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Jen Robinson's Book Page - 5 new articles

 

 

Links I Shared on Twitter this Week: Gendered Reading, Growing Bookworms, #SummerReading + #BookADay

TwitterLinksHere are highlights from the links that I shared on Twitter this week @JensBookPage. Topics this week include book lists, book covers, verse novels, gendered reading, diverse books, #EdTech, #BookADay, #STEM, growing bookworms, summer reading, schools, libraries, play, author visits, math, therapy dogs, re-reading, bookstores, and parenting. 

One Personal Link

This is neat. My blog post On the Virtues of Not Overscheduling Kids is being featured today @BAMRadioNetwork http://ow.ly/iVlu300xjTx  #play

Book Lists + Awards

Sorry, Junie B.: Early Chapter Book Characters I Actually Like http://ow.ly/CJV7300q3vG  @GeekMomBlog via @tashrow

Announcing the Biggest + Best New Award in Children’s Literature: The Undies — per @100scopenotes + @CarterHiggins  http://ow.ly/b4ji300xhkm 

Enchanting New Fairy Books + Fairy #Booklist from @rebeccazdunn http://ow.ly/Z3Zn300Cqel  #kidlit

On the #Cybils blog: #BookList Fun: Women in the Spotlight / performers who broke barriers http://ow.ly/Sl3c300Cquc  by @AnnettePimentel

RT @TheReadingTub: Thinking you'll dig this @JensBookPage - 5 Illustrated Books for Kids Who Dig #Math http://bit.ly/1TwrrzT  @ReadBrightly

#SummerReading: #BookLists and Tips for Every Age (preK to adult) from @ReadBrightlyEditors  http://ow.ly/Bckk300Az1G 

Non-didactic Children's Books about characters w/ Special Needs / differences http://ow.ly/mQ3Y300uIWa  @momandkiddo #BookList #kidlit

Jean Little Library: RA RA Read: Quick Reads: Books in Verse for Elementary and Middle Grade http://ow.ly/MIAp300sAGA  #kidlit #poetry

Diversity + Gender

Gender Politics + Construction Equipment: The Eyelashening — @fuseeight http://ow.ly/gX9I300xhd3  #kidlit

How “Girl Books” Could Save the World (if we could get more boys to read them) by Jen Malone http://ow.ly/v2M6300sAvx  @nerdybookclub #kidlit

How One Woman Is Helping Black Kids See Themselves In Books via subscription boxes http://ow.ly/XSw1300q0IJ  @_TARYNitUP @HuffingtonPost

#Diversity in children's books goes deeper than race http://ow.ly/eBaW300pZDE  @MPRnews w/ @mattdelapena + C. Robinson via @PWKidsBookshelf

MIRRORS, WINDOWS AND . . . PENGUINS and the motivation behind LILY AND DUNKIN http://ow.ly/Rqrz300CpN5  @DGephartWrites @nerdybookclub #kidlit

EdTech

What a Decade of #Education Research Tells Us About Tech in the Hands of Underserved Students http://ow.ly/cmLv300sB4e  @EdSurge @drdouggreen

Educators: Connect Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself! http://ow.ly/eDhq300uI8U  @bethhill2829 on why social media networks help in #education

Events + Programs

Good news! It's time for the 8th Annual #bookaday Challenge by @donalynbooks http://ow.ly/UuXH300xo28  #SummerReading #kidlit 

Growing Bookworms

1 Easy, Fun Way to Ignite a Love of #Reading: A tip for parents + teachers http://ow.ly/ZYey300q4qI  @coolcatteacher

Therapy Dogs Work Wonders for Struggling Readers http://ow.ly/Af5N300xPv1  @sljournal #literacy

Tips on #RaisingReaders in the digital age, a Guest Post by @randallde  http://ow.ly/UBgv300AF3a  @MrSchuReads

Parents – How to Help Your Child Love #Reading Over the Summer  http://ow.ly/eo08300vA6u  | Great advice from @pernilleripp #SummerReading

