7 Early Signs Your Child May Have a #Reading Issue  @ImaginationSoup  @ReadBrightly  #literacy

The Buddy System: Everyone Gains When Kids (of different ages) Read Together @sljournal  #ReadAloud

Why I Always Say Yes to ‘One More Bedtime Story’  @ScissortailSilk... 

What You Miss After Your Child Learns to Read  @clare_ansberry @WSJ Many kids want you to continue to #ReadAloud

‘Tricks’ to getting kids reading all revolve around giving them choice  | Adventures in #Literacy Land

#RaisingReaders: How to Raise a Family of Readers (Guest Post)  by Seven Little Australians for @sunlitpages

On Reading, Writing, Blogging, and Publishing

Eight Recent Children’s & YA Books Collectors Should Grab, according to @fuseeight #kidlit link 

When is a small thing big enough to make you walk away from a book? asks @charlotteslib  #Reading


Spring Break "Staycation" Ideas for when you start to hear "I'm bored"  @readingtub

Play and Learning

Three wrong theories of how kids learn, and how to better help them @sxwiley  #education #play

The Importance of Giving Children Independence + more time for free #play  @ErikaChristakis @WSJ

RT @RaePica1 Nearsightedness: Myopia Risk Reduced When Kids #Play Outdoors More #earlychildhood #parenting

For young kids, #play is their purpose: @sxwiley  #JoyOfLearning

Does More Time on the Playground Equal Success in the Classroom? Schools in TX are researching  @educationweek #play

How Montpelier High Added #Recess for High School Students w/ good results  @edutopia #education

Schools and Libraries

A letter from @camphalfblood you can share with your kids’ teachers discouraging the Percy Jackson movies in class 

James Patterson is Donating Another $1.75 Million to U.S. School #Libraries  @JP_Books @LibraryJournal

Top 10 Reasons to Create #LittleFreeLibraries in Your Community   @ClareAndTammy @NerdyBookClub

Ideas from @MsSackstein on how to prepare high school kids for the next step  #GrowthMindset #learning

From @100scopenotes  | An idea worth stealing: family fort night at the #library

This is why Finland has the best #schools: learning through play + more  William Doyle in @smh


Never Too Young To #Code, but you have to use the right tools, let kids stay active | @sljournal  #STEM

Of #Coding and Compassion | Learning to benefit from mistakes, nurture #GrowthMindset  @sljournal #STEM


Why We’re Opting Out of #Testing by @iChrisLehman  w/ details re: NY #education

How Asian test-prep companies swiftly exposed the brand-new SAT  @reuters via @drdouggreen #testing

On opting out of standardized #testing and opting in to other creative evaluations  @ReadByExample #learning

© 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 @TheScienceOfUs + @PernilleRipp + @MrazKristine

JoyOFLearningLogoI've been catching up on a host of links that I saved and shared over the past two weeks. These four struck me as worth sharing in slightly more detail. They cover the homework debate, a specific example of school reform, giving kids reading choice to help them fall in love with books, and incorporating play in teaching (and believing that all play is purposeful for kids). I welcome your feedback on these and other reading and education-related topics. 

Here’s a Helpful Rundown of the #Homework Debate  @thescienceofus via @readingtub | More communication needed

Jesse Singal (summarizing an article by Kirsten Weir): "The short “answer” to the homework question is: Yes, homework helps kids learn stuff, but it’s easy to reach a point at which, by causing kids to stress out and become less engaged with their schoolwork, it can have diminishing or even negative returns. As for the idea that homework “might confer [nonacademic benefits] such as the development of personal responsibility, good study habits and time-management skills,” the there just isn’t hard evidence to support this notion (though that doesn’t mean it’s false,either)."

Me: What I found most interesting about this piece (and I need to find time to go read the original article that it references) is the idea that the "homework debate" boils down to a lack of communication between parents, teachers, administrators, and kids. Based on my limited experience as a parent of a child in elementary school, I can easily see this being the case. I need to do more reading and thinking about where various stakeholders are coming from in this (though I've read enough to personally believe that less homework is better for elementary school kids). 

How to Turn Around a Terrible School (Mississippi elementary changed by nonprofit partnership)  @WSJ

Richard Grant: "The BRI philosophy is that any student can succeed, given the right tools, and nothing is more vital than reading. Mr. Cormack was able to inspire most of the teachers with a new sense of mission, focused on literacy. The few who weren’t inspired were let go, or left of their own accord...

“There’s no magic bullet here,” says Ms. Guynes. “We’ve proved that leadership and money can make a difference, but not without an enormous amount of hard work, teamwork, commitment and determination. We set the highest expectations for our students. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case in Mississippi schools.”"

