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Posts from August 2018

Links I Shared on Twitter this Week: August 31: New #Cybils Logos, #ReadingAloud, and #Classroom Community

TwitterLinksHere are highlights from the links that I shared on Twitter this week @JensBookPage. Topics this week include #BookAwards, #BookLists, #bullying, #Cybils, #DiverseBooks, #GrowthMindset, #HigherEd, #introversion, #JoyOfReading, #MentalHealth, #play, #ReadAloud, #SchoolLibraries, classroom communities, digital media, grants, project-based learning, and teaching.

Top Tweet of the Week

Thinking Outside Categories in Suggesting Books for Kids by |

Book Lists + Awards

Cybils-Logo-2018-Round450pxHey there, bloggers, authors, publishers + fans: The 2018 Cybils Logos are now available for download + use. Promote high quality, kid-friendly children's and YA books by cheering for

It's here! The 2018 Call for Judges: + Book Bloggers / Reviewers (regardless of platform) are encouraged to Come Be a Part of the Fun! | I love the colors of the new logo

2108 – Part 3 | roundup from

QuickestKid30 Incredible for 2nd and 3rd Grade, another

Super-Cute Handmade Mini Bookmarks (beaded circles on top of oversized paperclips): A Craft to Promote ! w/ of reading-focused lit from

Events, Programs, and Research

The 's initiative awards big grants, many to California , to improve the graduation + success of African-American, Latino and low-income

A study finds promise in project-based for young low-income children -

“Act more like an extravert” intervention has “wholly positive” benefits for many, but there are drawbacks for , reports – I do not even get why these interventions exist at all |

Growing Bookworms

HarryDirtyDogThe Magic of the Read-Aloud | At Heather Miller offers tips for + to improve skills, w/ some suggested

A call to from "This year, let books and how they reflect your students’ lives and interests be your guide. Use books to respond to your students and to push their thinking forward"

No matter our background, and no matter our kids’ ages, books > programs. Connecting with a good book is much more likely to produce than drilling skills | on online

Higher Ed

Interesting OpEd by Adam Grant | Those Who Can Do, Can’t Teach. The best are not the experts, but those good at interpreting + communicating material

How to pick a course responds to @AdamMGrantOpEd about vs. in terms of quality. Willingham says to go where is the primary concern

Don’t Close the Book on Books - @Danny_Heitman urges to make more visible on campus, in hope of encouraging more


Catch up on happenings in today's Fusenews , , + more

On Reading, Writing, Blogging, and Publishing

ReaderComeHomeSkim on digital media is the new normal. The effect on our brains + society is profound | Maryanne Wolf | "We need to cultivate a new kind of brain: a “bi-literate” reading brain" [Link to Wolf's book on reading in the digital age]

Amazon's children’s book subscription opens to all in the U.S. | | I could see this working for some, and they do let customize the shipments, but I'm a bit skeptical

So you want to write | advice from , who writes + teaches , | Her most firm suggestion is "read your work aloud!"

Parenting + Play

Say Yes to Play | shares reasons is important + things can do to encourage it, w/ lots of references.

This is excellent to see: The Rise of the | | "The take-home message for municipalities is: Stop setting your bar at the level of the most anxious parent"

It’s come to this: A checkup with the pediatrician may soon include a prescription for more , says in summary by | I love it! |

StandUpAmericanGirlWhen Little Girls Are Mean: Helping Young Girls Handle Relational Aggression, w/ |  [I bought the book shown to the left for my daughter]

The big problem with rewarding kids for good grades and punishing them for bad ones - - they learn that parental love is based on outcomes, not good for +

Tips for Teachers to Start the Year + Build Community

How to Build Community: 10 Easy Tips | Kelli Smith had me at first tip: , , | Guest post

4 Ways to Create a Learner-Centered | Shouldn't we start w/ building the relationship between and ?

WontYouBeNeighborNever Too Old: Advice Educators Should Take from - + more

10 Tips for New from | Build relationships, ask questions, call w/ something positive + more |

My Is A Mess. How has changed his + after reading 's

Other School + Library Links

How to Spread among – guest post by via | Teach them not to hide their flaws, to start

In a mastery-based , understand where they need to focus |

MegabookOfFluencyMaking Kids Read Fast is NOT the Goal of Instruction; Making Meaning Is - Guest post by | "fluency is developed through practice" [Link to Rasinksi's book on fluency]

Are the Best Way to Teach ? Maybe Not. They can exacerbate achievement gaps ... unless the groups are fluid and focused on skills

I’m Not Sure We () are in the Responsibility Business: Deep Thoughts by on enforcement (or not) re: overdue books

The latest Colorado contagion: The four-day week | raises concerns, especially for younger kids + food insecure kids


BedtimeMath 'Story Time' Helps Kids Score Academic Goals | Practice is key, making more fun can help |


If Students Aren't Trying on International Tests, Can We Still Compare Countries' Results? - |

© 2018 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook.

Mathematical Milestone: Wowed by the Power of Twos

MathMilestoneLast night my daughter was working on an assignment for school. She had to write her name in big letters and decorate it. The teacher is apparently going to put the names up on the wall, to mark off an area for displayed artwork in the classroom. In an effort to make hers more interesting, my daughter started adding little math equations around the border. I was kind of half listening as she counted out loud to herself: "Two plus two equals four, four plus four equal eight", etc. As she got up to "1024 + 1024 = 2048" I started to pay more attention.

When she got to the point where she couldn't add them in her head anymore I helped her by writing down the numbers so that she could add them:

+ 8192


Old school math. Carry the one, etc. 

