Click here to read this mailing online.


Table of Contents:

Jen Robinson's Book Page - 5 new articles



Growing Bookworms Newsletter: May 6

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 children's and young adult books and raising readers. I usually send the newsletter out every two weeks.

Newsletter Update: In this issue I have four children's book reviews picture book through  middle grade) and two posts with literacy and reading links that I shared on Twitter recently. I also have two posts with literacy milestones concerning my daughter (reading her first Babymouse book and buying her first books with her own money). 

Reading Update: In the last two weeks I completed three middle grade titles, two young adult titles, and one adult title. I read/listened to:

I'm listening The Eight by Katherine Neville (a favorite that I've read in print twice, but never listened to before). I'm reading The Black Reckoning, the final book of John Stephens' Books of Beginning trilogy, in print and The Edge of Forever by Melissa Hurst on Kindle. I'm also reading Raising Kids Who Read: What Parents and Teachers Can Do by Daniel Willingham because I am always looking for new ideas. 

The books my husband and I have been reading to our daughter can be found here. She's quite taken by Miss Nelson Has A Field Day by Harry Allard and James Marshall. She's also more regularly dabbling in sounding out words in the Bob books (we're on Collection 2), and has started trying to read one of the Pete the Cat early readers. She's taken to making up stories using stickers - she assembles a collection of stickers in a row on a piece of paper, and then tells you the story. It's pretty fun.

She definitely has her ups and downs in terms of wanting me to read to her. I'm already fighting the battle that on a quiet weekend afternoon, she prefers to use her tablet over listening to a book. But not at bedtime - then reading is sacred. She in fact worried ahead of a recent sleepover that she would have a hard time going to sleep because we wouldn't be there to read to her. I packed her some Elephant & Piggie and suggested that they try reading together. Not sure how that played out. 

What are you and your family reading these days? Thanks for reading the newsletter, and for growing bookworms. 

© 2015 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



How to Read a Story: Kate Messner and Mark Siegel

Book: How To Read a Story
Author: Kate Messner
Illustrator: Mark Siegel
Pages: 32
Age Range: 5-8

How to Read a Story, written by Kate Messner and illustrated by Mark Siegel, is sure to delight any and all fans of reading books, particularly kids who have recently learned to read themselves. As promised by the title, the book outlines the steps required for a successful experience reading a book aloud. Many of the steps are specifically tailored towards new young readers. For example, note the last line in Step 1, below:

"Step 1
Find A Story.

A good one.
It can have princesses and castles,
if you like that sort of thing,
or witches and trolls.
(As long as they're not too scary.)"

Other steps are even more direct in their hints to new readers, like Step 8:

"If there are words you don't know,
try sounding them out or looking at the
pictures to see what makes sense."

This advice is followed by an example of how a child might read a passage from a sample book, sounding out the unfamiliar with "castle". The "book-within-a-book" (used as an example for a number of steps) is a bit over-the-top, but I think that kids will find it entertaining. I personally found the conclusion of that book-within-the-book ("The Princess, the Dragon, and the Robot") to be overly sentimental, but I thought that the rest of How To Read a Story was pitch-perfect. I especially enjoyed the attention that Messner gave to finding the proper reading spot (for two), and the examples of passages that one would read aloud with different voices. The latter are useful but also entertaining.

Siegel's ink and watercolor illustrations are engaging and playful. When the boy in the story attempts to read out of doors on a cold day, steam rises from his breath and his hot cocoa. The illustrations from the book that the boy is reading are rendered in a slightly different style, helping to separate the book that we are reading from the book that the boy is reading. The boy's expressions, ranging from joy to suspense, are slightly exaggerated, reinforcing the text for young readers.

There is a hint of diversity in the presence of a darker-skinned friend with dreadlocks who plays a minor role (though I do wonder why the main characters couldn't have been diverse instead). 

How To Read a Story is a celebration of the joy of losing oneself in a good book, of the sense of accomplishment that reading aloud can bring, and of the connections that are strengthened by reading together. It belongs on the shelves of anyone who is dedicated to growing young bookworms, whether those shelves be in the home, the classroom, or the library. 

Publisher: Chronicle Books (@ChronicleKids
Publication Date: May 5, 2015
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

© 2015 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook. This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through affiliate links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).



Literacy Milestone: Buying Her Own Books

LiteracyMilestoneAMy daughter experienced another milestone last week on what I hope will be the path to becoming a life-long reader. She made her first book purchases, with her own money. She's made selections using a gift card before, but she recently chose to spend all of her hard-saved paper dollars on items from the Scholastic Reading Club flyer. 

Some background is in order. On her recent fifth birthday, we started giving my daughter an allowance. We want her to start to understand what things cost. She allocates this allowance to plastic storage boxes labeled "SAVE", "SPEND", and "DONATE". [And idea from a book called The Opposite of Spoiled by Ron Lieber.] She's also been collecting loose change from around the house, and occasionally doing extra little jobs. She had accumulated $14 in bills, across the three bins. 

