Links I Shared on Twitter this Week: November 9: Picky #Readers, #Thanksgiving #MadLibs + Better Sch

TwitterLinksHere are highlights from the links that I shared on Twitter this week @JensBookPage. Topics this relatively light week include #BookLists, #Bullying, #CivilDiscourse, #GrowingBookworms, #JoyOfLearning, #PictureBooks, #Play, #reading, #ReadingAloud, #ReadingLogs, class size, literacy, parenting, schools, and teaching.

Book Lists + Awards

DragonsLoveTacos210 children's books I really, really love reading to my kids | @AshleeCoffeyOWH via @tashrow | #BookList #PictureBooks

Best Books for 7 Year Olds According to a 7 Year Old | #BookList from @growingbbb | #EarlyChapterBooks #PictureBooks #SeriesBooks + tips for focusing on #LoveOfReading

Cybils Season, or how #librarians serving kids can benefit from the #Cybils selections, which blend "high literary merit and kid appeal" from @abbylibrarian #kidlit

Growing Bookworms

GeorgesMedicineThe #JoyOfReading | Why #ReadingAloud to your class should happen in every #classroom, w/ tips for doing it well) from @smithsmm #teaching #ClassroomCommunity

What to do with picky #readers. Tips for #parents from @readingtub, ranging from #librarians to #graphicnovels to #audiobooks | | #RaisingReaders #GrowingBookworms

Great read for #parents + #teachers: Let’s Talk About #ReadingLogs Again by @pernilleripp "My biggest issue with reading logs comes from the inherent lack of trust that they communicate" | #JoyOfReading

In Which the 8 Year-Old Questions My #ReadingLog Ethics | #TeacherMom @mary_teaching @HonorsGradU responds to @pernilleripp's recent post. It's all about nurturing #LoveOfReading

#Storytelling and the #AuthorVisit by Dawn Finch @AwfullyBigBlog | What works best as #ReadAlouds?


Tidbits in this week's Fusenews @fuseeight range from #ThePhantomTollbooth to #TheWestingGame to the "Golden Ratio of Sexism in Children's Literature" #kidlit

Parenting, Play + #JoyOfLearning

ThanksgivingMadLibs#Thanksgiving Activity Ideas that Keep Kids (and Grown-ups) Off Screens from @momandkiddo | #parenting #crafts #play

7 Strategies to Keep The Boring Out and Get Kids Interested in #Learning@MarlaSzwast | written for #homeschoolers but could apply to any #parent nurturing #JoyOfLearning

What the Times got wrong about kids and phones - @anya1anya @CJR via @drdouggreen #ScreenTime #parenting #MediaConsumption

Schools and Libraries

On #Research and the #Teaching of #Reading | "We need to weigh evidence consistently—treating as the same those studies that challenge our deepest beliefs as well as those that are wind beneath our wings" @ReadingShanahan

Despite popularity w/ #parents + #teachers, review of research finds small benefits to small classes - @jillbarshay @hechingerreport #schools #education

Methods for Nudging #Students and Families to Better #School #Attendance - @phylliswjordan @EducationNext @FutureEdGU | #Absenteeism #Communication

BlackthornKey4A Rant from #MiddleSchool #Librarian @MsYingling on Series Books + the shelf space that long #kidlit series can take up

7 ways to teach #CivilDiscourse to #students by Tiffany Mitchell Patterson @ConversationUS via @MindShiftKQED | #debate #politics

#Learning By Doing: Using the Arts to Enhance #Reading and Stop #Bullying | Guest post by @DivaKWade @ReadByExample

Another Study Finds What Every #ELL #Teacher Knows – Having Students Draw Pictures Helps Them Learn #Vocabulary | @Larryferlazzo

How #PersonalizedLearning Can Support Equity and Excellence - rejecting models that effectively keep below grade level kids from moving forward | @Shalinee_Sharma + Rebecca Kockler @EducationNext

7 Poor Thinking Habits We Must Fix to Think More Critically by @leecrockett > #CriticalThinking #Assumptions + more | via @drdouggreen

© 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.

