Links I Shared on Twitter this Week: November 17: #Cybils #Reviews, #Math in Preschool, and "Dessert Books"

TwitterLinksHere are highlights from the links that I shared on Twitter this week @JensBookPage. Topics this week include #Cybils, #GraphicNovels, #GrowthMindset, #literacy, book awards, english learners, giftedness, homeschooling, kindness, learning, math, nonfiction, schools, and Veteran's Day.

Top Tweet of the Week

DorkDiaries1Child: "I don't want to go to school today. Can't I just stay home and read Dork Diaries all day?" No, but I did briefly consider saying yes. [And technically not a link, but an incident to please book lovers.]

Booklists + Gift Guides

9 Illustrated Chapter Book Series to Engage Early Readers | Jennifer Ridgeway + more

Other books for kids who are obsessed with Diary of a Wimpy Kid | from at

2017 holiday gift guide from suggests titles by age, focusing on things the found kids want in books, like humor


HereLiesDanielTateToday's featured review: Fiction nominee Here Lies Daniel Tate, reviewed by

Today's featured review is nominee We Come Apart, review by

Update + 4 Good for Teens recommended by category chair

Today's featured REVIEW: speculative fiction nominee Landscape with Invisible Hand, reviewed by

Cybils-Logo-2017-Round-SmA reminder from that Nomination Lists Make Great Reading

Events + Programs

Collaboration & Creativity! How my Be-a-Famous Contest Can be Used in Your Classroom! FREE resource roundup for K-4

Today is | Claire Noland suggests some kindness-themed + suggestions for spreading kindness while traveling

A good story for : nonprofit founded by teen connects Bay Area teens w/ veterans

Growing Bookworms

StrivingToThrivingThe Nutritional Value of Dessert Books, don't dismiss certain books + assume that reading them isn't valuable for kids |

Making time for independent at | How + why to do it via Wendie Old

Growth Mindset + Giftedness

Students Share The Downside Of Being Labeled |

RT @MindshiftKQED: "High achievers are being neglected in all sort of ways by schools that had no incentive to push them farther up"


Forget The 10,000-Hour Rule; Edison, Bezos, & Zuckerberg Follow The 10,000-Experiment Rule

On Reading, Writing, Blogging, and Publishing

WonderWonder No More: A Look at a Book to Screen Adaptation, positives + negatives

A Screen-Based Analogy of Books from | Like Kate, I'm all about meaty book series as well as complex TV dramas

Historical Children’s Books I’d Like to See (Based Entirely on Stuff You Missed in History Class Episodes) —

Guest post by for | The Overlooked Benefits of Expository | Different kids relate to different things


7 Things I Was Totally Wrong About When It Came to - From a Dad

Schools and Libraries

Keep-it-real-1Keep it R.E.A.L.! Relevant, Engaging + Affirming for Adolescent English Learners by

9 Ways to Shift the Energy in the Classroom + help potentially anxious or sad kids focus on

"Educators have more control of the future of than any outside source will. Continue to create that meaningful change."

Silent vs. Independent Reading: What’s the Difference? (plus digital tools to assess IR) –

Small things a new assistant principal does to show students that someone cares | passing on a book, celebrating positives, + more


Stanford's Deborah Stipek says we should teach more in

© 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.

Rekindling Intrinsic Motivation After Extrinsic Rewards Damage It

Last summer a mother lamented to me that her son, who had been a big reader during the school year, wasn't reading over the summer. She said that this was because he was no longer getting AR points for his books. So, whereas the previous summer he had always had a book in his hand, this summer he did not. The difference being that that he had been reading for AR points during the school year. [See my other post about AR.]

I've been occasionally mulling over this question ever since. More recently, I talked with another couple about this subject. These were parents who have older children and who have been through a similar experience. They said that they had to create some loose incentives for their kids during the summers, once AR tracking started in earnest. "Read 500 pages and get some reward" - that sort of thing. I imagine this is a reason why many parents enroll their kids in summer reading programs. To insert extrinsic motivation (you read and then you get something) when the intrinsic motivation (you read because love it) has faded.

These things probably work, at least to some extent, in making kids read over the summer. But it seems to me that this problem will get worse and worse over subsequent summers. What I wonder is this: is there a way to rekindle intrinsic motivation in someone who has become dependent on extrinsic rewards? Can we ever get them back to reading for its own sake? I don't have any definitive answers, but I do have some thoughts. 

