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Posts from February 2020

#BookwormMoments: Reading in Disney World

MagicKingdomBooksMy family visited Disney World last week. On  the first day, my daughter, who is currently obsessed by the two-book The Candymakers series by Wendy Mass, lamented every moment that she didn't have her (very thick) book with her. By the last day, she was toting not one but two books as we headed to the Magic Kingdom. 

It's a bit hard to see in the photo here, but she is reading a graphic novel as we wait for the bus, with The Candymakers and the Great Chocolate Chase visible in her (new) backpack. She chose the backpack as her souvenir from the trip with carrying books around in mind. On taking TWO books with her, she explained that the graphic novel was for when she couldn't concentrate well (as when  in line), while the novel was for quieter moments when she could focus.

This, my friends, is exhibit A on why parents should get out of the way and let kids read what they want to read. If I had pushed her to bring along some book that I wanted  her to read, do you think she would have sat happily reading while my husband and I waited in the Citrus Swirl line? Or while we waited for our food at dinner? Bringing her books along to the park was her idea and her idea alone. 

We probably would have brought one of the books with us every day, but the Candymakers books (hardcover library editions) are heavy! A friend suggested on Facebook that I get my daughter a Kindle. That's what I do myself: I always bring my Kindle Paperwhite to the parks in the expectation of some reading time. However, my daughter and I both prefer for her to read in print for now. She likes seeing her progress through these big books. And I think she likes the way that being seen with a book in the parks (and in airports and restaurants) displays her bookworm identity. 

Candymakers2One final note: the Candymakers books are the first big, fat, all-text books that she has devoured from cover to cover. (Well, she's almost done with the second one - I just head a "YES!" from her room, where she is reading in bed this fine Saturday morning.) She's read shorter middle grade books, but with more fits and starts, mixed in with her steady diet of graphic and notebook novels. This series feels like a turning point for her, one that I am happy about.

I have always celebrated her love of graphic novels and expect her to continue reading them for years to come. But I'm excited for her now, because reading more broadly in the middle grade realm opens up so many other opportunities for her enjoyment. We have two other Wendy Mass books on order, and I'm mulling other Candymakers read-alikes.

But mostly, I think I just need to get out of the way at this point. She found these books on her own, while browsing the school library with a friend. She will find the next ones, too. Parents, have faith in reading choice. And no matter what the school librarian says, if a book is captivating your child, by all means let her bring it on vacation. 

Thanks for reading, and for growing bookworms!

© 2020 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage. Links to be books may be affiliate links, for which I receive a small commission.

Links I Shared on Twitter this Week: February 14: Valentine's Day Edition

TwitterLinksHere are highlights from the links that I shared on Twitter this week @JensBookPage. Just a few topics on this relatively light week: #BoardBooks, #BookLists, #KidLitCon, #Phonics, #SandraBoynton, #SchoolLibrarians, #ScreenTime, parenting, reading, schools, writing. No roundup next week - my daughter has school vacation and I don't expect to spend much time online. Wishing you all a wonderful Valentine's Day!

Top Tweet of the Week

Sandra Boynton Writes Children’s Books That Don’t Condescend - @warren_bass @WSJ #kidlit #BoardBooks

Book Lists

The Absolute Best #PictureBooks about Friendship | #BookList from @momandkiddo | Our fave from the list is Maddi's Fridge

Events, Programs + Research

#KidLitCon (March 27-28 in Ann Arbor, MI) announces 2nd Keynote Speaker @arreechung | @KidLitCon #kidlit #YA

#KidLitCon 2020 Session: #YALit: Who Is Our Audience? | @KidLitCon #writing @aquafortis + more

Parenting, Play, and Screen Time

More students are learning on laptops and tablets in class. Some parents want to hit the off switch. @debbietruong @washingtonpost | Personally, I think the pendulum has shifted too far towards #ScreenTime in #Schools

#ScreenTime and the Brain | This is a balanced piece from @harvardmed w/ concrete tips from @mediatrician for minimizing device impact on sleep, family relationships + creativity

Schools and Libraries

Thoughts from @pernilleripp On Honoring Student #WritingIdentity | Write your own imperfect models + show kids how to make them better, e.g.

A former #HighSchool Principal on the Nonnegotiable Role of #SchoolLibrarians | @scottabeck @NASSP | Nurturing 21st century skills, helping students think + grow, + lots more

There Are Four Foundational #Reading Skills. Why Do We Only Talk About #Phonics ? @EdWeekOpinion via @MindShiftKQED

Is Character – “Caught” Or “Taught”? – @EmmaELYoung @ResearchDigest looks at recent efforts to include moral + civic virtues in #education @JubileeCentre1

© 2020 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage

Links I Shared on Twitter this Week: February 7: #WorldReadAloudDay, Curiosity, and Productive Praise

TwitterLinksHere are highlights from the links that I shared on Twitter this week @JensBookPage. Topics this relatively light week include #BookLists, #FakeNews, #grading, #GraphicNovels, #STEM, #WorldReadAloudDay, motivation, numbers, parenting, reading, schools, and writing. 

