In this issue I have a review of a wonderful new middle grade novel and two tips for growing bookworms (scheduling playdates at the library and taking photos of your young children with books). I also have one bookworm moments post about reading while ...

 
 

Growing Bookworms Newsletter: November 13: Incorporating #LoveOfReading into Playdates, Photo Albums + Visits to the Mall

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 sent out every four weeks.  

Newsletter Update: In this issue I have a review of a wonderful new middle grade novel and two tips for growing bookworms (scheduling playdates at the library and taking photos of your young children with books).  I also have one bookworm moments post about reading while walking through the mall.  I have three posts with literacy and reading-related links that I shared on Twitter. 

Reading Update:  In the last four weeks I finished three middle grade, one young adult, and five adult titles (three fiction and two nonfiction). I read/listened to: 

  • Janet Tashjian: My Life As A Book. Square Fish. Middle Grade Fiction. Completed October 18, 2019, read aloud to my daughter. We are very much enjoying reading this middle grade series together,  and I highly recommend these books as bridge books for kids branching out from a steady graphic novel diet to add some more text-based fare. The main character, Derek, is more more excited about drawing comic strips than he is about reading. The books include little stick figure sketches in the wide margins of less familiar vocabulary words. Even if the words are familiar for your child, the sketches are hilarious. 
  • StuntboyJanet Tashjian: My Life As A Stuntboy. Square Fish. Middle Grade Fiction. Completed October 29, 2019, read aloud to my daughter.
  • J.J. and Chris Grabenstein: Shine!. Random House Children's Books. Middle Grade Fiction. Completed November 1, 2019, print review copy. My review. The fact that I liked this book enough to write my first review since August should tell you how much I enjoyed this one. 
  • Kristen Simmons: The Deceivers (Vale Hall, Book 1). Tor Teen. Young Adult Mystery. Completed November 10, 2019, on Kindle. I liked the premise and plotting of this twisty YA novel about a tiny boarding school for teen con-people, but it didn't completely hold my attention  for some reason. 
  • William Kent Krueger: Manitou Canyon (Cork O'Connor, No. 15). Atria Books. Adult Mystery. Completed October 18, 2019, on MP3. Still love Cork O'Connor. 
  • Thomas Perry: The Boyfriend. Mysterious Press. Adult Mystery. Completed October 27, 2019, on Kindle. Although I usually like Perry's work, I found this one, about a private eye on the trail of a contract killer who hides out by becoming the boyfriend to call girls, less than compelling. 
  • William Kent Krueger: Sulfur Springs (Cork O'Connor, No. 16). Atria Books. Adult Mystery. Completed November 1, 2019, on MP3.
  • LimitlessMindJo Boaler: Limitless Mind: Learn, Lead, and Live Without Barriers. HarperOne. Adult Nonfiction. Completed November 2, 2019, personal copy. This book, by the author of Mathematical Mindsets, applies recent neuroscience research to ideas about learning: growth mindset, productive struggle, making mistakes, etc. It  is fascinating and could be useful to teachers, parents, or anyone looking to expand their brains and keep learning. 
  • Nir Eyal (with Julie Li): Indistractable: How to Control Your Attention and Choose Your Life. BenBella Books. Adult Nonfiction. Completed November 3, 2019, personal copy. This was the latest read in my quest to read everything out there about focusing in the digital age. The part I found most interesting was the early part, in which Eyal talks about the internal drivers of our distraction (seeking out novelty, etc.). The later parts, about ways to  reduce distraction in  one's environment, is good stuff, but wasn't as new to me. 

MyLifeCartoonistI'm listening to The Night Fire: A Renee Ballard and Harry Bosch mystery by Michael Connelly. I'm reading A Bitter Feast (Duncan Kincaid / Gemma James series, Book 18) by Deborah Crombie. I'm reading My Life As A Cartoonist (My Life Series, Book 3) by Janet Tashjian and Jake Tashjian aloud to my daughter. I originally intended for my daughter to start reading these on her own after we had read the first book together. But in fact we are both really enjoying reading them together. Derek, like my daughter, is an only child. Let's just say that his complaint the other day about his parents' excessive focus on his trials and tribulations resonated with my daughter. This morning we kept reading long past when we were scheduled to stop, because we both HAD to know what was going to happen next. Luckily it was pajama day at school. 

