Links I Shared on Twitter this Week: May 4: #StarWarsDay, #SummerReading, and #Reading + #Writing Interactions

TwitterLinksHere are highlights from the links that I shared on Twitter this week @JensBookPage. Topics for this Screen-Free Children's Book Week Star Wars Day include: #BookLists, #CBW18, #ClassroomLibraries, #DiverseBooks, #GraphicNovels, #math, #parenting, #play, #reading, #SchoolLibrarians, #ScreenFreeWeek, #SocialMedia, #STEM, #SummerReading, #SummerSlide, #testing, #writing, child development, education reform, happiness, Jo Boaler, learning, and skills development.

Top Tweet of the Week

12 tips for building a beautiful | "Work w/ your students to develop a list of recommended reads" + more

Book Lists

LMNOPeas24 Must Have Books for Babies (7-12 Months), a from

Diverse : Early (7-10 Year Olds) - from

Humor Hooks Readers: recommendations from the Bay Area Book Fest via

10 Books That Will Help You UP Your Classroom! by

AmalUnboundSouth Asian 2018 – Part 2: Novels | | "by a author, contains a South Asian Main Character, or involves South Asian culture"

Castles, Wands, and Unicorns: 15+ Fantasy Titles for Ages 8-12 | kicking off some from

Book Awards

Congratulations to for winning the 2018 Award for AFTER THE FALL | Announcement at  [Amazon link to After the Fall]

Today on the blog: An Interview with Renée Watson , author of winner PIECING ME TOGETHER  [Amazon link to Piecing Me Together]

Diversity + Gender

CItyOnTheOtherSideA paean to the great girls of 's from + why they are a wonderful opportunity for boys, too |

Silences Stories - on the need for +

Study: Colleges that have gone "test optional" (SAT/ACT) enroll a higher proportion of low-income + 1st gen + more from backgrounds

Events + Programs

Saturday is | interviews Day Founder

MayTheFourthThis Friday (today) is Star Wars Day: May the 4th Be With You | | thinking we should plan to watch movies all weekend, despite it being

The 99th annual Children's Book Week is April 30th to May 6th! What book are you reading to celebrate? | Find bookmarks + more here:

Ideas for Australia's Children’s Book Week in August 2018 from Most can apply for US too |

April 30-May6 is also Screen-Free Week

Growing Bookworms

How to Assess Skills Without Knowing the Book They Are Reading by | "Kids need relevant reading experiences that ... also help them grow or protect their love of reading."

The Real Reason to Read Children’s Books – 's students say her "matters because it shows that she cares about us"


For thoughts from on some recent + misc. news, see The Return of Five & Dime Friday: my five cents | Origami pasta that folds itself?

On Reading, Writing, Blogging, and Publishing

GoldenCompassIn Praise of Childhood Favorite Books, even those that lose their magic when you re-read as an adult (Inc. + for Laura Sackton )

No Surprise To , But It’s Nice To Have Evidence: Study Finds That Students Improve Their By |

9 Ways & 'Feed' One Another From Birth

2018 "may be the best year ever" says + provides examples

Parenting, Happiness + Play

RaisingHappinessWhy Aren’t Happy | Suggestions from for pushing back on things that make us too busy to enjoy life | Stop "shoulding" on yourself [Amazon link to Raising Happiness book]

"It needs to be understood that and are not two different things. Instead, play and learning work together"

Schools and Libraries

are Rockstar Resources - A reminder from | "School are vital to student learning as early as kindergarten"

Tips from on using in , w/ 3 suggested titles

HowReadingChangedLifeHow helps her plan for their "For me, summer reading is the best kind of reading, and I want my kids to know that feeling too."

Understanding the : Sharing Data with and by |

Dear Administrators – A Few Ideas to Motivate from | "Trust us to be professional", "Help us forge connections" + more

School Improvement Program, driven by things asked for (counseling, etc), Receives Student Buy-In |

How One NYC Is Trying To Transform a serving some of the city's poorest students - lots of reaching out to help w/ problems in community

It's All About the Books | recommends 's new book about how + why to create +

Skills Development

RebelTalentWhen Solving Problems, Think About What You Could Do, Not What You Should Do [Amazon link to Rebel Talent book]

How You Can Raise Robot-Proof Children (kids ready for the jobs of the ) by

High-Paying Trade Jobs Sit Empty, While High School Grads Line Up For University : via | should make kids more aware of different options |

Social Media

Sigh. Recent studies suggest that some are anonymously posting negative things about themselves on , to

5 Tips to Tame Compulsive Checking of during next week's from


Professor Wants Everyone to Love , and focus more on depth than speed –

© 2018 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.

Literacy Milestone: Notebooks Everywhere

LiteracyMilestoneARecently I noticed something about  my daughter's behavior that reminded me of my own childhood. She has notebooks EVERYWHERE. Big ones and small ones, ones that I have purchased and ones the she has chosen herself from the Scholastic catalog or the supply for purchase at school. They are often labeled on the cover ("homework", "trips", "'stories", "my future"). She generally wants one with her for even the shortest of car rides. She can be found scribbling away at the kitchen table, in her bed, or hidden in a cabinet in the family room.

