44 posts categorized "Books" Feed

Kids Set New World Record for Scholastic Summer Reading Club

I thought that this was happy news, worth sharing (via news release from Scholastic):


Twenty Schools to Appear in SCHOLASTIC BOOK OF WORLD RECORDS For Most Minutes Read 

SummerChallengeNew York, NY – September 18, 2013 – Kids around the globe have a reason to celebrate: they set a new world record for summer reading! As part of the Scholastic Summer Challenge, a free program designed to keep kids reading throughout the summer months when school is out, kids representing all 50 states and 30 countries read and logged an impressive 176,438,473 minutes, breaking last year’s world record of 95,859,491 minutes. In addition to logging their minutes, children participated in weekly reading challenges, earned virtual rewards and contributed to their school’s overall minutes. Of the 4,284 schools that participated, Jackson Elementary School in McAllen, TX ranks as the #1 school for logging the most minutes, and wins a visit from Dav Pilkey, author of the bestselling Captain Underpants series.

The Top 20 schools that read and logged the most minutes will be listed in the 2014 Scholastic Book of World Records, which will be available through the Scholastic Reading Club, Scholastic Book Fairs, and book stores nationwide; each of these schools will also receive a personalized plaque.

“We are extremely impressed with the amount of reading kids did to help set an outstanding new world record for summer reading,” said Francie Alexander, Chief Academic Officer at Scholastic. “Now that these kids have proved they have reading stamina and can read for many minutes, we encourage them to continue to read independently throughout the school year so they are better prepared to meet rigorous standards and can continue to find books they love.”

The Top 20 Schools in the 2013 Scholastic Summer Challenge are:

  1. Jackson Elementary School, McAllen, TX, 6,333,482 (minutes read)
  2. Sun Valley Elementary School, Monroe, NC, 6,042,663
  3. Dovalina Elementary School, Laredo, TX, 5,359,066
  4. Liberty Park Elementary School, Greenacres, FL, 4,206,222
  5. Hill Intermediate School, Houston, TX, 3,039,434
  6. St. Aloysius School, Baton Rouge, LA 2,933,169
  7. Odom Elementary School, Houston, TX, 2,771,182
  8. Hunter’s Creek Elementary School, Orlando, FL, 2,565,217
  9. Flora Ridge Elementary School, Kissimmee, FL, 2,548,754
  10. Timber Trace Elementary School, Palm Beach Gardens, FL, 2,288,345
  11. Reedy Creek Elementary School, Kissimmee, FL, 2,238,484
  12. Rayford Road Intermediate School, Humble, TX, 2,183,113
  13. Oakridge Middle School, Clover, SC, 2,122,819
  14. Worsham Elementary School, Houston, TX, 1,898,592
  15. Newell Elementary School, Allentown, NJ, 1,885,364
  16. Coral Reef Elementary School, Lake Worth, FL, 1,673,656
  17. Stuart Public School, Stuart, NE, 1,639,619
  18. Raymond Academy, Houston, TX, 1,623,279
  19. Thompson Elementary School, Houston, TX, 1,604,302
  20. Riverview Elementary School, Saratoga Springs, UT, 1,495,565

To see the list of the Top 100 schools, visit www.scholastic.com/summer.

The Scholastic Summer Challenge kicked off its seventh year on May 6, 2013. Kids from around the world were invited to log their reading minutes with the Scholastic Reading Timer mobile app or online at scholastic.com/summer. Throughout the summer, kids could visit their profile page to check their personal reading stats, watch book trailer videos, enter sweepstakes, and earn digital rewards from the prize center.

To further the message about the importance of summer reading in the U.S. and increase access to books within their communities, 42 Governors’ Spouses and three Governors joined the Scholastic Summer Challenge as Reading Ambassadors. On behalf of their participation, Scholastic donated 500 books to each Reading Ambassador’s school of choice (for a total of 22,500 books) so that students in their states could take home books and read over summer vacation

For the fourth year in a row, WordGirl served as the national "Ambassador of Summer Reading" for the Scholastic Summer Challenge. She adopted summer reading as her cause, encouraging kids to read books over the summer because reading introduces new words, and new words, in turn, make better readers.

Teachers and students are now invited to join READ 100,000 on the Scholastic website at www.scholastic.com/minutes, where students can continue logging their minutes read during the school year. READ 100,000 helps schools strengthen students’ reading skills by motivating kids to read as part of a school team and recognizing their achievements. The school-wide goal is to READ 100,000 minutes or more!

My New Bookshelves Revisited

For anyone interested, here are some photos of my new bookshelves with books in them. (TadMack should ignore this post).

Littleshelf This little shelf has some of Mheir's reference books on top (he is a urologist), but on the two shelves I have my collection of signed books. Click to enlarge the photo.