Quite soon she started marveling at how large the numbers were getting. She ran out of room at 131,072, which (I had to check this) is 2 to the 17th power. I told her that this what she was doing (multiplying by two again and again), and that yes, you end up with very big numbers that way. We looked up what power gets you to a million. And she said, unprompted: "I am wowed by the power of twos." She was a bit giddy with the excitement of the whole thing, to the point of disturbing my husband, who was trying to work himself. But I loved it. And he loved it, too, once he realized what was going on. 

She ended up deciding to keep that version of her name and do a different one for the classroom wall, but she took the power of two page in to school this morning to show to her teacher and classmates. This is joy of learning, my friends. When a kid just starts noodling around and discovers something that she thinks is cool. [Hey, if you just keep doubling numbers, you get to really big numbers quite quickly. Cool!] You never know where such opportunities will arise, but you can certainly notice and encourage them when they do.   

Thanks for reading! I hope that some of you will find this little anecdote enjoyable. 

© 2018 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook

Growing Bookworms Newsletter: August 29: Back-To-School Edition

JRBPlogo-smallToday, I will be sending out a new issue of the Growing Bookworms email newsletter. (If you would like to subscribe, you can find a sign-up form here.) The Growing Bookworms newsletter contains content from my blog focused on growing joyful learners, mainly bookworms, but also mathematicians and learners of all types. The newsletter is usually sent out every three weeks.

Newsletter Update:  In this issue I have two book reviews (one picture book and one YA) and three posts with links that I shared recently on Twitter, full of tons on reading-related news. I also have a guest post from Mrs. P. about her 10th Annual Be-A-Famous Writer Contest. I'm hoping to have more literacy milestones for you next time. I think that the start of the school year will trigger some... 

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

  • Paul Noth: How To Properly Dispose of Planet Earth. Bloomsbury Children's Books. Middle Grade Speculative Fiction. Completed August 25, 2018, print ARC. Review to come, closer to publication.
  • Skulduggery1Derek Landy: Skulduggery Pleasant, Book 1. HarperCollins Children's Books. Middle Grade Speculative Fiction. Completed August 26, 2018, print review copy. Review scheduled for next week. 
  • Patti Kelley Criswell (ill. Angela Martini): Stand Up for Yourself & Your Friends: Dealing with Bullies & Bossiness and Finding a Better Way. AmericanGirl. Early Middle Grade Nonfiction. Completed August 27, 2018. This is a well-done little book designed to help girls to cope with bullies and meanness, and to avoid such behavior themselves. I bought it for my daughter but read it myself first, and I do recommend it for early elementary age kids (it's pretty simplistic so I doubt it would capture the interest of kids above about 10). 
  • Charles Murray: Coming Apart. Crown Forum. Adult Nonfiction. Completed August 18, 2018, on Kindle. I read this book as part of my quest to understand the bifurcation of America. In this case,  because of a what was available for survey data, Murray looks specifically at ways that whites have diverged over the years under a variety of metrics (education, community involvement, marriage, single parenthood, etc.). It was a good companion read to Hillbilly Elegy, which I read earlier in the year. 
  • Craig A. Falconer: Not Alone: Second Contact. Amazon. Adult Science Fiction. Completed August 20, 2018, on MP3. This was a sequel to a science fiction story that I enjoyed, and I thought it had a satisfactory ending. It probably could have been edited down a bit, but as length is a plus for me in audiobooks I didn't mind. 
  • Arne Duncan: How Schools Work: An Inside Account of Failure and Success from One of the Nation's Longest-Serving Secretaries of Education. Simon & Schuster. Adult Nonfiction. Completed August 23, 2018, on Kindle. I found this book quite readable, and I appreciated Duncan's willingness to call out many of the lies that we collectively tell ourselves about our education system. I found his prescriptions for what to do to improve the school system to be not too slanted towards more big, government programs, and thus unrealistically expensive, but I did think his heart is in the right place. 
  • Ted Dintersmith: What Schools Could Be: Insights and Inspiration from Teachers across America. Princeton University Press. Adult Nonfiction. Completed August 26, 2018, on Kindle. This book, about an entrepreneur who spent a year traveling around the US looking for innovative schools and districts, is in many ways the opposite of Duncan's book. [Outside vs. Insider, anti-(most) testing vs. pro-(some) testing, deeply skeptical of- Race to the Top vs. creator of Race to the Top, etc.). Dintersmith's heart is in the right place, too. His issue is more a question of whether his suggestions for local, grassroots change can be scaled up enough to make a difference. He definitely has some inspiring examples, though. 

TalkingAcrossDivideI also listened to about 40% of Scythe by Neal Shusterman, but I just didn't like it and I stopped. Too bleak for me these days, though I suspect I would have loved it a few years back. I'm listening to Heaven's Keep by William Kent Kruger (Cork O'Connor Mysteries, Book 9). I'm reading Talking Across the Divide by Justin Lee on my Kindle, and Little White Lies by Jennifer Lynn Barnes in print (ARC). 

I'm continuing to read mainly picture books to my daughter. We are making our way through a lot of our old favorites and it's been quite enjoyable. This morning we read The Cloud Spinner by Michael Catchpool and Alison JayYou can see some of those favorites in her reading list here. On her own, she continues to resist reading any of the books for her school's upcoming Battle of the Books, even though she says that she's interested in being on a team with several friends. I think she just really doesn't like being told what to read. And none of them are graphic novels, or even particularly heavily illustrated, so they just aren't her thing. But when she's left alone to read graphic novels and notebook novels she reads ALL THE TIME. To the point where it's hard to get her out of the house for, well, anything. 