Santa Bruce: Ryan T. Higgins

Book: Santa Bruce
Author: Ryan T. Higgins
Pages: 48
Age Range: 4-8

SantaBruceSanta Bruce is the fourth installment of the Ryan T. Higgins series that started with Mother Bruce (my review). There's also a new board book about Bruce, briefly discussed below. Bruce, I must say, is one of my favorite picture book characters. He is a consistently grumpy bear who is first (in Mother Bruce) roped into becoming the parent of four geese and later (in Hotel Bruce) expands his household to add three ridiculously determined mice. 

In Santa Bruce, Bruce is forced to stay awake through the holidays, because his family is excited to celebrate. Because he is cold, he puts on some (red) long underwear and a warm hat. This leads to (you can guess) "A case of mistaken identity." Young animals start showing up on the doorstep, wanting to tell Santa Bruce about their Christmas wishes. Left to himself, Bruce would send these pests away ("I don't want all their dirty little feet in my ..."). The mice, naturally, feel otherwise. Despite his determined resistance, Bruce finds himself out with a sleigh delivering gifts on Christmas Eve. 

The beauty of this book is that Bruce never brightens his expression. He grumbles and complains. He grits his teeth. He is put upon. And yet, he does what is asked of him, even when it is difficult. Picture a bear climbing a too-small tree to drop a package into a knothole, or a bear dressed like Santa losing his balance as he steps on a train set, and you get the idea. The primary text is always deadpan about Bruce's responses. Like this:

"Bruce decided to ignore the problem until it went away.

It did not.

It got worse."


"And with that, the parents left, shouting out with glee.

Bruce did not like glee."

This is augmented by dialog bubbles that add more detail, and give some of the supporting characters personality. These also give the adult reader more scope to add expression in reading aloud. This is a fabulous book for a parent and child to read together (though my daughter was too eager to wait for me, and read it on her own). 

The other thing that makes Santa Bruce fun (and fun for adult readers, too, not just for kids) is the sly humor that Higgins throws in. My favorite scene in Santa Bruce shows  Mama Bunny and Papa Bunny sitting by the wood-stove in their cozy den. Four baby bunnies are nestled in bed. The last room of the den contains "Grown-up Bunny who still lives with his parents" and is typing away on a computer, wearing headphones. This made me laugh out loud. The scenes with young animals sitting on Bruce's lap are also priceless, especially the porcupine who wants "ninety-nine red balloons." It's just a top-notch combination of text and illustration, centered around a strong, sympathetic main character. 

It is possible that my love for Bruce is enhanced by the fact that I am sometimes grumpy (especially when someone is keeping me from getting my sleep). Nevertheless, I predict that Santa Bruce is going to be one of my family's favorite reads over the coming Christmas holiday. I think that any family in which Bruce is already a favorite (and where Christmas is celebrated) will want to add Santa Bruce to family holiday reading. Libraries will certainly want to add this one to their shelves. 

1GrumpyBruceOh, and if you are looking to introduce a younger child to Bruce, I also recommend the new board book: 1 Grumpy Bruce: A Counting Book. Each page spread features a count of something, from "2 uninvited skunks" (scent wafting from their tails) to "9 porcupines wanting hugs" to "10 woodchucks chucking wood".  Of course we end with "still 1 grumpy bear." The board book features simpler illustrations, but totally captures Bruce's grumpiness and Higgin's keen sense of absurdity. It is well worth a look! 

You don't necessarily need to have read Hotel Bruce and Bruce's Big Move (which I actually haven't read) to appreciate Santa Bruce, but I would recommend reading the first book, Mother Bruce, for context. I highly recommend both Santa Bruce and 1 Grumpy Bruce for families and libraries everywhere. 

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion 
Publication Date: September 4, 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).

Literacy Milestone: An Appreciation for Biographies

LiteracyMilestoneAI've mentioned previously that my daughter's third grade teacher has been encouraging the students to read nonfiction (driven by common core, I suppose). My graphic novel-obsessed daughter had never previously displayed much interested in nonfiction. But she adores and wants to please her teacher, so she started picking up these little Who Is / Who Was biographies from the school library. The other day she remarked: "I never knew biographies could be so interesting." And so she is hooked (not to rival graphic novels, but she's reading multiple biographies each week). 

