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Posts from December 2018

Links I Shared on Twitter this Week: December 21: Happy New Year Edition!

TwitterLinksHere are highlights from the links that I shared on Twitter this week @JensBookPage. Topics in this very brief issue include #BookLists, #Cybils, #Failure, #FunnyBooks, #HigherEd, #JoyOfReading, #ScreenTime, education, reading, research, and technology. 

My daughter is on vacation for the next two weeks, and I will most likely not be blogging. Wishing all who celebrate it a wonderful Christmas. I hope that everyone has a peaceful New Year, and that you spend the holiday period surrounded by people you love. And books. Plenty of books. 

For what it's worth, when asked by my daughter what I want for Christmas I answered that all I want is more time to read. We shall see... Happy New Year!

Book Lists + Awards

FunnyGirlTen to get you laughing (ages 4-13), a from that will help kids find the

Ten to read again & again (ages 8-15), a from | My daughter has and re-reads most of these - it's a solid, kid-friendly list!

Don't miss the Armchair Shortlist Contest | Predict the finalists for a single category

Events, Programs, and Research

The 'dirty secret' about innovation - A 2018 federal report found that only 18 percent of innovations funded by lifted achievement via

Growing Bookworms

EnginerdsBetween a and a | What Happens When You Don’t Enjoy a Book? | + on helping kids learn to choose books that they enjoy

Higher Ed

101: Some Teach Students How to Cope With Setbacks

Schools

If You Want a Content-Rich Curriculum for All, Don't Ignore - | " of choice that implement a knowledge-rich curriculum well and willingly are a proof point" |

Screen Time

ArtOfScreenTimeHow Much Is Too Much for Kids? | talks w/ + industry experts like |

© 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: December 19: The 13th Blog Anniversary 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 one middle grade book review and two literacy milestones (creating graphic novel versions of stories and clarifying vocabulary words). I also have a post about two side benefits for parents from raising a book-loving child. I have three posts with links that I shared recently on Twitter, full of reading- and education-related news. 

I should also mention here that Monday, December 17th, marked the 13th anniversary of my blog. I was too busy to write a separate post to mark the occasion, but I did take a moment to marvel at how thirteen years have passed since the afternoon that I sat down, laptop on lap, and started blogging. Thanks to everyone who has taken time out of their busy lives to check in occasionally and read what I have to say. Extra thanks to those who have taken time to comment!

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

  • Ginger Ly (ill. Molly Park): Suee and the Shadow. Harry N. Abrams Books. Middle Grade Graphic Novel. Completed December 12, 2018, read aloud to my daughter. I'm not personally a big reader of graphic novels, but my daughter had some trouble following this one, and asked me to read it to her. It's intriguing, but ends with some details unresolved and no word that I could see on when a sequel might be forthcoming. 
  • LightningThiefRick Riordan: The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, #1). Disney Hyperion. Middle Grade Speculative Fiction. Completed December 17, 2018, on MP3. This was an audio re-read of an old favorite because my daughter is reading this in print, and had questions that were beyond my memory for detail.
  • Donalyn Miller and Colby Sharp: Game Changer!: Book Access for All Kids. Scholastic. Adult Nonfiction. Completed November 30, 2018, print copy. This book just came out and is fabulous. Any teacher who cares at all about encouraging kids to enjoy reading will want to get a copy. 
  • Michael Connelly: Dark Sacred Night (Ballard and Bosch mystery). Little, Brown and Co. Completed December 5, 2018, on MP3. This is the first of a new series in which Connelly pairs his long-time series character, Harry Bosch with a newer young female detective, Renee Ballard (introduced in one previous title). I think the pairing is going to work, and look forward to further installments.
  • Maryanne Wolf: Reader, Come Home: The Reading Brain in a Digital World. Harper. Adult Nonfiction. Completed December 7, 2018, on Kindle. I had a bit of trouble getting through this very detailed look at the impact of different types of reading on the brain. It's a topic that I'm very interested in, however, and I persisted through some dense text to extract a few interesting points. 
  • Louise Penny: Kingdom of the Blind (Chief Inspector Gamache, #14). Minotaur Books. Adult Mystery. Completed December 11, 2018, on MP3. This is the newest installment in one of my favorite series, and did not disappoint. 