She writes and draws with regular pencils, mechanical pencils, colored pencils, and markers. Sometimes the notebooks are brought to me for inspection, and sometimes they are kept private. I try not to pry. Sometimes they are given to me with "homework" assignments that I'm meant to do. Some are full of made-up stories, others are more diary-like, and others are in service of some game or other (especially "school"). They are all valued. 

NotebooksWhen I was a kid my dad owned a hardware store. While that was useful, I always wished that he could have instead had a stationery store. I visited the stationery store in our town whenever I could possibly find an excuse. I coveted notebooks, pencils, and markers (though I'm sure I had quite a few). When I was a bit older than my daughter is now I filled endless spiral notebooks with journal entries. I'm not sure why it took me so long to notice that my daughter is the same way (even though I've been the one buying most of the notebooks). But there you have it - a milestone that's been gradually building up. 

Readers often write, too. Inveterate readers of graphic novels are, I suspect, likely to also draw. None of this is surprising. As long as the piles of books and notebooks don't fall over and crush anyone, it's all good. 

Thanks for reading, and for growing bookworms. 

© 2018 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: April 27: #ScreenFreeWeek, #NoMoreMeanGirls, #AccessToBooks, #Testing + #STEAM

TwitterLinksHere are highlights from the links that I shared on Twitter this week @JensBookPage. Topics this week include: #AccessToBooks, #BarbaraBush, #BookLists, #crafting, #creativity, #Cybils, #IdeologicalDiversity, #parenting, #poetry, #ReadAloud, #ScreenFreeWeek, #STEAM, #STEM, #testing, book awards, education funding, kidlitosphere, libraries, and mean girls.

Quote of the Week

GiftOfFailure“The less we push our kids toward success, the more they will learn. The less we use external, or extrinsic, rewards on our children, the more they will engage in their for the sake and .” in The Gift of Failure

Top Tweet of the Week

Preserving the Early Excitement of once get to by Kamalisha Green

Book Lists

24 Must Have Books for Babies (0-6 Months) | from

South Asian 2018 – Part 2: | detailed w/ synopses + author bios from

HauntedLibraryLittle Detectives: Books for 6- to 8-Year-Olds | from

Great Books for | from + her7th graders + more

Cybils Awards

New blog post: with Suzanne Selfors, author of Early Chapter Book winner WEDGIE & GIZMO from


UncensoredZachary R. Wood: Why it's worth listening to people you disagree with | "We get stronger" via [Wood has a book coming out this summer that looks interesting.]

THIS is what I've been talking about re: need for : A Warning to My Fellow Liberals from | Just signed up for updates

When Visited Wellesley | People should make an “effort to learn about and respect difference, to be compassionate with one another, to cherish our own identity and to accept unconditionally the same in others.” |

ScreenFreeWeek2018Events, Programs + Research

Next week is | suggests 50 screen-free activities for celebrating: blocks, books, bikes, games, kites + lots more

Putting the FUN in ! at the Bay Area Book Festival, April 28th | is moderating discussion w/ LeUyen Pham, Megan McDonald, +

New Research Center for the Study of is Open at Columbia: "recognizing that visionaries such as Albert Einstein experienced failure can... help students perform better in school"

Growing Bookworms

ReadingInTheWild" increases children’s future prospects + has a significant influence on the level of they will attain, their productivity, their health + their quality of life"

How I Read as a Leader – 5 excellent suggestions from elementary principal for being an intentional + inspiring others


The 2018 Progressive Poem is well in hand. Here's 's contribution had the original idea.

Lots of interesting tidbits (including suggestions from ) in Morning Notes: The Vanisher Edition —

On Reading, Writing, Blogging, and Publishing

WarriorsThis made me smile: How I became trapped in a fictitious universe, in which shares his recent experience with the books

Us, Too. muses on what to do when "the perfect book for a child" was written by someone who has "behaved appallingly" in some way

Research study: Our brains rapidly and automatically process opinions we agree with as if they are facts –


The Best Kid Made Modern Projects ( Has No Limit) - via

NoMoreMeanGirlsHelping Young Girls Find Their Voice While Developing |

Understanding the Difference Between a 'Late' Reader and a Child with a Learning Issue | Laura Lambert

Schools and Libraries

RT @HeinemannPub: "If you read aloud regularly to your students, you know: there is no time in the day quite like read aloud time. A good read aloud can bring a group together like nothing else." by

How States Stack Up on Federal Funding for Teachers, Low-Income Students -

Fighting Cuts: How To Keep in | via

IGenOP-ED: Why our youngest generation needs your compassion by via | a reflects on by

Does a lack of executive function explain why some kids fall way behind in school? - on recent research study |

Here’s What Happens When Every Gets a Personalized Learning Plan | "All students can learn; however, not all students learn in the same way or at the same pace"


A Passion for in Retirement - helps girls w/ Amazing Girls Science by

Testing / Assessment

State Tests Do Not Assess Student , says | And as more families , results mean even less |

"We’re so focused on that we’re neglecting to expose pupils to ideas and experiences beyond the classroom" via @storimagic

Trump Education Official Jason Botel to States: Don't Forget About , indicators Under -

© 2018 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: April 25: Series Reading, Summer Plans, and Nonfiction Titles

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 usually sent out every three weeks.