Then the Scholastic Reading Club flyer arrived. Actually, there were four flyers, for some reason. Before I could get to them, she went through them on her own, and circled the items that she was interested in. Let's just say that there were MANY. When she started showing these to me, I immediately protested that she was asking for too much. 

So she ran up to her little storage bins, and came back with a handful of crumpled one dollar bills. She then without hesitation zoomed in on the two things that she most wanted: an amusement park math game ($8) and a collection of Disney movie-themed early readers ($10). She happily handed over her entire pile of cash as a contribution to the cause. After I explained that we had to replace the $4 from the "donate" bin (this is all still a new concept), I told her that I would put her remaining $10 towards this month's Reading Club purchase, and subsidize the rest of the order myself. I was awarded big hugs for this. 

I suppose a better lesson would be to have her only get the $10 set of early readers this month. But a) I was pleased that she wanted to spend her money on books (well, and an educational game) rather than toys; and b) I'm a sucker for buying books myself. So I went ahead and ordered some of the items that she had requested (including her two highest priorities), and I put the 10 crumpled dollar bills into my pocket. 

Incidentally my selection of which items to buy did entail some degree of censorship. I dropped the My Little Pony Winning Style Set with barrettes and tattoos, for example, as well as anything else that had non-book stuff included. But I do try to respect the things she likes, so our eventual list did include a Sponge Bob book and a book from an early reader series that I hadn't seen before called Critter Club. I also added a book by Bethanie Murguia called I Feel Five! that looked fun. 

May this be the beginning of a lifetime of prioritizing the buying of books! Perhaps one day her own home will look like mine does, with piles of books everywhere. 

© 2015 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook



Links I Shared on Twitter this Week: May 1

TwitterLinksHere are highlights from the links that I shared on Twitter this week @JensBookPage. Topics this week include book lists, the Cybils Awards, the Kidlitosphere Conference, diversity, gender, carnival of children's literature, growing bookworms, reading, publishing, schools, screen-free week, and libraries. 

Book Lists

10 Princess Books For Kids Who Could Use a Break from @Disney Princesses (Whether They Realize or Not) @NerdyBookClub

Every Hero Has a Story: Chapter Book (transitional readers) Reading List from @mrskatiefitz for #SummerReading

A fun addition to @HornBook signs of springtime series: construction-themed picture books, chosen by Katie Bircher 

Christian Children’s Literature in the Library: A Quick Accounting from @fuseeight + @AaronZenz

A Tuesday Ten: children’s science fiction + fantasy ttitles in which the color blue plays a big role @TesseractViews

5th Grade #SummerReading List from @momandkiddo from Flora + Ulysses to Savvy to Absolutely Almost

#RaisingReaders Monday: Summer Camp Reads both old and new from @kateywrites #BookList #SummerReading

Dig Into the Past and Soar to the Stars: #Diverse Genre Fiction for Teens | @sljournal #BookList by Joy Fleishhacker 

A Tuesday Ten: @TesseractViews | #kidlit SF + Fantasy featuring rabbits, hares and all kinds of bunnies!

Stacked: It's Prom Season: A YA Reading List (books published since 2011) from @catagator #YALit


On the #Cybils blog, an Interview with Carrie Alexander (from Rocketwagon), publisher of this year's #BookApp winner

On the #Cybils blog: #BookList Fun: Cybils Books with Latino Flair, selected by panelist @ixtumea 

Diversity + Gender

An argument for people to read more #DiverseBooks by Filipino author Candy Gourlay @GuardianBooks via @elvenjaneite

Author @haleshannon shares why she has started calling out boys in the audience who boo for anything girl-oriented

Girl, 8, strikes blow for equality over 'boys only' books |Alison Flood @GuardianBooks via @LisaYee1 @Scholastic

“Smart girls are funny girls”. Announcing FUNNY GIRL (a humor anthology for girls) — @fuseeight + @VikingChildrens

Food for though in CCBlogC: Thinking About...Visibility as Cultural #Diversity : A Continuum by Megan Schliesman 

Events + Programs

SFW-logo-with-2015-date-and-website-300x176Screen-Free Week, organized by Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood @commercialfree is coming May 4-10, 2015

Tips for Celebrating #ScreenFreeWeek 2015 from @BookChook 

Now is the time to submit your post to the April Carnival of Children's Literature. Deadline is April 29: #kidlit

Readers: share your stories about how reading has changed your life @Scholastic #SharePossible site: …

Happy El día de los niños/El día de los libros (libraries promoting family literacy +#diversity ) from @CCBCwisc

Publisthers Partner with White House on E-reading Initiative, reports @PublishersWkly 

Generosity from author spreads literacy in Naperville, donates $17k towards #literacy camps  via @PWKidsBookshelf

Growing Bookworms

Tip for parents "poetry is a great way to share language with kids who have very short attention spans" @mrskatiefitz

Why You Should Read Aloud to Older Kids, wonderful, must-share guest post @momandkiddo by @SunlitPages