WhoWasAnneFrankShe mostly chooses biographies of women. She's read about Jane Goodall, Anne Frank, Marie Curie, Laura Ingalls Wilder, and J. K. Rowling, as well as Walt Disney and Dr. Seuss and a few others that I am probably forgetting. She periodically chimes in with facts about one or another of these figures. She was particularly fascinated by Anne Frank, and has been talking about her quite a bit. 

As for me, I'm happy to know that there are lots of books remaining in the Who Was/Who Is series, and that quite a few of those are about women. We do also have some nonfiction in graphic novel format, and have been reading a couple of fact-filled  Magic School Bus books each week. But it is biographies that are capturing her attention at this step along her pathway to literacy. It's fun seeing her develop as a learner and a reader. 

Did your kids have a biography phase? 

© 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: November 2: #ReadingAloud, #Kindness, #IntrinsicMotivation + #R

TwitterLinksHere are highlights from the links that I shared on Twitter this week @JensBookPage. Topics this fairly busy week include #BookLists, #Giftedness, #GrowingBookworms, #IntrinsicMotivation, #KidLitCon, #Literacy, #LoveOfReading, #ReadAloud, #rewards, #ScreenTime, #testing, #vaccines, bullying, reading #Phonics, schools, spelling, and writing.

Top Tweets of the Week

HeyKiddoWhat’s appropriate for kids to read? There’s value in exposing them to the tough stuff, says @StudioJJK @washingtonpost | I will want my daughter to read #HeyKiddo when she's 12 or so (though not quite yet) #GraphicNovels #OpioidCrisis

The Importance of #ReadingAloud to Kids: or, Do Kids Grow Out of Read-Aloud Time? No, says mom @racheltoalson #MGBookVillage | "the most important value that reading aloud offers is its connection"

Book Lists

#readblack: What Would You Include If Someone Asked for a Quick List of Recent Titles Starring Black Kids? — @fuseeight has suggestions in various #kidlit genres

TenNineEightBest #PictureBooks + #BoardBooks to Give as Gifts That Kids Don't Already Have, according to @momandkiddo #BookList #GiftGuide

RA RA Read: #EasyReaders for the absolute beginner, resource list from #Cybils organizer Jennifer Wharton #BobBooks #GuidedReaders

Seven Scary #MiddleGrade Books, Perfect October #BookList from @abbylibrarian

Educational Equity + Screen Time

Offline and Underserved: New Study Shows #HomeworkGap Most Affects #Students Already Likely to Fall Behind | @The74 @LauraAnnFay | #EducationalEquity #Homework #ScreenTime

This is exactly what I would have expected - it takes a lot of #parenting bandwidth to keep your kids off of screens. RT: @Jean_Twenge The new digital divide: The most vulnerable kids are spending more time with screens.


Is my Child #Gifted? You'll need more than test results to tell. @TrevorHCairney shares 10 things #drawing can teach about #giftedness

Growing Bookworms

ReadWriteLeadBuilding a Literate Community | @RachelTassler share's her school's journey to "encourage the #LoveOfReading both in our staff and in our students" | I wish all #schools did this | via @ReadByExample

A fun #literacy idea from @readingtub | The Rainy Day Bookshelf (keep a special set of books and supplies handy for rain/snow/bored days) #parenting

"if we are going to model and share (w/ #students) what real #readers do, then we need to be transparent and a little more honest about our own #reading lives" + set more realistic targets for kids @ReadByExample

Jeff Kinney @guardian | ‘Let children read anything; I’ll never say no to a book’ #RaisingReaders #GrowingBookworms @wimpykid | Showing kids that #reading is FUN


#ReachingReaders: Part 2 Getting Your Book Into the Hands of Kids | This #KidLitCon2019 Panel on #gatekeeper perspectives is definitely up my alley | @book_nut @MsYingling @RodriguezCindyL @MsParenthetical @KidLitCon