Newsletter Update:  In this issue I have one literacy milestone post, one post about how my daughter wants to spend her summer vacation and three posts with links that I shared recently on Twitter. I also shared an off-topic post about my quest for ideological diversity, which I have not included here (of course you are welcome to click through if you are interested). I'm been in a pretty major reviewing slump and do not have any reviews to share with you at this time. Thanks for your patience!

Reading Update:  In the last few weeks I finished ten adult titles. I read/listened to: 

  • Karen Cleveland: Need to Know. Ballantine Books. Adult Mystery. Completed March 30, 2018, on Kindle. This thriller held my attention, but I wasn't crazy about the ending... 
  • Susan Furlong: Splintered Silence (A Bone Gap Travellers Novel). Kensington. Adult Mystery. Completed April 2, 2018, on Kindle. This is the first of a promising new series set among a population of gypsies who are sometimes discriminated against in their town. The heroine is a wounded former military officer with a three legged working dog. I look forward to the next book. 
  • Charles Finch: A Beautiful Blue Death (The First Charles Lenox Mystery). Minotaur. Adult Historical Mystery. Completed April 4, 2018, on Kindle. This is another new mystery series that I started and have been enjoyed, set in the mid 1800s and featuring a bright, wealthy detective who has echoes of Sherlock Holmes. 
  • FactfulnessHans Rosling: Factfulness. Flatiron Books. Adult Nonfiction. Completed April 7, 2018, on Kindle. This is a fascinating nonfiction title about being better consumers of data and thinking clearly about what the world is actually like. I think everyone should read it. I learned about because Bill Gates recommended it, if you don't want to take my word for it. 
  • Charles Finch: The September Society (A Charles Lenox Mystery). Minotaur. Adult Historical Mystery. Completed April 13, 2018, on Kindle.
  • Jo Furniss: All the Little Children. Lake Union. Adult Thriller (Post Apocalypse). Completed April 16, 2018, on Kindle. This was another that I enjoyed but where I found the ending unsatisfying. 
  • Elizabeth George: The Punishment She Deserves (Lynley + Havers). Viking. Adult Mystery. Completed April 17, 2018, on MP3. Another excellent installment to one of my favorite series. 
  • Charles Todd: A Duty to the Dead (Bess Crawford, #1). William Morrow. Adult Mystery. Completed April 20, 2018, on Kindle. A friend recommended this historical mystery series to me, and I enjoyed the first book. I will check out others. 
  • FourTendenciesGretchen Rubin: The Four Tendencies. Harmony. Adult Nonfiction. Completed April 21, 2018, on Kindle. This is another nonfiction title that I think everyone should read. Rubin, whose work I always find interesting, classifies people according to four tendencies in how they meet internal and external expectations. I already knew my own tendency, but I've been finding it illuminating to consider those of the people around me. 
  • Sir Ken Robinson: You, Your Child, and School: Navigate Your Way to the Best Education. Viking. Adult Nonfiction. Completed April 22, 2018, on Kindle. This book about the educational system is also one that I would recommend. I found much food for thought, and will probably be commenting further later. 
  • Jessica Lahey: The Gift of Failure. Harper. Adult Nonfiction. Completed April 24, 2018. Another excellent nonfiction title, about how and why parents should not over-protect their children, but rather team them autonomy. Covers growth mindset and grit concepts, too. 

I'm currently listening to To Die but Once, the latest Maisie Dobbs book by Jacqueline Winspear. I'm learning a bit about England during the evacuation of Dunkirk in WWII, and enjoying puzzling through the current mystery. I am a bit concerned about the fate of various young loved ones of Maisie's in the war, though. I'm still reading Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix with my daughter. We are past the halfway point but I doubt we'll finish before the summer. 

YearOfTheDogMy daughter is still sending most of her library books, which reflect her reading level but not so much her interest level, back unread. She did make it through Grace Lin's The Year of the Dog, and immediately asked me to get her the next two. She claims these are not in her school library, but I think she just wants them. She's also read Cosmic Commandos by Christopher Eliopoulos, which she received for her recent 8th birthday, several times. When the ARC of a new graphic novel, Making Friends by Kristen Gudsnuk, showed up on our doorstep this week she dropped everything else to read it, even waking up early on a school day. If I could come up with an enormous pile of middle grade-appropriate, realistic graphic novels, I think she would only stop reading to sleep.  

Just now I found her in her room, half-dressed for the day and half in her pajamas, standing by her bed re-reading a Dork Diaries book for the umpteenth time, instead of finishing getting ready for school. When I try to redirect such behavior she tells me that it's my fault, because I taught her to love books. What can you do? 

