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Recapturing My Reading Flow

ReadicideI'm happy to report that after a period of … flatness, I seem to have recaptured my reading flow. I was lucky enough to finish reading Readicide: How Schools Are Killing Reading and What You Can Do About It by Kelly Gallagher right before a weekend during which my husband and daughter went out of town (giving me the gift of a reading weekend). I enjoyed many aspects of Readicide, but the part that is relevant here is in Chapter 3. Gallagher talks extensively about the need to help kids find their "reading flow":

"The flow is where we want all our students to be when they read, the place Nancie Atwell, in The Reading Zone, describes as that place where young readers have to “come up for air”."

SimonThornBook3This struck me, especially in connection with a post that I wrote a couple of weeks ago musing on whether I am reading for the experience or for the achievement. I realized that I've lost my reading flow. Then I was at the library and spied out of the corner of my eye the third Simon Thorn book by Aimee Carter, remembered that I had enjoyed the first two, and brought it home.

As my reading weekend started, I got about 40 pages into the Simon Thorn book before stopping and thinking "oh, how is this useful?" Then I reminded myself about finding reading flow, and I kept at it. And by the end of the book, I was hooked and eager to finish. Then I read the last 2/3 of The Power by Naomi Alderman in one sitting, after struggling a bit to get into the book when reading in little chunks before bed. I didn't like everything about the book, but it was compelling and thought-provoking.

StoryWebThen for my next book I chose the ARC of The Story Web by Megan Frazer Blakemore, and author whose work I have always enjoyed (see reviews here, here, here, and here). And this time… I fell headlong into the book. I laughed, I cried, I was unable to resist flagging many passages. I barely paused to go to the bathroom, and hurried back, as though the book was going somewhere. I closed the book and thought: "This! This is what I've been forgetting." It is wonderful, and I highly recommend it.

I read several other books over the course of the weekend, some that I enjoyed more than others, but each one read in pretty much one sitting. And in only one case, in the evening, did I have trouble staying awake while reading (which has been a real problem for me lately). I think that was a combination of it being a less interesting book and my being tired. 

This identifies for me four ingredients for my own personal reading flow: 

  1. Reading excellent books. (I also very much enjoyed 48 Hours, the newest book by William R. Forstchen.)
  2. Reading in longer, uninterrupted chunks of time (which are admittedly hard to come by when my husband and daughter are at home). 
  3. Reading things that I've chosen just because I feel like reading them (and not because I'm trying to learn about something or because I have some obligation to review a particular book). 
  4. Reading when I'm not struggling to stay awake. This one interacts with #1 a bit, because sometimes it's the interesting book that keeps me awake. But the real truth is that I'll never find reading flow if the only times I try to read are when I'm in bed half asleep. 

Thank you to Kelly Gallagher and Nancie Atwell for making me think about reading flow. Thank you to Terry Doherty for making me think about whether I am reading for the joy of it or not. Thank you to my husband and daughter for gifting me a quiet reading weekend. Thank you to the San Jose Public Library, Amazon and Bloomsbury for the books. And most of all, thank you to Megan Frazer Blakemore for writing a book that caught me up in its web. The Story Web is about a town (and a family) that's been damaged and the children and animals who work together to repair it. I feel like reading it, at the right time and under the right circumstances, repaired something in me.

Wishing all of you reading flow. 

© 2019 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: January 18: #CriticalThinking, #BookLists Galore + Laundromat #StoryTime

TwitterLinksHere are highlights from the links that I shared on Twitter this week @JensBookPage. Topics this week include #BookLists, #BookTalks, #FakeNews, #GraphicNovels, #GrowingBookworms, #JoyOfReading, #learning, #MentalHealth, #MiddleGrade, #play, #ReadingAloud, #SchoolImprovement, #ScreenTime, #STEM, #teaching, libraries, motivation, parenting, and publishing.