Me: I liked the idea that a core focus of this project to turn around a failing school was on getting kids to spend more time reading, and appreciate reading. 

YES: It is not our job to censor what our kids read, rather to help them fall in love w/ reading  @pernilleripp

Pernille Ripp: "So let our students choose to read.  Whatever that may look like.  As good teachers we know what to do.  We know how to challenge them.  How to make them reflect on their journey as readers.  How to help them stretch into harder books and protect them when they get too far out of their comfort zone.  Let our students fall in love with books so that we can help them discover more books.  So that they will leave our classrooms and choose to read, even when they are busy.  Even when life gets hard.  Even when school is over.  Let our students fall in love with reading so that they will choose to be challenged, and not because a teacher forced them to, but because they felt they were ready."

Me: This is a wonderful post that Pernille Ripp wrote in response to someone who said, on Facebook, that the job of schools is to push kids to read outside of their comfort zone, and that kids shouldn't be aloud to read popular titles like the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books. I wouldn't have been able to let that remark pass by either, but Pernille is much more eloquent in her defense of free choice than I could ever be. Reading her post will brighten your day. 

Let’s Talk About Purposeful #Play (+ help #teachers to see play as imperative)  @MrazKristine on her new book

Kristine Mraz: "ALL PLAY IS PURPOSEFUL even, brace yourself, the play that looks purposeless to us as adults. Because, it is not about us, it is about what play does for children and ALL play has a purpose for children... Our goal of this book is that every teacher in every school see that play is purposeful and necessary and seek to provide ample time for it for every child. (and by the way, we don’t say play is just purposeful for 5 year olds- this book is for the teachers of older kids as well!)"

Me: Purposeful Play is a book by three teachers, written for teachers, on how and why to help kids do more learning through play. I hope that it is widely read.  

© 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: Middle Grade Reviews, Free #Play + #Literacy Milestones

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 two book reviews (both middle grade) and two posts about my daughter's latest literacy milestones (appreciating Where the Wild Things Are and assigning book reports to family members). I also have one post with my daughter's latest mathematical milestone, and one about the benefits of free play. I also have one post with links that I shared on Twitter. This is a little bit of a light issue because I was on vacation last week, and have had visitors this week. I hope to catch up soon on the many article links that I've saved by not had time to share. 

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

  • Paul Doiron: The Poacher's Son (Mike Bowditch Mysteries, Book 1). Minotaur Books. Adult Mystery. Completed March 23, 2016, on MP3. This is the first of a series about a game warden in Maine. I enjoyed it. I especially got a kick out of the Maine accents, with which the author did a good job. I will continue listening to see where this series goes. 
  • Barry Maitland: Crucifixion Creek (Belltree Trilogy, Book 1). Minotaur Books. Adult Mystery. Completed March 28, 2016, on Kindle. I like Maitland's Brock and Kolla PI series (set in London). This is part of a new trilogy featuring a cop in Sydney. I was interested enough in the outcome to have to finish this but I didn't care for it. Without wanting to get into spoilers, let's just say that I didn't care for some of the protagonist's actions. 
  • Margaret Mizushima: Killing Trail (A Timber Creek K-9 Mystery). Crooked Lane Books. Adult Mystery. Completed March 30, 2016, on Kindle. This is the first of a new series about a female K-9 cop in small-town Colorado. The protagonist is quite likable, and there's a hint of romance to come. I did figure out who the bad guy was a lot earlier than she did, but I'm prepared to cut her some slack on that. I'll definitely read future books. 
  • Drew Chapman: The Ascendant (Garrett Reilly, Book 1). Pocket Books. Adult Thriller. Completed April 5, 2016, on Kindle. This was kind of an odd book, about a pattern recognition genius with poor social skills who is roped into a secret project by a clandestine government agency. Garrett makes some questionable choices, but I found the plot and technical details intriguing. I do expect to look at future books in the series. 

I'm currently listening to Murder on Amsterdam Avenue by Victoria Thompson. I'm between print/Kindle books, having not decided what to read next (and having very little time to read this week anyway). I have a bunch of nonfiction queued up, but may just give myself a break and finish re-reading The Penderwicks. The books my husband and I (and our babysitter) have been reading to our daughter in 2016 can be found here.  

My daughter turned six yesterday. For her birthday, kids in her class are encouraged to donate a book to the classroom library. My daughter chose Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty and David Roberts, a book that she thought her classmates would appreciate. I thought that it was a fine choice. She's just started having us read Calendar Mystery #4: April Adventure by Ron Roy (she is parcelling these out by month). Her own reading skills are growing by leaps and bounds, but we expect to continue reading aloud to her for years to come. 

