Links I Shared on Twitter this Week: October 20: Motivating #Readers + #Writers, Getting Books in Th

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TwitterLinksHere are highlights from the links that I shared on Twitter this week @JensBookPage. Topics this week include #BookLists, #Cybils, #GraphicNovels, #GrowthMindset, #HispanicHeritageMonth, #ReadAloud, #ReadForTheRecord, book donation, Danziger Awards, raising readers, reading, reading levels, reading motivation, schools, and writing.

Book Lists + Awards

ClementineGreat Books About Amazing Girls, #BookList from @KarinaYanGlaser @BookRiot ow.ly/ok0D30fRqZu @DebbiMichiko @yehface + more

Wonderful #NativeAmerican #PictureBooks for Children, a @momandkiddo #BookList ow.ly/O65230fV2jY #DiverseBooks

#HispanicHeritageMonth book picks, a #BookList from @Scholastic ow.ly/SLln30fRqB3 via @tashrow

Announcing the Danziger Awards for Hilarious Kids Books. @fuseeight starts a new book award + wants your nominations ow.ly/oYEY30fRqpH

Cybils Awards

2017 public #Cybils nominations are now closed. We are accepting author + publisher nominations thru 10/25. Thanks! ow.ly/FgWz30fUE29

Announcing the 2017 #Cybils Awards Publisher/Author Submission Period: Now until 10/25 | @SheilaRuth #kidlit #YA ow.ly/Wd6V30fV2Sb

Events + Programs

QuackersOne day. One book. One record. Join @Jumpstartkids to #ReadfortheRecord QUACKERS on 10.19.17. Visit [bit.ly/2mIpFQz ]

Donate #YA books! The Annual Guys Lit Wire #BookFair for Ballou Sr High School Is On! ow.ly/JWOA30fV2GQ @chasingray @BallouLibrary

Growing Bookworms

Sharing a nurse's vision for raising her kids as readers, after not growing up as a reader herself ow.ly/tDxG30fUZ6N @SandyBrehl

SuperReaderThoughts from @CathyMere on nurturing readers, inspired by @pamallyn #LiteracyConnection: Every #Reader a Super Reader ow.ly/PHYg30fSYxw

Middle schoolers tell Jennifer Schwanke what they miss most about elementary: teacher #ReadingAloud ow.ly/AOzH30fSZ5h @ChoiceLiteracy

Schools (+ parents) "cannot punish children into reading" | A reminder from @pernilleripp https://t.co/I42ZGxMcm6

How to Motivate a Middle School Reader | @ReganReads @CommonSense ow.ly/8Pka30fSnCx | Choice, Interests, Sociability + more

“But they only read #GraphicNovels!” – @ShawnaCoppola defends visual texts but offers ideas for helping find balance https://t.co/rYilQGsprh

On Reading, Writing, Blogging, and Publishing

DePaseoSpotlight on Independent Publishers with Great Spanish Content for kids | @PuraVidaMoms @LatinosInKidLit https://t.co/TEOp9aKLuv

Schools and Libraries

Reading system developers: #Librarians Should Guide Readers by Interest, Not #ReadingLevel @libraryvoice @sljournal https://t.co/BB1xSz85en

Great Sunday Reflections from @CarrieGelson | Growing #Writers in the classroom "without erasing any joy" https://t.co/1GXpeq3zZ1

Developing Students’ Ability to Give and Take Effective Feedback | @Kschwart @MindShiftKQED ow.ly/RbVG30fV3a0 #GrowthMindset

© 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.

One Mixed-Up Night: Catherine Newman

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Book: One Mixed-Up Night
Author: Catherine Newman
Pages: 208
Age Range: 8-12

OneMixedUpNightAs a long-time fan of From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, I found the premise of Catherine Newman's One Mixed-Up Night irresistible. Two friends sneak off and spend a night creating their own adventures in an Ikea store. What I found when I read the book was that Newman absolutely captures the fun of being somewhere cool that one is not supposed to be, while also making the book about something more substantive (grief). 