Top Tweet of the Week

Fact vs. Fiction: Teaching Skills In the Age of by + | "we see skilled as the kryptonite against" it

Book Lists

SheepInAJeep10 Books for our Earliest Emergent Readers That Are Actually Enjoyable https://t.co/aLxkUyEfJI

RA RA Read: organizer Jennifer Wharton rounds up Stories w/ themes for younger + readers

8 Featuring - followup from https://t.co/5Q72Faln0O

LucyAndyNeanderthalA right up my daughter's alley | Funny Series for (Younger) Kids

New Timeless: Recent + Titles That Thinks Might Be Around a While

Events, Programs + Research

How the Chicago Public Is Bringing to the Laundromat | via | receive tips from on instilling at home

w/ children boosts language acquisition by eight months (+more for espec. socially disadvantaged kids) | Newcastle Univ. study funded by |

Americans are happier in states that spend more on public goods inc. , parks + highways says study via |

Growing Bookworms

PassionateReadersOn the importance of in developing kids as readers | "one of the biggest gifts I can give our students is a passport into the ... And that happens through a "

What Happened to My ? + Jared Passmore share time-tested tips for overcoming in older kids | The biggest piece of the puzzle is also the simplest:

Kidlitosphere

News for bloggers + authors: The organizers report: Our Reserved Room Block is Almost Full! | is March 22-23, sure to be an amazing opportunity for learning + meeting kindred spirits

Get up to speed on various tidbits at Fusenews: All the news that’s fit to fuse — , + more

And even more news today in Morning Notes: Legends of Greemulax Edition — +

On Reading, Writing, Blogging, and Publishing

BestFriends Trends & the Most Anticipated Books of 2019: | , memoirs, + lots more

‘They Own the System’: Rewrites Book Industry by Marching Into -

Parenting + Play

Strong blog post: Our Children’s is not a badge of Honour – and why we need to change it! "Why have we taken something so beneficial () away?" via

full of"Family tech" gadgets meant to appeal to parental anxiety, but experts like question whether toys and monitors are a good idea

CoddlingBy mollycoddling our children, we're fuelling in | +

Schools and Libraries

Rethinking “Just Right”: and Text Variables that Impact by | Just as we are different readers in each book we pick up, so too are our

Academic : The Obligation for Universities to Evolve - + |

New York City offers some unpleasant truths about | "To think that seriously low-performing schools can be turned around in a few years with an infusion of money — even a big one — is wishful thinking"

RaisingKidsWhoReadWhat should improvement funders fund? Projects that stick close to the + that explore which content is most effective for kids to + how to it says

Defining and : Is There a Difference? Yes, says Julia Freeland Fisher

Self Development + Personal Growth

All Need to Keep - "if we are railing against systems ... then it is incumbent upon us all, to keep , exploring, discussing, problem-finding, + problem-solving"

Study Identifies The Most Effective Mental Strategies That People Use To Get Through Aversive Challenges –

© 2019 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage.


Having "Reader" Be Part of My Daughter's "Self-Concept"

SchoolhoueRockMy daughter recently auditioned for the school play. They are doing Schoolhouse Rock.  Everyone gets a part - the auditions are about the director getting a sense of the kids and what roles they should play. This year, one thing the director had the kids do was stand up and say one thing about themselves, naming something that they like or like to do. One boy we know said he that likes go-karts.

My daughter didn't get a turn on the first day and was able to discuss with me what she planned to say when her turn came around. She was deciding between saying "I like reading" or saying something about how she cares about her family and friends. (Secretly thrilled) I suggested that she go with the first option, because it would be more specific to her. I would think that all 1st to 3rd graders care about family and friends. This logic resonated with her, as she remarked that no one else had yet said anything about reading. 

