Previous month:
August 2018
Next month:
October 2018

Posts from September 2018

Links I Shared on Twitter this Week: September 28: #ReadingComprehension, #Grit, #FreePlay, #ScreenTime, #Grades

TwitterLinksHere are highlights from the links that I shared on Twitter this week @JensBookPage. Topics this week include #AchievementGap, #AgeDiscrimination, #BookAccess, #CharterSchools, #CollaborativeLearning, #Cybils, #DownSyndrome, #EarlyChildhoodEducation, #EdPolicy, #GenderDiversity, #Grit, #JoyOfReading, #play, #ReadAloud, #ReadingChoice, #SchoolFunding, #SchoolLibrarians, #ScreenTime, parenting, publishing, reading, schools, and testing.

Top Tweets of the Week

FrontDeskHow My Saw Something in Me My Own Parents Didn’t by | "I am living, walking proof in the power of and to change lives."

is a long and wide game. "Fact is children don’t get better at and understanding by doing lots of comprehension tests... Our needs to fill the gaps not create bigger chasms." |


A reminder from : 2018: Accepting Children’s Book Nominations Soon (10/1)   


KissOfDeceptionA Few Thoughts on Ageism in from via |

Analysis of UK bestsellers (before vs. after 2012) suggests kids' bookshelves are on a lean towards more male leads / stronger male roles via |

and the Great Gaping (Longstanding) Children’s Book Gap — |

Events, Programs + Research

is an example of redundant labelling in , claims paper. Grit, espec. its perseverance facet, taps into the pro-active aspects of to do w/ being industrious + achievement focused

Growing Bookworms

Why Kids Need the Freedom to Choose the Books They Read | An impassioned defense from of giving kids +

ExtraYarnA 2-Pronged Approach for Encouraging Kids to Read: + Creating Enjoyable Memories, demonstrated by using Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett |  [SUCH a great book!]

What can do when kids proclaim their identities as | "treating their refusal as the gift that it is; a view into the minds of a child who feels like the act of is not something that is safe for them"

On Reading, Writing, Blogging, and Publishing

ReaderComeHomeThis Is What a Great Book Does to Your Brain | lights up your brain like a Christmas tree |

Sad: Central TX Survey by finds 50 percent of parents don't to their child every day + nearly 60% of families have fewer than 20 books in the home via

RT @DrMaryHoward: Remarkable rebuttal to the sham post on the “science” of reading. Please please please retweet this to everyone. I hope that you will share this post to all of your followers. TY for sharing

Parenting + Play

FreeRangeKidsSome days you just have to shake your head: Canadian Day Care Center Tells Parents They Must Give Their Kids Helmets for Recess - |

Kids are starting a revolution to get their parents to put down their says + | I know my daughter pushes us about this |

While : On a Play-based Redefinition of Readiness

Why It's Okay to Throw Your Children's Away - Mary Townsend via |

How instant access to and other data is contributing to - Amanda Parrish Morgan

RT @CarlyKingND:  At least 60 minutes of physical activity a day, 9-11 hours of sleep & no more than 2 hrs a day of recreational screen time associated with higher mental test scores in children (via @NYTimesWell)

Schools andLibraries

Working in a group might be the best way to help kids meet individual goals, study says, and led to higher for black students

Study Finds Leads To More Second Dates – Perfect Research To Promote The Art Of…Asking Questions |

: The Difference between a Policy and a Strategy | "The fundamental question that must be asked of “personalized ” is: toward what ends?" via

Schools: EdPolicy + Funding

BushObamaSchoolReformReflections on the Legacy of Bush-Obama : Why did initially promising, seemingly popular efforts at federal leadership lose their luster? +

Days Start + End Too Early says ( don't get enough sleep, are working). The "obstacles to changing it usually fall under three general categories: sports, buses, and funding"

Summary from of recently released compilation of studies on CA | Verdict still out on (but other funding issues threaten success), CA needs much more spending to close "achievement gap"

How Does Expansion Affect Finances + Achievement? Evidence from MA "higher charter attendance increased per-pupil expenditures in district and shifted ... expenditures towards instruction"

Will Bezos Heed Other Mistakes? | via

The problem with Jeff Bezos’s $2 billion gift to charity. "Interventions in have a troubled track record; it’s not clear what works, and some interventions may cause harm" - Kelsey Piper via

France Bans in Through 9th Grade Starting 9/1. Will It Help Students? -

5 Things to Know About the Funding Compromise Moving Through Congress | |

America’s — Made, Not Born? What a Study of 30,000 Students Reveals About Lowered Expectations and Poorer-Quality Instruction for Kids of Color |


Thoughts on from | "After 20 years, folks are starting to figure out that were actually correct. The is not helping, not working, and not measuring what it claims to measure."

Want to boost and increase ? One strategy: look outside of by helping low-income families |

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

The Third Mushroom: Jennifer L. Holm

Book: The Third Mushroom
Author: Jennifer L. Holm
Pages: 240
Age Range: 8-12

ThirdMushroomThe Third Mushroom is a sequel to Jennifer Holm's The Fourteenth Goldfish (which I read at some point but apparently did not review). Both books feature a girl named Ellie and her scientist grandfather, Melvin. As The Third Mushroom begins Ellie is navigating middle school reasonably well. She's become best friends with kindred spirit Raj, and has reached a cordial state with her childhood best friend, Brianna.