Thanks for reading, and for growing bookworms!

© 2018 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

My Daughter's Plan for How She Wants to Spend Her Summer Vacation

Last summer I wrote about my daughter's experience with play-based vs. activity based summer camp/childcare. She roundly rejected the themed camps that I signed her up for for two weeks (which were also more logistically difficult and expensive for me) in favor of going to her usual childcare facility, which is close to our home and both kid-driven and play-based. This summer she has already made it clear to me that she wants no other camps, just to go to the local place every day. Far be it from me to argue. 

She has also asked to stop all other activities (except maybe piano, she's on the fence there), at least during the week, so that she can fully dedicate herself to playing. Last summer there were a number of times when I arrived to pick her up for karate, only to find her in the middle of planning a wedding or setting up a restaurant. She is preemptively telling me that these interruptions are not going to be tolerated. 

When I think of summer vacations when I was a kid, all I did was play or read all day (that's how I remember it, anyway). I remember endless games of Monopoly with my best friend, Carol; playing with Barbies; reading up in a tree; and riding my bike around the neighborhood. I remember swimming. Oh, there was an occasional day camp or swim lesson, and sometimes Carol's mom (who had no younger kids to watch) took us on outings. My family went on vacations here and there, and I must have spent time watching my siblings. But mostly, as I remember it now, summers were about free play.

FreeRangeKidsI can't give that free range summer experience to my daughter. There are no kids her age on our street. I have to be able to work (though I am lucky enough to work from home). I don't want want her on her tablet all day (or to fight with her about time on said tablet all day). She needs to go somewhere. Our childcare place allows me to give her the closest thing I can to that "play all day" summer. It's what she wants, and that is what I plan to do. I feel very fortunate to have this as an option. Of course I recognize that this is not the solution that would work for all kids and families. 

I'm sharing this not because I think you all need to know where my child will be over the summer. But I think it's telling that my daughter, who just turned eight, is expressing this preference. She has a bunch of activities that ebb and flow over the course of the school year, and although she enjoys them, she is now, in April, tired. She's asking for a rest. She's asking to do crafts and play imagination-based games with other kids all day. Isn't she entitled to that?

It's so, so easy to over-schedule our kids. It's great that they have options, and I know that sports and other activities are good for them and enrich them in various ways. But I wonder how many kids are out there like my daughter who just want a break. Who just want to play. I hope with all my heart that the ones who need that will get it. Thanks for listening. 

© 2018 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: April 20: #NAEP Results, #Teaching, Various #Diversities, and #STEM

TwitterLinksHere are highlights from the links that I shared on Twitter this week @JensBookPage. Topics this busy week include #BookLists, #Cybils, #DiverseBooks, #IdeologicalDiversity, #introversion, #LibraryWeek, #MentalHealth, #NAEP, #SocialMedia, #STEM, #StorytimeFromSpace, #testing, parenting, reading, schools, #play, and teaching.

Top Tweets of the Week

Make Connections for Your by following these 6 Advocates for School Library Month

Seven reasons people no longer want to be | written in Australia but , lack of autonomy + "work intensification" sound universal

Book Lists

NotQuiteNarwhalRA RA Read: Pink + Fancy (now w/ unicorns + miniatures) | A guide to books + series from Jean Little Library

7 books with great scenes to read during | On Our Minds

Beloved Books: 50 Classic Stories | + lots more

Huh, I Wonder Which Children’s Books Are in the Top 100? — shares the sometimes surprising results, without comment

Rosewotwn3 New Books Starring Tween | reviews by

Favorite Theme Books + Activities for Kids from


Today on the blog, an interview with , author of Middle Grade Fiction winner REFUGEE (from )

Diversity + Gender

MommysKhimarIn Search of Missing Children: Why Representation in Is So Important | Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow

Thinking About Children’s Literature in a Time of | the need for Jewish beyond the + lots more via

RT @DTWillingham: When asked to draw a scientist, do children draw a male or female? Changes over time ($)

On Life Balance from "If you have a lot of friends on one side of the spectrum, you should balance it out with at least a few from the other side. O/w you’ll find yourself living in an echo chamber."

Silicon Valley's Dangerous Political Blind Spots - Will lack of + presence of monoculture doom big tech companies?