Frankie (a girl) basically comes up with the scheme as a way to try to shake up her best friend, Walter, after Walter suffers a loss. As Frankie tells readers in the very first paragraph, these are not bad kids getting into trouble. Rather, these are "dorky geeks" who are more than a bit obsessed with Ikea, and are in need of a serious distraction. While the plot of One Mixed-Up Night requires some suspension of disbelief for the adult reader, I think that middle grade readers will have no trouble at all. What kid wouldn't want to spend the night in a huge store full of furniture and other cool things, able to jump on couches and have pillow rights and race shopping carts, with no adult supervision?  

Here's Frankie's description of Walter:

"He's hard to describe, Walter, because he's kind of bubbling over with energy, but then he's also so chill. And some people assume he's going to be good at sports because he's black--or his mom is, so technically he's mixed race--and he's um, not good at sports. One of our favorite things (it's still magneted to Walter's refrigerator) is this end-of-year report he got from our gym teacher when we were in first grade. We loved this teacher, who wrote on Walter's report: "Walter is one of the finest students I have had the pleasure of teaching. He's a model of sportsmanship, good nature, and serious effort. That said, his athletic abilities will continue to develop as he works on the following:"--we especially love that colon--"Running. Jumping. Throwing balls. Catching balls. Passing. Receiving. Strength. Coordination. Balance." (Page 21)

Meanwhile, Frankie is working on carving out a modicum of independence from her "pretty great", but very involved, parents. Like this:

"And now, in sixth grade? I was starting to realize that I didn't have to (tell her mother everything). That I could have this private part of my life inside my own head, and I could share it or not. And if I didn't, nobody would even know about it. It was kind of strange--like discovering that there was a hole in the floor underneath your bed, filled with jewels and gold coins, and you could just go ahead and not mention it to anybody." (Page 24)

What a great depiction of starting to grow up! One more, then you can go read this yourself:

"Do you know how you can just feel completely strange in the world sometimes? Like everyone's one way and you're another? Or like there's some translator chip that someone forgot to program you with, and other kids joke about stuff and you don't know what they're talking about? (Page 71)

Again, pitch-perfect, without being overly introspective. 

One Mixed-Up Night is a super-fun book about two kids who scheme to spend the night in an Ikea store. But it's much more than that, too. It's about growing up, being loyal to a friend, coping with grief, and taking responsibility. And yes, it's about the cool kitchen items that you can find in an Ikea store, and what you might pack for a sleepover. This is a book that definitely belongs in all libraries serving middle grade readers. Highly recommended, and one of my favorite new releases of the year. 

Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers (@RandomHouseKids
Publication Date: September 5, 2017
Source of Book: Purchased it.

© 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).

Growing Bookworms Newsletter: October 18: Reading Choice, Reading Audiobooks + Middle Grade Reviews

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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 middle grade book reviews and one post about my determination to give my daughter choice in reading. I also have a post about whether or not audiobooks "count" as reading for kids, and a post with extracts from and responses to two recent articles on reading choice. I also have two posts with links that I shared recently on Twitter

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

  • D.J. MacHale: Black Moon Rising (The Library, Book 2). Random House Books for Young Readers. Middle Grade Fiction. Completed October 7, 2017. My review
  • Michele Weber Hurwitz: Ethan Marcus Stands Up. Aladdin. Middle Grade Fiction. Completed October 8, 2017, on Kindle. This was a fun look at school science fairs, making a difference, and sibling rivalry. 
  • Rodman Philbrick: Who Killed Darius Drake?. Blue Sky Press. Middle Grade Mystery. Completed October 14, 2017. Review to come. 
  • R.R. Haywood: Extracted (Book 1, Extracted Trilogy). 47North. Adult Science Fiction. Completed October 10, 2017, on MP3. I found this science fiction/time travel story a little slow, but interesting enough for me to want to download the sequel. 

