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Posts from October 2018

Literacy Milestone: A Renewed Affection for Picture Books

LiteracyMilestoneAThis isn't really a milestone, but I have noticed lately that my daughter (now eight, in third grade) is demonstrating a renewed affection for picture books. We never stopped reading picture books, but for a while we were mostly reading chapter books together. Now, since taking a break from the Harry Potter books and making more regular library visits, we've once again been reading picture books together at breakfast. I also constantly find picture books open or in piles in her bedroom and bathroom.

Duke!She's a bit less patient with these picture books than she was when she was younger. If she doesn't like a book, she will tell me to put it aside, and not even finish it. For instance, she found Aaron Reynolds and Dan Santat's new picture book Dude! annoying because it only had one word in it (though that was the point), and rejected it utterly. 

But she still has the potential to fall in love with a new book. We picked up the book Bears and Blossoms by Shirley Parenteau and David Walker at the library a few weeks ago. It's part of a series, but I had never run across the books before. They are aimed more at preschoolers, but my daughter fell head over heels anyway. I've had to renew Bears and Blossoms twice now, and we've checked out whatever other books in the series we have been able to find (I need to put the others on reserve). I finally gave in and ordered her a copy this week, because I am eventually going to have to return this one. 

FulBearsAndBlossomsl disclosure: her most special teddy bear has a strong resemblance to Fuzzy, the pink bear in the books. This seems to be the key to her interest. But it doesn't matter WHY a child loves a book, just that she does. Or so I think. 

Anyway, no real milestones this week, but I think it's kind of neat that my daughter is diving back in to picture books. 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

Links I Shared on Twitter this Week: October 5: #Cybils Nominations, #IntrinsicMotivation + Freedom to #Read #GraphicNovels

TwitterLinksHere are highlights from the links that I shared on Twitter this week @JensBookPage. Topics this week include: #AR, #Booklists, #Cybils, #Diversity, #GenderDifferences, #Giftedness, #GraphicNovels, #GrowingBookworms, #HelicopterParenting, #Homework, #IntrinsicMotivation, #literacy, #Motivation, #ReadingAloud, #ReadingRewards, parenting, reading, and schools.

Top Tweet of the Week

Why Girls Are Better at Than Boys across the developed world. They spend more time , for one thing

Book Lists + Awards

Cybils-Logo-2018-Round450pxThe 2018 Nominations are Now OPEN! | + more

Here are some 2018 Nomination Suggestions in various categories (inc. + ) from Jennifer Wharton, Elem/ chair

15 Superb (many the start of a series) for 2nd Graders | Janssen Bradshaw w/ + more

Diversity + Gender

MissRumphius10 Positive Things about We Need to Show Kids in Books by | Kids "deserve exposure to older and a more accurate of abilities, talents + interests"

New finds: Women and Men Are Equally Bad at | "we think it is fair to conclude that the evidence for the stereotype that women are better multitaskers is, so far, fairly weak"

Giftedness + Motivation

Interesting on Peer effects on . Being observed by peers reduces the tendency of giving up immediately. via

How to help your underachieving gifted child

Some Parents Pay Up to $400 an Hour to Prep 4-Year-Olds for NYC’s Test -

Growing Bookworms

PunishedByRewardsA Closer Look at . "What do, and what they do with devastating effectiveness, is to smother people’s enthusiasm for activities they might otherwise enjoy."

A Notecard Check – A Simple Way to Check whether kids are understanding their books, without adding so much post-reading work that they will hate itself

What can do for who Abandon Every Single Book they attempt by | , + taking the long view on

Your Child’s Excuses, and What They Really Mean | | + more

ReadingTogetherReading Together: Everything You Need to Know to Raise a Child Who Loves to Read by Diane W. Frankenstein (2009) | recommends this as "best of the bunch" on books about books


Lots of interesting tidbits in Fusenews: STEM Girl Fashions, the Death of “Hypothesis”, and More — | My daughter + I love dresses too

Check out the gorgeous + user-friendly new website for , chock full of , + resources like tips for

On Reading, Writing, Blogging, and Publishing

ElDeafoComics and : Honoring All and seeking input from about their use in the from

The straw man in the new round of the wars - shares a response from professor

Parenting + Screen Time

How I Know You Wrote Your Kid’s . "The paradox of the overzealous editing of the college essay by many is that they don’t know what a college essay is really about" JM Farkas

If You Want To Help Your Child's Brain Development, Start When They're Born. Article outlines 5 ways to do it, including of course

Researchers in new study report that the most plausible cause of wellbeing decline in youth is increased |

Schools and Libraries

BeyondMeasureLater start times will help get needed . But they aren't enough. Lawmakers should consider regulating total time spent on via

More schools are nixing because parents say it’s annoying, infringes on time + keeps kids from developing other interests |

Schools: EdPolicy + Funding

Massive study shows face bleak financial future due in part to declining enrollment + rising costs

This is kind of interesting (though I'm not sure about costs): The Case for Adding a Second 2nd Grade to Elementary (to give kids who need it more time to catch up) by

© 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.