Then Melvin shows up for a visit. Melvin, as the result of a previous science experiment, is an older, highly educated man who now has the body of a fourteen-year-old. Together, Melvin and Ellie undertake a project for the science fair, even as Ellie and Raj set out to understand the line between friendship and dating. The Third Mushroom is about family relationships, scientific experimentation, and trying new things, all with Jennifer Holm's pitch-perfect eye for what it's like to be in middle school. I especially admire her ability to share profound observations in a light-hearted way. 

Here is one of my favorite passages: 

"I'm heading to my first period when I run into Brianna. She's my old best friend from elementary school. We drifted apart when we started middle school. But it's strangely okay now. These days we're move like cousins who see each other at family reunions. We only remember the good times." (Page 27)

I found that passage utterly apt to my own experience. Here are a couple of middle school tidbits:

"By the time lunch rolls around, it's cold and windy. I'm tempted to go fish something out of the Lost and Found box. But then I remember my third-grade teacher, Mrs. Bennett, and how she used to call it the Lice and Found box, and I think better of it." (Page 52)


"Back in elementary school, gym was fun. We played handball and foursquare. They let us use Hula-Hoops. But gym in middle school is terrible. The teachers are mean and the uniforms stink. Literally. No one takes them home to get washed. 

Most of all, I hate running laps. They're boring, and I'm always one of the last kids to finish." (Page 99)

Yup. I also like Holm's casual, accepting take on Ellie's blended family (divorced parents, new step-dad, Melvin). And I LOVE her positive take regarding scientific experimentation. She slips in various tidbits about actual scientific discoveries (e.g. penicillin), and the benefits of making mistakes, without The Third Mushroom ever feeling didactic. Well, actually Melvin comes across as didactic sometimes, but this is ok, because he's an old man in a young, hormone-laden body, and it's funny. 

Readers will want to read The Fourteen Goldfish prior to reading The Third Mushroom. Even having read the first book several years ago, it took me a little while to orient myself to the story. But once I got settled in, I enjoyed every word, and read the rest of The Third Mushroom in a single sitting. A must-purchase for libraries serving fifth to eighth graders. Highly recommended!

Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers (@RandomHouseKids)  
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: September 21: #Nonfiction, #IndependentReading, ARC-Sharing + #Overscheduled Kids

TwitterLinksHere are highlights from the links that I shared on Twitter this week @JensBookPage. Topics this busy week include: #AchievementGap, #ARCs, #BookLists, #ClassPresentations, #Cybils, #EdReform, #GenderDifferences, #Giftedness, #GrowthMindset, #HigherEd, #IndependentReading, #LearningDifferences, #Nonfiction, #Play, #poetry, #ReadAloud, #reading, #ScienceFiction, #STEM, #ViewpointDiversity, #WorldLiteracyDay, book awards, parenting, and schools.

Top Tweet of the Week

TeachingReadingInMiddleSchoolIndependent in : Necessity or Luxury? says it's important for building lifelong , and offers tips for creating a culture that values [Link to Laura Robb's book on Amazon]

Book Lists + Awards

This morning announced the 2018 judges in categories ranging from to to to . Congratulations to all the bloggers, librarians, authors, parents, vloggers + others selected  

11 with Twist Endings Kids Won’t See Coming | from Janssen Bradshaw

BrilliantDeepLonglist for 2019 Children's Award Announced  [Link to The Brilliant Deep on Amazon]

Over the next few days, will be posting Category Descriptions to help decide which books to nominate for these | Today, learn about what they are seeking in

Newbery/Caldecott 2019: Fall Prediction Edition from |

Best for Kids, another | , fantastical , creatures and with a mind of its own.

WinnieA Review of "the 37 Best Narrative Books for Kids" |Adele Jeunette at WeHaveKids | | via [Link to Winnie on Amazon]

Books for Kids that Are Out of This World. This has books that "feature action that somehow deal(s) with and , and/or fantastical in a realistic setting"

25 Adventurous Books Like 's Jackson series via |

Diversity + Gender

MindsOfGirlsAnswering Those Who Believe Boys and Girls Do Not Learn Differently - | | "while there is wonderful overlap in and behavioral styles, boys and girls do learn differently" [Link to The Minds of Girls on Amazon]

Events, Programs + Research

This seems like it could be fun. narrator + actor is launching a video show where he (w/ his dog) + encourages families to + visit the | Look for Hello Storytime on YouTube starting this weekend

was 9/8/18: Now What? looks at flat scores + shares her Rx for giving all US kids a fair chance at . e.g. "Plan for lots of time for fun reading + take the fear out of "

+ Companion Text Sets from |

The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative has given away $308 million for education in 3 years. Here's who got the donations | via |

RaisingKidsWhoReadShould Listen to While They Read? One analysis says no, but suggests taking of kids' responses into account when deciding for individual kids  [Link to Daniel's book, Raising Kids Who Read]

UK study finds children with difficulties (SLDM/dyscalculia) far less likely to receive an official diagnosis than their peers with

RT @DTWillingham: New 3 yr longitudinal study: self affirmation reduces growth of achievement gap by 50% across high school transition--effectiveness moderated by school context & student engagement ($)

Growth Mindset, Resilience + Personal Growth

Should Students Be Forced To Make ? Some Say It's Too -Producing. Others say kids can gain confidence from learning . Discussion in comments

MindsetHaving a Makes It Easier to Develop New Interests + reach across disciplines | Paul A. O’Keefe, Carol Dweck + Greg Walton via  [Link to Mindset on Amazon]

Asking to Help People Find Better Answers Themselves, vs. just telling people what you think they should do or change |