How Much (+why) Should Children Read? #WorldBookDay Infographic by @hannahsjohnson in @PubPerspectives

I agree on this (though have made exceptions): @SunlitPages on Why My Kids Read the Book Before They See the Movie

"if we want to encourage more children to read for pleasure, (why) do we force books on them...?" @AwfullyBigBlog

12 Incredible Resources for Struggling Readers @ThisReadingMama #GrowingBookworms

MRI shows association between reading to young children and brain activity | @EurekAlertAAAS via @ReachOutAndRead


2015-KidLitConLogoSquareAnnouncing #KidLitCon 2015! The ninth annual Kidlitosphere Conference will be in Baltimore on October 9-10. Details: 

Don't miss the Carnival of Children’s Literature April 2015 Roundup | Thanks @asuen1  #kidlit

On Reading, Writing, Blogging, and Publishing

Slim Appeal: 5 Successful Book Spines that make people want to read the books — @100scopenotes #kidlit

5 Reasons Why Reading Children's Novels As a Teen Is Beneficial by Mackenzie Patel @HuffPostTeen

Challenge from @100scopenotes | Create a Book Cover for the Bookless Character from the @BNBuzz children's section

Essay on the gift of magic in Edward Eager's writing, by Alice Hoffman in @HornBook

The Future of Reading: There’s No Mystery About It | Walter Mosley in @WSJ report on leadership

A defense of copyright (with analogy using cake) by John Dougherty @AwfullyBigBlog

Terry kicks off a new feature @readingtub |A Throwback Thursday #TBT for book reviews  #kidlit

Schools and Libraries

Research results: students think better (and burn more calories) with standing desks @ScienceDaily

Lovely! Improbable libraries: unusual places to bury your head in a book… | @GuardianBooks via @Jon_Scieszka

Should We Teach Students Spelling? @ReadingShanahan says yes + gives reasons why it still belongs in the classroom 

© 2015 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.



Rappy the Raptor: Dan Gutman and Tim Bowers

Book: Rappy the Raptor
Author: Dan Gutman
Illustrator: Tim Bowers
Pages: 40
Age Range: 3-6

I first read Rappy the Raptor, written by Dan Gutman and illustrated by Tim Bowers, silently to myself. And I must confess that it didn't quite grab me. But I went ahead and read it aloud to my daughter (age five) at bedtime. I found that Rappy the Raptor is one of those books that shines when read with a child. It's not just that my daughter loved it (which she did, giggling throughout), but that I appreciated the punchy, rhyming text much more when reading it aloud. 

Rappy the Raptor is the story of a young dinosaur (a raptor, of course) who tries to fly immediately after hatching, and lands on his head. After that, Rappy is observed to only speak in rap. His worried parents take him to the hospital, where he suffers a bevy of tests. But in the end, to everyone's relief, the doctor concludes that he was just born that way. 

So we have rhyme (lots of rhyme), various examples of the types of tests kid might go through at the hospital, parental love and concern, and a tidbit or two about dinosaurs. These diverse aspects work together because Rappy is an engaging, relatable (as far as a raptor can be) protagonist. 

Here's a sample:

"I'm Rappy the Raptor
and I'd like to say,
I may not talk in the usual way.

I'm rhymin' and rappin'
all of the time.
I'm talkin' when I'm walking
and I'm rhymin' when I climb."

The first paragraph of the above excerpt is repeated several times throughout the book, with variations in the second paragraph, like:

"I'm rappin' in the morning.
I'm rappin' at noon.
I'm rappin' in October
and I'm rappin' in June."

And more... It is catchy, though there were a couple of places that the text didn't seem to scan quite right for me. Some of the passages will definitely appeal to the preschool crowd, like this:

"The doctors looked me in the eye
and looked me in the ear.
And I'm not ashamed to say
they even looked me in the rear."

(giggles from five-year-old)

Tim Bowers' acrylic illustrations bring the happy-go-lucky Rappy to life. Even when he has a big bandage wrapped around his head, he remains mostly cheerful, with rounded, non-threatening teeth. His sharper-toothed parents look more worried, as any child would expect. Rappy also has a stuffed mouse, but one with raptor teeth, which renders him even more accessible to the preschool crown.  

Also, though I can't promise that this will happen with every young reader, this book set my daughter onto a rhyming tear. She raced out of the room to where my husband was, calling: "Daddy! Daddy! Listen to this. I'm Rappy the Raptor and I'd like to say..." followed by a deluge of rhyming gibberish. Your mileage may vary. 

All in all, Rappy the Raptor is a fun book, particularly well-suited to three to six-year-old who are learning about rhyme. Having the protagonist be a dinosaur will, I think broaden the book's appeal. This would make a great school or library storytime read (though be prepared for kids to fight over who gets to bring Rappy home). Recommended. 

Publisher: HarperCollins (@HarperChildrens
Publication Date: April 28, 2015
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

© 2015 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook. This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through affiliate links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).