Publications for Kids from the US Government Bookstore

This summer I received a packet of books and interactive booklets from the US Government Publishing Office (GPO). Basically, the GPO has an online bookstore where you can purchase children's books (and adult books) that have been published by various government agencies.  Who knew? They actually have a Government Book Talk Blog where you can learn about the books, with posts often keyed to holidays and other relevant events. You do have to buy the books from the government (via website, phone, at their retail store in Washington, etc.). But they have some cool stuff. 

WhereIsBearThey sent me a couple of paperback picture books from the CDC that were designed for parents to help understand their children's developmental milestones. They are include lots of prompts for parents to interact with two and three year olds, and they have little "Milestone Moments" on each page to tell parents what to expect as their children's literacy develops. These types of books are not really my sort of thing, but the two that I received (Where Is Bear?: A Terrific Tale for 2-Year Olds and Amazing Me: It's Busy Being Three) were cute, and certainly put together with attention to detail. I could see value in, say, distributing them as part of a Reach Out and Read type program. You can read more about them here

JuniorPaleontologistThey also sent me several softcover activity booklets from the National Park Service, a Junior Ranger Activity Booklet for Haleakala, a Junior Paleontologist Activity Book for Ages 5-12, a Junior Ranger activity guide for California-Zephyr, and a Junior Ranger Night Explorer booklet for the Midwest Region. The website shows various others, for all sorts of activities and locations. These activity books would, I think, be extremely handy for keeping a child busy when visiting a National Park. They are chock full of word searches, board games (where you just use a pebble or something for playing pieces), fill in the blank quizzes, journal entries, and connect the dots. They have clearly been extensively researched and are full of details about the topic at hand. Here's one example:

"Native Hawaiians are incredible scientists. Scientists learn best by just watching, hearing, and feeling how things around them interact. They observe many things: rocks, plants, birds, air, sun, stars, and much more. Pre-European contact Hawaiians did not have a written language. They had to memorize everything that they learned." This is followed by questions like "Think of ways you can help yourself memorize things without writing them down." 

Some of the content is more fact based, while some of it leans towards passing on positive messages about National Parks, nature, etc. The Haleakala one has required activities that you need to do. If you do them you can get a park ranger to sign your certificate. The Junior Paleontologist one was more general, without the associated certificate. I think my daughter will enjoy working with this one from home. 

HaleakalaMy general impression of the activity books was that they all had a LOT of content, and could keep kids busy in the car for quite some time. They are lightweight but are full color, and sturdy enough to survive a road trip. If I were headed to a National Park or other landmark I would consider checking online ahead of time for associated publications. At the very least, if saw said publications in the visitor's center on checking in, I would definitely pick one up. We'll keep the Haleakala one for our next trip!

And just to point out the wide variety of government agencies producing children's publications, the last booklet in my packet was Understanding Marine Debris: Games & Activities for Kids of All Ages, from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). This has a glossy cover and a black and white interior with sturdy pages. There's everything inside from coloring to dot to dot to Mad Libs. This one is, as you would expect from the title, fairly didactic in terms of the content ("How your packed lunch can make less trash", etc.), but it's been my observation that many kids love this sort of thing. They can use the knowledge against their parents and show how smart they are ("Mommy, the book says you should be using reusable grocery bags", or whatever). I also thought that they did a nice job of keeping the activities fun. Which is the point, of course. 

Bottom line: the US Government Publishing Office has a wide range of publications designed to inform and educate kids (and parents). If you are looking for activity books for your kids on some particular topic (a trip you are taking, a point you want to make to them about the environment, etc.), their website would a good place to start. And if you are out in a Visitor's Center somewhere, take a look at the kids' publications. I think you'll be surprised by the level of effort that's gone into making them entertaining. 