DeVos, Sessions warn of deepening crisis on campuses |

Have Too Many | "students are less likely to get a good + faculty members are likely to learn less from one another, if there is a prevailing political orthodoxy" |

On Reading, Writing, Blogging, and Publishing

RevengeOfEnginerdsARCs and ARC-Sharing Groups = collections of mostly and (though there are also some involved!) who, after obtaining an , pass it around from one member to the next and discuss online |  [Link to Jarrett's upcoming book on Amazon]

This is encouraging: Study finds by young people 18-24 has doubled since 2012 + other adults are reading it more too via

Parenting + Play

We’ve so our kids (+ emphasized only purposeful activities) that doctors are now prescribing - |

Lawnmower (who mow down obstacles facing their kids) Are the New Helicopter Parents says post | "If we eliminate all struggle in children’s younger years, they will not arrive at adulthood magically equipped to deal with ."

Schools and Libraries

Advice for from for Creating Flexible Yet Significant Opportunities | "Rely on room parents" + lots more

MissionToSpaceHow is incorporating more in her , minilessons + more |

English + Journalism has learned over 17 years that "We Teach People," not just | listening, , connection |

Both sides lobbying California governor on bill to delay start time for teens | | I say sign it - kids will learn more if they are better rested

To Achieve a More "Scholastic" Atmosphere, at this London Must Be Silent in Hallways, reports | I say that's their right, but I wouldn't want my daughter to go there

TeacherWarsRethinking What Means, and Whom It Should Serve | Addressing "underrepresentation of black, Hispanic and low-income children in selective academic settings" [Link to Dana's book on Amazon]

Serious policy decisions are being driven by . The problem is, it’s not always accurate

Exactly How Came to Be So Underpaid (relative to other comparably educated professionals) in America | | "To many teachers, these trends are a result of a decades-long and bipartisan war on "

New nationwide poll: Most people support teachers’ right to strike, but less than half believe unions improve the quality of | via

Testing + Grades

in by | Study found "grade inflation was more severe in schools attended by affluent students than in those attended by lower-income pupils" |

Finding the Sweet Spot Between Defeatism and Utopianism When Setting -

© 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: September 19: #Library Visits, Self-Made Newspapers, and the Power of Twos

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 middle grade and one adult), three literacy milestones (writing a newspaper, making regular library visits, and not passing on a graphic novel addiction), and one mathematical milestone (reveling in the power of twos). I also have three posts with links that I shared recently on Twitter, full of reading- and education-related news. 

Reading Update:  In the last three weeks I finished one young adult and eight adult titles. I read/listened to: 

  • LittleWhiteLiesJennifer Lynn Barnes: Little White Lies (Debutantes, No. 1). Free Form Books (Disney). Young Adult Fiction. Completed September 1, 2018, print ARC. Review to come. 
  • Justin Lee: Talking Across the Divide: How to Communicate with People You Disagree with and Maybe Even Change the World. Tarcher/Perigee. Adult Nonfiction. Completed August 29, 2018, on Kindle. This was interesting, but I'm not actually determined enough to change anyone else's mind for it to be completely useful. 
  • William Kent Krueger: Heaven's Keep (Cork O'Connor). Atria Books. Adult Mystery. Completed August 29, 2018, on MP3. 
  • KJ Dell'Antonia: How to be a Happier Parent: Raising a Family, Having a Life, and Loving (Almost) Every Minute. Avery. Adult Nonfiction. Competed September 2, 2018, on Kindle. My review.
  • HowToFailScott Adams: How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big. Portfolio. Adult Nonfiction. Completed September 5, 2018, on MP3. This one I really enjoyed, and definitely found a few useful take-home messages about things like exercise and happiness. 
  • Kim Brooks: Small Animals: Parenthood in the Age of Fear. Flatiron Books. Adult Nonfiction. Completed September 10, 2018, on MP3. A friend on Facebook recommended this book to me. It was written by a woman whose life was changed forever when she got into legal trouble for leaving her four year old alone in a car for a few minutes. She ended up on something of a personal quest to understand how and why parenting has changed (to a cult of overprotection) in recent years. I am also concerned with this, and appreciated some of the insights from experts that Brooks talked to (including Lenore Skenazy). However, I found the author's tone rather whiny and anxious for my taste (compounded by her self-reading of the audiobook). Not a keeper for me. 
  • Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt: The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas Are Setting Up a Generation for Failure. Penguin Press. Adult Nonfiction. Completed September 13, 2018, on Kindle. This book was fabulous. I think everyone (especially college administrators) should read it. It's about how well-intentioned parents have over-protected kids to the extent that they have trouble facing any dissent or anxiety. Then consumer-driven college administrators have compounded the problem by allowing students to conflate the need for physical safety with the need to be protected from any idea that they don't like. The authors show how damaging this all is psychologically to the kids of GenZ (or i-Gen, or whatever you want to call them), and propose steps that they think schools and parents should take to improve the situation. Important stuff, if you ask me. 
  • IgnoreItCatherine Pearlman: Ignore It!: How Selectively Looking the Other Way Can Decrease Behavioral Problems and Increase Parenting Satisfaction. TarcherPerigee. Adult Nonfiction. Completed September 13, 2018, on Kindle. This was a quick little read, written by a family counselor who advises that parents studiously ignore all behaviors that they don't want to reinforce (whining, negotiating, etc.). The idea is to find positive ways for kids to get what they want, and not reward them with attention for the negative behaviors. Which all certainly makes sense. 
  • Craig Johnson: Depth of Winter: A Longmire Mystery. Viking. Adult Mystery. Completed 9/14/18, on MP3. This is a bit of an odd installment to the series, one in which Walt is on his own in Mexico without his usual backup team (though with support from some new characters), searching for his kidnapped daughter. I enjoyed it, though. 