Obviously, the ideal big picture solution is to keep your child from becoming dependent on outside rewards in the first place. [I personally don't enroll my daughter in summer reading programs for this reason.] But what can you do if you are already there?

You can do the usual things that I and many others have recommended for raising readers: read aloud, take your child to the library, subscribe to magazines that suit their interests, set an example by reading yourself, listen to audiobooks in the car, keep print books everywhere, and limit screen time, to name a few. 

LunchLadyReadingWhat I would add is that if your child was previously an avid reader, perhaps you can turn to nostalgia. If your child was into Harry Potter last summer, but has yet to pick up the next book this summer, try watching all of the movies for the books that he's already read. Do not offer the movies of any unread books. Find some subtle way to remind the child of how happy he was previously when reading. Are there photos? Bring them out. I'm going to be prepared to break out the photo shown to the left in the future, if my daughter ever needs reminding. Are there favorite titles for which you only had library copies? Buy one. Break out your family's favorite picture books and allow yourself to be spotted reading them. Your previously internally motivated child is still in there -- see if you can draw her back out.

If you are dealing with a child who has never been intrinsically motivated to read, then the challenge is harder. Here what I might try is extrinsic rewards that are experience-based, rather than stuff-based, and related to the books being read. "After you read this book about a kid surviving in the wild, we'll go on a camping trip." That sort of thing. It seems like this would create positive associations with reading in a more nuanced way than just "read 100 pages and I'll give you a dollar".

I would also highly recommend trying to create some sort of family reading routine. Maybe read aloud an old family favorite together at bedtime. Or initiate family D.E.A.R. time, when everyone reads the book or magazine of his or her choice. Start a project and borrow books related to that project: dig a garden, build a shed, plan a trip. The idea here is again to create positive associations with reading. You don't want "I read and I feel happy because I got a sticker from the library." You want instead "The time that my family and I spent listening to that book together in the car made us closer, and now we have all these fun inside jokes" or "Reading snuggled up on the couch next to my mom, with each of reading our own book, was a nice way to spend time every afternoon before dinner." 

We choose to spend time doing what we enjoy. We want our kids to spend time reading because they love it, not because they got a sticker or got a certain number of points next to their name on the board. If your child has lost that internal motivation to read, the path back could be to remind her of why she used to enjoy it, and/or show her why it's enjoyable now. That's what makes sense to me, anyway. 

Does anyone else have direct experience with this issue that you can share? 

© 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

Growing Bookworms Newsletter: November 15: Choice in Learning, #GraphicNovels as "Real" Reading, and Harry Potter

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 two to three weeks.

Newsletter Update:  In this issue I have three book reviews (picture book and middle grade) and one post about my daughter's latest literacy milestone (having a real-world interest sparked from a book). I also have a post about the importance of choice in my daughter's learning and another in defense of graphic novels as real reading. I also have two posts with links that I shared recently on Twitter

One other newsletter-related item that I wanted to mention is that I learned after the last issue was mailed out that there was a problem with the newsletter sign-up form. My thanks to the determined new subscriber who contacted me to let me know about this. I have fixed the main signup form and also streamlined the form in my blog sidebar to make it easier to use (you don't have to leave the page to subscribe). If you find anything worth reading in the newsletter, I do hope that you'll consider passing it along to others. Thanks!

Reading Update: In the last two weeks I finished three middle grade books and three adult titles. I read/listened to: 

52StoryTreehouseI'm currently listening to Two Kinds of Truth (Harry Bosch series) by Michael Connelly and reading The Lying Game by Ruth Ware. My daughter and I finally finished reading Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire together.  It took us close to five months, though we didn't read as regularly as usual over the summer vacation. We have decided to take a (possibly lengthy) break before reading Book 5 (which is equally long and more depressing). We are currently reading The 52 Story Treehouse by Andy Griffiths together. 

For her own reading, she finished the Amulet series by Kazu Kibuishi quite rapidly, and is showing some signs of willingness to branch out a little from pure reading of graphic novels. This is not out of disloyalty to her format of preference, but because she has read all of the ones that she has quite a few times, and hasn't had any others grab her interest. After having various other ideas rebuffed, I suggested, very tentatively, that she could try reading the first Harry Potter book on her own. She was eager to do so, and did try for a couple of days, but she wasn't really ready.