Events + Programs

RosieRevereThe Storytime from program is very cool. Watch astronauts read , promoting + together

Growing Bookworms

to Young Children Has Benefits for Behavior + Attention - on recent study

Your Guide to Beginning Chapter Book Series for New from + more

Narrow vocabulary 'hits pupils' grades'. Teachers "blame the "word gap" on too little reading for pleasure"


Science Discovered That Banning Small Talk from Your Conversations Makes You Happier (bet this is extra true for ) | 13 better questions to ask from


Fusenews: Eat Your Heart Out, “Awful Library Books” — | kids' humorous contest, children's illustrator greeting cards + more news


Parent + elementary principal will occasionally take her kids' books away as a consequence | I have done this occasionally but remain conflicted about it

Study finds an over-abundance of toys may stifle toddler | w/ fewer options, kids w/ each longer

This is hilarious: Why Do Cheat at Family Board Games? To Lose as Fast as Possible -

ImALibrarianSimple Ways Kids Can Help Communities + Model from | Ideas for showing in neighborhoods + at home, w/

Schools and Libraries

5 of the Coolest Children’s in the U.S. | + more

It's Time to Let Go of Tired Habits - stop letting emotions be barriers to | Guest post by for

Sigh: In Massachusetts, a disturbing trend in , restricted free , rest, recess + less autonomy | via

4 tips on how can use to connect w/ school community | | own school stories, share successes, solidify connections

Simple Advice from : Enjoy the Kids "The quickest way to change another person's behavior is to change your behavior towards them"

Suffering Can't Be Good Teachers - | "Teaching is not, and should not be, missionary work"

Are at a Breaking Point. And It's Not Just About Pay. "The social contract is broken" as is reduced w/out raising salaries

can be a great way to get students to use strong evidence to support their arguments, even when defending an unpopular opinion

Screen Time

Multi-Tasking With Mobile Phones: Yep, It's Bad for , especially speed conference

RT @DTWillingham: New survey: 95% of US principals think students spend too much time w/ screens outside of school.


Are Failing to Teach Kids How to - in | References panel w/ + on

Betsy DeVos Says We Can't 'Spend Our Way' Out of Stagnant Test Scores |

Sigh. California’s poor students rank near last on national test |A failure of

New York’s ‘leaders’ are hiding the ugly truth that they are "watering down state exams to yield higher student scores" via

'Tis the season for exam anxiety (in the UK) – but we need to remind our pupils that it's normal to feel stressed'


MathematicalMindsetsGuest essay: When will we stop teaching kids to memorize and focus on understanding concepts instead?

What I found most interesting about this article was things + are doing to encourage women to go into +

How Bad Is the Government’s ? Interesting piece in about how few studies are reproducible, and how this crisis is largely invisible

© 2018 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.

Literacy Milestone: Wishing You Still Had a Series Ahead of You

LiteracyMilestoneAMy daughter has recently been demonstrating a behavior common in people who really love books (though I think it could also apply to TV drama series). She has been lamenting having already read the books that she loves, because she is unable to experience them again for the first time. When she finished the last of the published Dork Diaries books, she said something like: "Oh, I wish I hadn't finished this series yet." She's now read them each four or five times, I would estimate, but she knows, as I do, that re-reads are not the same as that discovery-filled first time. 

DorkDiaries8There was another incident where we were walking past the notebook and graphic novel section at Target. We already owned pretty much every title on the display. She patted the covers of her particular favorites (another behavior of book-lovers in the wild) and said: "I wish I could get amnesia and forget all of these, so that I could read them again for the first time." Ah yes. I feel that way about the Harry Potter books. 

WimpyKidCabinFeverOf course she has many other books ahead of her to "read for the first time". She's a bit stuck right now because she's primarily only interested in graphic novels and notebooks novels, and she's read most of the ones that are remotely appropriate for her age level. One notable exception is the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, which she has been reluctant to start for some reason. Maybe she is saving it. She remarked recently: "Well, once I start them I'm going to need to read them all right away." So perhaps that will be a good plan for the summer. 

What books do you wish that you could read again for the first time? Thanks for reading, and for growing bookworms. 

© 2018 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: April 13: #NationalPoetryMonth, #Parenting, #Writing + #ReadingAloud

TwitterLinksHere are highlights from the links that I shared on Twitter for the past 2 weeks @JensBookPage. Topics include #BookLists, #DiverseBooks, #grit, #GrowthMindset, #homework, #KidLitCon, #NAEP, #NationalPoetryMonth, #play, #ReadAloud, #STEM, #SummerReading, family reading, growing bookworms, libraries, parenting, science fairs, testing, and writing.

Top Tweet of the Week

One Powerful Yet Simple Way to Keep Kids this Summer | Teachers could send postcards of encouragement | references | via

Book Lists

PrincessInBlackA nice : Top 10 Girls of Irrepressible Spunk by Melissa Cairns


CCBC 2017 Statistics on LGBTQ+ Literature for Children & Teens

Events + Programs

Rt @MrsPStorytime: Ideas to Help Celebrate National Poetry Month

Storytelling Skills of Irvine, CA 4th Grade Class Result in Winning Contest Entry! from | creative problem-solving

Inspired by her own heroes themed writing contest, shares her own Heroes! + more [And with a very kind mention of this very link roundup]

Growing Bookworms

RT @Books4School: Reading aloud is not only beneficial to a child but for the whole family. "Reading is fundamental -- to family happiness"-

PassionateReadersOne More Time for the People in the Back | What we need to do (and not do) to nurture a love of in kids by

Parent-child reading interventions have positive psychosocial effects, noted across ages, races + ethnicities | via