RobotSudokuI'm currently listening to Stalker on the Fens by Joy Ellis and reading The Strength Switch by Lea Waters.  My daughter and I are still reading Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire together at breakfast. Harry and the other Champions have just finished the second trial. For her own reading, she remains dedicated to graphic novels, adding some occasional variety via the Rainbow Fairies books. She has also re-discovered Sudoku puzzles, after dabbling in them more than a year ago. She is quite entertained to see that she used to write some of her numbers backwards. You can find my daughter's 2017 reading list here

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

Black Moon Rising (The Library, Book 2): D. J. MacHale

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Book: Black Moon Rising (The Library, Book 2)
Author: D. J. MacHale
Pages: 304
Age Range: 8-12

BlackMoonRisingBlack Moon Rising is the second book in D. J. MacHale's The Library series, following Curse of the Boggin. The events in Black Moon Rising begin just a week after middle schooler Marcus has become an agent of the magical Library and had his first adventure. The Library is a place out of space and time in which uncountable numbers of stories reside. The stories are written by ghosts who track mysterious events throughout the world. The agents enter into certain stories and try to help. In Black Moon Rising, Marcus is asked to travel through the Library to a Massachusetts middle school where strange mishaps have been occurring and escalating. Marcus and his two best friends, Theo and Lu, find themselves confronting witchcraft. 

The plot in Black Moon Rising is creepy and has high stakes, but moves along too quickly for the book to be overwhelmingly scary or dark. At one point Marcus is in grave peril and is accidentally rescued by troublemakers randomly lighting off fireworks. Overall, it's a nice balance for middle grade readers. MacHale touches on other middle grade / middle school issues, like bullying and parents pushing kids to sign up for more activities. None of the characterization is especially deep, but it's sufficient for one to pull for the various characters. There's a bit of diversity, though not a lot. Heres the relevant passage:

"My two best buddies don't always get along. If not for me, I doubt they'd even be friends. Annabella Lu is driven by emotion. She's a real "seat of the pants" kind of girl who always starts out in third gear. Theo McLean, on the other hand, is a thinker. An overthinking, actually. By the time he analyzes a problem and looks at every possible solution from multiple angles, it's usually the next day and nobody can remember what the problem was in the first place...

Lu is Asian American, Theo is African American, and I'm Caucasian Euro-mutt-American. Together we look like the cast of some racially diverse kids' TV show." (Page 11)

I like the way that MacHale basically acknowledges that this is surface diversity, but that at least he's trying. There are a couple of references later to how Theo feels as an African American (he opens up to connect with a shy girl in the Massachusetts school). And we hear a bit about the academic pressure that Lu's parents put on her. 

The writing style in Black Moon Rising is interesting. Most of the book is told from Marcus' first person perspective. This is interspersed with passages from the Library volume that the ghosts are writing about the story, as it occurs. This allows the author to directly share actions that occur when Marcus is busy somewhere else. Late in the book, this narration switching accelerates, and definitely helps keep readers turning the pages. The print book uses a distinctive font for the Library entries - I'm not sure how this is handled in the audio version. 

Here's one more passage, to give you a feel for Marcus' voice:

"I was in Massa-freaking-chusetts. I had stepped out of the Library and been transported to another state. Another state of mind too. It's tough enough figuring out where you belong in your own school. I was now in alien territory with no friends to rely on. I didn't belong there. At some point a teacher was bound to corner me." (Page 39)

And here's a passage from the Library book:

"Some thought the school was jinxed. Others felt it was nothing more than a run of incredibly bad luck. None could deny that a nefarious black cloud had drifted over the school, one that was producing impossible waves of serious misfortune." 

Yes, definitely distinct from Marcus' voice. 

I'll tell you something that I especially liked about Black Moon Rising. I'm a fast reader, and I read a fair number of books each year (~150). When I'm reading a series as it is published, I often find that I struggle when I start the second (and third, and so on) book, because I haven't retained enough of the plot, and I don't know what's going on. This did NOT happen with Black Moon Rising. I think this was due to a combination of factors: not too many core characters to keep track of; interesting premise around the Library and how it works; and sufficient backstory provided by the author at the start of Book 2. So, kudos to D.J. MacHale there. I will certainly keep an eye out for the next book in the series. 

In short, I think this is a must-purchase series for libraries serving middle grade and early middle school readers. Those who enjoyed the first book, Curse of the Boggin, will not be disappointed by Book 2. If anything, this is where MacHale really hits his stride, with the library setup already in place, and the chance to explore a whole new (yet ancient) supernatural phenomenon. Highly recommended, and one that I will keep for my daughter. 