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

The Firefly Code: Megan Frazer Blakemore

Book: The Firefly Code
Author: Megan Frazer Blakemore
Pages: 352
Age Range: 8-12

The Firefly Code is set in a utopian settlement outside of Boston called Old Harmonie, some 50 years in the future.  It centers around a group of 12 and 13-year-olds who live on Firefly Lane: narrator Mori; her lifelong best friend Julia; brilliant and geeky Benji; and puzzle-loving Theo. When new girl Ilana moves to their street, her presence creates both tensions and mysteries for the group. 

The combination of Mori's voice and Blakemore's world-building make The Firefly Code an engaging read. I frequently have difficulty staying awake for books these days, but The Firefly Code kept me awake and thinking. Mori is a lovely character, characterized by kindness, a love of nature, and an endearing nervousness. She is unique and three-dimensional, while clearly being a product of her specialized environment. Mori's relationships with Julia and Theo are realistically complex, too. 

Here are a couple of snippets to give you a feel for Mori's voice:

"But those (Mori's differences from Julia) were all just surface things, about as relevant as the color of our hair. What mattered was that we knew each other inside and out, backward and forward, and would be there for each other no matter what. That's what makes a best friend." (Chapter 2, ARC)

"It was the scientists who did all the work of Kria, but I knew that, silly as they sometimes seemed with their fancy suits and tech gadgets, it was the executives who kept everyone's eyes on the big picture of progress. That was one of the biggest differences between inside our Kritopia of Old Harmonie and outside: inside, we never stopped experimenting and innovating, but outside they were just struggling to get by and couldn't work on making the world better." (Chapter 2)

Old Harmonie is a planned community run by an apparently benevolent company called Krita. The children in the community are designer babies, created by varying combinations of natural reproduction and genetic engineering. After each child turns thirteen, he or she has brain surgery to release a special "latency". This releases the child's particular gifts in that area. Parents can also, at various points, request surgery to "dampen" tendencies within their kids that they don't like, and can give their children artificial enhancements (up to a particular limit). It's not possible to tell just by looking at someone how enhanced they might be.

Apart from the genetic engineering aspects of the story, I thought that the future world of Old Harmonie was not all that advanced relative to our own. I believe that we'll see more change in the next 50 years, but I doubt that 10 year old readers will quibble over this aspect of the story (because of course it's difficult to know what that change will entail).  Keeping the trappings of the world recognizable certainly makes for a more accessible read. There are also some interesting undertones about civilizations, progress and inequity, but again, at a level that is accessible for kids. 

Bottom line: The Firefly Code has a perfect combination of intriguing science fiction and realistic tween interaction. I enjoyed every page, and look forward to what promises to be at least one more book set in Mori's world. Highly recommended!

Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children's Books  (@BWKids)
Publication Date: May 3, 2016
Source of Book: Advance review copy from the publisher

© 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 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: Making Other People Do Book Reports

LiteracyMilestoneAOK, this isn't really a milestone, but I thought that readers might get a kick out of it. As readers who have been following this blog know, my daughter's kindergarten class recently starting having weekly book reports as homework. They bring home a book and journal on Monday and have to return them on Thursday. They have to write a full sentence and draw a picture in answer to each of four questions (what is the setting, etc.). The book reports have occasionally led to tears in our household (particularly one evening when our travel schedule resulted in her having only one night to do one), but for the past couple of weeks my daughter seems to have reconciled herself to them. 

The other day she brought home her newest assigned book (What Teachers Can't Do by Douglas Wood and Doug Cushman). But before actually working on said book report, she undertook another project. She stapled together ~15 folded pieces of construction paper each to make three booklets. She labeled each one "Book repart" and made a line on each cover. She handed these over to my husband, our babysitter, and me, asking us to put our first name and middle/last initials on the line. Then she told us that we had two weeks to do our book reports. 

The next morning after breakfast she took me up to her room to select my book. She requested it to be a board book, and I chose Elmer by David McKee. She tried to read it to me, but it was a bit beyond her reading level, so I read it to her, while pretending that she was reading it to me. After she left for school, I wrote out my answers to the four questions from her school book report template. But I haven't done any illustrations as of yet. I'm sure she'll be cracking down later. 

I think this form of play is a good thing. Perhaps it represents my daughter taking the book report process and making it into something over which she has more control. For sure it's something that she thinks is fun, which is much better than just having negative associations about the whole thing. 

So, fair warning to visitors to our home. You could be assigned a book report. Be ready!

© 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