Five tips to help you make the most of to your children | via | I especially like "there's no age limit"

Kidlitosphere / KidLitCon

A Bibliophile’s Guide to Providence – (March 2019)

On Reading, Writing, Blogging, and Publishing

HiddenSkyThe Importance of Mentoring Young Writers, w/ suggestions for getting started, by

Links to various theories on how + Overtook Other Genres In Sales Today in the UK

Parenting + Play

Means Letting Kids Make Mistakes | "sometimes kids need to struggle — and sometimes they need to conquer obstacles on their own" | Say no to $600 therapists

RT @LegoFoundation: "Imagine if ordinary places like the bus stop, the corner market, or the sidewalk could become spaces for playful learning?" That would be really cool & is what the Urban Thinkscape program from seek to achieve

GiftOfFailureRT @josha_r_eyler: A new piece I've written for the blog on resiliency and the need to take research on mindsets & grit with a grain of salt. Hat tips in here to and .

Schools and Libraries

-based yoga can help better manage stress and . Study of 3rd graders reported in via

What makes a great? So many things... | Advocacy post by ,

RT @tes: Nine in ten teachers say poverty is having 'significant effect' on pupils' learning #schools #teaching

“Another nail in the coffin for styles” – did not benefit from studying according to their supposed

Why are turning to via , fighting isolation + burnout, , mentoring, sharing best practices


Study finds the lecture remains dominant form of teaching in undergrad courses, despite findings questioning effectiveness, reports via

RT NAISnetwork: Many science fairs aren’t actually very good at teaching kids about, well, science: via


Why I Opt My Son Out of State | "The real reason is the undue stress and it started to cause him"

Nation's Report Card: Achievement Flattens as Gaps Widen Between High and Low Performers

'17 Reading: Up, Down or Sideways? - | Lack of growth in scores gives us a starting point to improve | " is a joy forever!"

© 2018 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.

Off Topic: Seeking a Diversity of Ideological Viewpoints

This post is off topic from the types of things I have traditionally shared on this blog. But it's something that is resonating with me right now. Feel free to ignore if it's not of interest to you.

I'm not particularly concerned about the whole Facebook / Cambridge Analytica thing: I have always been careful about what I share in Facebook, just in case. But what I am concerned about is the way that Facebook and other sites allow, even encourage, people to retreat into their own ideological bubbles. Most of us don't do this on purpose - we just tend to have friends who come from similar backgrounds and have similar viewpoints to our own. If we follow a news outlet, whether via television, podcast, or radio, or newspaper or magazine, we follow the one that makes us comfortable.

But the result of this is an ever-increasing polarization of the country. It's not just that people don't agree with one another's viewpoints - it's that they often can't even fathom how someone else could think the way that they do. This phenomenon has been building for a while, but obviously there was a sharp increase after the 2016 Presidential election. The social media sites build on this by showing is ever more of the kids of things that we like and share. Often they show us even more extreme versions, to the left of the right, as some have documented recently. 

Many people are fine with this, of course, and that is their choice. But for various reasons, I am NOT fine with this for myself. Here are some some things that I've been doing:

  • When possible, I read two newspapers every day. The San Jose Mercury News is biased to the left (as are most mainstream newspapers), and contains local news and weather that I like to keep up with. Even when I'm traveling, I still try to read it online. The Wall Street Journal is biased somewhat to the right, and also contains much more in-depth national and international coverage than the local paper.  Since reading both papers (something I've been doing for several years), I've noticed which stories are covered in which publication, and which are ignored. This can be fascinating. 
  • I also subscribe to news magazines covering a range of perspectives, and of course find similar patterns of inclusion and omission. 
  • I read Hillbilly Elegy, and highly recommend it for increasing understanding of those who are not "coastal elites." I'm reading other nonfiction titles about being more skeptical in the consumption of news and data, too. 
  • Recently, I've been attempting to ideologically diversify my Twitter feed (this would be pretty much impossible for me on Facebook). I'm following a range of news sources and personalities there. I also have carefully created a (private) list of fewer than 100 news sources. I find that skimming through the tweets for this smaller pool of people and news outlets gives me the variety in viewpoints that I am seeking. Sometimes this is disconcerting, as when there are highly varied reactions to the same event. But it is working for me. I often have to stop and think: "OK, who is saying this?". It's making me a more skeptical consumer of news, something that I think is important in this day and age. 

This is all obviously time-consuming, and it has certainly cut into my blogging. Generally speaking, I'm more interested right now in news and politics than in talking about individual books (though I love reading books more than ever). I'm more fired up about threats to freedom of speech than I am about the need for more diverse books (though I'm happy to see those numbers increasing, and glad that other people are championing it). I am more concerned about the educational system (testing, homework, and practices that sap students' joy of learning) than I am about, well, a lot of things (though I'll always care deeply about growing bookworms). In all of these areas, I've found that it's extremely helpful, though not always comfortable, to broaden the ideological perspective of what I'm reading. So that's what I'm trying to do. 