Publisher:  Random House Books for Young Readers (@RandomHouseKids
Publication Date: October 3, 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 + @NCTE on #Reading Choice + Pleasure Reading

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JoyOFLearningLogoToday I share two posts that I read last week that talk about giving kids choice in their reading. I also wrote about reading choice last week myself, and was glad to see that the NCTE website and Pernille Ripp were on the same page with me. 

PassionateReadersTHIS everyone who shares books w/ kids should read. @pernilleripp on why we should give kids true #reading choice https://t.co/CLA1yUTduT

Pernille Ripp: "If we constantly limit choice in reading because we need kids to always be reading a just right book as determined by us, how will kids ever learn to self-select a book? ...

I will tell you, if we do not offer choice until they have reached their grade level reading level, then we will have lost so many readers before then.

So we offer choice and we offer our support.  We help them figure out how to book shop and we use tools, such as reading data as PART of the support.  But we don’t tell them that they can only choose from a certain bin, or shelf, or letter level.  We don’t tell them that this is the only section for them."

Me: The first thing I want to say here is that if you care about kids and reading, you really really should be reading Pernille's blog. She hits it out of the park every single day. If you are a teacher, I highly recommend that you invest in Pernille's latest book, Passionate Readers [I haven't read it, but I have been reading her blog posts on similar themes for a couple of years now]. 

This post was, I think, a response to people challenging one aspect of a broader post that Pernille had recently published: A Call for Common Sense #Reading Instruction | time to read, choice, access to books + a community ow.ly/QEbk30fMtse. Also well worth your time. Pernille defends the right of kids to choose what they want to read, no matter where they are in the literacy process, both because they need to learn to choose for themselves and because if you don't let them choose, reading won't be fun for them.

I have tried over the past seven years to give my daughter as much choice as I possibly can, whether she is reading on her own or I am reading to her. I wish that I could count on all of her future teachers to feel the same way. [I do think that her current teacher feels this way, which makes me happy.] There is some concept of levels that she's supposed to choose from in her school library, and I try to give that as little validation as possible from home. Today I checked out some books for her at the public library. A few might be judged too easy for her "reading level" and a few too advanced. But my criteria was that they were books that I thought she would enjoy (mostly graphic novels). And if she doesn't like them - she is more than welcome to cast them aside. We'll find others. 

ReadingUnboundYes! Promoting the Pleasures of #Reading: Why It Matters to Kids and to Country - @ncte via @tashrow https://t.co/wBObibWC0z

Jeffrey Wilhelm: "In our book (shown to right), we argue that pleasure reading is a civil rights issue. Why? Because fine-grained longitudinal studies (e.g., the British Cohort study: Sullivan & Brown, 2013; and John Guthrie’s analysis of PISA data, 2004, among many others) demonstrate that pleasure reading in youth is the most explanatory factor in both cognitive progress and social mobility over time.

Pleasure reading is more powerful than parents’ educational attainment or socioeconomic status. This means that pleasure reading is THE way to address social inequalities in terms of actualizing our students’ full potential and overcoming barriers to satisfying and successful lives...

Our data clearly establish that students gravitate to the kinds of books they need to navigate their current life challenges, and that many ancillary benefits accrue in the realms of cognition, psychology, emotional development, and socialness. So much so that we developed the mantra: Kids read what they need!

This finding led us to be more trusting of kids’ choices and to ask them about why they chose to read what they did, and eventually to championing these choices. We likewise found that each of the marginalized genres we studied (romance, horror, vampire, fantasy, and dystopia) provided specific benefits and helped students navigate different individual developmental challenges."

Me: This post is also related to material from a book, in this case Reading Unbound: Why Kids Need to Read What They Want and Why We Should Let Them by Jeffrey Wilhelm, Michael Smith, and Sharon Fransen [which I also haven't read, but I quite liked the research that Wilhelm described in this NCTE article]. There's a lot more to this article, and I do recommend that you click through to read it in full. The author talks extensively about how and why to focus on pleasure in reading. I, of course, especially liked the part about the importance of giving kids choice. 