On her own, my daughter is most obsessed with the Big Nate series these days. The missing books in her collection (which is most of them, she's mostly read library copies) are one of only two things she has requested (so far) for Christmas. My husband is reading her the first Nancy Drew book before bed, but I think it's going pretty slowly because they are tired. 

WreckingBallShe also eagerly awaited the recent new releases in the Dork Diaries and Wimpy Kid series. In each case we preordered the book and had release day on our calendar. When I went to pick her up from after school care, she positively flew out out to the car, shrieked loudly with excitement, and read the book cover to cover IMMEDIATELY. This is the goal, my friends. Having a child who screams with excitement because the latest book in a series that she loves is here. She reacted similarly yesterday to the news that the ARC of the first book in the Babysitters Club Little Sisters series had arrived. Sadly, I think that one skewed a bit young for her, and so was a little disappointing. But I'm sure it will be a huge hit with younger kids. 

The Scholastic Book Fair at our school is next week. Scholastic offered a new option to create some sort of digital wallet for your child, so that they could essentially charge books to you without you having to be there. Me, I steered far, far away from that. First of all, my daughter would select too many books. Second, she would also be tempted by the non-book stuff, some of which is fun but which can get out of hand. 

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

      
 
 

#BookwormMoments: Reading while Walking through the Mall

UltraSquadMy daughter and I spent some time at the mall recently. In truth, this is not my favorite pastime, but we needed a couple of things. I'm not sure if you all know this, but the tween girl-focused Justice store carries its own series of graphic novels, called Ultra Squad. I haven't read them myself, but in her quest to possess every single middle grade novel known to mankind, my daughter always checks for new installments. [I might add that I don't see her re-reading them very often, which suggests that they are not her top favorites, but I still respect Justice for adding some books to the sparkly mix of bling at the front of the stores.]

Anyway, this time there was a new book, and my arm was twisted to purchase it. This resulted in the following photo. 

ReadingIntheMall

Yes, that's my daughter walking through the mall while reading a graphic novel. If you think about it, the $8 I spent on the book probably saved me from arguing about quite a few other "I wants" before we could make our way to the exit. It did require a bit of vigilance to make sure that she didn't walk into anyone, but of course it was worth it. 

This is what bookworms do. We read whenever we can seize the opportunity to do so. Especially when there's a new book in hand. 

Could I just turn in this photo to her teacher, do you think? Instead of a reading log? Don't you think that a tween girl who walks through the mall reading probably does read enough over the course of the month? [Kidding. And hoping to hold onto this behavior for as long as I can.]

I took this photo to remember the moment, and because I thought that my bookish friends would appreciate it. Happy reading to all! 

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

      
 
 

Tip for #GrowingBookworms: Take Photos of Your Kids Surrounded by Books

I don't know about your kids, but my 9 year old daughter LOVES to look at pictures of herself as a baby / toddler / etc. This  is always nice, of course, but something I noticed recently was that looking at these photos is reinforcing her identity as a person who loves books.

BabyAnimalsWhen she was a baby we generally surrounded  her with books. She had accordion-style books with pictures of baby faces open in her pack-n-play. We would toss down those "indestructibles" when she was doing tummy time. We would give her taggies books to gnaw on in her carseat while we were out at restaurants (she loved the one below, with a mirror on it). We would read to her while she had her bottle. And so on.

Being first-time parents, we took lots of pictures. And because the books were always around, it turns out that we have a lot of pictures of her holding, chewing, or otherwise surrounded by books. 

Yesterday my daughter and I were looking through some little photo books that I made when she was small, and she made some remark about always having loved books. We came to a photo that included a particular book with an attached stuffed animal. I remarked that I believed this particular book to be the very first object that she ever reached for. This made her positively giddy with joy. "The first thing I reached for was a BOOK!"  She was thrilled. 

TaggiesMirrorIt struck me that every time we look at these photos, her identity as a person who loves books is reinforced. It then struck me that parents  who want to raise kids who love books could purposefully take such pictures in the first place. I'm not suggesting that you fake it and create some sort of artificial record of your baby's childhood. But if your baby happens to be holding a board book that the doctor gave her at her six-month checkup (thank you, Reach Out and Read!), make sure you snap a quick photo. If you always stick books in the playpen with the stuffed animals, make sure you capture them in photos from time to time.

Truth be told, if you know that you want your child to grow up to love books, you are probably already surrounding her with books anyway, right? If not, well, that's something to think about, too. 