I'm not sure where all this is going to lead, in terms of my blog. I'll do another post about that soon, once I figure a few things out. Meanwhile, I welcome your feedback. Do you prefer to stay in your ideological bubble, or do you try to reach out? Do you think that it's hopelessly naive to try to understand how the people on the other side of the issues think? Do you think that I'll just end up with a headache from reading too many different opinions? Time will tell.... Thanks for reading!

© 2018 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: March 30: #BookLists, #Diverse #KidLit Panels, Re-Reading + #SocialMedia

TwitterLinksHere are highlights from the links that I shared on Twitter this week @JensBookPage. Topics this week include #BoardBooks, #BookLists, #Cybils, #DiverseBooks, #diversity, #KidLitWomen, #math, #RaisingReaders, #SchoolLibraries, #SocialMedia, #STEM, #writing, educational psychology, Global Read Aloud, reading, research, and schools.

Top Tweet of the Week

Why matter: What years of research tell us - | "The mere presence of a is associated with better student outcomes" + lots more

Book Lists + Awards

Announcing the Top 100 Poll! — (now joining top 100 + top 100 children's novels)

MaddisFridgeA Book List for Kids Age 4-12 to Understand from |

11 About Kids with Glasses, from

Top Ten Novels in Verse by

Congratulations to the American author , the laureate of Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award 2018 | via

2018 Indies Choice/E.B. White Read-Aloud Award Finalists Announced |


On the blog: Interview with , author of Elementary winner HATCHING CHICKS IN ROOM 6 |

Diversity + Gender

BillBoyWonderOn advocating for at conferences by | "Rather than start with public shaming or snark, instead ... express the concern civilly."

No More All-Male Panels: a pledge from author in solidarity with

Events + Programs

RT @PernilleRipp: Sign up for the Global Read Aloud - a global literacy initiative that connects millions of students around the world starting October 2nd

Growing Bookworms

Read Like The Bachelor: A Guide for Students to help increase + build a more independent reading life by

On Reading, Writing, Blogging, and Publishing

BlackCauldronSo true from | "that's one of the joys of re-reading- not only do you get the story again, but you get to revisit the self you were when you first read the book"

Writing independently..The devil is in the detail | Ideas from for helping become independent

Why I Read "Old Smelly Books" (and Where To Find Them) by


How to Navigate Your Way to the Best for Your Child | Guest post from

Schools and Libraries

RT @DTWillingham: I have a new article out in , focusing on teacher education and psychology; what are teachers taught of ed psych, what seems useful to them, and how to improve.

FutureDrivenWhy Do Some Burn Out While Others Seem to Grow More Passionate? Some things the ones who are growing do, per

RT @TES: .'s research paper found that the type of school students attended (non-selective, grammar or private school) doesn't influence their results. Here, she explains her study:

Educate and Programs Will Follow -

On the Circle of Privilege + how it affects kids from | | How can help not on the enriched pathway?

Social Media/Technology

On the Need for | Hyper-connectivity is draining kids, having their mistakes captured on video + shared is even worse says

RT @NickGillespie: .'s 3 rules on how to critically read social media is the sharpest guide I've yet seen on the topic! And it smartly avoids top-down solutions to a crowd-sourced problem

New study finds Having Your Nearby Takes a Toll on Your Thinking (Even When It’s Silent and Facedown)


BecomingMathTeacherWhen Pushing Boundaries in , Where Can Teachers Turn For Help + Camaraderie? | Tips and strategies from

RT @MindShiftKQED: Offering students incentives to practice over the summer not only helped prevent , but also forced students be more precise with mathematical language

© 2018 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: March 28: Calendar Mysteries, How to Get Kids to Read for Pleasure, Re-Reading, and Lots of Links

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 three weeks.

Newsletter Update:  In this issue I have three book reviews (two young adult and one nonfiction title for parents about encouraging readers) and three posts with links that I shared recently on Twitter. I also have a couple of anecdotes regarding my daughter's reading, which are included below in this post. My blogging energy remains limited, I'm afraid. 

Reading Update:  In the last few weeks I finished one middle grade, one young adult and nine adult titles. This was mainly thanks to audiobooks. I read/listened to: 