TheNutcrackerI'm currently reading The Power of Moments: Why Certain Experiences Have Extraordinary Impact, by Chip Heath and Dan Heath (print library copy). I've been weeding my way through a host of Kindle samples and have loaded up my device with my choices in the hopes of getting some reading time in over the holidays. I haven't decided what to listen to next, but will get to that soon. After reading a graphic novel together, my daughter and I are back to reading picture books. We read a couple of versions of The Nutcracker, for example, prior to a family trip up to San Francisco to see the ballet this week. 

NotSoFabooIn terms of her own reading, my daughter is nearly halfway through The Lightning Thief (the first Percy Jackson book) by Rick Riordan. We have two copies for some reason, so she keeps one in her backpack (for spare moments) and one in my car. It's a pretty challenging book for her, however, so she takes regular breaks to read and re-read graphic novels and picture books. We visited a bookstore yesterday after seeing The Nutcracker, and she was excited to spot the second book in the Caveboy Dave series, Not So Faboo, by Aaron Reynolds and Phil McAndrew. In the interest of supporting independent bookstores, I bought her that, Monster Mayhem by Christopher Eliopoulos, and three titles from the Who Was...? series (all about women, as she requested). We did not get much conversation out of her during dinner. 

Thanks for reading, and for growing bookworms! Wishing you all much joy this holiday season. 

© 2018 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage


How to Properly Dispose of Planet Earth: Paul Noth

Book: How to Properly Dispose of Planet Earth
Author: Paul Noth
Pages: 192
Age Range: 8-12

HowToProperlyDisposeHow to Properly Dispose of Planet Earth is the sequel to Paul Noth's How to Sell Your Family to the Aliens (reviewed here). At least one more book will certainly be forthcoming, as this book ends on something of a cliffhanger. This wacky science fiction series features a middle school-age boy named Happy (Hap) Conklin, Jr. and his highly unusual family members. In this installment, Hap and his future-path-seeing sister Kayla try to save the world from being sucked into a black hole, a punishment from an alien race battling the Nolan's power-hungry grandmother. They do have help in the form of clues provided by a time and space traveling lizard named Squeep! Saving the world is almost as difficult for Hap as asking new girl Nevada to be his lab partner. 

Like the first book in the series, How to Properly Dispose of Planet Earth is chock-full of smart cartoon-like illustrations, self-deprecating humor, and intriguing science references. Hap spends considerable time trying to decipher clues from Squeep!, and a code-breaking dimension to the book. The tribulations of middle school (bullies, geeky potential friends, mean girls, and buffoonish security guards, for example) are sprinkled throughout with a light touch. Here are a couple of snippets to give you a feel:

"She's funny, I thought. You're funny too. You should ask her to be your lab partner.

So I walked up to her to introduce myself.

Then I walked past her.

I ended up in the back of the room sharpening a pencil.

(Picture of a pencil with callout "It was already sharp" pointing to the tip. 

and:

"Dad had been right about one thing. Just because I'd been in extra dimensional space-time didn't mean I understood it. And "fear of the unknown" is a picnic compared to the terror or the incomprehensible." (Chapter 12, ARC).

How to Properly Dispose of Planet Earth was a quick, humorous read. I think I would have enjoyed it more had I read it right after reading the first book, when the details and characters were fresh in my mind. But I still quite enjoyed the interplay between family dynamics, middle school, and over-the-top science fiction adventure. I look forward to the next book! Fans of How to Sell Your Family to the Aliens will definitely not want to miss this one. And for those who haven't read the first book, but enjoy over-the-top illustrated humor, this series is well worth a look, a great fit for elementary or middle school libraries. Recommended!

Publisher: Bloomsbury Children's Books
Publication Date: January 15, 2019
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).