KristysBigDayShe did have an excellent reading day yesterday, when not one but two of her favorite series had new releases. I have a video of her joy when she got home to find the newest Babysitters Club Graphic Novel, Kristy's Big Day AND the third Lucy and Andy Neanderthal book, Bad to the Bones, by Jeffrey Brown. She lifted me off the ground with her hug, making my choice to pre-order both books well worthwhile. The downside of graphic novels is that she's already read them both. However, I am confident that she will re-read them both many times. 

WimpyKidCabinFeverShe started third grade last week. She filled out a little "getting to know you" sheet for her teacher with heavy emphasis on reading and writing. Her teacher also asked my husband and me what our goals are for her this academic year. My number one goal is that she continues to LOVE reading. I'm going to do everything in my power to support that at home, of course. She brought home a Diary of a Wimpy Kid book from her classroom library on day 1, read it, and took it back the next day, so we are off to a good start.

Thanks for reading, and for growing bookworms! Hope that your summer reading is going as well as ours is!

© 2018 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook

Guest Post: Mrs. P's 10th Annual Be-A-Famous Writer Contest

Today I share a guest post from my Twitter friend @MrsPStorytime. I know personally kids who have enjoyed this writing contest, and thought that my readers would find the information useful. 

Mrs. P Shares some exciting news about her 10th annual Be-a-Famous Writer contest for K-4 students

Thank you for providing the opportunity to share some exciting news! It’s the 10th year of my annual Be-a-Famous Writer Contest and also my FREE literacy website So many amazing stories have been written by classrooms all across the United States over this time. SO many, I’ve lost count. But what I haven’t lost count of are the teachers who in my book are Heroes, for bringing this project into their classroom.

I was trying to come up with a fun and exciting theme for kids to write about, and know that kids are fascinated by superheroes, with their extraordinary powers and awesome adventures. AND we also celebrate the lives of real-life heroes —fireman, policeman, athletes, activists, and for me it’s librarians and teachers,— the role models we look up too.


So, that is how I selected the theme of my 10th annual writing contest. This year students will write about Heroes!

Children’s literacture is just filled with heroes. There are characters that remain memorable more than a century after their first appearance, with Little Women's Jo March and Anne of Green Gables' Anne Shirley. And let’s not forget Harry Potter, or Black Beauty and even Paddington Bear.   There are so many examples of books with heroes for kids to read to prepare for the contest. Heroes can be people or animals.

K-4 students will have their stories read by my incredible judges. This year I have Mia Wenjen, who is a children’s literature advocate with her blog Pragmatic Mom, she’s the co founder of Multicultural Children’s Book Day, and also an author herself! And Colby Sharp a teacher, the co-founder of Nerdy Book Club and the literacy conference Nerd Camp. and co-host of the children's literature podcast The Yarn. He just published “The Creativity Project”. I also read all of the stories!

Here’s the important information!

The contest opens on October 15 and close on December 15th.

The contest is free to enter! It’s for K-4 classrooms in the United States. Teachers can have their class either write a story collaboratively, or have students write individually and then have their class vote on which entry to submit. There’s only 1 entry allowed per class. Teachers can find the rules at my contest page

A special trailer for students was made by some extraordinary 5th graders in Atlanta. So teachers and parents can share this trailer with their K-4 writers. 

And of course, there is a promo for the teachers, so they know about the amazing sponsors who will support many literacy efforts. They help fill the winning classrooms with books in every format, as well as some other technology to help students be creative. Mackin Educational Resources, Tales2GO, Powell's Books, Flipgrid, and Buncee.

I’ve also rounded up more prizes than ever this year to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the contest! The past author judges are providing books and Simon and Schuster is giving me books. Yes, books from Chris Grabenstein, Peter Reynolds, Josh Funk, Bonny Becker, and Shannon McClintock Miller! So many books for classrooms!

Books from mrps p judges.001

So, I hope your readers will bookmark this post. I hope parents will share it with their schools, and I hope teachers will find a bit of time to unlock the power of the imagination in their students with my writing contest.

Links I Shared on Twitter this Week: August 24: #LeveledBooks, #Homework, #Introversion, and Impact of #ScreenTime

TwitterLinksHere are highlights from the links that I shared on Twitter this week @JensBookPage. Topics this week include #BerenstainBears, #BookLists, #ClassroomLibraries, #HigherEd, #Introversion, #JoyOfReading, #math, #MentalHealth, #Nonfiction, #PictureBooks, #reading, #ScreenTime, #SocialMedia, #STEM, board books, charter schools, horror, parenting, schools, teachers, and teens. 

Top Tweets of the Week

CamJansenClassroom Leveled Libraries Should Be a Thing of the Past. Here are 5 reasons why. | I especially like: "Making their own choices empowers students" (w/ reference)

This is heartbreaking. Boy lost his b/c of being limited to strictly , w/ plea to to: "allow kids to choose books in an authentic manner + allow them to fall in love with books again"

Book Lists

10 Books to Help Get Your Kids Ready for or by

GoodnightMoonThe Top 100 Poll Countdown: #5 – 1! — | 5 books that deserve their classic status and should be on every baby's shelf

The Best Books to Tackle Common Growing Up Challenges (too much TV, etc.) by | My 8 y.o. still loves the BBs.