I've never directly thought about pleasure reading as a civil rights issue, but I am certain that my own years of pleasure reading helped me to be one of the first people in my extended family to graduate from college. I have always felt that all kids deserve the chance to learn to love books. I understand that people are different, and that not everyone will become as book-obsessed as I am, but I feel that they should all have the opportunity. I was pleased to see the NCTE featuring this work. 

© 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. 

Links I Shared on Twitter this Week: October 13: Improving #Math + #Literacy Instruction, #28DaysLat

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TwitterLinksHere are highlights from the links that I shared on Twitter this week @JensBookPage. Topics this week include #BookLists, #Cybils, #DiverseBooks, #GrowingBookworms, #JudyBlume, #nonfiction, #reading, #STEM, Ada Lovelace Day, independent reading, literacy, math, and schools.

Book Lists

SophieMouseBest #EarlyChapterBooks for Kids featuring Animals, a @momandkiddo #BookList https://t.co/ZlGx3GeXMz

Ghost, Witches, and Monsters, Oh My! 35 @amightygirl Books for #Halloween ow.ly/1Bet30fKtaF | #kidlit #BookList

#Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge Celebrates Books for Ada Lovelace Day! #BookList from @alybee930 ow.ly/6Jlw30fOp2O #STEM

Cybils Awards

HalfwayNormalBooks that Could be Nominated for the #Cybils Awards in Middle Grade #Fiction | #BookList from @MsYingling ow.ly/PNxA30fKtj1

We need #DiverseBooks nominated for Elem/Middle Grade Speculative Fiction category of the #Cybils! @charlotteslib ow.ly/uTkK30fIy4v

Nominations for the #Cybils awards close Saturday, Oct. 15. Don't miss your chance to celebrate great #kidlit + #YA ow.ly/DMLH30fQ6JD 

Events + Programs

The @brownbookshelf is accepting submissions for #28DaysLater, a #BlackHistoryMonth celebration of #kidlit creators https://t.co/fFoSf6IKLQ

Growing Bookworms

PassionateReadersA Call for Common Sense #Reading Instruction | time to read, choice, access to books + a community ow.ly/QEbk30fMtse @pernilleripp

Driving Our Children to Life Long Reading via Independent #Reading #Homework by @megleventhal @nerdybookclub https://t.co/yFUmqM3ixp

This is so important: Planning for the Long Game, helping kids to become long-term readers, not dependent on teacher https://t.co/oBOp9TOiPP

Miscellaneous

This is interesting: How Smartphones Hijack Our Minds | We lose focus just having them nearby @roughtype @WSJ https://t.co/R3lKcHXrUX

Various #kidlit tidbits in Fusenews @fuseeight | #DrSeuss, #FunnyGirl, @mstewartscience + more ow.ly/6lxs30fPpsi

On Reading, Writing, Blogging, and Publishing

Forever#JudyBlume, a Pre-Teen Fiction Trailblazer, Opens Up Her Archive - selling it to Yale @WSJ ow.ly/s5mJ30fL1Tk #YA #kidlit

Thing 1 and Thing 2: @100scopenotes sums up (w/ links) A Pair of #DrSeuss Controversies ow.ly/cHzY30fPpz7  #kidlit

Parenting + Play

10 Tips for Creating a Fertile Environment for Kids’ Creativity + Growth @mres @MindShiftKQED #LifelongKindergarten https://t.co/vAaqPbfnOc

RT @MBrussoni: Why parents need to let kids play on their own https://t.co/XsUlKUgFtZ

Schools and Libraries

Why Don’t Schools Focus on #Literacy? – a few thoughts on this from @ReadByExample https://t.co/YLFAFIeEYP

STEM

MathematicalMindsetsHow to Improve #Math Class | #Teach to emphasize #learning + exploration, not performance ow.ly/WH0l30fHiUy @joboaler @TIMEIdeas

#STEM Activities for Kindergarten Using Buttons - Button Themed #Learning ow.ly/KpzR30fIy6D @mamasmiles

© 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.