Literacy Milestone: Creating Graphic Novel Versions of Stories

LiteracyMilestoneAAs regular readers of this blog know, my eight-year-old daughter is a huge fan of graphic novels. She's been mixing in more prose-dominant texts of late, particularly for school, but graphic novels still hold a special place in her heart. Her latest innovation is to create graphic novel versions of texts that she is reading. She started last month with a folktale from an anthology, assigned for reading homework. For some reason, she decided that instead of just reading the story, she would adapt it to a graphic novel format.

This took much, much longer than it would have taken her to simply read the story. I eventually had to refuse to let her complete the adaption so that she would have time to finish the actual reading before (her already late) bedtime. I believe she plans to finish at some later time (the anthology didn't come home the next day, otherwise she would have done it right away). 

Apart from the fact this it was time-consuming, I supported the effort. To convert a story into another format, one has to first process the story. I also read an article by Emma Young in BPS Research Digest recently that said that "the act of drawing something has a massive benefit for memory compared with writing it down." Here's a snippet:

"Myra Fernandes and colleagues at the University of Waterloo, Canada ... first established what they call the “drawing effect” – getting people to draw quick pictures of words in a list (such as “truck” or “pear”) led to much better recall of those words than writing them out multiple times. Creating just a four-second drawing was also superior to imagining the items or viewing pictures of the words." 

There are promising implications here for people with dementia. I'm sure there's more to it than this, but to me it makes sense that the effort of understanding something well enough to draw it probably helps in remembering it. So I could certainly see some academic benefits to my daughter from adapting other narratives to a graphic format. There's also the practice at drawing, of course, and the fact that she is reinforcing her love of graphic novels by creating them herself (albeit with a head start on the story). I think it's safe to say that original graphic novel work is going to follow. (Well, she's already dabbling in that, too.]

Do your kids convert the stories they are reading into other formats? I don't remember doing anything like this as a child, but a) I don't have a very good memory and b) graphic novels weren't a thing at that time. So who can say? 

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


Links I Shared on Twitter this Week: December 14: Stop Glorifying Busy + #ReadAloud Some #Christmas #PictureBooks Instead

TwitterLinksHere are highlights from the links that I shared on Twitter this week @JensBookPage. Topics this week include #Audiobooks, #BookLists, #ClassroomLibraries, #DiverseBooks, #FreePlay, #Homework, #JoyOfReading, #LearningStyles, #Math, #ReadAloud, #ScreenTime, #STEM, education, parenting, research, and schools.

Top Tweets of the Week

Build Your Stack: Four Ways Can Build a Community of Readers through | ,

This is encouraging: When doctors say ‘read to your toddler,’ new parents listen

Book Lists

SantaBruceA Round-Up from | Includes my new favorite

Here's a nice collection of for your Joy from , , suggestions + more

I especially liked this entry in the 31 Days, 31 Lists: 2018 Books for Kids

Diverse Fantasy Books, a new from | , , + strong princesses

Events, Programs + Research

Mindset2018 Research Highlights | | + more

Aren't a Reliable Way to Categorize , Study Says - |  [See also An additional reason to abandon learning styles -- teachers and pupils do not agree on the pupils' learning style from BPS Research Digest]

Changes Structure of Kids' Brains say early results from study | | "daily screen usage of more than 7 hours showed premature thinning of the brain cortex"

Another Study Finds Eliciting Explanations From Is More Effective Than Telling Them |

Later Start Times In Seattle Results In Improved , Better – And More Sleep | links to recent results https://t.co/tgmeToHrd1

Growing Bookworms

WizardsOfOnceGreat advice here: If we want our children to thrive, teaching them to read is not enough – they must learn to enjoy it |

What’s New | Links to useful resources like tools, a channel w/ stories + more

On Reading, Writing, Blogging, and Publishing

Is Listening to a Book the Same Thing as Reading It? Each is suited to different purposes says |

Parenting + Play

I didn't even have to click through to know that My Favorite “Learning” Toys in our House from would NOT feature

FreeRangeKidsDon't Let Your Kid Get Straight A's on recent piece | "Kids need free, unstructured time to discover what they find intrinsically -- extraordinarily -- motivating."