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

      
 
 

Shine!: J.J. and Chris Grabenstein

Book: Shine!
Author: J.J. and Chris Grabenstein
Pages: 224
Age Range:  8-12

Shine! is a just-released title by the husband-and-wife writing team of J.J. and Chris Grabenstein. I read it last weekend in a single sitting, and thought that it was wonderful. I highly recommend it for upper elementary schoolers. I'm going to give it to my daughter when she is a bit more willing to give non-illustrated fiction a fair shake. 

In Shine!, a girl named Piper is given an unexpected chance to attend a fancy private school, when her father is hired to be the school's new music director. Piper, an aspiring astronomer, is perfectly happy at her regular school, but agrees to the switch because it pleases her widowed father SO much to be able to give her the opportunity. The new school, Chumley Prep, is full driven, ambitious kids who live in huge houses and spend their spare time at the country club. There is a mean girl queen bee who sets out to make Piper's life miserable, but she finds friends, too. A school-wide contest win a new award catches Piper up in a wave of complex dynamics, however, and she struggles to remain true to herself. 

Shine! is going to draw comparisons to Wonder. To me, the comparison is this: like Wonder, Shine! sets out explicitly to convey a particular message. In this case, the message (in simple terms) is that there are more important things than blindly pursuing achievement. As was the case with R.J. Palacio's Wonder, I feel that the authors were able to get this message across in a way that doesn't feel didactic. This is a very tricky thing to pull off (and I am highly skeptical of books that attempt it). 

I'm not completely sure how the Grabensteins were able to achieve this balance. I think it comes down to Piper being down-to-earth and likable throughout, combined with ever-so-slightly over-the-top experiences. It's a mark of what an engaging character Piper is that I saw the ending coming a mile away, but still kept eagerly reading to see the details. And many of the details, as one might expect from a book co-written by Chris Grabenstein, are funny. 

Shine! is a quick engaging read that I really think both kids and adults will enjoy. It's a book with humor and heart, bearing a message that is both timely and important. [Ms. Yingling likes it, too, though noting that it's more a book for elementary than middle schoolers.] Piper is a relatable character with whom any reader would be happy to spend some time. Highly recommended!

Publisher:  Random House Books for Young Readers  (@RandomHouseKids
Publication Date: November 5, 2019
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

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

      
 
 

Links I Shared on Twitter Recently: November 8: Productive Struggle, Female Toy Soldiers + Girls in STEM

TwitterLinksHere are highlights from the links that I shared on Twitter this week @JensBookPage. I am finally digging out a bit from work, and I managed to find a ton of great stuff this week. Topics include: #AbilityGroups, #BookHooks, #BookLists, #BrainDevelopment, #DiverseBooks, #GrowthMindset, #Homeschool, #LoveOfReading, #PajamaDrive, #ProductiveStruggle, #ReadAloud, #ReadingChoice, #ReadYourWorld, #SchoolLibraries, #ScreenTime, #SketchNoting, #STEM, diversity, gender, kindness, parenting, reading, and testing. Happy reading!

Top Tweet of the Week

The Power of #ProductiveStruggle for kids' learning – Great read for #teachers + #parents from @katiemartinedu citing @joboaler's #LimitlessMind (which I read this weekend) https://t.co/TSQlsN2X1Z?amp=1

Book Lists

Gallery: @nytimes Best Illustrated Children’s Books of 2019 — @100scopenotes ow.ly/UXZ130pPBw7 | #PictureBooks #Illustration #BookLists

Diversity + Gender

A 6-Year-Old Asks Why There Are No Female Toy Soldiers. Now, There Will Be. @mihirzaveri @nytimes ow.ly/jYAR30pPB9E | My favorite part of this story is that the child complained, her mom had her write letters + change was sparked

How the #GenderGap in #STEM Might Get its Start in Elementary School | Study finds girls w/ same scores as boys less likely to be nominated for advanced #math program @matt_barnum @Chalkbeat https://t.co/ZnGBOVMZVY?amp=1

Events, Programs + Research

Early announcement from @gail_gauthier | Multi-Cultural Children's Book Day is Jan. 31, 2020 ow.ly/4pMc30pPOX9 @MCChildsBookDay #ReadYourWorld #DiverseBooks

If any #teachers out there are looking for a holiday giving program for classrooms, the @Scholastic #PajamaDrive looks super kid-friendly. Have your kids donate new cozy PJs + Scholastic will donate a kids' book for each ow.ly/JO6M30pQDNE