© 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: Pushing Me Towards Reading Print Books

LiteracyMilestoneAI have believed, since my daughter was small, that it's just better for her developmentally to read books in print, rather than onscreen. Sure, we had a couple of storybook-themed apps that she played with when she was younger (Jack and the Beanstalk, e.g.), but that was play time, not reading time. When I read to her (which was often), I read her print books. For picture books, in particular, I felt (and still feel) that print books provide a much better read together experience. 

Now that she's older (eight) there are arguments for letting her read books on a Kindle. I actually have an old one that she could use, and I own digital copies of a bunch of children's books. There's the portability argument for when we are traveling. I actually did set up and bring that old Kindle on a family trip this summer, just in case, but she didn't use it. There's also the ability to look up the meaning of words quickly and easily on a device. But usually I'm nearby and she can just ask me, which is even quicker. 

The truth is that it's just been my gut instinct that it's better for her to learn to love reading in the context of print books. She has her whole life to get more screen time in. And the fact that she mostly likes heavily illustrated books just reinforces the choice of print, for most titles. So that's that. Not very controversial. I know many parents who feel this way. 

WimpyKidOldSchoolWhat I didn't expect was that my daughter would start hounding ME to do more of my reading from print books, rather than screens. It started with her reading one of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books (probably it was #10: Old School, but I am not sure) and saying something like: "It says here that it's better for you to read books in print instead of on a screen." I agreed, and we talked about that.

Then (you knew this was coming) she started asking me why I do so much of my reading on a Kindle instead of reading print books. I tried to explain that I use a dedicated Paperwhite, rather than reading on a full-fledged tablet computer, so that I don't have distractions, and that the eInk screen isn't as disruptive as other screens when I'm reading at night, etc. That I take the lightweight Paperwhite everywhere so that I can read if I have a spare moment, and so on. She did not buy any of it.

Ever since, she's been nagging me about this whenever the opportunity arises. One day I made a point of locking the car even though we would only be gone for a couple of minutes. I said that my Kindle was in the car and that I didn't want it to get stolen. Her response was along the lines of:  "Well, if your Kindle got stolen then you would have to read some real books for a change, and that would actually be good." 

ReaderComeHomeThe truth is, she might be right. I read an article by Maryanne Wolf that talked about the impact on our brains of replacing "deep reading" with various forms of screen reading that gave me pause. Wolf talks about how digital reading is associated with more skimming, and hence lower reading comprehension. I haven't read Wolf's book on this topic: Reader, Come Home: The Reading Brain in the Digital World. I also talked recently with a friend who noted how much more throughly he reads the print newspaper vs. when he's reading in the app. I've noticed this myself with magazine that I get in print, but can read sooner in the app version. 

Then there's the fact that even if this isn't true (that the format of reading matters for adults), it does matter for what message I'm sending to my daughter. When she sees me reading a print book she KNOWS that I'm reading. When she sees me reading from a screen, even when it's my book-dedicated Kindle, she's just less sure. And I do want to model reading for her. It's one of the things as a parent that I am best at. 

I won't be giving up Kindle. I love the immediacy of being able to download the sequel the instant that I finish a mystery. I love being able to upload all my highlights to my computer when I'm reading nonfiction. I love always having several books that I want to read with me, especially when I'm traveling. I appreciate not having quite so many print books piling up (if you saw my house, you would understand). I value being able to set the Kindle on the arm of the sofa next to my exercise bike and tap with one finger to turn the pages (in a way that doesn't work at all with print books). I need these things, to varying degrees. 

However, I have started to think carefully before I make any book purchases, to see if it might be better in this case to get it in print, or from the library. Maybe my husband will want to read it, too. Maybe I'll want to keep it on the bookshelf. Maybe I want my daughter to see me reading this book. And so on.

IdRatherBeReadingOne recent case was the book I'd Rather Be Reading: The Delights and Dilemmas of the Reading Life by Anne Bogel. I read the sample on my Kindle and was tempted to just order it. But one of the reviews specially talked about what an appealing little book it was in hardcover, just the right size to hold. Certainly it passed the test of a book that would make me happy to have my daughter see me reading it. So I delayed my gratification for a couple of days and ordered the print copy. I'm so glad that I did. I've been keeping the book on my nightstand and reading an essay or two each night. I love the physicality of the book. I give it a little pat on the cover when I'm done for the day. I appreciate this particular book more in print. 

This is all a bit of a work in progress. My daughter also wants me to spend less time on my phone and computer. But that's a topic for another post. But for now it's enough to share that she is expressing a very clear anti-device-reading message to me, and that I am listening. 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. And yes, most of the links, including to the Paperwhite, are affiliate links.