Schools and Libraries

"For 25 Years I was a Pro-Homework Teacher" - Tim Bedley, co-founder of shares his revised take on

Great stuff in this post from | 9 Assumptions to Scrutinize | I agree with Mary that kids WILL work at home w/out official assignments. Mine will anyway.

Down With , Say U.S. School Districts | "The goal of the changes is to give students more time to read, sleep and spend time with family" | I wish our elementary did this

Self Improvement + Motivation

Timely for the season: Stop Glorifying Busy. Start embracing care—for yourself and for the world around you. via (w/ graphic showing 50 ways to take a break) https://t.co/8BdMEDaXg1

© 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.


Two Side Benefits of Raising Your Child to Love Reading

There are many benefits that accrue to children who grow up as readers. Today I want to share a couple of recent incidents that illustrate benefits for parents of raising a child who enjoys reading. 

TheGetawayFirst up, during the Thanksgiving break I had to take my daughter to both Costco and Safeway one morning. Shortly after we entered Costco we swung past the book section. She begged for a Diary of a Wimpy Kid book that she hadn't read yet (The Getaway). Being a sucker for books, I agreed. She promptly climbed into the back of the cart (luckily I didn't need very much on that trip) and proceeded to read through the entire shopping expedition. She continued reading, in a different shopping cart, while we were at Safeway. Throughout both stores she only asked for ONE THING, and did not complain when I said no. Normally I try not to shop with her at all, because she's constantly asking me to purchase various items. But not that trip, when there was reading to be done. I figure that the $8 that I paid for the book probably saved me quite a bit of money. Certainly it saved me stress, while providing some extra exercise from pushing the carts.

PositivelyIzzyI repeated this experiment a few days later on a trip to the toy-filled, kid-mecca that is Target, agreeing (after some initial reluctance) to purchase a copy of Positively Izzy by Terri Libenson (companion book to Invisible Emmie, which my daughter had already read). This time, the only request she made throughout the rest of the trip was for vanilla yogurt (which was reasonable enough). 

Moral #1: if you can train your child to basically have blinders on whenever she had a new book in front of her, you can safely walk her past even the most tempting of distractions. Shopping trips will be more economical and efficient, all for the low price of one new book. 

SandWarriorThe other incident occurred on a recent Sunday afternoon. My husband and I were working on various chores around the house. My daughter asked for a playdate but the friends we tried were busy and it didn't work out. Normally, this would have produced whining, at a minimum. But in this case, she simply disappeared. We had a peaceful and productive 90 minutes before she reappeared, announcing that she had read all of the first Five Worlds book and about half of the second. She was proud of her accomplishment and happy as a clam. And I got most of my Christmas cards addressed. It was a win all around, thanks to the power of reading. 

Moral #2: if you can inspire your child to enjoy reading, and you ensure that there are always interesting books scattered strategically around your house, you will eventually be rewarded with periods of quiet time (during which no mess is generated). 

As any parent (particularly any parent of an only child) knows, these benefits are not to be sneezed at. So, if you aren't already convinced that you should nurture a love of reading in your children for their sake, do it for yourself. You'll be glad you did. 

© 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: December 7: #Hanukkah Books, #28DaysLater, #SchoolLibrarians + #RoaldDahl

TwitterLinksHere are highlights from the links that I shared on Twitter this week @JensBookPage. Topics this relatively light week include #BookDonation, #BookLists, #BrownBookshelf, #Curiosity, #DiverseBooks, #GenderGap, #GiftGuides, #GrowingBookworms, #Introversion, #parenting, #play, #ReadAloud, #RoaldDahl, #SchoolLibrarians, #ScienceLiteracy, #ViewpointDiversity, #writing, communication, schools, and teaching.