I'm currently dipping my way between several nonfiction titles at once on my Kindle, and have a couple of new middle grade books calling to me from my nightstand. I'm listening to The Tuscan Child by Rhys Bowen. I've also been dabbling in listening to podcasts. I'm enjoying the immediacy of that (e.g. listening to people talking about current events), but it is cutting into my ability to listen to actual books. I'll have to see where that goes. My daughter has been on my case to do more reading of physical books, instead of reading on my Kindle. I think she saw something about it in one of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books. And she's not convinced that the Kindle (Paperwhite) is any better than any other screen. I'll have to see where that goes, too. I have picked up a few nonfiction titles in print instead of on my Kindle, but I find it a bit less convenient to read them (I just take the Kindle everywhere).  

EdwardGetsMessyMy daughter and I are continuing to read picture books together while she eats breakfast. We've been checking out a few each week from the library (more details about our library visits here). We mix these in with books from our "keep" shelf. We are starting to have a bit of trouble getting her ready for school on time because we both want to keep reading. 

LosersClubOn her own she's been tearing through the Treehouse series by Andy Griffiths. She's also dipped a toe into chapter books, finally reading one of the titles for the Battle of the Books, and reading Andrew Clements' The Losers Club. She started that one probably a year ago, before she was ready, and I was pleased to see recently that she had pulled it from the book bin in the car and was about halfway through. She also finished the second Harry Potter book, switching back and forth between a copy from home and a school library copy. She alternates reading these books with heavy doses of her regular favorite graphic and notebook novels. Cosmic Commandos by Christopher Eliopoulos has been in heavy rotation as have the Babymouse books.

HarryPotterBook1Third grade is going well for her so far. I'd been a bit concerned because this is the first year that she will have a requirement for a certain number of AR points (sigh). However, so far it's been ok. Her teacher doesn't seem particularly focused on this - she cares more about generating enthusiasm for reading and writing. And my daughter was able to knock out this month's requirement by taking the test for the first Harry Potter book. I've let her know that there is no need for her to be competing to get a high number of points, so I'm pretty confident that we'll get through this year unscathed. But I am already seeing some of her friends struggle (weekly tests limiting kids to reading shorter books so that they can finish in time, etc.). I'm sure I'll be writing about that more as time goes on. But for now, so far so good. She loves her teacher and continues to read and write whenever she can. 

Thanks for reading, and for growing bookworms! 

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

Literacy Milestone: Wanting NOT to Pass On Her Addiction to #GraphicNovels

LiteracyMilestoneAI had a surprising conversation with my daughter last night. My nephew just started kindergarten. For his birthday, following a suggestion from his mother, I decided to pick out first or representative books from several series that I thought he might enjoy. Then he could continue on his own with the ones that he likes. Naturally enough, I selected from series that my daughter had liked. Before finalizing my purchase, I ran the list of candidate books by her, to see if I had missed anything. 

LunchLadyBook1To my astonishment, she shook her head over my selection of the first books from the Lunch Lady, Babymouse, and Squish series. These are three of her all-time favorite series. She's been reading and re-reading the books for years now. We have given them many times as gifts to people. She adores them. She just about knows the Lunch Lady books by heart. When I asked why she was rejecting them she explained that she didn't think it was a good idea to get her cousin reading graphic novels when he is so young, because they are so good that he would get addicted to them and "not have an open mind to reading other kinds of books." 

DorkDiaries1I didn't even know how to respond. It's true that this happened to my daughter, to some extent. Her immersion in graphic novels has without question delayed her adoption of other types of books, whether these be chapter books or nonfiction or poetry. But my view has been that as long as she enjoys what she's reading, she will keep reading, and will get better at it. I've believed that she'll eventually branch out, if for no other reason than that she's read all of the notebook and graphic novels that she can find. I've been seeing signs lately, especially since she started third grade, that this is happening. In the meantime, I have been thrilled to see her pulling swaths of Dork Diaries, Amulet, and Babymouse books off the library shelves. My goal is for her to love books, and it's graphic and notebook novels that have gotten her there. I will be forever grateful. 

I had NO IDEA that she had the self-awareness to realize that she had been ... boxing herself in a bit in terms of her reading choices. Or that she would want something different for her cousin. I don't actually agree with her (though I think Karen Yingling might - see her post from today that touches on this topic). I think that whatever book gets a child "addicted" to reading is a good thing, and that we can worry about expanding the genre range later. 

MoldylocksHowever, I did defer to her judgement. I (with a little sigh) dropped Babymouse and Squish from the birthday gift, keeping only Lunch Lady and the Cyborg Substitute by Jarrett Krosoczka. But then I snuck in the first Princess Pink book, Moldylocks and the Three Beards by Noah Z. Jones. Because whether my daughter remembers this or not, this was the very first graphic novel that held her attention (we read it aloud to her sometime around kindergarten, over and over again). I thought that her cousin might get a kick out of it. 

I guess the moral of the story is that kids can surprise you. As for my nephew, I'll be interested to see what kinds of books he ends up enjoying as he gets older. 