RaisingKidsWhoReadLater the same day (serendipity), I happened to be looking back through Raising Kids Who Read by Daniel T. Willingham. I came across a section in which Willingham talks about what it takes to raise a child who chooses to read. He said that it’s not enough for your child to have a positive attitude about reading and be a competent reader. The child needs to have “reader” be part of his or her “self-concept”. He illustrates the idea of self-concept (basically how you see and define yourself) using examples of Twitter bios (where people are forced to introduce themselves using relatively few word). He says:

"If “reader” is part of your self-concept, it will occur to you as a viable activity more often. “What will I do on that two-hour train trip? I could bring my iPod. Oh, I should bring a book too.” And of course, the more you read, the more “reader” becomes cemented as part of your self-concept. What I do and what I think of myself reinforce one another. Conversely, children who do not have “reader” as part of their self-concept are not likely to think of it as an option. They may be neutral or even mildly positive in their attitudes toward reading but do not see it as “one of the things I do.”” (Page 24, Raising Kids Who Read)

“Reader” is certainly a major part of my own self-concept, and has been for as long as I can recall. Knowing that my eight-year-old has "reader" as part of her self-concept is something for which I am deeply, deeply grateful.

I'm grateful to:

  • ReadAloudHandbookEveryone who has bought books for her, since before she was even born. (Did you know that some of my blogger friends arranged a virtual book shower for me? I still treasure those books, in each of which I've written the giver's name. Special thanks to Sarah Stevenson, who brought me the books.)
  • Authors like Daniel Willingham, Jim Trelease and Donalyn Miller, who have given me sage advice in my quest to raise a child who loves to read.
  • The many others from my learning network, bloggers and tweeting teachers and commenters on the blog, who are simply too many to name. 
  • The real-world friends with whom we have traded books and recommendations and ideas. 
  • The publishers and authors who have supported my blog over the years by sending books, more and more of which are finding their way into my daughter's increasingly greedy hands.
  • My daughter's teachers and school librarian, who have all encouraged her to develop and grow as a reader.
  • Most of all, my husband. He has encouraged and supported my daughter's growth as a reader from reading to her in the womb to reading The Action Bible with her every night before bed during this school year.

Of course the journey is far from over. It's well-known that kids' interest in reading for pleasure tends to decline over time, as other occupations and interests get in the way. But I will do everything that I can to protect my daughter's conception of herself as "reader". Many thanks to all of you who I know will be rooting for us along the way. 

© 2019 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage. Links to books may be affiliate links, for which I receive a small commission. 


Growing Bookworms Newsletter: January 16: Focus, Reading Achievement, and the Percy Jackson Books

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 literacy milestones (reading the Percy Jackson books and using a Word-A-Day Calendar). I also have a post about whether my reading is an experience or an achievement. I also share my "one word" for the year: FOCUS. I have three posts with links that I shared recently on Twitter, full of reading- and education-related news. 

Reading Update:  In the last four weeks I finished eight adult titles. I read/listened to: 

  • MomentsChip Heath and Dan Heath: The Power of Moments: Why Certain Experiences Have Extraordinary Impact. Simon & Schuster. Adult Nonfiction. Completed December 19, 2018, print library copy. This book is about how certain experiences have a bigger impact on you, and how you can sometimes engineer those moments for positive change. It provided me with food for thought, and I've recommended this book to friends. The writing style is also quite engaging. 
  • Susan Furlong: Fractured Truth (Bone Gap Traveler Novel). Kensington. Adult Mystery. Completed December 29, 2018, on Kindle. I didn't like this book as much as I enjoyed the first one, but it was still a good travel book over the holidays.
  • James Rayburn: The Truth Itself. Blackstone Publishing. Adult Thriller. Completed December 29, 2018, on Kindle. This I read in one sitting on the plane ride back from Boston. I don't remember much about it now, but I did enjoy it. 
  • Janet Evanovich: Look Alive Twenty-Five. G.P. Putnam's Sons. Adult Mystery. Completed 1/3/19, on MP3. Another popcorn book from Evanovich. 
  • 10PercentHappierDan Harris: 10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works--A True Story. Dey Street Books. Adult Nonfiction. Completed 1/9/19, on MP3. I rarely listen to nonfiction, but I quite enjoyed this memoir about how Harris changed after discovering (and becoming quite rabid about) meditation. He's a bit of a jerk at first, but he improves quite a lot over the course of the book. 
  • David DeSteno: Emotional Success: The Power of Gratitude, Compassion, and Pride. Eamon Dolan/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Adult Nonfiction. Completed January 11, 2019, on Kindle. I picked up this Kindle deal as part of my quest to learn more about willpower. DeSteno's thesis is that instead of needing to use willpower at all, people can learn to channel gratitude, compassion, and pride to make self-control relatively effortless. I'm not completely sold (and he waxed a bit grandiose for me near the end of the book), but it's an interesting approach. 
  • Nataly Kogan: Happier Now: How to Stop Chasing Perfection and Embrace Everyday Moments (Even the Difficult Ones). Sounds True. Adult Nonfiction. Completed January 13, 2019, personal copy. This was a Christmas gift from a dear friend that went straight to the top of my stack. It's full of little tips about acceptance and living in the moment, some of which I think I will be able to really use. I actually downloaded a gratitude journal app while reading this, and am appreciating it so far. 
  • Dana Stabenow: A Cold-Blooded Business (Kate Shugak, Book 4). Gere Donovan Press. Adult Mystery. Completed January 15, 2019, on MP3. This is a series that I am slowly making my way through. I really like Stabenow's writing, and the uniqueness of the Alaska setting. 