Let's Not Be Hypocrites When It Comes to Reading Choice for Kids

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Hardcore24The other night my friend texted me about how much she was looking forward to getting the kids to bed so that she could read "my trashy, stupid, not educational, seriously below my reading level Stephanie Plum book". She added "I haven’t read one in awhile and love the humor break in my life. I love reading funny, silly, entertaining books that let me escape for just a little bit." As a matter of fact, I share my friend's occasional enjoyment of Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum books (I listen to the audio versions). My friend went on to muse "why on earth would I ask my child to read for any reason that is not fun? Why would I care about AR points and levels?"

And here we are, as is often the case, on exactly the same page. 

I understand that there are reasons for teachers to ask kids to read certain things, things which may or may not be fun.  I can even understand that there may be instances where a child is struggling with reading, and some corrective practice is necessary at home. I understand that I am fortunate not to be in that situation. But for the situation that I am in as a parent, I agree with my friend. My only goal in terms of my daughter's reading is to nurture her enjoyment. I truly believe that as long as she enjoys reading, she will keep doing it, and that her skills (and range) will eventually improve. More importantly, I believe that if she enjoys reading, she will be set up for a lifetime of joy from books. 

Pushing my daughter to move on to chapter books, instead of re-reading the same graphic novels that she's read 10 times each? I think that this would be hypocrisy. And this is one hypocrisy (unlike a few others I have named) that I intend to stay far, far away from. 

Me, I read mostly middle grade fiction, mysteries, and science fiction. Sure, I throw in the occasional nonfiction title that catches my eye. And I do read two newspapers every day, as well as various news magazines over the course of the month. But when it comes time to read in bed or outside on a sunny Sunday afternoon? Naturally enough, I gravitate to reading something that I know I will enjoy. 

CaptainUnderpantsI do not care if my daughter decides to read nothing at home but Captain Underpants books for the next six months. I do not care if the level that allows her to check out books in the school library is green, though her classmate's is red. I do not care if her name is never on the leaderboard for AR points for her school. 

What I care about is:

  • Hearing her laugh out loud from the back seat of the car as she reads The Babysitters Club.
  • Having her say to my husband: "Is it ok if I read on my own for a bit first, before we read together tonight?"
  • Seeing her curled up on the couch reading Junie B. Jones while I make dinner (and having her be genuinely puzzled to learn that some parents don't approve of the books.) 
  • Hearing her squeal with joy when a new book that she's been waiting for arrives at the house, and having her throw her arms tight around me in thanks. 
  • Having her recommend the books that she likes to her friends. 
  • Listening to her demand that I read Harry Potter for three more minutes, even though we have finished the chapter, because we usually read until 7:30 in the morning and it is only 7:27.
  • And so on... 

I think it's easy as a parent to get caught up in the competition. To feel inadequate if our child is not reading quite at grade level, or gets the minimum number of AR points, or reads slim books while the kid sitting next to her is reading a fat novel. Even I succumb sometimes. When my daughter told me, not lamenting, about her school BFF being at a higher reading level, I started to tell her that if she were to read more challenging books, she would likely advance to that level herself. Then I stopped and said: "But all I care about is that you are reading and that you enjoy it." That's all I care about for myself, isn't it? I strive to find time to read because I like to read. And I read what I like. My job, at least at home, is to defend my daughter's right to do the same. 

There are many reasons why my Stephanie Plum-reading friend is my friend. Her excellent example of not being a hypocrite when it comes to reading choice for her kids is an important one. I am thankful for the reminder. 

© 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

Edge of Extinction #2: Code Name Flood: Laura Martin

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Book: Edge of Extinction #2: Code Name Flood
Author: Laura Martin
Pages: 352
Age Range: 8-12

EdgeOfExtinctionFloodCode Name Flood is the second book in Laura Martin's Edge of Extinction series, following The Ark Plan. Both books are sent in a post-apocalyptic world in which the reintroduction of dinosaurs (a la Jurassic Park) led to a pandemic that wiped out most of humanity. Small groups of survivors live in a set of four underground compounds, led by a power-hungry leader referred to as The Noah.

In The Ark Plan, tweens Sky and Shawn escape from North Compound, determined to follow a map left to Sky by her long-lost father. They meet up with Todd, who is part of a community of tree dwellers, as well as Ivan, Sky's dinosaur-hunter grandfather. Code Name Flood picks up as Sky, Shawn, and Todd reach the shores of Lake Michigan with the map, and the knowledge that they need to somehow get to the middle of the lake. A series of adventures follows as the kids, joined by trainee scientist Chaz, set out to do no less than save the (admittedly imperfect) world. 