What do all of you think? Is there a risk of getting kids "addicted" to graphic novels early, and having it be hard for them to branch out later? Or is all reading and good and happy thing? 

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

Links I Shared on Twitter this Week: September 14: #GrowthMindset, #KidLitCon Keynotes + Overprotective #Parenting

TwitterLinksHere are highlights from the links that I shared on Twitter this week @JensBookPage. Topics this relatively light week include #GenderBias, #GiftOfFailure, #GrowthMindset, #KidLitCon, #nonfiction, #parenting, #PictureBooks, #play, #reading, #schools, #SocialMedia, #SpecialEducation, #teaching, #testing, and #writing. I was traveling this week so didn't do as deep a search for articles as I usually do. More next week. Happy reading!

Top Tweet of the Week

ElasticBrainSome that may help foster a in kids, encouraging them to overcome challenges, a from

Book Lists + Awards

Kids Will Request Over and Over |  

A Book for Every Kind of Kid | A from | for "the ultimate " + more

HeyKiddoThe 2018 National Book Award Longlist is out | has the list | Special congrats to , one of my daughter's + my all time favorite authors [Link to Hey, Kiddo!]

Diversity + Gender

An updated reminder from that Women Make too... | She highlights some of her favorites for consideration + asks for yours

Events, Programs + Research

Note-taking in the (during lectures + other work): A Research Roundup from | Useful resource for +

IGenTeen Use Is Skyrocketing (vs. 2012). But Don't Panic, New Research Says - [I wonder what Jean Twenge will have to say about these results?]

Related to previous: Most Teens Prefer to Chat Online, Rather Than in Person -

Are (like ) actually harmful? Perhaps not. Award-winning believe in nearly as many of them as trainees –

Growing Bookworms

Should students be required to for 20 minutes a day? And if not, what alternatives can we use to encourage kids to spend time at home? | Important stuff from |


RealFriendsExciting news! The KEYNOTES will be LeUyen Pham and !!! – will be in Providence, RI March 22-23

On Reading, Writing, Blogging, and Publishing

Why aren't kids being taught to read in a research-tested way? "We are not born wired to read" says

Mississippi district says these four strategies are helping their , as reflected in higher scores | extra instruction time every day for kids w/ disabilities, + more |

New Study Finds Learning Outcomes Are Better Print Than Reading Digitally | | Makes me wonder about the way that many libraries are getting rid of printed books...

MerciSuarezHow a Reads| on how she has learned to embrace her habits, including every day |


offers common sense advice to on making their level of effort sustainable over the year | e.g. don't be afraid to opt out + focus on kids to do things themselves (agency)

To raise independent kids, treat like a dress rehearsal for life. Don't intervene, focus on effort vs. outcomes + more | |

Why parents should try to be happy, even when their child isn’t - | "When we board our children’s emotional roller coasters, we make things more difficult for them" |

CoddlingAt interviews Coddling of the American Mind co-author on consequences of Overprotective | I am reading this book now and wish that everyone would. It is excellent! [Link to the book on Amazon]

Schools and Libraries

Ten Questions for to Chew On + that should ask to understand culture via | I like: "What’s the best thing my child is going to read this year?"

: Instead of asking kids "what did you do last summer", find ways to ask about small moments | Better for kids from disadvantaged backgrounds + for getting to know |

Has of Students with Disabilities in Regular Gone Too Far? Weighing its effects on SWDs, their peers, and - [See counterpoint from Laura A. Schifter and Thomas Hehir here and response by Allison Gilmour here]

How to Create Opportunities For Kids on the Bus |


Our Children Towards Mediocrity | is talking about Australia, but this happens everywhere. He does offer some suggestions for improvement to better help grow

© 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.

Skulduggery Pleasant (Book 1): Derek Landy

Book: Skulduggery Pleasant (Book 1)
Author: Derek Landy
Pages: 384
Age Range: 8-12

Skulduggery1HarperCollins is in the process of reintroducing Derek Landy's Skulduggery Pleasant series here in the US, after the books did much better in Ireland and the UK. As outlined in a May Publisher's Weekly article, they have issued paperbacks of the first three books, which were published earlier in the US, and will be publishing books four to six in the US for the first time this  month. I agreed to take a look at the first book. I read it in a single sitting. I do think that the time is right this time, and that the series is going to be a hit.

Skulduggery Pleasant, Book 1, begins when a horror author named Gordon Edgley dies unexpectedly. Gordon leaves his home and most of his property to his favorite niece, Stephanie. Left alone at Gordon's house through circumstance,  Stephanie, who has always craved adventure, finds herself under attack and drawn into an unexpected world of magic. She is aided by, and becomes something of a sidekick to, Skulduggery Pleasant, a walking, talking skeleton. Together with a cast of not-necessarily trustworthy allies, Stephanie and Skulduggery fight to save the world. 

Though full of dangerous escapes, epic battles, and magical books and artifacts, what I liked most about Skulduggery Pleasant was Landy's lightly ironic voice. The byplay between Stephanie and Skulduggery, and particularly Skulduggery's occasionally world-weary remarks, made the pages fly by. There is a bit of Irish syntax here and there (the hood of the car is a "bonnet", etc.), but nothing that will be difficult for anyone who has read the Harry Potter books. 