About Mighty Girls Who Love | from

DollBones for Kids Today: Post-Goosebumps Scare Fests — A current from

RA RA Read: and Easy titles, suggestions by author and title from Jennifer Wharton

Early for Kids with Characters | another featuring

Growing Bookworms

please read this post by on what to do after getting rid of | "Our job as teachers is not to police reading, it is to support the " | "actually makes them dislike reading"

This 4-Year-Old's Passionate Speech About Will Make You Want To Be A Book Nerd "I personally read every day, and absolutely love the adventure of reading"

Top 10 Reasons Should Read More Whole Books and Fewer Passages + Packets | | , + more |

AllAboutTheBooksThe Power of Listening to Stories Together by | Imagine how would travel through the if periodically the custodian, the librarian, ... or the school secretary sat down in class during

What resources would you suggest for professional book studies on ? has a partial list inc. + but seeks others


Critics warn that well-meaning reforms may be lowering the quality of |

How to Get the Most Out of College: "optimal ways to socialize, to prioritize, to pick up skills integral to any career and to open up exciting opportunities both en route to a degree and after"


HomeworkMythShould kids have ? The great debate. presents both sides , but me, I say a strong NO for kids


6 Strategies to Help Thrive at School and Feel Understood |

Why Many Love (and Shouldn't Stop, According to ) | , , lower stress levels and more


Happy Children Do Chores - "Children who help more at home feel a larger sense of obligation and connectedness to their parents + that connection helps them weather life’s stressful moments"

Screen Time and Reading/Learning

is Changing How Kids Read—Just Not in the Way That You Think | Lots of food for thought in this piece by on vs. print

IGenYes, teens are texting and using instead of books, researchers say | via | w/ tips for from

Why it matters that teens are fewer books + longform news articles, things that require critical thinking + reflection by

in the Can Hinder Long-Term Retention (+ exam performance), says recent study |


How Can Contribute To the Public Good? | Horizons is a public-private partnership trying to reduce the by giving low-income kids extra support

Poll: support for raising pay is up nationwide, but less so in CA. support + general funding support also up

Depressing but accurate: The California Squeeze threatens says |

Need . Their May Depend On It. | I've been using myself, and it does seem to help w/ + sleep

Be a hero and help those helping by buying them some urges Esther J. Cepeda |

Reclaiming a Sense of Joy | 8 simple, quick strategies for easing the stress of and remembering to take pleasure in the work

Why Do We Value Achievement Over ? A Wisconsin High School Senior Speaks Out

© 2018 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook.

Lyric McKerrigan, Secret Librarian: Jacob Sager Weinstein and Vera Brosgol

Book: Lyric McKerrigan, Secret Librarian
Author: Jacob Sager Weinstein
Illustrator: Vera Brosgol
Pages: 48
Age Range: 4-8

Lyric McKerrigan, Secret Librarian, written by Jacob Sager Weinstein and illustrated by Vera Brosgol, is fabulous. The subtitle tells you all you need to know: "Saving the world with the right book at the right time!". It's basically a graphic novel in picture book format, which perhaps explains the excellent choice of Anya's Ghost and Be Prepared author Brosgol as the illustrator. Perhaps this also explains why my "I only read graphic novels and picture books" daughter adored it. 

An evil genius, Doctor Golckenspiel, escapes from the Depository for the Criminally Naughty. He demands a huge ransom from the world, otherwise his "army of giant moths will eat the world's books!!!". The world's best secret agents are sent in, but fail. It's up to someone "who loves books so much that she would risk her life to save them." 

Lyric McKerrigan, Secret Librarian, using a giant book as a kite/parachute, sneaks in to the evil doctor's lair, bearing a set of books and a backpack full of disguises. She uses these to execute a carefully thought out plan involving distraction, misdirection, and information. For instance, disguised as a jail guard she provides the trapped secret agents with a book about how to pick locks, enabling them to escape. 

The story is told in panels, half page to full spread size, with boxed text from a narrator, and lots of speech bubbles. Like this:

"(Narrator:) But who was that janitor?
Who knew just the right book
to mop away boredom."

and this:

"And now that his plans, like his 
clothes, were in tatters ..."

It's a fun read-aloud, with lots of places to add dramatic emphasis. There's also humor, as when the bored security guard is distracted by a sewing book, and ends up doing embroidery. Brosgol's comic-like illustrations include some ethnic diversity, as well as plenty of multi-size shapes and unusual angles to add movement and drama. The evil doctor looks basically like a clown. Lyric's various costumes are hilarious.

One detail that my daughter noticed that I thought was a nice touch was the use of different colors around the dialog bubbles for the different characters (magenta for Lyric, etc.). This wasn't really necessary to follow the story, but it added something nevertheless. 

Overall, the mix of humor, drama, and celebration of books should make Lyric McKerrigan, Secret Librarian a hit with teachers, librarians, and kids alike. It is certainly destined to be a favorite and a re-read in our house. Highly recommended, and a great addition to school and public library collections. 

Publisher: Clarion Books (@HMHKids) 
Publication Date: September 4, 2018
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

© 2018 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook. This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through affiliate links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).

Links I Shared on Twitter this Week: August 17: The #Cybils Awards, #BackToSchool Books, and #Homework Policies

TwitterLinksHere are highlights from the links that I shared on Twitter this week @JensBookPage. Topics this week include: #BoardBooks, #BookLists, #Cybils, #FancyNancy, #Homework, #IntrinsicMotivation, #LoveOfReading, #MentalHealth, #NCLB, #nonfiction, #parenting, #SchoolLibraries, #screentime, #STEM, #testing, libraries, play, publishing, reading aloud, schools, and of course back-to-school. 