Bigshelf This is the main event - the big set of shelves. Most of the knick knacks were selected by Mheir. Personally, I'd be content filling every last inch with books. But I think it does look nice. Hardcover children's books start in the upper left corner, then paperback children's books in the second column and across the top. Adult fiction is below that on the right, and non-fiction is sorted by category (travel, business, humor, medical reference, etc.) filling in the rest. Not shown is the gorgeous runner that Mheir's Mom made to go across the top.

Blogshelf This shelf is one of two that's in a different room, a little study / reading room that we set up. This is my working bookshelf - dedicated to my kids' book to be read / to be reviewed pile. Picture books and to be reviewed titles are on the bottom, then ARCs on the next shelf, then two shelves of non-ARC review titles, then a shelf of children's books that I bought and intend to read at some point, then an expansion shelf, and then some books about raising readers and writing at the top. If you zoom way in you can also see my special Babymouse picture. There's also a cute little book-themed bookmark holder (most people would use it as a letter holder) that I'm also using as a bookend.

The other shelf is mostly paperbacks, including my adult TBR shelf, so I've skipped that picture. As you can see, we managed to fill all of the shelves pretty effectively. There's a bit of expansion space for more books - but I'm already wondering how long it will be until we need more shelves... Better start saving up now.

© 2009 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved.

My New Bookshelves

For those interested, here are my new bookshelves:

Bookshelves009cropThis is the main set, seen from an angle. Click on the photo to see a larger view.

Bookshelves002_2 This is the same shelves face-on. This is without most of the shelves put in, but you can imagine it. I'm going to start putting books up soon, and I'll take some more pictures.

Bookshelves019 This last one is a little standalone shelf under the stairs. There are also a couple of other standalone three foot wide, tall shelves, but they are next to uncurtained windows, and I can't get them to photograph right. But they all match! It's so nice.

The person at the furniture store seemed to think that we were getting too much shelving - more than anyone would possibly need. We'll see how it works out once I start shelving the books, but I don't think one can have too many bookshelves. We just kept saying "we have a lot of books."

I look forward to filling these up, and organizing along the way. More pictures once they are loaded up.

© 2009 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. 

Book Meme

Sondra from Happy Healthy Hip Parenting tagged me for a meme this week. I don't often do memes, but it's Sondra's first meme at her new blog, and I had an email from someone this week that reminded me of my answer to one of these questions. So I'm in. Besides, this one is about books:

1. Hardcover or paperback, and why?

Paperback, because I travel a lot, and I can carry more paperbacks.

2. If I were to own a book shop I would call it...

Maida's Little Bookshop (in honor of the Maida books, which featured a shop, though not a bookshop). incidentally, I just learned that Maida's Little Shop was reissued recently. Oh, how I recommend this book. It's one of my all-time favorite comfort books. I hope that this publisher (Dodo Press) will reissue the whole series.

3. My favorite quote from a book (mention the title) is...

From The Changeling by Zilpha Keatley Snyder (and with a nod to Paul G.):

"Know all the Questions, but not the Answers
Look for the Different, instead of the Same
Never Walk when there's room for Running
Don't do anything that can't be a Game."

4. The author (alive or deceased) I would love to have lunch with would be ....

I'm going to do one living and one deceased. Living: Rick Riordan, because he's such a promoter of books that get kids excited about reading. Deceased: Louisa May Alcott, because she was groundbreaking, and wrote about timeless characters.

5. If I was going to a deserted island and could only bring one book, except from the SAS survival guide, it would be...

Pride and Prejudice, because I can read it over and over again.

6. I would love someone to invent a bookish gadget that....

Let me quickly and easily highlight quotes, and have them transferred directly to draft book reviews on my blog.

7. The smell of an old book reminds me of...

My mother's childhood copies of the Nancy Drew and Bobbsey Twins books.

8. If I could be the lead character in a book (mention the title), it would be....

Choosing the female lead, I would be Hermione in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. She rocks in that book.

9. The most overestimated book of all time is....

Moby Dick

10. I hate it when a book....

... is predictable.

No tags from me today. But thanks, Sondra! I enjoyed this.

© 2009 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved.

October Country: Books of the Season

Colleen Mondor, initiator of the Summer Blog Blast Tour, Books Below the Radar, and other events, has another thing cooking today. She writes:

"The month of October introduces my favorite season; that time of year not only when the weather turns (love that) but also when there is a thread of limitless possibility in the air. I like the fact that anything could happen - that something might happen - and all you have to be is aware of it's potential existence to see the magic."

Colleen discusses Ray Bradbury's stories, in celebration of this October Country season. Other participants celebrating October and spookiness include:

Most of the above links and short descriptions came from Chasing Ray. Colleen has more in-depth synopses of each post, so start there first.