Sharing wordless books with children: tips & favorite books (for kids of all ages) http://ow.ly/yJGT300CplX  @MaryAnnScheuer #literacy

What Every Teacher of Reading Should Do According to @pernilleripp 's  Students http://ow.ly/uI8H300sz6T  | Book talks, choice + more

Good advice here: 4 Mistakes I Made Trying to Raise a Middle School Reader http://ow.ly/vTdl300q1MN  @Bookopolis @ReadBrightly

On helping kids to find the books that interest them to hook them on #reading @Catherine_D2013 @nerdybookclub https://t.co/C6msszMc2r

Kidlitosphere

Various tidbits of #kidlit interest in Fusenews: The occasional library-centric “unruly pleasure”  http://ow.ly/Muwm300uIJA  @fuseeight

On Reading, Writing, Blogging, and Publishing

Interesting: Surveying Stories: The risks of rage in Robin Stevens' Wells & Wong mysteries http://ow.ly/5TEG300xhZa  by @tanita_s_davis

I do like this idea: Host a Silent #Reading Party in 7 Easy Steps http://ow.ly/U5Tm300vnMp  @BookRiot I would add wine for mine! #introversion

Must-read for book-lovers from @aquafortis on The Comfort of #Rereading http://ow.ly/Fwkn300uLqQ  What are your favorite re-reads?

Author Nicola Morgan explains why she expects/needs/deserves to be paid her speaker fees http://ow.ly/F6yz300szfD  @AwfullyBigBlog

'People are hungry for real bookstores': Judy Blume on why US indie booksellers are thriving http://ow.ly/9k2n300sy3q  @GuardianBooks

Parenting

MacArthur 'Genius' @angeladuckw Responds To A New Critique Of #Grit http://ow.ly/kHfo300AzIA  @npr_ed @anya1anya 

To Help Kids Thrive, Coach Their Parents (+ teachers) to have better interactions w/ kids http://ow.ly/v9Bl300vq6X  @nytimes #parenting

Play

Now this is a place kids can #PLAY | Check Out the 57-Foot Mega Slide and More at Governors Island  http://ow.ly/9H4f300xye0  @mommypoppins

Summer Bucket list: things we did as kids that we should share w/ our kids today: picnics, kites, + more http://ow.ly/tAti300xxGW  @POPSUGAR

Why #Play Matters — No Matter How Old You Are http://ow.ly/BCpS300vpH9  @rolland_rg on @cogwbur via @litsafari

Schools and Libraries

For #schools: How to score top marks in organizing author visits http://ow.ly/4pKF300xhGr  @lizkesslerbooks #kidlit

Small Ideas for a Better Organized Classroom Library from @pernilleripp  http://ow.ly/xoU7300q2yd  #reading #schools

Tips for librarians to make sure they are supporting outside paid performers' work http://ow.ly/3EZw300ACtJ  @mrskatiefitz

An Open Letter to School Boards Everywhere on the importance of school #libraries + certified #librarians http://ow.ly/C8CJ300CJRm  @sljournal

STEM

How A Strengths-Based Approach to #Math Redefines Who Is ‘Smart’  http://ow.ly/pTVT300xwGA  @Kschwart @MindShiftKQED #STEM

Your Brain Has A Delete Button-- How To Use It (think about what's important to you) http://ow.ly/TI1L300uJUN  @FastCompany via @drdouggreen

2016 Maker Faire Bay Area Highlights from @mamasmiles  http://ow.ly/KIoE300szAJ  w/ links to #educational tools, kits, crafts + #STEM

Examples of #Math #Play in the classroom from @sxwiley http://ow.ly/x2Db300q2Qn  Coins, sorting, shapes, games + more

© 2016 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

      

 

With Malice: Eileen Cook

Book: With Malice
Author: Eileen Cook
Pages: 320
Age Range: 12 and up

I picked up With Malice one afternoon, when I needed a little break from work, and simply could not put it down. With Malice begins when 18-year-old Jill wakes up in a hospital. She's been seriously injured in a car accident, and has no memory of the previous six weeks, including what was supposed to have been a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Italy. She soon learns that she is not the only one who has questions about what happened in Italy, and particularly what led to the car accident. A media frenzy and legal case ensues. 