Top Tweet of the Week

The Policy Every Early Childhood Class Should Have | help families build skills at home through and talking together

Book Lists + Awards

GoodnightGorillaThe Top 100 Poll Countdown has reached the top 10! Here are #10-6, including some of my family's favorites

2018 Roundup from Alex at

14 Books to Help Kids Get Ready for the New School Year | helping to ease fears+ remind them about fun | from

You’ve Missed Us, Haven’t You? | Just a head's up that the Awards team is working behind the scenes, and will be back soon with news + the call for panelists

Rosie-revere-and-the-raucous-rivertersTen and Transitional Not to Be Overlooked by + | We love in my house

RA RA Read: Go-to recommendations from + organizer Jennifer Wharton for Narrative

Alternative (less well-known) but still much Anticipated Children’s Books of Fall 2018 from

Growing Bookworms

Read Novels to Your Little Kid: " chapter books and novels aloud requires young listeners to use their imaginations w/out the guidance of zany illustrations. When they’re able to do so, they get hooked"

HarryPotter5SelznickThe wizarding world of data | via | Dad shares how his 1st grader showed low ability in because she was afraid her parents would stop to her if she read too well

How to Read to Kids: Tips for from + more |

"How can I teach (my ) to find satisfaction, happiness even, in the act of ". One answer, says , is to select the first classroom carefully

On Reading, Writing, Blogging, and Publishing

Top Ten Favorite Book Blogs/Bookish Websites according to | + more great resources

FancyNancyAu Revoir, Nancy! A Children’s Book Author Kisses Her Character Goodbye -

Parenting + Mindset

How to Stop the Tween Confidence Drop By Helping Girls Take on Toxic Thinking |

7 Habits You'll Notice the Happiest People Practicing (but Most of Us Rarely Do) | |

SocialMediaWellnessHow to motivate older kids (teens + tweens) without using rewards, punishment or fear. (No, really.) |

Why it’s so hard to get kids’ attention vs. , according to (and what to do about it) - James Paterson

How to raise a happy kid in the digital age - |

RT @DTWillingham: "playing Fortnite is very similar to playing army men in the woods and building forts." Except you're not outside. And you're not moving your body. And often kids simply watch other kids playing Fortnite. And Fortnite has in-game purchases.

Schools and Libraries

The Most Effective Ways of Helping Students Love Learning | "Cultivate questions" + "pursue their passions" via |

DearZooBaby and toddler can create a lifetime | |

Collaborating With Your | 10 ways for to work with colleagues in the to enhance instruction | via

10 Easy Ways to Create an Awesome Culture – | "Lose the entourage", "Show appreciation daily" + more |

France Takes On With a Ban in Schools for kids up at age 15

"children learn best through , an understanding that has guided us to reenvision how our () children’s spaces could maximize children’s " | Editorial by via


Robotics workshop at Google for girls builds skills | "The goal of the initiative is to get more girls involved in and , , and , or fields, at an earlier age"


Pressuring to raise test scores got diminishing returns, new study of No Child Left Behind finds

© 2018 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook.

Imposters: Scott Westerfeld

Book: Imposters
Author: Scott Westerfeld
Pages: 416
Age Range: 12 and up

ImpostersImposters is a new book set in the world of Scott Westerfeld's Uglies/Pretties/Specials/Extras series (links go to my reviews), a generation or so after Tally Youngblood and her friends changed the world. Frey and Rafi are the motherless twin daughters of a powerful, ruthless ruler. Frey, the younger by 20-some minutes, is kept hidden. Only a few trusted advisors know of her existence. Her role is to provide protection for her sister. She is trained to kill enemies, and poses as her sister in riskier public appearances. Rafi is the public face, focused on politics, society, and her appearance. Despite their different roles, the two sisters are close, viewing themselves as two sides of the same knife. 

Imposters is Frey's story, however. When the leader of a rival city asks for a "visit" from Rafi, as a guarantee of safety during a business arrangement, Frey is sent in Rafi's place. Separated from her sister for the first time, and living more publicly (though incognito) than she has before, Frey blossoms. She develops an alliance, and possibly more, with rival scion Col Parafox. Then violence ensues and Frey and Col find themselves in peril and on the run. 

Imposters is the first of a new four-book series, and ends on something of a cliffhanger. The tone of Imposters is similar to that of the Uglies series, though the world has changed significantly in the aftermath of Tally's overthrow of the Pretties regime. Westerfeld explores the fact that freedom isn't the same as utopia. Corrupt leaders can arise. Tensions can flare. Scarce resources can cause conflict.

There are references to the pre-Pretties civilization (Rusties = our world), and there are rebels who long for the return of Tally Youngblood. As in the Uglies books, there are advanced technologies for surgery and generation of food and clothing. There are also advanced technologies for spying, and avoiding being spied upon. There are echoes of the Hunger Games series as well as the Uglies series (calorie blockers, for instance, to allow people to eat to excess).

But the premise of being a hidden twin, who no one knows about, is fresh and compelling. Frey is a strong protagonist, physically and mentally, one who is easy to root for. I found Col a little bit of an enigma, but hope to see his personality fleshed out more in future installments, along with those of some of the supporting characters. 

Imposters is a fast-paced read. I tore through it in a day. I didn't mind the unresolved ending because I was expecting it, but I do look forward to the next book. It's not necessary to re-read the Uglies series first to follow Imposters. Westerfeld provides just enough background to refresh the reader's memory. But it certainly couldn't hurt, for those who like to prepare. It's an engaging world in which to spend time. I am certain that fans of the Uglies series will enjoy Imposters, as will anyone who likes reading about Machiavellian conflicts set in future worlds. Recommended!

Publisher: Scholastic
Publication Date: September 11, 2018
Source of Book: Advance review copy from the publisher

© 2018 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook. This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through affiliate links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).