DorkDiaries1She tried the first Dork Diaries book by Rachel Renee Russell instead, and has found that a much better fit. I suspect that Dork Diaries will be her next reading obsession. I had a copy of the first one already and how now ordered book 2. She took the first one in to school to read at D.E.A.R. time. 

However, as a small indicator of her continuing obsession with the world of Harry Potter, she remarked the other day: "I left the picture right there and one day it just disapparated." This was a genuine slip. "Disapparate" comes more readily to her than "disappear." She also had her first experience of being truly annoyed (and sometimes baffled) by differences between the book and the movie, in regards to The Goblet of Fire. My own take, after spending literally months reading the book, is that they may have gone a tiny bit too far in cutting things down for the movie. 

EllaSarahOne other title that grabbed my daughter's interest last week was an old lap-size board book that she picked up: Ella Sarah Gets Dressed by Margaret Chodos-Irvine. We read this book many times when she was younger, and I always liked it, but she apparently didn't remember it. She was completely charmed now by the book's message of self-determination regarding clothing. She wanted me to write about the book, and she wants to get another copy to give to her younger cousins. 

One final thing that she's reading these days: magazines. I recently subscribed her to National Geographic Kids. She's received her first two issues and LOVES them.  

Thanks for reading, and for growing bookworms. 

© 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

Polaris: Michael Northrop

Book: Polaris
Author: Michael Northrop
Pages: 288
Age Range: 9-12

PolarisPolaris by Michael Northrop is historical science fiction, both creepy and suspenseful. In the 1830's, somewhere off the coast of Brazil, a ship (the Polaris) awaits the return of a boat that has gone ashore to explore. When the boat returns, however, part of the crew is missing, and one returning crew member is infected. Following mutiny and abandonment by crew members, a collection of six boys is left to handle the ship, and the mysterious danger that now lurks below decks. 

This story of young kids striving to sail a ship on their own would have been a compelling survival story in any event. The addition of a frightening creature that lurks below decks ratchets up the suspense. Northrop juggles the different personalities of the six young crew members skillfully. There is conflict between them, but they do eventually form a team, fighting a common enemy. The perspective of Polaris shifts between several of the quite different personalities, particularly those of Owen, chief cabin boy and nephew of the ship's one-time captain, and Henry, apprentice to the ship's botanist. Owen is strong and relatively skilled for his age, but, well, not terribly clever. Henry is an extremely poor sailor, but quite clever. As any reader will expect, the strengths of each boy come into play as the story progresses. 

Polaris conveys many details of old-time ships, from rigging to navigation to food to maintenance. Young readers interested in Columbus' voyage will definitely want to give Polaris a look. The supernatural elements have a Michael Crichton-like feel, with a basis in science. Any kid looking for science-based science fiction will also want to check out Polaris. While the science fiction elements give Polaris  a different feel from some of Northop's other books, there's no question that Polaris is a compelling and suspenseful read. Recommended, and well worth a look for libraries serving elementary and middle school readers. 

Publisher: Scholastic (@Scholastic)
Publication Date: October 31, 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: Real-World Interest Sparked from a Book


Recently my daughter asked for a book from which she could study sign language. Does she have a friend who is hard of hearing? No. Well, not a friend she's ever met, anyway. No, she wants to learn sign language out of loyalty to Cece Bell, because she adores El Deafo that much. She's been scheduling weekly sessions (my daughter, not Cece Bell) in which she works with my husband and I on our lip-reading and sign language. After trying to learn sign language from El Deafo itself, she realized that she needed a better resource. 

ElDeafoI bought her Signing for Kids, Expanded Edition. Because we all know that I'm a sucker for any request for a book. In truth, her interest had already faded by the time the book arrived. But I think it quite likely that she'll want it someday. [This is why I have such a ridiculously large number of books in my house. Because we might need them. Someday.]

You couldn't make this stuff up. We also made blackberry fool after reading A Fine Dessert awhile back, so I suppose this isn't our first experience with this dynamic. But it is the first one for which a reference book was required. 

Have your kids had real-world interests sparked by books?

© 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