Here are a couple of snippets, chosen from early in the books, so as to avoid spoilers. First, a paragraph that gives you a feel for Stephanie:

"There was an extra door in the living room, a door disguised as a bookcase, and when she was younger Stephanie liked to think that no one else knew about this door, not even Gordon himself. It was a secret passageway, like in the stories she'd read and she's make up adventures about haunted houses and smuggled treasure. This secret passageway would always be her escape route, and the imaginary villains in these adventures would be dumfounded by her sudden and mysterious disappearance. But now this door, this secret passageway, stood open, and there was a steady stream of people through it, and she was saddened that this little piece of magic had been taken from her." (Page 3)

She's a great character, stubborn, outside of the mainstream, and a creative problem-solver. And here's Skulduggery:

"Skulduggery put his gloved hands in his pockets and cocked his head. He had no eyeballs so it was hard to tell if he was looking at her or not. "You know, I met your uncle under similar circumstances. Well, kind of similar. But he was drunk. And we were in a bar. And he had vomited on my shoes. So I suppose the actual circumstances aren't overly similar, but both events include a meeting, so... My point is, he was having some trouble and I was there to lend a hand, and we become good friends after that. Good, good friends."" (Page 43)

Skulduggery Pleasant, Book 1, carries a blurb from Rick Riordan, and this is no coincidence. This would make an excellent next series for fans of the the Percy Jackson books. Skulduggery and Stephanie are an unusual pair of heroes, but one that kids will find easy to root for. Highly recommended, and well worth adding to elementary and middle school library collections. 

Publisher:  HarperCollins Children's Books (@HarperChildrens
Publication Date: May 1, 2018 (reprint edition, original copyright 2007)
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: The Joy of Regular Library Visits

LiteracyMilestoneAI must confess that although I have always loved libraries, public library visits have never been a regular part of my daughter's schedule. Oh, we've certainly visited over the years. We did some toddler storytimes when she was little, we'd go and read picture books at the nearby branch whenever we were at the hospital where my husband works, we'd pop by the branch that was next to a playground as a two for one outing, etc. We'd start out each summer vacation by bringing home bags of library books. 

But the truth that must be acknowledged about our book-privileged life is that we always had plenty of books at home. This was because of my blog (I was a round one judge for the Cybils in fiction picture books twice) and because I am a sucker for buying books, from the Scholastic flyers to freestanding bookstores to Target to Amazon. This abundance of books meant that we never really needed to make library visits part of our routine. They were more something we would do sporadically when it happened to be convenient.

But this fall, I finally found a way to make visiting the library a regular part of our routine. I signed my daughter up for a weekly art class. The class is in the same shopping center as a beautiful new library branch. It's just a hop-skip-and-a-jump between them. This branch, which I hadn't visited until last month, is fairly small but supremely kid-friendly. I cleverly scheduled her class so that the library branch would be open for nearly an hour following the class. 

AtTheLibrary_FotorAnd now: we have a routine.We park across from the library. We return the books that we are finished with. I walk her over and leave her at the art studio. I walk back and sit in the library and read for an hour. Then I pick her up and take her back to the library, where she greedily pulls dozens of books off the shelves and hands them off to me to carry. Then she finds a cozy spot (this branch has several) and reads until I drag her away because we are ridiculously late for dinner. 

The books that she is choosing, not incidentally, are mostly books that she's already read. She is finding her friends on the shelves and bringing them home. Last week she grabbed a half dozen Diary of a Wimpy Kid titles. The week before it was every single Babymouse or Squish title that was on the shelf (several of which we already had at home).  She also likes to grab picture books about which she is nostalgic, like Mo Willems titles, even if we own those, too. She picked a picture book that her class had read last year as part of Project Cornerstone, and a couple of early readers. She picks graphic novels that she's read but that we don't own (like the Amulet series, and the books about Cleopatra in Space). Sometimes I'll suggest something that she hasn't read that I think she might like. She'll shrug and toss it in, but these titles are likely to go back unread. I am fine with this. 

And here's the best part. We go home and she becomes a reading machine, plowing through the books that we brought as though someone was going to take them away. It's hard to even get her to eat dinner or go to bed. Piano practice is a lost cause on library nights. I, of course, am fine with all of that. 

We are rather late to having a real library routine, but I am celebrating it now. I'm more willing to put titles on hold now, too, because I know that we'll be going in within a week. I'll be able to pick them up without making a special trip. My already devoted reader of a daughter is reading more. I get to spend time browsing the shelves and sitting reading myself. It's all good.

If you would like to get your kids to the library more, I recommend scheduling some other regular activity to take place near to the library if you can. The power of building things into your routine cannot be over-estimated. Gretchen Rubin and Charles Duhigg would be proud.

How about you? Have you been successful in making public library visits a part of your regular routine? 

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

Links I Shared on Twitter this Week: September 7: Reading Conferences, #FreeRangeKids + Happy Kindergarteners

TwitterLinksHere are highlights from the links that I shared on Twitter this week @JensBookPage. Topics this week include: #BookLists, #Curation, #Curiosity, #Cybils, #Giftedness, #HigherEd, #iGen, #introversion, #JeanTwenge, #MentalHealth, #Motivation, #parenting, #play, #reading, #SocialMedia, #teaching, kindergarten, library storytimes, and reading conferences.

Top Tweet of the Week

BookWhispererThe Unexpected Power of Conferences | HS has single accountability measure for students’ choice reading: talking to them about it.