Book Lists

2020 #GraphicNovels: An Accounting of Some #KidLit Standouts — @fuseeight | I added some of these to my daughter's wish list

12 #YA Couples for #ValentinesDay – Another timely #BookList from @literacious | For those looking for the perfect gift for a book-loving (+possibly introverted) romance fan ... here's an idea

Events, Programs + Research

I'm a numbers geek + I love this: Today's date 02/02/2020 is written the same backward and forward — for everyone in the world — which hasn't happened in 900 years | @DisrnNews #STEM

For #WorldReadAloudDay I finished reading #MyLifeAsAYoutuber by @JanetTashjian to my daughter. We #ReadAloud every morning while she eats breakfast, but it was nice to finish a book today | @Scholastic @CPSLiteracy @litworldsays @MacKidsBooks | What are you reading?

On Reading, Writing, Blogging, and Publishing

The Illusory Truth Effect: Why We Believe #FakeNews + Propaganda - when something is repeated enough, our brains take a cognitive shortcut to save energy + start to believe it @farnamstreet

How 'Daybooks' Helped Get My Students #Writing - @arielsacks @EdWeekTeacher Getting adolescents to enjoy writing + helping them relax sounds like a win-win to me

Parenting + Play

In an uncertain world, #failure may be best lesson for kids says @DrMadelineL @AJCGetSchooled | I'm looking forward to reading Levine's new #parenting book #ReadyOrNot

Schools and Libraries

How I Eliminated (Almost) All #Grading Problems In My Classroom via a student-centered approach @terryheickedu @TeachThought via @MindShiftKQED #schools #grades

The Power of Authentic Praise in the Classroom: My Personal Experience by @McKenzieRoss20 @HonorsGradU | What worked in terms of positive, genuine praise focused on the teacher's own feelings (vs. motivation-sapping generic stuff)

‘Schools are killing curiosity’: why we need to stop telling children to shut up and learn | @WendyBerliner @GuardianEdu | Study finds asking questions even more important than focus for good school performance

End the “Easy A” - Tougher #grading standards set more students up for success - @SethGershenson shares research @EducationNext confirming that "“everyone gets a gold star” is not a victimless mentality"

© 2020 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage

Growing Bookworms Newsletter: February 3: Celebrating Words, Authors + Characters Who Kiss

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, especially bookworms. The newsletter is sent out about once a month, depending on how frequently I'm able to post on my blog. 

Newsletter Update: Happy February, readers! In this issue I have posts about two of my daughter's bookworm moments (shrieking with  joy because two characters kiss and singing happy birthday to authors). I also have a post about her newest literacy milestone: celebrating big words. Despite my previously announced quest  for "LESS", I have continued to share links regarding literacy, schools, and the joy of reading each week. I've included the most recent roundup of those links here. The others can be found on my blog

Reading Update:  Since my last update, I read two middle grade, two young adult, and two adult titles (both nonfiction). I read/listened to: 

  • Janet Tashjian: My Life As A Gamer. Square Fish. Middle Grade Fiction. Completed January 9, 2020. Read aloud to my daughter from library copy.
  • MyLifeNinjaJanet Tashjian: My Life As A Ninja. Square Fish. Middle Grade Fiction. Completed January 22, 2020. Read aloud to my daughter from library copy.
  • Elizabeth Eulberg: Past Perfect Life. Bloomsbury YA. Young Adult Fiction. Completed January 7, 2020, personal copy. I enjoyed  this YA suspense drama (about a girl who finds out that she isn't who she thinks she is) very much. The ending was more satisfying than I had expected, and the characters are quite nuanced.
  • David Yoon: Frankly in Love. G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers. Young Adult Fiction. Completed January 16, 2020, on MP3. I  liked this one, but found that it dragged on a little bit as an audiobook. This may have been because the events of the premise that  I had heard about unfold relatively early in the book, and then it changes into something else.
  • TinyHabitsBJ Fogg: Tiny Habits: The Small Changes that Change Everything. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Adult Nonfiction. Completed January 22, 2020, on Kindle. This is my new favorite book about habits and behavior (a genre I am admittedly addicted to). I have made a couple of what I think will be lasting changes for myself and my daughter using Fogg's methods, and highly recommend the book.
  • Tom DeMarco + Tim Lister: Peopleware: Productive Projects and Teams. Addison-Wesley. Adult Nonfiction. Completed January 25, 2020, personal copy. I read this book for work. It's about how tech company managers should put more emphasis into issues related to people (vs. technical issues). 