Nineteen Minutes: Jodi Picoult

Book: Nineteen Minutes
Author: Jodi Picoult
Pages: 464
Age Range: 15 and up (published for adults, but featuring high school students)

Although I'm a fan of Jodi Picoult's writing, I hesitated to read Nineteen Minutes for a while, because it seemed a bit too close to home in the aftermath of the Virginia Tech shootings. But I always intended to read it, and when I ran across it on my library's shelf the other day, I brought it home. And once I started, I couldn't put it down until I was finished. I don't think that Nineteen Minutes is for everyone, because of the disturbing subject matter (a dissection of a high-school shooting incident, before, during, and after). But I think that it's Jodi Picoult's best work, even better than my previous favorite, My Sister's Keeper.

Picoult demonstrates her mastery of three things in this book: incorporating shifting points of view, maintaining suspense, and tackling moral shades of gray. Nineteen Minutes, although a third person narrative, alternates between the viewpoints of the various people affected by the school shooting, from the shooter to his parents and his former best friend to the detective, lawyer, and judge involved with the case. Each person's viewpoint is distinct and tight as a drum (there's no question of whose viewpoint it is, no incidents of a person knowing something that they shouldn't).

Picoult uses the different viewpoints to maintain suspense, no mean feat in a book which we already know is about a school shooting with fatalities. We know early on who the shooter is. But there's suspense about other things, big and small. Why did he do it? Why did he leave certain people alive, and target other? Did he plan everything out in advance? What happened to his older brother? What secret is the judge's daughter hiding? What happened to their friendship?

It's also through these distinctive viewpoints that Picoult explores the shades of gray in something that, on the surface, appears to be a black and white issue. She takes us into the broken heart of the shooter's mother, who can't understand how she could have raised someone who would do this. She shows us the shooter as a sensitive and happy five year old, excited to start school. And she shows us the years of bullying and cruelty inflicted on the shooter by some of his eventual victims. Nineteen Minutes is a searing indictment of the quest for popularity, and the ways in which people who are insecure about their own place can harm others.

Picoult doesn't excuse the shooter for the harm that he's caused, but she does explain him a bit. And she makes it clear that, at least in this fictional case, the shooting could have been prevented, if any of a variety of people had interceded along the way. She did considerable research for this book, including talking with survivors of an actual school shooting. You can read the details on her web page, where you'll also find book discussion questions, and links to resources on school violence and prevention. This isn't some sensationalist book that's trying to take advantage of the notoriety of school shootings. Nineteen Minutes is an attempt to understand the complex set of factors that drive kids to violence, and in doing so, to provide keys for staving off violence in the future. But it's far from a message book -it's a compelling, richly detailed novel, populated with complex and realistically flawed characters. I highly recommend Nineteen Minutes. And although it's published as adult fiction, I think that it would make an excellent discussion book for parents or teachers and teens.

Publisher: Atria (Simon & Schuster)
Publication Date: March 2007
Source of Book: Santa Clara City Library

© 2009 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved.

More Books About Female Scientists Needed

As the non-fiction coordinator for the upcoming Cybils awards, I'd like to join Loree Griffin Burns in a callout to authors and teachers regarding books and reports about women scientists. Loree links to an NSF report about girls and science that found that:

"By second grade, when students (both boys and girls) are asked to draw a scientist, most portray a white male in a lab coat. The drawings generally show an isolated person with a beaker or test tube. Any woman scientist they draw looks severe and not very happy."

Second grade! That's so demoralizing. Loree also talks about how:

"a friend’s fifth-grade daughter has to do a report on a scientist and the Famous Scientists List distributed by the teacher has only one woman on it?"

She proceeds to list a number of important female scientists, and urges her writer friends of all ages to get busy talking about these and other accomplished women. I also support this call.

Postergirlz The readergirlz postergirlz are looking for great non-fiction titles for teen girls, and I would love to see more books about amazing female scientists. (If you have any suggestions, please let me know).

And if you know of any great non-fiction titles for kids and teens published this year, regardless of topic (Loree's own book comes to mind, of course), save them up. The Cybils team will start accepting nominations on October 1st.

What I Read in 2006

In case anyone is interested, here is the list of books that I read in 2006, for a grand total of 198 (mostly children's books, with some adult mysteries and non-fiction thrown in). Next year, I'll get to 200.

Children's and Young Adult Books

  1. Carl Hiaasen: Hoot. Completed 1/13/06.
  2. P. B. Kerr: The Akhenaten Adventure. Completed 1/21/06. My review.
  3. Meg Cabot: All-American Girl. Completed 1/28/06.