Book Lists + Awards

to Help Little Kids Deal With Big Emotions - from

15 Children's Books About Courage and Bravery, w/ plenty of from | [Link to The Book Whisperer]

The Early That Will Turn Your Kids into Voracious Readers | from | + more

Ten great titles for making the leap to from , w/ tips for to help kids

Cybils-Logo-2018-Round450pxA Heartfelt Goodbye (and Thank You!) shares some updates on this year's organizing team, including my own stepping down as evangelist + guru. Terry will ably take my place

Events + Programs

Text messages to can help boost children's skills, but the type of messages + frequency matter,

I love this program: Helps Love to Read by providing kid-friendly spaces in primarily black barbershops around the country |

This year's selection (10/25) is Maybe Something Beautiful from . suggests some related book activities:

Reasons I despise , by | e.g. "Why are we promoting something we’re against (banning books) instead of promoting something we are FOR (the freedom to read)?"


GameChangerHow can and encourage kids to WANT to read? recommends books by + + shares tips for creating an environment that celebrates +

If you start the year by telling kids about their rights as (, abandoning books, , etc.), it takes the pressure off + helps launch


Today's Aren't Who You Think They Are : Many are reports

Liberal-Arts Should Teach Grad Students How to Make a Living, instead of "cling(ing) to this lofty, elitist opinion that it’s sinful to discuss any remuneration"


SecretLivesOfIntroverts12 Signs That You Have an 'Introvert Hangover' (Yes, It's Real) by | I found several of these to be spot on (esp. 1, 2, and 9) | [Link to Secret Lives of Introverts book]

Parenting + Play

The Perils of the Child Perfectionist by Jennifer Breheny Wallace | " play a central role in a child’s development of perfectionism", which can in turn lead to more serious issues

Must-read: How to Our Way to a Better - + suggest in that kids' w/out adults is a solution to our current self-selection into (+ is good for )

FreeRangeKidsRaising In An Age Of Is Tough, but are trying | | [Link to Free Range Kids book]

: 5 Proven Benefits Of : summarizes new recommendations | , + more

Demand that Be a Happy Time and Place: A “Garden for Children!” via | "adults who try to say children should be accomplishing more at an earlier age are way off base"

Schools and Libraries

What I really want to know from my child’s on night. Hint: It has nothing to do with , by +

InnovatorsMindsetThe Importance of and in | " should become a place where curiosity is developed in individuals no matter what factors have led to its decline" [Link to Innovator's Mindset book]

3 Important Areas to Shift the Conversation in | I especially like "Weakness-Focused to Strengths-Based" |

How are failing working parents (days off, meetings during school day, no before school care, etc.) — though some are helping

Crack Down as More Cut Class -

You’re Unlikely To Find More Useful Articles To Help With Than These Two… says

PrimedToPerformHow to Motivate Frontline Employees by optimizing , , and while reducing pressure by + | | via , who suggests applying this to [Link to Primed to Perform book]

To Boost Higher-Order Thinking in , Try a | | Help them understand, analyze + evaluate information quality

Yes! This: Let’s Preserve the Complexity of Our Icons – "It is truly an injustice to our to assert that people can only be inspirational if they are essentially perfect."

Three essential tips for of children from via | Start by expecting the unexpected

Don't make vast decisions with half-vast | "If we can’t trust our data to tell us what’s going on in ..." responds to recent reporting on highly inaccurate statistics

The salary slide: pay is stagnating, new report from finds via | In no state are teachers paid more than other grads

"The status of hasn’t kept pace with its growing social significance" + the level of responsibility (like teaching character) we give UK's , says

3 Ways to Introduce into the | specialist shares tips for winning over + to this new via

AMONG THE ANKLE BITERS by . Or How I Learned about Helping Out with

Screens and Social Media

ReaderComeHomeMatt is thinking about Deeply in Spaces, responding in part to 's recent article about impact of | I shared some thoughts in the post comments [Link to Reader, Come Home book]

Interesting: Logged off: meet the teens who refuse to use | via | Some among + are turned off by the negatives + scaling back.

I totally agree with that The Key to Peace on is the (called snooze on FB) | Of course I haven't muted YOU, my friends + family members. But you can't tell for sure, can you?

The World Isn’t as Bad as Your Wired Brain Tells You - explains some of the "workings of our + ". Then again, he also said not to share this article on

Is Toxic for Teenagers' ? - comes down on the side of yes, citing , + says that the doubters are ruling out fuller understanding | I agree


Cool! Introduces free after-school clubs for 3rd-5th grade + is expanding program for 6-12 graders |

© 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.

Literacy Milestone: Writing a Newspaper

LiteracyMilestoneAPretty much since she knew what writing was, my daughter has loved to write. As I've noted before in these posts, she keeps notebooks everywhere. This week, however, she started a new writing project. She is creating her own newspaper. So far there have been two issues, each about five pages long. The issues have each included:

  • Two pages of ads
  • One page of comics
  • One page of news
  • One page of miscellaneous (one day it was movie listings, the other day it was a description of a skit)

The continuing news story has been about the "Eerie Fire". The headline for issue two was "Eerie fire Rages on!!!!" The situation is quite desperate. Many people, including babies (!) have been killed, some by smoke. The guilty party, Thomas, is in jail, complete with a picture of him behind bars with a sad face saying "I started it". If you have a somewhat dark sense of humor, as I do, these heavily illustrated stories are hilarious. And yes, you can tell she lives on the wildfire-prone West Coast, and that she's absorbed more news stories about fires than I realized. 

The ads have ranged from hair salons to restaurants. They include phone numbers and email addresses, and lists of services. And pictures, of course. The comics (while not as funny as the stories about the fire, if you ask me) are about things like parenting (poopy diapers, etc), drumming, and ninjas. The movie listings are, well, let's say unconventional. 