Kindness / Positivity

InnovatorsMindsetStarting With Positive Assumptions – If #educators start by assuming positive intent, positive action is more likely to result @gcouros #teaching #leadership

How a #KindnessContagion is improving my life by @StevenPetrow | “When we see other people around us acting in generous or kind or empathic ways, we will be more inclined to act that way ourselves,” - @zakijam via @Larryferlazzo

7 ways #parents can teach girls to build one another up, instead of tearing one another down @Pfagell @onparenting | #grit #SocialMedia #kindness #GirlsOnTheRun

On Reading, Writing, Blogging, and Publishing

A Helpful Guide to #Reading Better @farnamstreet | Links to resources on choosing what to read, tracking book recommendations, taking notes, etc.

Starting 11/1 - Become a #Bookworm: 30 Days to a #Reading Habit | @StaceyLoscalzo will be encouraging readers to #BecomeABookworm by bringing books everywhere + following her prompts

Parenting, Play + Motivation

GiftOfFailureThis is good advice: Park the helicopter, parents. Here’s how (and why) to teach kids to be self-advocates. @WichardEdds @washingtonpost | #Parenting #SelfReliance #GiftOfFailure

Intentionally Cultivating Abundant, #IntrinsicLearning #TeacherMom@mary_teaching | I so agree that "Leaving a child to their own #learning devices still actually does involve quite a lot of effort on our part" #parenting

#Science Confirms It: People Are Not Pets. Research on the efficacy of rewards tells us that we can’t bribe others (including #students) into doing what we want. @alfiekohn @nytopinion #IntrinsicMotivation

Parents + #schools, wondering how to implement the @AmerAcadPeds Rx for kids to get more #play? The #LetGrowPlayClub seems like a good option | @letitgrow_org @FreeRangeKids

Schools and Libraries

PassionateReaders"When #students year after year tell us loudly that they cannot be great #writers because of how they spell, then ... (we need) to examine what message we are giving students." @pernilleripp #teaching #writing

Just #ReadAloud. "There should always be a time to just read aloud (in the #classroom). Every day." A reminder from @CathyMere

10 Ideas for Creating a Strengths-Based Culture in #Schools@katiemartinedu | "People are more confident, passionate, and do better work when you focus on what’s right with them instead of what’s wrong with them."

RaisingKidsWhoReadOpinion | Why Are We Still Teaching #Reading the Wrong Way? - @ehanford @nytopinion via @DTWillingham | #ScienceOfReading

Just how #polarized are we about #ReadingInstruction? @DTWillingham thinks there may be a quieter majority who believe in #phonics basics AND #JoyOfReading / #literacy programs + that the #conflict wastes precious time

Research evidence on #bullying prevention at odds with what some #schools are doing - severe punishments can exacerbate the problem | @jillbarshay @hechingerreport

Schools: EdPolicy / Politics

Asking candidates the right questions about #PublicEducation | @jonathanklein42 @EdSource | #schools #FlexibleLearning #Education #TeacherPay #MentalHealth #CharterSchool

Here’s what happened after California got rid of personal belief exemptions for childhood #vaccines. "Dubious" medical exemptions increased + "can be had for a price". Sigh. @LATkarenkaplan via @EdSource

In the News: NYC Knew Some #Schools in Its $773 Million Plan Were Doomed. They Kept Children in Them Anyway - @EducationNext #TurnaroundFallacy

NC State study reinforces bleak view of results (or lack thereof) for #ReadToAchieve state #ReadingProgram for 3rd graders | @anndosshelms via @tashrow #Reading

Sketching a Workable Way Forward on #TeacherPay - @rickhess99 @EducationNext + @NRO | "it’s possible to boost #teacher pay by 20%, pay terrific teachers six figures, leave class sizes stable, and do it w/ a measured, disciplined increase in revenue"

In More High School Classes, the #Teacher Is on a Screen. Facing a #TeacherShortage, some districts try #VirtualTeachers @Tawnell @WSJ #education #teaching #EdTech


Is the real problem the test, not #California students? | Is #CommonCore working as we'd hoped? @kklein100 @sacbee_news via @Larryferlazzo #testing #CollegePreparation

© 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.