Links I Shared on Twitter this Week: August 10: #ClassroomLibraries, #ComicBooks + #LoveOfWriting

TwitterLinksHere are highlights from the links that I shared on Twitter this week @JensBookPage. Topics this week include: #anxiety, #AP, #BookLists, #ClassroomLibraries, #ComicBooks, #DiverseBooks, #Failure, #FlexibleSeating, #GraphicNovels, #HigherEd, #introversion, #Math, #parenting, #Schools, reading, storytelling, teaching, testing, and writing.

Top Tweet of the Week

A : If You Build It, They Will Read | " who are able to utilize a well-stocked, diverse classroom library spend 60% more time compared to those that don’t" - takes action!

Book Lists

WhatIsChasingDuck make kids want to read. Here's a from to help: Beyond Elephant and Piggie: Funny

Wonderful Wordless | new from | My family especially loves by + by

Four new + uncommon for beginners w/ mini-reviews from Elissa Gershowitz

KeeperOfLostCities10 Bingeable Series That Readers Love |

Events + Programs + Research

NYC Study Shows Coaches Had No Effect on Low-Income 2nd-Graders. I bet spending the $ on awesome + focusing on would have worked better

Study finds the most effective are the ones who turn to their colleagues for advice (while weaker teachers don’t bother)

The 'Brain' in : Does Teaching Students Neuroscience Help?

How Is Catching Up To Mr. Rogers | | social + emotional

Diversity + Gender

MaddisFridgeWhy inclusive need to think about and , by via

Sigh: Japan Medical School Accused of Rigging Exam Scores to Keep Out Women (b/c they might take time off for marriage or kids)

Do Kids A Disservice When Defining Books as “Boy” or “Girl” | | "Do we really want kids to ... Automatically assume because there’s a character of a different gender, the book isn’t for them?"

Growing Bookworms

All You Need to : "a good book, an engaged adult, and a receptive child" | excellent tips from for

Tips & Tricks for Great Books to Kids from | "It's not our right book" but "what the child needs at that particular moment in time" |

A Friendly Reminder (especially for ) from that Still Count as

I mean, if I told my child (as witnessed a parent doing) that didn't count for checkout, she would never go to the library with me again. And THAT would be sad.

On Reading, Writing, Blogging, and Publishing

Sabrina Get New Respect, showing up in the prize longlist + elsewhere by Ellen Gamerman | Mostly about adult books, but notes rise in GN sales

One more benefit kids enjoying : When adolescents read (especially a variety of) books they realize "You’re not alone" |

'Elitist': angry pirates hit back after author campaign sinks website | | I say reading is theft. + should be paid for their efforts.

DaVinciCodeThe Way We Read Now. A new survey of America’s favorite shows that moves us far more than | Adam Kirsch

On getting kids started writing realistic by having them get to know their characters |

Want Young Students to Love ? Let Them With It. "reaching standards and finding joy, creativity, and a sense of identity through writing are not mutually exclusive"

This month's magazine has a couple of nice articles about the benefits of (brain health, reduced stress, etc) + tips for including more reading in your life (and modeling for your kids)


Good advice here: What to Do When Your Child Says, ‘But Everyone Can Read But Me’ |

Three ways to ease your child’s jitters -

Schools and Libraries (inc. Classroom Libraries)

Questions to Assess our Before from + more

PipsqueaksNew Resources for by | tend to prefer but many kids like |

: Five Ways to Stay on Top of the Latest and Greatest in Children's Literature | on new blog for | "most important: Listen to your students" |

Four Reasons to Tackle . shares his elementary school's experience

There’s Strength in Being Vulnerable suggests become "more aware of the areas in which you lack knowledge or experience with regard to excellent instruction"

One Approach Does Not Fit All when figuring out what's best for individual (e.g. taking notes by hand vs. typing)

How California is transforming bus drivers, clerks and yard supervisors into by giving them to earn

GiftOfFailureShould we be setting our kids up for in the safe space of instead of only success? "Failure not only builds our ; it makes success all the more joyful and fruitful" |

This seems like quite a resource for enhancement: 400 to Follow on Twitter: Crowd-Sourced List for Educators by Educators –


Changing teachers’ ideas about boosts student test scores | + team recruited 40 CA 5th grade for course, kids scored 8 pts higher than control group

Make Your Daughter Practice . She’ll Thank You Later. | Girls think they aren't good at because they are often better at , so they don't put in the time to practice + improve

Testing + College Admissions

More students are taking exams, but researchers don’t know if that helps them (especially black + Hispanic )

Huh. I never thought about discriminating against . This is very interesting...

@JonHaidt: The admissions scandal at Harvard (which gave Asians bad ratings on personality to reduce their numbers) reveals a related kind of discrimination in admissions: against introverts. Great essay by Jonathan Zimmerman:

© 2018 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook.

Growing Bookworms Newsletter: August 8: Favorite Picture Books, Harry Potter 6, and the Reading Nest

JRBPlogo-smallToday, I will be sending out a new issue of the Growing Bookworms email newsletter. (If you would like to subscribe, you can find a sign-up form here.) The Growing Bookworms newsletter contains content from my blog focused on growing joyful learners, mainly bookworms, but also mathematicians and learners of all types. The newsletter is usually sent out every three weeks.

Newsletter Update:  In this issue I have two picture book reviews and three literacy milestones for my daughter (crying over a book, building a reading nest, and feeling nostalgia for past favorites). I also have three posts with links that I shared recently on Twitter, full of tons on reading-related news. 