She is doing this largely on her own. She has asked me to help with copy-editing, mainly correcting spelling, and she has requested some input as she works on the comics. She has plans to continue producing new issues at least twice a week for the rest of the year. (Though this seems unlikely to me, as other projects will arise.) 

Don't you love it when kids get obsessed with a project? Especially a project that involves something creative, like writing or drawing (or both, in this case)? I know I do. I can't wait for the next issue. I'm especially curious to see what will be happening with the Eerie Fire, and Thomas's jail time.

Did your kids ever produce their own books or newspapers?

Thanks for reading! 

© 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

How to be a Happier Parent: Raising a Family, Having a Life, and Loving (Almost) Every Minute: KJ Dell'Antonia

Book: How to be a Happier Parent: Raising a Family, Having a Life, and Loving (Almost) Every Minute
Author: KJ Dell'Antonia
Pages: 320
Age Range: Adult Nonfiction (Parenting)

HappierParentI rarely review books for adults on this blog, but KJ Dell'Antonia's new parenting book How to be a Happier Parent: Raising a Family, Having a Life, and Loving (Almost) Every Minute inspired me to say a few words. I've read and enjoyed a number of Dell'Antonia's articles over the years, and so was interested to hear her voice in book form. I've also been on something of a personal quest to be happier in my own parenting, so this book had the potential to be a good fit.

I was not disappointed. It seems that Dell'Antonia, working (journalist) mother of four children, has been on a similar quest for quite a while. She read extensively on parenting, talked to a variety of parents and other experts, and conducted a survey. Her emphasis for the book is on changes that parents can make to their parenting styles, hacks of various sorts, that will make the parent happier. And happier parents will, she believes (as do I) ultimately lead to happier kids. 

Dell'Antonia cites a number of books that I had already read and enjoyed, like How to Raise and Adult by Julie Lythcott-Haimes, It's OK Not to Share by Heather Shumaker, and The Gift of Failure by Jessica Lahey. I felt early on in the book that KJ and I we were philosophically aligned, and I marked a number of other books for future reads. I also got a kick out of the fact that two of the parents she cited were people that I knew (Marjorie Ingall and Jason Kotecki), at least in the sense of having met them in person and shared a meal. 

Anyway, How to Be a Happier Parent consists of chapters dedicated to each of nine parenting areas that Dell'Antonia and the people she talked with have found to particular sources of unhappiness or stress for parents. She starts with getting everyone out of the house in the morning and progresses through things like enforcing chores, mediating between siblings, and monitoring homework.

Her basic approach is guided by a set of ten mantras for happier parents that she explains early in the book and then repeatedly refers back to. For instance: "What you want now isn't always what you want later" (you have to take the long view when doing things like enforcing chores, even when being the fun, easy parent is more appealing in the short run). I especially liked "You do you", as in, you don't have to be the Pinterest-perfect parent, your family can do what your family likes.

I highlighted passages in basically every chapter (except for the one on siblings, which I skipped because my daughter doesn't have siblings). In truth, a lot of the recommendations in the book consist of things that I already believe, like staying as far out of your children's homework assignments as you can and using natural consequences to teach them to pack their backpacks properly (by refusing to bring something to them later). But there's a difference between believing philosophically in doing something and actually doing it. And for me, at least, there's value in repetition and the validation of hearing advice that you in your heart want to hear. (Like "you do you.")

The piece of advice that stood out the most for me, and that I feel like could actually change how I do things, was regarding discipline. The general idea is to treat discipline not so much as enforcement but as teaching kids how to enact certain behaviors. And to remind yourself that it takes kids a long (long, long, long) time to learn things sometimes, so you just have to keep repeating yourself over and over again. You should try to do this without beating yourself up over having failed to get this across in the previous 100 times, which will help in staying calm. Here's a section of the text on this that I highlighted:

"“but you’re not here just to stop him in the moment.” You’re here, she says, to teach your child to make the right choices for himself, so offer that option first, even if it seems as if he should know better by now. Some things take a lot of saying...

That whole sequence of connecting, teaching, and then, if necessary, ending a behavior is one you will repeat again and again, especially with a younger child, so make your words positive ones, even if the behavior is anything but. “If I’m going to say it a hundred times,” says Faber, “I figure it might as well be something I want my child to learn.”...

That kind of repetition is where a lot of us fall down. Consistency is hard, and it’s especially difficult when we’ve become so accustomed to an on-demand world...

When we accept discipline as a long-term teaching process, it gets easier. Instead of thinking, I’ve asked him hundreds of times to do this and he still doesn’t do it, parents who are happier in their disciplinary role think something more along the lines of I’ve asked him a hundred times and I’ll ask him a hundred more and that’s how we get there." (Chapter 7)

I'm going to try to remember this. I think it will help. And really, that's why I read parenting and other self-help type books. I'm looking for those ideas that resonate with my own personal philosophy and that might, if implemented, help in some way. 

So, even as someone who has read a lot of books on related topics, I found How to be a Happier Parent useful. This book is not for the mother who is looking for validation in her quest to get her child into Stanford at all costs, or for the father trying figure out how to push his lazy child to practice more so that he can get that football scholarship. (Though these parents could learn a lot if they did read it.) But if you are a busy parent and you are looking for some tips on taking a deep breath, slowing things down, taking off some of the pressure and enjoying your family more, this is the book for you. Highly recommended! 

Publisher: Avery  
Publication Date: August 21, 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).