These books are such fun. (Ms. Yingling likes them, too.)  A post-apocalyptic world with underground compounds, tree villages, AND dinosaurs, kids taking the lead in their own adventures, and a smattering of science (genetic engineering, habitats, technology). What more could anyone want? Sky's grandfather is a great character who helps them a bit, but is conveniently out of commission when any real adventures take place. The friendship dynamics between the kids are plausible without overwhelming the plot, and there is no romance whatsoever. And did I mention that there are dinosaurs? 

One difference between Book 1 and Book 2 is that in Code Name Flood, some of the characters are sympathetic to the dinosaurs. They accept that dinosaurs have taken over, and instead of just trying to kill them, they work to ensure a stable biome. Other characters have huge philosophical differences on this point, which adds a layer of complexity to the story (again without bogging down the plot). 

Best of all, Code Name Flood appears to wrap up Sky's story. I find the idea of a two-book series refreshing, in this day and age of seven book series with spin-offs, etc. Which is not to say that I wouldn't welcome reading more about Laura Martin's dinosaur-filled world. But the Edge of Extinction story reached a satisfactory conclusion after only two books. 

The Edge of Extinction books should be a great fit for any adventure-loving middle grade readers, particularly those who enjoy reading about dystopias or dinosaurs. Fans of the first book will not be disappointed by Code Name Flood, a worthy successor and conclusion to Sky's story. Highly recommended, and one I will be saving for my daughter to read when she is a little bit older. 

Publisher: HarperCollins (@HarperChildrens)
Publication Date: May 30, 2017
Source of Book: Purchased copy

© 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).

Do Audiobooks "Count" As Reading?

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PippiAudioRecently, in response to a post that I wrote about my daughter's 20 minutes a day of required reading, a mom of a four-year-old boy commented. She said that she and her son listen to audiobooks together constantly. She wondered if, when he is in school, those sessions would count towards time spent reading. I thought about this for a bit, and decided that the short answer is: "It depends." Here's the longer answer.

I would think that listening to audiobooks would count in the same way that books a parent reads aloud to a child would count. For instance, when my daughter was in kindergarten her teacher asked for a list of books that we had read aloud to her each month. I believe that I would have added in any audiobooks that she listened to for that list. And of course I think that listening to audiobooks is a wonderful way for parents and children to spend time together, especially in the car. 

Once kids are reading on their own, however, I think the question of whether audiobooks count would be up to the teacher. On the one hand, I believe that listening IS reading - I certainly consider that I've read a book when I've listened to it. Listening prevents me from skimming, in fact, and I generally retain audiobooks better than I do print books. Listening to audiobooks is great practice for holding stories in your head and for visualizing. Listening to audiobooks is particularly helpful for literacy when a parent and child listen together. If the child has a question about a vocabulary word or the meaning of some plot element, it's simple enough to pause the audio and discuss. So, all in all, yay for listening to audiobooks, especially together.

On the other hand, when kids are just learning to read, they do need practice sitting down with a printed book and decoding the words themselves. So, at that point it's important for kids to spend some time reading print books, in addition to listening to audiobooks. 

Of course any required reading assignments are going to depend on the individual teacher. I think that when the time comes, this parent could talk to her son's teacher to see what the teacher's goals are and what the best way might be for this mother to support those goals at home. My feeling is that any mother who listens "constantly" to audiobooks with her four-year-old is already doing a great job with literacy development, and probably doesn't have too much to worry about. 

What happened in my own household was that my daughter and I dabbled in listening to audiobooks in the car for a while. But then, as her reading skills advanced, she became impatient and wanted to just read books on her own in the car. This was probably influenced in part by her love affair with graphic novels, which don't lend themselves as well to the audiobook format. So the audiobooks have fallen by the wayside for us, for now. I imagine that we'll pick them up again at some point.

As long as kids are reading, it's all good. That's what I say. The details of format will certainly sort themselves out. 

© 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