What follows is a deconstruction of the events as revealed through police interviews, news stories, blog and Facebook posts, interspersed with the experiences (mainly from before the accident) that Jill does remember.  Every piece of information, every revelation about personality or intentions, feels like a tiny clue, as the reader (and Jill) tries to figure out what happened. I read With Malice over about 24 hours, because I simply could not stop until I knew what had happened. 

Eileen Cook's characterization is masterful, particularly of Jill and her best friend, Simone. Jill's roommate from rehab is a delight. Even some of the tertiary characters, revealed mainly through interviews with the policy, come through clearly. But of course it is Jill's experience that is at the heart of the story. She suffered brain damage in the accident, and struggles with aphasia (not being able to come up with the right word when she is talking). Like this (as she is thinking to herself):

"I'd never been in the hospital before. Well, once in second grade. I fell off the -- Dammit. Now I can't think of what they're called. The ladder thing, suspended above the playground. Lion bars? No. Elephant bars. That's not it either, but that's like it. You swing across them. I'd had to get stitches, but I'd never stayed in the hospital before." (Page 6)

Impossible not to empathize with Jill - her perspective is so immediate. I'd like to talk about her more, but I don't want to give anything important away. With Malice is a book about which the less you know ahead of time, the better. Just read it. With Malice is a compelling mystery and a fascinating character study, with a ripped from the headlines subject. It is a pitch perfect summer reading delight! Recommended for teens and adults. 

Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers (@HMHKids)
Publication Date: June 7, 2016
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

© 2016 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).

      

 

My Ninja Child: Or, Why Kids Should Pursue the Activities that Bring them Joy

I always have my eyes open for articles and posts about play and joy for kids. So I naturally read and shared a recent Washington Post article by Lena Aberdeen Derhally entitle "Kids don't know how to play on their own anymore. Here are four ways to change that."

The whole article is well worth a read. The author begins with why parents should care about getting their kids to play more and then gets into her specific suggestions. Here is the first one:

"Encourage your child’s unique strengths: Everyone has something they enjoy and usually we are pretty good at doing the things we enjoy. If your child truly enjoys an activity, encourage him to develop it. If the child loses interest in the activity and doesn’t want to do it anymore, listen to him. Forcing him to do something that is no longer enjoyable can hurt him in the long run and take the joy out of the activity. The purpose of hobbies and activities is enjoyment."

When I first read this paragraph, I have to confess that I thought it was rather obvious. I've been reading a lot of parenting books and books about the importance of play, and this of course made sense to me. But then I thought about the first sentence of that paragraph again: Everyone has something they enjoy and usually we are pretty good at doing the things we enjoy. This has always been my approach in terms of getting kids interested in books and reading - you have to help them to enjoy it, or they won't do it. 

But then I realized how much this outlook applies to my daughter's experience with karate lessons, and how very much she's been getting out of them. The other day our family met a couple of my husband's colleagues for lunch. My daughter was seated next to a man she knows fairly well (the father of two daughters himself), and she spent the entire lunchtime telling him all about her experiences and accomplishments with karate.

JoyfulNinja

She was reciting exactly how many and which badges she has received ("teamwork", "respect", etc.) and sharing her belt level. She was talking about when her graduation ceremony would be to the next level, and relating with much pride her experience in breaking a board with her hand. She was just brimming over - so proud and so excited to talk about this passionate interest of hers with an adult who would listen attentively (bless him!). 