Continue reading "What I Read in 2006" »

The Nearest Book

This meme seems to have reached the Kidlitosphere via Chicken Spaghetti, and I decided to join in. Here are the instructions:

1. Grab the nearest book.
2. Open to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the text of the next four sentences on your blog along with these instructions.
5. Don't you dare dig around for that "cool" or "intellectual" book on your shelves. (I know you were thinking about it.) Just pick up whatever is closest.

I had a little trouble because I happen to be sitting near a bunch of picture books, and two relatively brief chapter books. None stretches to 123 pages. But I went and got the top book from my nightstand, and here is what I found:

I sighed.

"Is there anything you don't think you know?"

"Yeah, I don't think I know what a magic trigger is. Not yet anyway."

The woman in the curlers finally finished her folding and emerged with a basket piled high with clean laundry.

OK, this doesn't seem to stand out that well on it's own. But it's from Jumping the Scratch, by Sarah Weeks.

Bracelets, Antagonists, Chocolate and Classic Books

Here are a couple of highlights for you today:

  • Via A Fuse #8 Production and bookshelves of doom, you can now buy banned books bracelets. They have little tiles with the covers of banned books, and also tiles that say "I Read Banned Books." There are versions with adult titles and kids titles. They were created for the American Library Association Office of Intellectual Freedom. I looked, and they're actually slightly cheaper if you buy them directly from the ALA. The ALA site has a list of which books are included in each bracelet. You can also find a list of the 2005 most challenged books at Chicken Spaghetti.
  • Responses are starting to come in to MotherReader's newest challenge, Top Picks (so far) for 2006. Check out the comments on her original post, and see her choices here and here. Please note also that although Amazon lists Gail Gauthier's Happy Kid! as being published in 2005, that's a mistake. The real publication date was May of 2006.
  • Nancy at Journey Woman is looking to add more names to her list of Great Antagonists of Children's Literature. She's sponsoring a contest good for a $25 Starbucks gift card. Head on over and cast your vote!
  • Don't forget, today is Roald Dahl's birthday. I intend to eat lots of chocolate in his honor. You can find some other suggestions to honor Mr. Dahl at Scholar's Blog. Thanks to Kelly for the reminder. Kelly and I both choose Matilda as our favorite Dahl book.
  • Shannon Hale returns to the topic of whether high school kids should only read "classics" or not. Specifically, she addresses this question that people have been raising: "if we stop teaching only the classics, aren't we in danger of getting on that slippery slope where eventually we don't teach any classics? And then how will teens read those books?" Shannon comes down firmly on the side of giving kids a range of books to read, to increase each kid's chance of finding the book that they love, and that will turn them into a lifelong reader. She concludes: "There are these amazing, accessbile books out there. They're great works of literature. They're changing lives. And someday soon, they'll be accepted in your high school."

And now I'd better get back to work!

A Good Week for Books

In the past few days I've received two shipments from Amazon (related to some binge-buying around my birthday, and gift certificates from two friends), and a box of my old books from my most excellent parents (who are moving, and cleaning out the house). And when I went to library, there were three books that I couldn't resist checking out. And Mheir got me books for my birthday, too. I'm now simply drowning in new books. Now if I could only find the time to actually read them... But it's nice to have such a feeling of plenty. Here's some of the new (and newly rescued) loot. All are children's or young adult books, unless otherwise noted. Yes, I'm definitely a rejuvenile.

© 2009 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved.

A Few Thoughts for August 16th

Just a couple things that may be of interest:

  • Today is the 29th anniversary of Elvis Presley's death, which also makes it my birthday (no, not my 29th). I remember hearing about Elvis' death on my little red plastic radio, in my bedroom in Lexington, Mass. Today is also Madonna's birthday, and my friend Christina's.
  • I read today in the Duke alumni magazine that all incoming freshman will be required to read My Sister's Keeper, by Jodi Picoult, before arriving on campus. My Sister's Keeper is the story of 13-year-old Anna, who was conceived as a genetic match to be a marrow donor for her older sister, and what happens when she later rebels against being a donor. It's a story about medical ethics, family responsibilities, and relationships. It's a truly excellent book that I highly recommend for adults or mature young adult readers.
  • Duke is also now offering a course titled: Fairy Tales: Grimms to Disney. How cool is that? If they'd offered that class when I was there, maybe it would have been just what I needed to pull me back from engineering. Oh well. Better late than never.
  • If you've been following the book meme recently in play across the kidlitosphere, you might be interested in this post at Here in the Bonny Glen. Melissa Wiley deconstructs the question: "Name one book that you wish had never been written", and summarizes many of the blog responses to the topic. One point that I found interesting was the idea that if Mein Kampf hadn't been written, perhaps the Holocaust wouldn't have happened. Wow! But check out Melissa's full post on the topic.

That's it for now. Friends and a nice bottle of wine await. Happy August 16th!