Although I had a goal at the start of the year to do more reading, that has, sadly, not panned out so far. One reason is that I'm having an audiobook slump, and listening to more podcasts as a result. Another is that I've been extremely busy with my (non-book-related) work. The nonfiction titles highlighted above also took me extra time because I'm trying something new when I read nonfiction. I'm keeping a pile of index cards handy, and writing notes on them when I come across something I want to remember (or act upon). This slows my pace, of course, but I'm hoping it helps me to absorb more. 

KillingNovemberI'm reading How To Have Impossible Conversations by Peter Boghossian and James Lindsay and Killing November by Adriana Mather for myself. I've just started listening to Tularosa (Kevin Kerney, No. 1) by Michael McGarrity. I'm hoping that this one will break my audiobook slump. I'm reading My Life As A You Youtuber (My Life Series, Book 7) by Janet Tashjian and Jake Tashjian aloud to my daughter. We continue to enjoy the My Life books, and will be sad when we are fully caught up (soon). We have already pre-ordered Book 9, due out in April. 

On her own, my daughter continues to re-read her favorite graphic and notebook novels constantly, but hasn't added any new favorites recently. She is also still tackling, in small doses, The Wild Queen: The Days and Nights of Mary Queen of Scots, from Carolyn Meyer's Young Royals series. She mentions it from time to time, but I'm not expecting her to finish it any time soon. I also picked up Gabby Garcia's Ultimate Playbook for her, after Ms. Yingling reviewed the third book in this series. It hasn't completely grabbed her yet, but I think it will. She also brought home Luv Ya Bunches: Book One, by Lauren Myracle from the school library, and picked out Rocky Road by Rose Kent from my overflowing stacks. She's dipping in and out of all of these books, but I'm waiting to see which, if any, really grabs her. 

She has refined her graphic novel preferences a bit recently. She told me that other day that she  likes graphic novels, but doesn't like comics (e.g. some of the Big Nate books, which are collections of standalone comic strips). This made sense to me - I always like to really immerse myself in a storyline, and rarely find short stories satisfying. I think it's a similar instinct for a more involved story. 

NewKidShe was pleased to see a graphic novel win the Newbery Award this year, though Jerry Craft's New Kid isn't one of the books that she adores or re-reads. I think the recognition of graphic novels across the ALA Awards is a good sign that publishers will continue to focus on graphic novels, which is good news for us. 

Wishing you all a happy, healthy, and book-filled February. Thanks for reading, and for growing bookworms! 

© 2020 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage

Bookworm Moments: Singing Happy Birthday to Authors

FebruaryReadingCalendarFunThis one is actually more of a bookworm behavior than a bookworm moment. My daughter has been bringing me great joy over the past several months by singing Happy Birthday to children's and young adult authors and illustrators. This started in the fall, when her 4th grade teacher sent home a 2019-2020 Wild About Reading calendar from Scholastic. I believe this calendar was a Scholastic Reading Club incentive of some sort. While I'm not normally a huge fan of extrinsic rewards, this calendar is fabulous!! Thank you, Scholastic! 

Here's a sample page (all copyrights to Scholastic and anyone they negotiated with for the rights to the images on the calendar). Click to view a larger version. Book-related holidays are featured, as are author birthdays. 

Every morning my daughter checks the calendar and (if there are any) sings a quick round of Happy Birthday to each author/illustrator. If she forgets, she does a marathon session the next day. If you look closely you'll see that she looks ahead and adds stars to highlight particular favorites (a pen normally hangs down over the calendar).

For February we see Mo Willems and Jeff Kinney with stars. Bob Staake and Shanon Hale featured in January, as I recall. She is pleased when I can tell her that I a personally know author in question in some way. But, for the most part, her relative level of excitement has to do with how much she loves that author's books. As it should be. 

This morning she noticed that the calendar declares: "Take Your Child to the Library Day". She shrieked with excitement and came racing into the kitchen to let me know. She dragged me back to her room to show this to me (not that I would have doubted her word). Have I mentioned that I love this calendar? 

WildAboutReadingCalendarScholasticI have no idea how she came up with this idea of singing happy birthday to authors. But it makes me happy every time I hear it. I hope that hearing about this makes you happy, too. And if you are an author whose birthday is featured on the Wild About Reading calendar, feel free to picture an enthusiastic 9-year-old serenading you from San Jose. 

Thanks for reading, and for growing bookworms!

© 2020 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage. Links to be books may be affiliate links, for which I receive a small commission.