Reading Update:  In the last three weeks I finished four middle grade (3 of them very short), one young adult, and nine adult titles. I read/listened to: 

  • LongLostHomeMaryrose Wood: The Long-Lost Home (The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place, Book IV). Balzer + Bray. Middle Grade Fantasy. Completed July 19, 2018, on MP3. This book was lovely, a perfect end to a great series. I bought the first book in paperback (having listened to them all) in the hope of reading it with my daughter one day (or her reading it on her own). 
  • Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm: Babymouse: Monster Mash. Random House Children's Books. Early Middle Grade Graphic Novel. Completed July 23, 2018, read aloud to my daughter.
  • Jarrett Krosoczka: Lunch Lady and the Video Game Villain. Random House Children's Books. Early Middle Grade Graphic Novel. Completed July 24, 2018, read aloud to my daughter.
  • Jarrett Krosoczka: Lunch Lady and the Schoolwide Scuffle. Random House Children's Books. Early Middle Grade Graphic Novel. Completed July 24, 2018, read aloud to my daughter. She basically knows these books by heart. I can read them aloud to her while she's across the room doing something else, because she KNOWS what the pictures look like. But having me read them to her is a form of comfort reading, I think. I enjoy them, so it's all good. 
  • LIesYouNeverJennifer Donaldson: Lies You Never Told Me. Razorbill. Young Adult Fiction. Completed July 31, 2018, on Kindle. I couldn't put this one down, although I disliked several of the characters, and quite disliked the situations that they got themselves into. I still had to know what was going to happen, and I would certainly read other books by this author. I figured out the twist, but not so early, which is exactly what I want as a reader. 
  • Victoria Abbott: The Wolfe Widow (Book Collector Mysteries, Book 3). Berkley Publishing. Adult Mystery. Completed July 22, 2018, on Kindle. I'm enjoying this cozy series about a book collector's assistant who stumbles into various murder mysteries. The supporting characters are fun, and the food descriptions are to die for. And of course I like that each book is based on a golden age mystery author (though I'm not familiar enough with most of the referenced books to appreciate all of the details). 
  • Stephen Guise: Mini Habits: Smaller Habits, Bigger Results. Amazon Digital Services. Adult Nonfiction. Completed July 22, 2018, on Kindle. This was a quick little read about the idea that if you want to change your behavior in some way, the trick is to start very very small, with something that you simply can't fail to do. Then you'll do it every day, and at least some of the time do it more. You'll build a streak and you'll want to keep the streak going. I'm trying it out on a few things. The book has more detail than it really needs (an article might have done the trick), but I read it sitting by a pool one day while my daughter swam, so it was all good. 
  • RethinkingSchoolSusan Wise Bauer: Rethinking School: How to Take Charge of Your Child's Education. W. W. Norton and Company. Adult Nonfiction. Completed July 23, 2018, on Kindle. This book has some useful material in it for people whose kids are having difficulty fitting in to the standard US school system, for whatever reason (giftedness, learning disability, temperament, etc.). The author talks about leaving the school system, which I'm not interested in doing, but also about "flexing" the system in terms of things like homework. 
  • Joy Ellis: Thieves on the Fens. Joffe Books. Adult Mystery. Completed July 25, 2018, on MP3. This series is very dark, but I can't resist it for some reason. 
  • Marianne Cantwell: Be a Free Range Human: Escape the 9-5, Create a Life You Love and Still Pay the Bills. Kogan Page. Adult Nonfiction. Completed July 29, 2018, on Kindle. This I read on a whim after it was a Kindle deal. The author is a strong cheerleader for people who want to leave their unfulfilling jobs and figure out how to make money doing something more interesting. There are a lot of exercises and things, so it could take quite a while to get through the book if you really do them. What I learned in thinking through some of the exercises is that I have it pretty good as I am. It did inspire me to start a new Twitter account to share some of the topics that are of interest to me, but not so much for most of the people who read my blog (freedom of speech on college campuses, ideological diversity and the polarization of debate, etc.). 
  • OriginDan Brown: Origin. Anchor. Adult Fiction. Completed August 4, 2018, on Kindle. I actually really enjoyed this book (also a Kindle deal). I haven't read any of Brown's books in a while, and this was a good choice for a free reading weekend that I had recently. 
  • Michael Crichton: Jurassic Park. Ballantine Books. Adult Science Fiction. Completed August 5, 2018, on MP3. This was recommended as an audiobook, and it had been years (if ever) since I read the print book, so I gave it a listen. I enjoyed it, but I found it a bit too similar to the movie for there to be much suspense. Can't complain - I usually grumble when movies are NOT true to the book - but still... I may listen to the sequel though.  
  • Victoria Abbott: The Marsh Madness (Book Collector Mysteries, Book 4). Berkley Publishing. Adult Mystery. Completed August 5, 2018, on Kindle. See above. This is the next book in the same series. 

I'm listening to Not Alone: Second Contact by Craig Falconer, the sequel to a book that I listened to earlier in the year.  I'm between reads apart from my audiobook, as I keep starting books and then deciding not to finish them. Not sure why so many books aren't working for me, but I guess reading slumps happen to everyone. 

HalfBloodPrinceI know that I said last time that I was going to try Gone-Away Lake as my next read aloud to my daughter. But, well, she wasn't that interested - we never did start it. We did read the first chapter of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. I had planned to take a break, but she really wanted to start the next book. However, after that one chapter, her pressing interest waned, and we've gone back to picture books for a while. (Hence the literacy milestone about nostalgia for favorite picture books.) It's possible that her interest waned because of the girl at her childcare who keeps telling her spoilers for the series (who marries who, who dies at the end). I am quite unhappy about it. We reached out to the girl's parent and I'm hoping that this stops. But anyway, that's a risk with popular books, isn't it? 