CharlieBoneI'm currently reading The Power by Naomi Alderman, a Christmas gift from my husband. I'm reading Readicide: How Schools are Killing Reading and What You Can Do About It by Kelly Gallagher on my Kindle (the research is a little dated, but it's still brilliant). I'm deciding what audiobook to listen to next, having just finished a Kate Shugak book. I've just started reading Midnight for Charlie Bone (Children of the Red King #1) by Jenny Nimmo aloud to my daughter. I've been thinking that these might be a good fit for her, and couldn't pass up a used copy for fifty cents in the Friends of the Library bookstore last week. We're enjoying it so far, but we are not very far in yet. 

BearsAndBlossomsIn terms of her own reading, my daughter is still working her way through The Lightning Thief (the first Percy Jackson book) by Rick Riordan. As I mentioned last time, it's a pretty challenging book for her, so she takes regular breaks to read and re-read graphic novels and picture books. Santa was kind enough to bring her most of the Bears on Chairs series by Shirley Parenteau and David Walker, a set of picture books that she had fallen head over heels in love with. We've been reading those a lot, and I'm sure that the library is happy to have back the copies that we've been monopolizing for, literally, months. We've also been seeking out other books illustrated by David Walker.

MysteryClubMy daughter was very excited when a copy of Mystery Club, the second graphic novel by Aron Nels Steinke about Mr. Wolf's Class arrived from the publisher. She was completely unable to do her homework until she had finished it, and she highly recommends it to all middle grade graphic novel fans. I couldn't get much out of her about what she liked specifically. She said: "everything!" She also continues to read biographies from the Who Was ... ? series, and has had to move on to reading about some male historical figures (having exhausted her school library's selection of books about women). 

Thanks for reading, and for growing bookworms! Wishing you all plenty of reading time in this still new year. 

© 2019 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage


Literacy Milestone: Word-A-Day Calendar

LiteracyMilestoneALast month I wrote about my daughter's passion for "clarifying" (looking up and creating post-it notes) vocabulary words for her school reading. In the comments on that post, Karen Yingling from Ms. Yingling Reads suggested that I get her a Word-A-Day Calendar for Christmas. I thought this was a good idea and ordered the 365 New Words-A-Year Page-A-Day Calendar 2019.

WordADaySo far the calendar has been a hit. We keep it on the breakfast table and read about each new word together over breakfast. I add context and help with pronunciation where needed. Then my daughter tears the day's sheet off, punches a hole in the corner, and adds it to a string she's using to save them. I think she plans to show the string to her teacher at some point. 

It's not clear how many of the words she'll actually internalize and remember, but we are having fun with the experience. And in truth, I'm learning some new words, too. ("Adust: scorched, burned"). 