Ninja_print__79938.1440167600.500.571_1024x1024Of course this enthusiasm shows up at other times, not just at this lunch. She had a ninja-themed birthday party (hence the broken board). She runs around the house in a ninja mask, selects ninja-themed picture books, and was SO excited when for sharing at school she had to do or bring something that started with "K". She was beside herself when I bought her a dress with hidden pink ninjas on it (from Princess Awesome, a new discovery - see the fabric to the left). She used her own money to buy Kung Fu Panda 3. I think you get the idea.

Vision-martial-artsA couple of my friends, as well as my daughter's karate instructor, have commented on how much her confidence has increased since she started doing karate. Her karate studio (Vision Martial Arts in San Jose) is fabulous. They focus not just on karate, but on nurturing teamwork, self-reliance, and other core values. We are grateful to the friends who recommended that we give karate a try. 

But I think that my husband and I deserve some credit, too. We listened when she said that she wanted to give karate a try. We supported her sticking with karate vs. swim team this summer, even though most of her friends were doing the latter. We arranged the ninja-themed birthday party. My husband practices with her. I make sure her uniform is clean. In general, we have prioritized the karate, because it's clear that it is working for her. And the dividends from the decision have been significant. 

If and when her interests change, we'll respect that, too, of course. And it's not that she doesn't have other interests now. I also understand that karate isn't for everyone, and that parents will have to experiment to find the right thing for each kid at each stage of development. My point is that if your child develops a passionate interest, it's worth going out of your way to let her pursue it. You never know which activities are going to be the ones that make your child sparkle. But it's the sparkle that matters. Find it. Follow it. That's what makes kids shine. 

© 2016 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

      

 

#JoyOfLearning Articles from @ValerieStrauss + Lara N. Dotson-Renta + @MsSackstein

JoyOFLearningLogoI have three new articles to share with you today. The first two are about how early education has become more academic and less playful, particularly for less advantaged children, despite evidence in favor of play-based learning. The third article, by Starr Sackstein, suggests some ways to re-think elementary school homework to make it less harmful. 

How ‘twisted’ early childhood ed has become — from a child development expert http://ow.ly/NshI300kNoD  @valeriestrauss via @frankisibberson [This piece is from November 2015, Strauss shares a speech by Nancy Carlsson-Paige that is more relevant than ever today.]

Nancy Carlsson-Paige: "Play is the primary engine of human growth; it’s universal – as much as walking and talking. Play is the way children build ideas and how they make sense of their experience and feel safe. Just look at all the math concepts at work in the intricate buildings of kindergartners. Or watch a 4-year-old put on a cape and pretend to be a superhero after witnessing some scary event."

Me: Carlsson-Paige makes the particular point in this piece that "It’s in low-income, under-resourced communities ... where children are most subjected to heavy doses of teacher-led drills and tests." She talks about the number of kids who are suspended from preschool. She laments that despite clear research on the developmental benefits to kids of play, schools, particularly schools serving less advantaged children, are moving in the opposite direction. I, too, think that this is a crisis. I'm doing my small part here to keep spreading the word and getting people thinking. 

Why Movement is Essential in Early Childhood + #Schools shouldn't stifle this http://ow.ly/9ZwQ300q6Py  @TheAtlantic #play

Lara N. Dotson-Renta: "Research has shown time and again that children need opportunities to move in class. Memory and movement are linked, and the body is a tool of learning, not a roadblock to or a detour away from it. Any parent who has brought home a kindergartener after school, bursting with untapped energy yet often carrying homework to complete after a seven-hour day, can reasonably deduce why children today have trouble keeping still in their seats. Many children are getting 20-minute breaks, or none at all...

It would be unwise and impractical to pretend that children do not need any structure, or that academic skills are unimportant in school. Yet it is necessary to recognize that the early-childhood classroom has been significantly altered by increasingly rigorous academic standards in ways that rarely align with how young children learn."

Me: This is yet another piece, full of links to research, about how the increasing focus on ever-earlier academics in schools runs counter to what child development experts know about how kids learn. The author does mention how some individual teachers and schools are effecting change in this area. However, she notes that "for now (such practices are) unlikely to become widespread given the current focus on assessment and school readiness, particularly in underserved communities." I think that last point is especially telling. And sad. 

Some things to consider (eg no reading logs) in rebranding our idea of #homework http://ow.ly/WGr2300szPW  From teacher + parent @mssackstein

Starr Sackstein: "There is a lot of research out there that supports its negligible purpose and positive support of achievement; yet, many are tied to the belief that students must have it to be successful. Parents are a large part of this challenge as many think that for a class to be rigorous, homework must be given. But it's time to rebrand our concept of "homework" - we need to give it a facelift and use it appropriately."

A list of suggestions / questions follows. My favorite is "Reading should be an expectation not a homework assignment (and PLEASE NO reading logs)"

Me: In this balanced piece, Starr Sackstein isn't saying to get rid of all homework. But she does suggest getting rid of busywork, finding other ways to teach kids accountability, and giving students more choice. I think that her point about parents being a large part of the challenge is going significant, but I'm not sure what to do about that beyond sharing research about the detrimental effects of homework with my own networks. 

© 2016 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 post may contain affiliate links. 

      

 

Fortune Falls: Jenny Goebel

Book: Fortune Falls
Author: Jenny Goebel
Pages: 208
Age Range: 8-12

Fortune Falls is an isolated small town in which superstitions become reality. Step on a crack, you really will break your mother's back. Breathe in the air in the cemetery, you'll die. Following a fairly new policy, the young people in the town are sorted after they turn twelve, via a test, into Lucky or Unlucky. Luckies have smooth sailing ahead. Unluckies are sent off to Bane's School for Luckless Adolescents. Sadie is due to turn twelve soon, on Friday the 13th (not a day that is kind to the Unlucky), with her luck exam to follow shortly. If she doesn't pass, she'll be separated from her mother and five-year-old brother, as well as from her long-time best friend (now a Lucky), Cooper. 

I found the premise of Fortune Falls intriguing, though actually following along with what was fact and what was perception and/or self-fulfilling prophecy was a bit tricky sometimes. If you tell someone that they are lucky, and they believe it, they probably will do better in certain areas, after all. But when you have lucky students just randomly guessing correct math answers, or getting every basketball into the hoop, you know that there's something more than perception going on. 

Actually, what I found most implausible in Fortune Falls had nothing to do with luck. It was Sadie's relationship with Cooper. Cooper's parents, and Sadie herself, have tried to keep him away from her, so that her bad luck doesn't rub off. Cooper remains loyal, and continues trying to spend time with Sadie, no matter how poorly she treats him. To me, his persistence didn't quite ring true. 

But that's a minor nit. Overall, I did enjoy Fortune Falls, particularly the later part of the book, when Sadie stops feeling sorry for herself, and starts to take action, even in the face of daunting bad luck. Here are a couple of quotes, to give you a feel for Sadie's voice:

"The Luckies' parents made a huge fuss whenever they thought their fortuitous children were being jeopardized by an Unlucky. Sometimes, even parents of Undetermined kids complained." (Page 8) - Note Sadie's advanced vocabulary. She ends up participating in a couple of spelling bees. 

"I held my breath and barged right in. If a lifetime of mishap and embarrassment had taught me anything, it was the quicker you got the discomfort over with, the better." (Page 10)

"Arriving home to find Cooper on my front lawn was as good as stumbling upon a four-leaf clover. Just one look at his face--his rich brown skin and long dark eyelashes--made me feel happier inside. And, as any hapless person knows, happy is a close brethren to lucky." (Page 30)

Hmm... Makes you consider the connection between the word "hapless" and "happiness", doesn't it? 

Bottom line: if the premise of a place where luck-related superstitions actually come true sounds interesting to you, then you should give Fortune Falls a look. It's a quirky story with a fair bit of heart, as well as emotional growth by the main character. Recommended for 8-12 year olds. 

Publisher: Scholastic Press (@Scholastic
Publication Date: January 5, 2016
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

© 2016 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).

      

  

 

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