  • Kathryn Erskine: Mockingbird. Puffin Books. Middle Grade Fiction. Completed March 11, 2018. My daughter brought this home from her school library and I read it to see if I thought she would like it (which I didn't - she's not ready for this book). I do think this book is well-written and compelling, but not for a seven-year old who is just inching her way into non-illustrated novels. 
  • Joelle Charbonneau: Time Bomb. HMH Books for Young Readers. YA Fiction. Completed March 13, 2018, review copy. My review.
  • Kaye Newton: How to Get Your Screen-Loving Kids to Read Books for Pleasure. Linland Press. Adult Nonfiction. Completed March 7, 2018, on Kindle. My review
  • Gretchen Rubin: The Happiness Project. Harper. Adult Nonfiction. Completed March 9, 2018, on Kindle. I've been doing a lot of reflecting on personal happiness, some of which relates to blogging, and both this book and the one that follows were useful, in different ways. I'm blogging a bit less, and working on a hand-written gratitude journal right now. 
  • Emma Seppala: The Happiness Track. HarperOne. Adult Nonfiction. Completed March 11, 2018, on Kindle.
  • Calene O'Connor: Murder in an Irish Churchyard (An Irish Village Mystery). Kensington. Adult Mystery. Completed March 11, 2018, on MP3. Eh, the romantic stress was a bit contrived. But the mystery itself was non-obvious, and I do enjoy the setting. 
  • Dana Stabenow: A Cold Day for Murder. Berkley. Adult Mystery. Completed March 15, 2018, on MP3. This is my first read of this series, set in remote Alaska, and I do expect to try others. 
  • Karen E. Olson: Hidden (A Black Hat Thriller). Severn House. Adult Mystery. Completed March 17, 2018, on Kindle. This is the first of a four-part series about a woman hacker who has been in hiding since committing certain crimes, and is found. Refreshingly different. 
  • Peter Clines: The Fold. Broadway Books. Adult Science Fiction. Completed March 19, 2018, on MP3. This was a science fiction story with an intriguing premise, which I picked up as an Audible Deal. 
  • Joy Ellis: Buried on the Fens. Joffe Books. Adult Mystery. Completed March 25, 2018, on MP3. Although I've enjoyed this series, this particular title was a bit dark for me. 
  • Karen E. Olson: Shadowed (A Black Hat Thriller). Severn House. Adult Mystery. Completed March 25, 2018, on Kindle. 

YouYourChildAndSchoolI'm currently listening to The Punishment She Deserves by Elizabeth George. I'm reading You, Your Child, and School by Sir Ken Robinson. My daughter and I are still reading Harry Potter Five (The Order of the Phoenix). For her own free choice reading she has mostly been re-reading her favorite graphic and notebook novels. We passed a display of such books in Target last weekend. We own them all already. My daughter gave a little pat to each of her favorites and remarked: “I wish I could wipe them from my memory so I could read them again for the first time.” That's book love for you! 

CalendarMysteriesShe has also started to dabble in series reads like the Calendar Mysteries by Ron Roy. What I've noticed is that for books that are not graphic novels, her interest level favors significantly less advanced books than her tested reading level (which is above her grade level) would suggest. Hence she keeps coming home from the school library with books that she is not interested in, that fall into the range that she is apparently encouraged to target. She mostly  ignores them all week and then returns them unread. But she whipped through two Calendar Mysteries this weekend and started a third. You all know my view - I just want her to read whatever she finds enjoyable.

She is showing a bit more interest in the first Wings of Fire book by Tui T. Sutherland, which a friend recommended. However, it's quite challenging for her and I am not going to push her to finish. 

Thanks for reading, and for growing bookworms!

© 2018 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

Time Bomb: Joelle Charbonneau

Book: Time Bomb
Author: Joelle Charbonneau
Pages: 352
Age Range: 12 and up

TimeBombTime Bomb is a standalone young adult thriller about a high school bombing. The story begins with a brief scene in the afternoon in which the reader learns that several teens are trapped in the school, and that the bomber is one of them. The time frame then moves back to the morning, with short chapters from the perspectives of each of six kids. As the book progresses, the reader (and the other kids) has to figure out who the bomber is. Each of the six main characters has gone to school planning something desperate, but their individual motivations are only gradually revealed.

Time Bomb  reads as a combination of suspenseful thriller and The Breakfast Club. The carefully balanced diversity of the students (in terms of race, religion, sexual identity, socioeconomic status, popularity, and body types) struck me as a bit contrived, but the survival story and the mystery both held my interest. I did have a guess as to the identify of the culprit by mid-way through the book, but I wasn't sure, and I appreciated Charbonneau's continued planting of clues. 

In a ripped from the headlines touch, one of the kids is the daughter of a senator who is trying to enact legislation that "would require that students and teachers inform the administration if they thought someone in the school might be interested in doing harm to students, teachers, or school property. Any students reported would then have to hand over their passwords to social media and email accounts of face suspension and a potential investigation by federal authorities." (Page 7-8)

It's the interactions between the students, most of whom don't know one another prior to the bombing, that give the book its heart. This is constantly balanced with efforts towards survival, however. I do think that the combination works, and will keep kids reading. 

I'm not sure whether the timing of this book, released one month after the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, will end up good or bad for readership. I personally had to wait a couple of weeks before I was ready to read it. But it certainly does offer insights into the struggles that are going on inside the hearts and minds of high school students, and the ways that some of them may respond. There are characters offering both windows and mirrors for any teen reader. I had a hint of the feeling that I had after reading Thirteen Reasons Why, that somewhere, some reader of this book might be inspired to reach out to fellow students. And if not, well, most will still enjoy solving the mystery, and wondering what they might do to survive. Recommended!

Publisher:  HMH Books for Young Readers (@HMHKids)
Publication Date: March 13, 2018
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

© 2018 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).