Reader's Digest used to have some sort of vocabulary quiz. I would try myself on those when I was a kid. This is what bookish people do, right? They read dictionaries and use book-a-day calendars and read and read and read, absorbing words everywhere they go. Special thanks to Karen for the excellent suggestion! 

Thanks for reading, and for growing bookworms!

© 2019 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: January 11: #ReadAloud Classics and Diverse Classroom Libraries

TwitterLinksHere are highlights from the links that I shared on Twitter this week @JensBookPage. Topics for this short week (I also had a post on Monday with links from over the holidays) include #BookLists, #EdPolicy, #focus, #GenderDifferences, #GraphicNovels, #HistoricalNovels, #KidLitCon, #learning, #LearningStyles, #literacy, #ReadAloud, #reading, #SchoolChoice, #STEM, #testing, #writing, schools and teachers.

Book Lists

ParentTrapBest Classic Books - You Haven't Read Yet! Another from | Love inclusion of

8 Featuring - from + more

Weird, Creepy, and Occultic Fixated Male Lead Characters, identifies a new micro-niche

Found a couple of new to add to my daughter's wish list here: (Some of the) Best MG of 2018: , Ep. 67 https://t.co/5j6I01OPg3

Diversity + Gender

“Boy/Girl Books:” Fighting Stereotypes While Honoring + not ignoring differences in what kids want | "a more benefited all my students"

Events, Programs + Research

KIDLIT_con_poster_final_web_smLook Who’s Coming to - March 22-23 –

Study Confirms The Power Of Are Calmed By Putting Them Into Words – https://t.co/H0oB6FzSyv

New paper Night-time screen-based media device use associated w/ risk of poor results for adolescents' sleep and health-related quality of life

Growing Bookworms

I LOVE this call from for families to set aside (Joy of Missing Out) time and have everyone lie around + (w/ free , no devices + no parents sneaking in work) https://t.co/wRoXnuULiF

This is cool: Illinois using giant murals to encourage - | Another painted lockers like + https://t.co/bzY1hCP082

On Reading, Writing, Blogging, and Publishing

Historical-fiction-for-the-school-libraryThe past is the future - a look at benefits of for kids - by Dawn Finch

Interesting discussion question from Terry | Is an achievement (look! I read 156 books!) or an experience? | I worry that I've tilted a bit towards reading to learn things and away from myself...

The 10th Annual Mrs. P Be-a-Famous Writer Judges Choices are Announced! Meet the Honored Classrooms! -

! Life-saving AND awesome | Book shields woman during deadly shooting

CharlottesWebHarperCollins Launches Children's Book , monthly + dedicated to classic + contemporary

Parenting

Sad truth here: There is no room for ‘average’ students these days says | " has become a high-stakes Rube Goldberg machine, propelling our kids from one to the next with no end in sight." https://t.co/mqlZvNbICi

Personal Development + Learning

How to Do Great Things | shares highlights from Richard Hamming's book about | I am personally working on , discussed in the post

Schools and Libraries

Should Fewer Black Receive Services? Were there ever racist placements? Guest post from former principal https://t.co/rvrhReoDAH

Instruction: How Can We Offer Experiences Instead of "Stuff" – https://t.co/6XQz7RclHM

Design with Care: Information Displays Can Impact Ira Nichols-Barrer, Steve Glazerman and Jon Valant

WhyDontStudentsLikeSchoolIn debate, it's instructors (many in favor) vs. psychologists (mostly debunking), but interviews suggest some common ground | [w/ quotes from @DTWillingham)

I was pleased to see this in my local paper today: Foundation aims to inspire

Why Are Leaving Their Jobs? Chester E. Finn, Jr. identifies 5 examples "of the industry’s conspicuous failure to anticipate and forestall the HR woes"

Feel Like Things Are Being Done To Them, Not With Them. They trust each other, not "a growing array of institutions + organizations"

STEM

The problem with high-stakes and women in - | Could it be ? |

© 2019 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage.


Is Reading an Achievement or an Experience?

My friend Terry Doherty has started a new monthly feature over at the Reading Tub blog in which she poses "a reading-ish question" for discussion. In her kickoff post Terry asks whether reading is an experience or an achievement. She notes that many year-end blog wrap-ups that she read recently included people asking things like:

"When did reading for the purpose of enjoyment/escape/relaxation/etc. morph into a something else?

What was the “something else”? Basically, three things:

  • A (self-imposed) competition to reach specific goals.
  • A means of self-promotion and selfie-ism.
  • A measuring stick of personal success or failure."

Terry reflects on this in terms of her own reading, and she inspired me to think about it, too. (Please do head over and read Terry's post, and share comments with her there.)

48hbc_newI don't do much in terms of imposing specific reading goals on myself. I've never been one to participate in reading "challenges", even though many people love them, because they make reading feel like work to me. I did participate in the MotherReader 48 Hour Book Challenge back in the day, but for me it was just an excuse to read all weekend, not something I was trying to win. I've read roughly 150 books in each of the past few years, but I don't set out to read a specific number, nor to increase it in quantitative terms (though I am always seeking out more time to read). 

However, I have made a pretty dramatic shift in what I've been reading over the years. I'm reading a much, much higher percentage of adult books now, vs. reading children's and young adult books, as well as a much higher percentage of nonfiction. Back in 2006 I read 156 children's and young adult books and 49 adult books. Five of the adult books were nonfiction. In 2018 I read 45 children's and adult books and 114 adult titles. 50 of the adult titles were nonfiction.

I'm not sure what to make of the shift towards reading more adult books, but I think that has a lot to do with burnout regarding reviewing. Since starting my blog, adult titles have been more recreational for me, while the kids and YA titles were "work" for the blog. Work that I enjoyed, sure, but still work in a sense. So I think the shift to reading more adult titles does reflect a wish to read more for my own personal enjoyment. It is a bit odd that I'm shifting away from reading kids' books right as my daughter is starting to read middle grade, but maybe that reflects the fact that reading books to recommend them to her is still work. A highly enjoyable part of my job as a parent, sure, but still work in a sense. If I'm reading adult mysteries and thrillers, that's just for me. 

The shift to reading more nonfiction, on the other hand, is different. Here I'm reading much more with a goal of learning and self-improvement. Like most working parents, I'm juggling a lot of things in my life (job, family and blog). I find I can justify taking the time to read if I'm reading something useful, in a way that I've had trouble justifying the reading time otherwise. For example, I'm using a chunk of my listening time to listen to podcasts about current events or productivity improvement. This even though I'm already primarily listening when I'm doing something else productive (exercising, cooking, folding laundry, etc).

IdRatherBeReadingDon't get me wrong. I've enjoyed most of the nonfiction titles that I've read (see my 2018 reading list here). I've learned a lot about things that I am deeply interested in (parenting, raising readers, happiness, communication, willpower, time management, etc.). I have a number of nonfiction books stacked up on my nightstand and Kindle that I very much want to read. I'm also not saying that people can't read nonfiction for pure pleasure (many people adore biographies, and more power to them). But I'm a bit concerned that in my specific case I'm replacing too much of my reading for the joy of it with reading for edification.

As Terry noted in her own case, this is certainly not the message that I want to send to my daughter. I want her to fall in love with books, and fall into them headlong (as she's currently doing with The Lightning Thief). I want it to continue being difficult to get her to leave the house, because she just has to finish this chapter. I want to get back in touch with my own childhood self, the kid who got sunburned reading on a raft in a lake, and couldn't go on a two mile car ride without a book and a backup book. 

But it's not going to be as easy as just deciding to read more of the mysteries and thrillers that I love. My reading time is limited, and I do have a lot of books that I want to read for various self-educational and self-improvement purposes. Clearly, I'm going to have to work to find more reading time somewhere, and try to mix it up a bit more. I think I'll start by reading novels before I go to sleep, instead of trying to read something more useful and then falling asleep. The price for that switch may be falling asleep later, and being more tired, but I think it will be worth it.

Wish me luck! Thanks for listening. 

© 2019 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage


Literacy Milestone: Reading the Percy Jackson Books

LiteracyMilestoneAMy daughter's latest milestone on her path to literacy (or, more accurately, bookworm-hood) is obsession with The Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan. She's reading The Lightning Thief on her own and is about halfway through. It's a bit of a reach for her, in terms of reading level, but she is highly motivated. Her interest has been furthered by a Christmas gift of the version illustrated by John Rocco from her aunt and uncle. I have contributed by re-listening to the audio version, so that I can better answer any questions that she has as they arise. Her school librarian has supported her by sending her home with the second book over the holidays (though she's not actually there yet, I think that the vote of confidence was helpful). 

LightningThiefI knew that she was truly engaged, though, when she constructed a version of Camp Half Blood in her grandparents' basement. Though the details she was able to provide were limited (dining and swimming areas, signs pointing to cabins and restrooms, etc.), we were still able to act out our own scenarios. [For what it's worth, I was Percy's long-list twin sister, arriving at camp a couple of years after his first appearance.]

I'm not sure whether or not she knows that a graphic novel version of The Lightning Thief is available, but I actually don't think that she would pursue that anyway. She's enjoying (with plenty of graphic novels breaks interspersed for mental breaks) challenging herself with the full book. She know that there is a movie, but also that Rick Riordan isn't much of a fan of that, so I'm not sure whether she'll want to watch it or not. 

The Lightning Thief was one of the very first books that I reviewed on my blog, back in early 2006 (from the audio version). I was an early fan of Rick Riordan's (having previously enjoyed his adult mysteries), and he's one of the few authors that I ever interviewed for the blog (a post that, believe it or not, still generates traffic). This context around the book makes me even happier to see my daughter falling under the spell of these wonderful books. 

© 2019 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage


Links I Shared on Twitter Recently: January 6: #DiverseBooks, #GrowingBookworms, and Alternative Paths to #HigherEd

TwitterLinksHere are highlights from the links that I shared on Twitter over the past few weeks @JensBookPage. I know it's not Friday, but quite a few links piled up over the holidays, and I figured I should go ahead and post. I will probably be back with a short update on Friday. Topics today include #BookAwards, #BookLists, #careers, #Cybils, #DiverseBooks, #FreeRangeKids, #GameAddiction, #GrowingBookworms, #GrowthMindset, #Habits, #intelligence, #introversion, #JoyOfReading, #Learning, #Music, #ownvoices, #parenting, #phonics, #play, #ReadingAloud, #WorldReadAloudDay, schools, and vocational training.

Top Tweet of the Week

Cybils-Logo-2018-Round450pxThe 2018 Finalists are Live! This is a great source of high-quality, engaging , from to , , , , + more

Book Lists

A Dozen of the Best Published in 2018 | w/ mini reviews from

Diversity

Ownvoices-300x150The Real Way to Get Books Into the Hands of Readers (But It’s Not Sexy) —

Ten Ways New and Diverse Literature Changes Us as By Stephanie Affinito and Kris McGee |

Here's an invitation from @thereadingtub to participate in the Link Up – January 2019

Events, Programs + Research

2.0_WRAD-Social-Stat-1Save the date: February 1 is , a day to celebrate the joy of to kids |

Yes, World Day Is Real, and Here’s Why We Should Celebrate It | If I could I would celebrate by staying home, talking to no one, and taking no calls.

early can make your child a better | Anita Collins + Misty Adoniou

The Behind Making Your Child Smarter - Sue Shellenbarger assesses some possible pursuits | interactive w/ kids, working memory training + staying in help

Contradiction to a previous article I shared this week, via Does Not Improve Performance on Measures of .. Evidence From a Meta-Analytic Review

Growing Bookworms

GoneFishingReaction and Intention: Rethinking the in Early Winter | nudging kids to transition beyond the phase by

Excellent, comprehensive post from | Parents: Creating Joyful Routines at Home |

One Dad’s Resolutions for the New Year |

Easy Ways to Get Your Kids to Read More This Year |

On Reading, Writing, Blogging, and Publishing

On reading goals | "Yes, quantity, and increasing quantity and access to great material matters for all of us, but so does slowing down, savoring text, and actually enjoying the experience" https://t.co/NcHOwoZsi0

Parenting + Play

SwissLifeThis piece resonated w/ me: This year, let’s like it’s 1989 - "We call our country “the land of the free,” yet most children... have no freedom at all" | https://t.co/d4D4gRjb2r

The Age Four Transition to Responsible Childhood | Peter Gray via | | "Many 12-year-olds today are not permitted the independence that 4-year-olds were permitted until just a few decades ago"

The Relentlessness of Modern - | This article is depressing but certainly rings true

Screen Time

Detecting : Phone Apps Could Monitor Teen Angst - |

How Triggered an Unwinnable War Between Parents and Their Boys | |

Schools and Libraries

Stop Calling It - How we speak about reflects class prejudice says | Training is for animals, humans receive education

OnceAndFutureWorker Is Only One Option for Kids. How can we emphasize alternative routes? Guest post by | Referencing +

Looking for an Alternative to ? U.S. Studies German -

Seen as Falling Short in a Pillar of | addresses approach as applied (and not) in NYC https://t.co/2DZcRXaIbn

A 2018 federal report found that only 18 percent of the innovations funded by the lifted achievement | looks at reasons why this is so hard

Self-Improvement / Growth Mindset / Habits

PowerOfHabitHow to Crush Your in the With the Help of | advice from , + , compiled by (via ) https://t.co/dflKNEBvFh

Being Wrong (+ not beating herself up over it) Has Made a Better Teacher - | via

It’s Two Weeks Until Your New Year’s Resolutions Die Young – Tips from to change your resolution mindset

© 2019 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage.


Focus: My Word for the Year

Happy New Year! I wasn't planning to blog this week. However, I've seen a few people posting about their word for the year and I realized that I do have one for 2019. Some background: lately I've been feeling distracted and ineffective, like I am constantly pulled in a million directions, few of them by my own choice. [I'm sure that most working mothers feel this way most of the time.] Being a book person, I turned to books for guidance. I read three interesting books recently about time management, essentialism (working hard on one important thing), and deep work. These books gave me some ideas, and I've been making a few changes in my life. Things like:

  • Spending less time on social media (though I did purposely go onto Facebook this week to exchange holiday greetings with far-flung friends and family members). 
  • Deleting social media and news apps from my phone, so that when I find myself with some down time I will read or think, and not automatically turn to the black hole of endless feeds. 
  • Checking email less frequently during the day (both work and personal).
  • Turning off most notifications and haptics on my Apple watch, so that my focus isn't interrupted every time a text comes in. 
  • Setting aside an hour or so in the mornings to work with my phone and computer notifications turned off and my email closed down, so that I can concentrate, uninterrupted, on a single task. This I haven't been able to do over vacation, but I plan to get back to it once my daughter goes back to school. It was Cal Newport's Deep Work that convinced me to start doing this, as well as Make Time by Jake Knapp and John Zeratsky, and I LOVE it. 
  • Meditating every morning for 10-15 minutes. (This I've actually been doing for about six months, after being convinced by yet another book, this one about willpower.)

I've been doing all of these things, and I realize that they can pretty much all be placed under the category of: 

Focus3_1

I may find this word of the year frustrating, because it is pretty much impossible to focus when my daughter is awake and in the house. And because I WANT to focus one thing at a time so badly, I am more irritable than ever when I am interrupted. So this is going to be a work in progress. But I do think that in this era of incessant online distractions, attempting to focus my attention on one thing at a time is a worthy goal. 

Wishing you all success in whatever your goals might be for 2019, and the time to appreciate joyful moments along the way. 

© 2019 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: 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