Top Tweet of the Week

Charities That Give Books + Promote , a list from

See also The 2018 Bookish Charitable Giving Guide | + lots more

Book Lists + Gift Guides

AllofaKindFamilyHanukkahA from

21 Diverse Contemporary Books for Kids Ages 8-13, new from |

Some fun ideas in for Young from https://t.co/mXy539Fo0R

Events, Programs + Research

28dayslogo28 Days Later Call for Nominations | is looking for under-the-radar + vanguard Black creators to profile during

Installs Vending Machine That Dispenses Free to Kids Who Read | | Using for behavior, but at least the rewards are books

Fascinating: Why Smart People Are Vulnerable to Putting Before Truth. is important, but w/out parallel trait of "science curiosity," can lead to increased |

Harvard study: Children who start school early more likely to get diagnosis — even if they don’t have it - https://t.co/XmIxuuJz5r

Growing Bookworms

RollerGirlsThe Difference a Can Make, According to a Parent | | Nurturing + providing great books

10 Times When a Book Is a Better Gift Than a Toy | |

Introversion

As an , I so agree w/ this piece about replacing boring small talk w/ authentic discussion | 11 Questions Interesting People Always Ask to Spark Great | | via

On Reading, Writing, Blogging, and Publishing

The In Children's Books Is The Real Monster In The Room | via

gives her students permission to write "bad" , thus taking away the fear / pressure https://t.co/q9IaywgyDt

CharlieAndTheChocolateNetflix to adapt classics to small screen - Deal includes animated versions of Charlie + the Chocolate Factory, Matilda, BFG and lots more (up to 16 titles)

Parenting + Play

Should Parents Eat Lunch With Their Children at ? | I wouldn't. I wonder what thinks

Obvious but still good to see: "Pediatricians say that old-fashioned toys are better for small children than high-tech gadgets, says a new report" from |

Your Love is an Essential Ingredient to Your Child’s

Schools and Libraries

Authentic "Student Voice" Includes Skills via | need to teach how to use

This is very sad: Louisiana Made Headlines for Sending Black Kids to Elite Colleges. Here’s the Reality. + |

This is encouraging: Learn to Put the 'Civil' in - via

© 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: Voluntarily Clarifying Vocabulary Words

LiteracyMilestoneAMy daughter and I recently started reading Inkheart by Cornelia Funke together. She found a copy of Inkdeath on my bookshelf and became intrigued by the series, but she did understand that starting with the third book would be a mistake (I had listened to the first two on audio). Knowing that this would be a book that would take some time to get through, I purchased a copy. While Amazon lists the age range for Inkheart as eight to twelve, she gave the first chapter a try on her own and found the storyline and vocabulary a bit too complex to read on her own. So I started reading the book aloud to her instead. 

InkheartAs we read, we've been doing what her teacher calls "clarifying" in terms of the vocabulary, where she stops when she gets to an unfamiliar word, looks it up, and writes the definition on a post-it that remains in the book. Because we are reading together and this isn't for school I mostly just tell her the definitions and she writes them down. I don't have the patience to wait for her to look up the words herself. Funke uses a very rich vocabulary, and there are many words to look up. 

I have mixed feelings about doing this formal clarifying with an advanced read-aloud (vs. my just defining the most key words in passing as I go along, which is how we have handled previous books). Pages 6-7 of Inkheart required eight post-it notes between them, and we haven't gotten past Chapter 1. This definitely breaks the flow of the story.

On the other hand, my daughter is currently entranced and entertained by the process.  She was also very excited when I happened to use one of the words (sparse) in conversation and she recognized it from the book. She's dying to show her teacher our post-it-festooned copy.

What I really think is that doing this formal clarifying during read-aloud is fine as long as the novelty of it remains fun for her. Heck, I used to read the dictionary as a kid - I get having an interest in words. However, once we get further into the book (if we get further into the book right now), stopping frequently to write down definitions is going to become frustrating. 

Appreciating words for their own sake is a step on the path towards becoming a literate adult.  I remember, with a slight wince, a story that I wrote in junior high, and read aloud to my English class, that was chock-full of obscure vocabulary words. In my daughter's case, I think at least part of her interest in clarifying has to do with how much she looks up to her teacher. This is a further validation that we are fortunate in her classroom placement. 

Did your kids have a word-definition phase? 

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