Press Release Fun: @scbwi's 3rd Annual #Literacy Initiative Gives Books to Readers in Need — @FuseEight ow.ly/LGo630pPmEh #BookDonation #BookAccess

Growing Bookworms

Great post from @pernilleripp about Questions to Ask When the Kids Aren’t #Reading (the serial abandoners #teachers all know) ow.ly/Zlpv30pP5Ng | #ReadingChoice #ReadingIdentity + lots more

Interview w/ a #Reading Specialist @GuessingGeisel via @TheReadingTub ow.ly/CeUH30pQDoA | It's challenging to teach when kids haven't been #ReadAloud to at home + "come in with limited vocabulary, limited sense of story"

Here's the latest @TheReadingTub #BookHooks: #YoungAdult Book Series ideas w/ feedback from teen reviews on #Audiobook versions ow.ly/ikHy30pQDRl

Rekindle or Reaffirm Students’ #LoveOfReading with How to Read a Book by @kwamealexander + Melissa Sweet ow.ly/6egH30pPOY5 @kegancunningham #ClassroomBookshelf

We Make the Time – @pernilleripp on how as a busy parent + teacher she doesn't "find" time to read, she makes it b/c how else can she show kids that she values #reading https://t.co/HQTJjAedck?amp=1

On Reading, Writing, Blogging, and Publishing

Why the books we read as children are the ones that shape our psyche | #Rereading, intense discovery, joyous inhibition + more ow.ly/6lkM30pPPye | I love this piece by @Gwendolyn_Smith @guardianweekend

Interesting #kidlit #publishing news: ‘Very Hungry Caterpillar’ Author #EricCarle, at age 90, Sells Company to @randomhousekids https://t.co/seYzqdiMa0?amp=1

Parenting, Play + Screen Time

Stop Trying to Raise Kids to be "Successful" and raise them to be kind instead @AdamMGrant @TheAtlantic ow.ly/yWdB30pPBP1 "81 percent (of kids) say their parents value achievement and happiness over caring" for others

This needs more research, but in a recent study, MRIs show > an hour of #ScreenTime w/out parental interaction was linked to lower #BrainDevelopment in preschoolers - ow.ly/WDuk30pQDVV @cnnhealth

#Genetics and #Intelligence for your #Homeschool ow.ly/ldio30pPBkH | Don't label your kids as slow learners or as gifted, says @MarlaSzwast, give them the enriched environments they need to learn better [You would like #LimitlessMind by @joboaler, Marla]

It's A Smartphone Life: More Than Half Of U.S. Children Now Have One by Age 11 (+ 84% of teens) | @anya1anya @MindShiftKQED ow.ly/NCqi30pPmom #ScreenTime | Maybe so but I'm still making my kid wait longer

Schools and Libraries

Why Teachers Are So Excited About the Power Of #Sketchnoting (it boosts #VisualThinking + #memory) | @Kschwart @MindShiftKQED ow.ly/XMCY30pQ25q | Bet Derek from #MyLifeSeries would like this, @JanetTashjian

Smart idea for teachers from @Catlin_Tucker | Record Video Directions for things you end up explaining over and over again | Save your time, give kids control over their learning. Plus kids love video https://t.co/jut9LfGb6M?amp=1

OPINION: Separating 'gifted' children via #tracking + #AbilityGroups hasn't led to better achievement ow.ly/JMId30pQ1WN @joboaler @hechingerreport | Recent #NAEP results showed US schools using #ReadingGroups more tended to have lower scores

The Extinction of #SchoolLibrarians – Like @literacious, I wish that every school had a qualified #Librarian. I know we value the one in my daughter's school + I still think fondly of the one from my childhood, Mrs. Tuttle https://t.co/ySa2em4BJ8?amp=1

Chicago Libraries’ Late Fee Elimination Sparks A 240% Boost In Book Returns ow.ly/rt9I30pQQBl @Forbes via @donalynbooks | #BookAccess #libraries

STEM

Neat! For The First Time In History, Girls Won All Five Top Prizes at the Broadcom MASTERS #STEM Competition for Middle Schoolers | @amightygirl ow.ly/m2vq30pQ1R6 #brcmMASTERS @Broadcom

Testing

#Reading scores drop in California, most states in much-watched national test | @jfenster + @BayAreaData @EdSource ow.ly/LD5I30pPmnp #NAEP #testing

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

      
 
 
   

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