DonutChefMeanwhile I'm going to use this resurgent interest in favorite picture books (I'm talking to you, Bob Staake) as an opportunity to start sorting the picture books. I would like to keep the good ones and get rid of some of the ones that we will never read again. (Because of my blog and a couple of years of Cybils round 1 picture books, there are quite a few of those.) We can definitely use the space, because the graphic and notebook novel collection continues to grow. Not to worry, though. The favorites will be with us for the long term, for sure. 

TwelveDaresOne her own, she continues to read frequently, if not very broadly (graphic and notebook novels all day long), especially in her new reading nest. She did pick up a middle grade title that she is reading on her own (though she wants me to read it, too, so that we can discuss). It's The Twelve Dares of Christa by Marissa Burt. I think it's too advanced for her, but far be it from me to interfere with her reading choice. All the more reason for me to read it so that we can discuss, though. She's also making progress with Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. She has not, as far as I can tell, actually opened any of the books for the Battle of the Books contest, though she has expressed interest in participating in that this fall. You can see her reading list here. 

Thanks for reading, and for growing bookworms! Hope that your summer reading is going as well as ours is!

© 2018 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook

The Goodnight Train Rolls On! by June Sobel and Laura Huliska-Beith

Book: The Goodnight Train Rolls On!
Author: June Sobel
Illustrator: Laura Huliska-Beith
Pages: 32
Age Range: 4-8

Did you know that there is a sequel to The Goodnight Train coming out in early September? It's true! The Goodnight Train Rolls On! is set to roll. The Goodnight Train was a family favorite and regular bedtime read in my household for years. I can still recite much of it by heart. My 8-year-old was SO excited when I unwrapped the sequel. We both thought that it was fabulous. 

The Goodnight Train Rolls On!, like the first book, uses the journey of a train as a metaphor for the journey towards sleep. In this case most of the passengers are already asleep as the story begins, but they are moving into dreams. Members of the crew sprinkle "dream dust" (a mix of moons and stars of varying sizes) all around them as they sleep. Meanwhile, the train's crew has to deal with sheep invading the track, and a particularly mischievous sheep causing all sorts of over-the-top problems (like a pillow fight with a giant teddy bear). By the end of the ride, however, the train ends up safe at home, with the naughty sheep finally cooperating, and pretty much everyone else asleep and dreaming. 

Here's a snippet (over two page spreads):

"Clouds blow in. The night turns gray.
The Goodnight Train is on its way!

Chugga! Chugga!
Shhhhhhh! Shhhhhhh!

Down Midnight Mountain, race along
until something seems very wrong!

A naughty sheep has switched the track.
Uh-oh! There's no turning back!

On Wild Dream Hill, whistles blare
Warning of a great, big bear!"

So well-done! It's rhyming without being at all grating or clunky (as I find many rhyming picture books these days), and full of things that are fun to read aloud. What kid won't enjoy an exaggerated "Uh-Oh!" or a whistle "blaring"? 

The "dream dust" filled illustrations are, if anything, even more lovely than those of the first book. There are a couple of page spreads where you have to turn the book sideways to read, lending some visual excitement to the middle of the book. The sheep are joyous, and the bedtime imagery is everywhere (sleeping caps, cookies, etc.). There's a nice mix of soothing images and silliness, with the occasional slightly darker dreams. The final image shows a sleeping girl holding a book and a sleeping cat, sharing her bed with a sleeping skunk crew member and a sleeping formerly naughty sheep, with dream dust floating happily above. Immensely satisfying all around. 

I can't think of a much better baby gift (or birthday gift for a preschooler) than a pairing of The Goodnight Train and The Goodnight Train Rolls On! Though the book held up for my 8-year-old, I think a lot of her joy in the sequel was due to nostalgia for the first book. The sweet spot for reading these books is around 3-5, I would say. Old enough to happily repeat the "Chugga! Chugga! Shhhhhh! Shhhhhhh!", and then fall asleep. The Goodnight Train Rolls On! is a highly recommended and welcome addition to the canon of picture books. Don't miss it!

Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers (@HMHKids) 
Publication Date: September 4, 2018
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

© 2018 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook. This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through affiliate links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).

Literacy Milestone: Feeling Nostalgia for Past Favorites

LiteracyMilestoneAMy daughter is only 8, but she is already nostalgic about books that she loved when she was younger. When the Goodnight Train sequel arrived (review to come, it is lovely), she had to read it immediately. She adored it, but I know that love was partly a response to how much she had bonded with the first Goodnight Train book.

CuriousGardenA day or so later I got out a bunch of picture books that had been favorites and stacked them on the table for the next day's breakfast reading. (We were taking a break between Harry Potter read-alouds.) She looked through the stack said "Oh, The Curious Garden" in that tone we all use for nostalgia. Like "Oh, something that I have loved and haven't seen or thought of recently. How lovely." I couldn't even get her to eat dinner until she sat down and read it herself. 

She's also been quoting from Little Blue Truck recently, for some reason, even though we haven't looked at that one in years. It's not so much the quoting that catches my eye, but her affectionate tone when she does it. Like someone sharing a fond memory.  

ChangelingI think we can build on this nostalgia, actually. I know I have some books that are favorites now in part because I read them and re-read them over the years, constantly reminding myself about my previous love for the book each time. Gone-Away Lake by Elizabeth Enright and The Changeling by Zilpha Keatley Snyder come to mind from middle grade, Listening Valley by D. E. Stevenson from adult reads. So my task with my daughter is going to be to weed through the picture books so that I can keep the ones we LOVED in one place. Then we can reread them regularly, and keep that nostalgia building. 

What about you? Are you nostalgic about favorite books? How about your kids?

© 2018 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook