Links I Shared on Twitter this Week: July 21: #KidLitCon Registration, A "Flybrary" + #Writing Resources for Kids

TwitterLinksHere are highlights from the links that I shared on Twitter this week @JensBookPage. Topics this week include #BookLists, #DiverseBooks, #KidLitCon, #PictureBooks, #STEM, #YA, book clubs, happiness, libraries, love of reading, math, parenting, personal responsibility, reading, screen time, teaching, and writing.

Book Lists (inc. 2 black boy-themed lists)

WhooshBlack Boy Joy: 29 Picture Books Featuring Black Male Protagonists | Charnaie Gordon

Where Are All the Black Boys? A 2017 Assessment + Comparison (progress re. 2013)

The Refugee Children’s Books of 2017 and an Ode to The Arrival — from

that Promote Imagination, , questions to prompt kids + 1 new review from

Books My (Struggling Teen Reader) Students Most Frequently Stole From the Classroom via  

Events + Programs

Airline launches "flybrary", spreading out 7k classic titles across fleet for kids to read on board  


KidlitconLogo2017-SquareWithHeaderHey there + bloggers, authors + fans: Register now for the 2017 | Hershey, PA | Nov 3-4  

announces keynote speakers Rachel Renée Russell + + Floyd Cooper

On Reading, Writing, Blogging, and Publishing

For Women: How & Why to Start a with Your Friends | Building Relationships

AnneOfGreenGablesThe Crying Game (or Books That Make You Weep, every single time) by  

"my favorite back to school book of all time" (I think), on A New School Year: Stories in Six Voices

Helpful Resources for Young Writers for kids + from

Should fiction have to teach a lesson? No, says , quoted in piece by Alyson Ward


HappinessTrack researcher says we're giving our kids bad advice about how to succeed in life 

Schools and Libraries

How Their First Card Teaches Kids Personal Responsibility | 

Success for students should be “Any path that leads to a happy and healthy life.” |

Americans Oppose Segregation in Theory—but Not in Practice (in their own schools)

CharlottesWebMotivating w/ different preferences + strengths to succeed in |

Making Your a Safer Place for Kids by cutting back on

Study Suggests College Students are Better Off without a Laptop in the Classroom -


Elevate program helps Bay Area 6th - 10th graders reach new heights in  

How a Shop Teaches Kids , Fine Motor Skills, and Entrepreneurship

Why a Colorado researcher believes preschool students should learn — and — with |

© 2017 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

Wordplay: Adam Lehrhaupt and Jared Chapman

Book: Wordplay
Author: Adam Lehrhaupt
Illustrator: Jared Chapman
Pages: 40
Age Range: 4-6

WordplayWordplay, written by Adam Lehrhaupt (Chicken in Space) and illustrated by Jared Chapman (Pirate, Viking & Scientist), is an introduction to the parts of speech for preschoolers and early elementary school kids, shared in the form of a quirky story. Basically Verb does things, but Noun can be things. When a peanut gallery consisting of Interjection, Adjective, and Adverb admires Noun a little too much, Verb gets jealous. But when a bee threatens the changeable but inert Noun, guess who is there to save the day? In the end, Noun and Verb figure out that they can do a lot more by playing together. 

Obviously, this is all very contrived. But it does rather work. Here's a snippet:

"Everyone watches Verb.

"Wow!" says Interjection.

"An impressive display," says Adverb.

"Very graceful," says Adverb.

Verb is happy."

In the above example, Interjection's name and text are shown in purple, matching his color (see cover image above). Similarly for the yellow adjective and orange adverb. Interjection's "WOW!" is shown in a bigger font than everything else. This consistent visual reinforcement continues throughout the book. Verb, of course, is red, shown in constant movement. Noun is blue and has an odd head shape, but also a friendly smile. They all have rather pig-like noses, in what seems to be Chapman's style, but they are surprisingly cute anyway. The bee is quite menacing:

"BEE!" says Interjection.

"A giant, frightening bee!" says Adjective.

"It's coming dangerously close," says Adverb."

You get the idea. 

Wordplay would be a great addition to any preschool to first grade classroom where the teacher is introducing parts of speech. It would make a good next-stage companion to Mike Boldt's 123 versus ABC and Colors versus Shapes books, albeit with a slightly less madcap storyline. Wordplay is a bit gimmicky, of course, but I like that there is a story - it's not just some dry explanation of parts of speech. It's also a celebration of friendship, which is always welcome for this age range. Wordplay is fun and, well, playful, and well worth a look for schools and libraries. Recommended. 

Publisher: Arthur A. Levine (@Scholastic)
Publication Date: July 25, 2017
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

© 2017 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).

#JoyOfLearning Links from @PernilleRipp + @JoeOcalaNews + @ValerieStrauss: Reading Enjoyment and Eliminating Homework

JoyOFLearningLogoToday I have three articles to share with you. The first is for teachers on the need to work not just on students' reading skills, but on their enjoyment of reading. The second and third are both coverage of the decision by the new Superintendent of Schools of Marion County, Florida to eliminate elementary school homework and replace it with 20 minutes of reading a day. Every time I hear such stories, I want to shout them from the rooftops. But I'll settle for sharing them with you here. 

Yes! On the Need to Plan for Enjoyment "what (will we) do to protect the love of reading?"  

PassionateLearnersPernille Ripp: "And yet, while I gladly share what we do as I try to help my students become better readers, there seems to be a missing part in this curriculum conversation; the need to plan for reading enjoyment.

Why does this matter? Because our assumptions about what we can do to kids’ reading lives through our well-meaning intentions are wrong.  We have assumed for too long that kids will just like reading, no matter what we do to them in class...It seems, in our eagerness to create amazing readers, we have lost sight of the end game; people who actually want to read once they leave our schools."

Me: Instead of quoting Pernille Ripp practically every time I do one of these #JoyOfLearning posts, why don't I just suggest that if you care about teaching and/or raising kids who love to read, you should follow Pernille's blog and/or join her new Facebook group, The Passionate Readers Book Club. I'll just add that I wish with all my heart for all of my daughter's future teachers to care as much as Pernille does about protecting my daughter's enjoyment of reading. Kids who enjoy reading will spend time reading, and (for most of them,  anyway) the rest will take care of itself. 

This is great! No ! District superintendent does away with it for elementary schools by

Joe Callahan: "Parents of Marion County’s 20,000 elementary school students will no longer have to badger their young children to do those worksheets, spelling words and math problems. That’s because Superintendent Heidi Maier on Wednesday issued a “no homework” mandate to teachers at 31 elementary schools for the 2017-18 school year, citing research that shows young children do better in school when they are given a break from the rigors of a typical school day.

The district alerted educators of the new mandate in an automated voice message Wednesday evening. It was sent to more than 1,200 elementary teachers in all of the district’s K-5 schools. Maier said the research is clear that homework causes more harm than good...

School District spokesman Kevin Christian said that instead of homework assignments, parents will be asked to read with their children for 20 minutes every evening. Maier said the district will send out an automated voice message to parents asking them to spend 20 minutes of quality time reading with their children. And the actual type of book is something the parent and child should pick, or what she calls self-selection.

“It does not have to be Emily Bronte (‘Wuthering Heights’), it can be ‘Barbie Gets Her Nails Done,’ ” said Maier, adding that the Barbie book example was not an actual book. Research shows that when a caring adult sits together with their child reading it can increase reading comprehension, Maier noted."

Me: How great is this? I love it! I wish our elementary school district would do it. I especially love that the district is asking parents to read with their kids every night, instead of doing homework. As my dad pointed out in response to my sharing this on Facebook, if kids read for 20 minutes they are likely to get invested in what they are reading, and keep reading for even longer.

Valerie Strauss has a bit more on Heidi Maier's decision below. 

Why this superintendent is banning — and asking kids to instead by

Valerie Strauss: "Heidi Maier, the new superintendent of the 42,000-student Marion County public school district in Florida, said in an interview that she made the decision based on solid research about what works best in improving academic achievement in students.

(That may seem like something of a no-brainer, but in the world of education, policymakers are notorious for making a great deal of policy without knowing and/or caring about what the best research shows.)

The policy will apply to all elementary school students in the district — about 20,000 — but not to middle or high school students. Maier, an expert on reading acquisition who started running Marion schools in November after serving as lead professor of teacher education at the College of Central Florida, said she is basing her decision on research showing that traditional homework in the early years does not boost academic performance but reading — and reading aloud — does...

Maier said that students would be allowed to select their own reading material and would get help from teachers and school libraries. For those children who have no adult at home to help them read — the same students who had no adult at home to help them with their traditional homework — volunteers, audiobooks and other resources will be made available."

Me: I think I love Heidi Maier, sight unseen. Here she is, brand new superintendent of the district, and she just sends this out over the summer. She says in this article that feedback from parents has been mostly positive, but I'm sure she's dealing with a fair bit of pushback, too. More power to her!

If all teachers in the US focused on nurturing the enjoyment of reading, and all elementary schools replaced other homework with free choice-based reading time, I believe that there would be measurable positive results in reading scores, number of books read, percentage of students reading for enjoyment, and so on. I believe that kids around the country would be happier, and become better, more confident readers. I know that many parents would be happier, too. Perhaps someday... 

© 2017 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. 

Secrets I Know: Kallie George and Paola Zakimi

Book: Secrets I Know
Author: Kallie George
Illustrator: Paola Zakimi
Pages: 32
Age Range: 3-6

SecretsIKnowSecrets I Know, written by Kallie George and illustrated by Paola Zakimi, is a gentle story about play, alone and with a friend, and appreciating the outdoors. It's not so much a story as a series of connected incidents, each described by a short sentence, taking place over the course of a day in the life of a little girl. The text, with simple vocabulary, and the incidents that take place, are all preschooler-friendly. No parents are visible anywhere in the story, which takes place mainly in the girl's backyard. 

The text is quiet, like this (across the first 3 page spreads):

"Secrets are for whispering.

Whispers hide in trees.

Trees make great umbrellas."

Even reading this to myself, I wanted to whisper. I think that the way the sentences connect from page to page, "whispering" to "whispers", etc., lends a poetry to the text. It feels like a perfect bedtime book to me. But I can also imagine using Secrets I Know for more interactive reading. Once your preschooler picks up on the pattern, you can ask her to predict what's going to happen next. 

I just love that this girl is out by herself, on a slightly rainy day, playing in a very simple treehouse, having a tea party for her toys in the sandbox, using an umbrella as a pretend boat, etc. Then when she goes next door to find her friend, things get a bit more complex (building a robot costume, taking down a telescope from a shelf). There's a timeless feel to all of this, and one can imagine it inspiring kids to want to play imagination games on their own. 

Zakimi's illustrations (drawn in pencil and digitally colored) are lovely, and perfectly complement the story. Zoom in on that cover, if you will. The nameless little girl is adorable, from her wavy brown hair down to her ballet-flat-covered feet. Her friend is African-American, adding a bit of seamless, unselfconscious diversity. The back yard is delightful, full of trees and puddle, with the girl's cozy-looking house in the background, and a dog cavorting about, lending subtle humor. I especially liked the illustrator's use of light, as the day shifts from rain to sunlight to evening stars. 

Secrets I Know is one of those books that you appreciate a little bit more on each reading. If it had been around when my daughter was three, I believe this would have been one that we read every night and referred to during the day ("Together, friends are ladders" or "You can sweeten tea with sunshine"). I think it would make the perfect gift for a three or four year old, and an excellent choice for library storytime. Secrets I Know is highly recommended, and going on my "to give as gifts" list. 

Publisher:  Schwartz & Wade (@RandomHouseKids)  
Publication Date: May 23, 2017
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

© 2017 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: Quoting from a Book

LiteracyMilestoneAThe other day my daughter was working on a self-selected science project of sorts. She was trying to set up a pulley system with yarn to raise and lower a pool towel over our staircase. The idea was to be able to pull on one end of the yarn and have the towel rise up out of the way. She had a few setbacks, however, in getting this to work. This may have been because she had no actual pulleys. After one of the experiments failed she became briefly frustrated. But then she said:

"Well, Mommy, the only true failure can come if you quit."

RosieRevereThis was pretty much a direct quote from Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty and David Roberts, one of our mutual favorites. And it made me so happy to hear it. Because she's taking lessons she learned from books and applying them in her life. Because she is demonstrating growth mindset. Because she is seven, and sometimes she does get frustrated and quit. But not that day, because she thought of what a character in a book would do. And she tried again. 

For the record, she kept trying, and eventually did get the towel to lift up as she had hoped. Thank you, Andrea Beaty! (And thank you Abrams Books for publishing this wonderful series, which I cannot recommend highly enough.)

© 2017 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