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Jen Robinson
San Jose, CA
Dedicated to growing joyful learners: bookworms, mathematicians, scientists, artists, + more
Interests: joy of learning, education, children's books, hiking, reading, walking, red sox baseball, wine tasting, mysteries, literacy
Recent Activity
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Simon Thorn and the Wolf's Den by Aimée Carter is the first of a new series about a 12 year old boy, Simon Thorn, who learns that his ability to talk with animals is actually part of something much bigger. Simon has lived for as long as he can remember with his uncle Darryl, receiving only monthly postcards and extremely rare visits from his mysterious mother. Simon has been attempting to hide his new ability to talk to animals from everyone, including Darryl. But when a one-eyed golden eagle warns him that his life is in danger, Simon soon finds himself on the run, uncovering both secrets and relations left and right. Continue reading
Posted 16 hours ago at Jen Robinson's Book Page
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As seems appropriate given that my daughter has just started school for the year, today I have five posts that are all about bringing joyful learning back to the classroom, one way or another. In the first, a first grade teacher introduces a play kitchen in her classroom. In the second, a veteran teacher assigns his students things like "read a book" and "volunteer", instead of offering traditional homework. In the third, the author laments efforts to force all preschoolers to sit still for group learning sessions. In the fourth, a teacher gives tips for empowering students in the classroom. In the fifth article, a Texas teacher defends her new "no homework" policy. All five of these post offer an encouraging view of teachers trying to help kids to learn through play, and figure out what truly engages them. Continue reading
Posted yesterday at Jen Robinson's Book Page
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Here are highlights from the links that I shared on Twitter this week @JensBookPage. Topics this week include #BookLists, back to school, diverse books, exercise, growing bookworms, love of books, picture books, reading, and STEM. But the biggest news of the week is that the Cybils Awards are gearing up for fall, with a snazzy new logo color scheme, and accepting applications for judges. Continue reading
Posted 4 days ago at Jen Robinson's Book Page
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Super Happy Magic Forest is a book that we've had for a few months now, and have appreciated a bit more each time we read it. While it's a bit complex (and perhaps scary) for the youngest listeners, it's a great choice for early elementary schools kids. Especially if they like butterflies, rainbow unicorns, goblins, or ghosts. Highly recommended and pure fun! Continue reading
Posted 5 days ago at Jen Robinson's Book Page
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In this relatively brief issue issue of the #GrowingBookworms newsletter I have four book reviews (picture book through early chapter book), two posts with links that I shared recently on Twitter, and two more posts with more in-depth highlights from articles about the joy of learning. Continue reading
Posted 6 days ago at Jen Robinson's Book Page
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Pirasaurs! is full of interesting characters, engaging wordplay, and dramatic (but not scary) action. It is perfect for preschoolers, and recommended for libraries, homes, and classrooms, or anywhere that a pirate- and/or dinosaur-loving child might lurk. Continue reading
Posted 7 days ago at Jen Robinson's Book Page
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Today I have three articles that address the joy of learning, and the things that take that joy away. The first article looks at the cognitive benefits of play for young kids. The second explores better ways of tracking reading than chore-like reading logs. The third piece laments the stress that many American high school kids experience, and proposes a more playful, kindergarten-like atmosphere. All three articles are worth your time. Continue reading
Posted Aug 22, 2016 at Jen Robinson's Book Page
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Here are highlights from the links that I shared on Twitter this week @JensBookPage. Topics during this relatively light week have shifted from last week's plethora of #BookLists to a focus on schools and libraries. Other topics include: #KidLitCon, classroom libraries, college, Cybils Awards, dollhouses, early readers, ebooks, literacy, playful learning, read aloud, and Sir Ken Robinson. Continue reading
Posted Aug 19, 2016 at Jen Robinson's Book Page
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Terry Border, the author/illustrator of the Peanut Butter and Cupcake books, has a new back-to-school picture book called Milk Goes to School. In this story, Milk, a cute little red and white milk carton, starts school for the first time. She's excited about her sparkly new backpack, and her dad has attempted to boost her confidence by telling her that she is "la creme de la creme". But when she points these things out to the other students, they quickly conclude that "this Milk is spoiled." As the day progresses, Milk makes mis-step after mis-step, adding to the perception (about which she is in deep denial) that she is spoiled. But after a humiliating experience, Milk does refresh her behavior a bit by the end of the book and find some common ground with the other food children. Continue reading
Posted Aug 18, 2016 at Jen Robinson's Book Page
That does sound like it's going to be a fine book, Judy. Thanks for the head's up!
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The Piper Green and the Fairy Tree series, and The Sea Pony in particular, has a nice mix of "stuff kids think are cool" (living on a small island, taking boats, a Fairy Tree) and realistic family/community/kid dynamics. Piper's family is not the most well-off on the island, and her father doesn't hesitate to take her to task when she uses bait injudiciously. But the island also acquires a horse! The Sea Pony strikes a nice balance, I think. I'm happy to see this series continuing strong. I think it's a perfect fit for kids just starting to be ready for chapter books. Recommended, and definitely a nice addition for libraries serving new readers. Continue reading
Posted Aug 16, 2016 at Jen Robinson's Book Page
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Today I have two articles about growing bookworms and one about giving kids positive experiences with math (rather than focusing so much on "achievement"). The first article is about the benefits of giving young children real, print books. The second is about giving kids choice in what they read. This one was written in response to another piece that cast aspersions on kids' choices, also linked here. The final piece is about ways to get kids to play with math and use it to answer compelling questions. All of these articles are, ultimately, about how to nurture joy in reading and math. Continue reading
Posted Aug 15, 2016 at Jen Robinson's Book Page
Thanks for the recommendation, Erin! I actually read the first book in that series (on Kindle) and then something about the start of the second one didn't work for me. I'll have to give them another try on audio. I think they are available from my library on audio, too, which is a bonus!
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Here are highlights from the links that I shared on Twitter this week @JensBookPage. Topics this relatively light week include #BookLists (lots of those!), #DiverseBooks, #PictureBooks, #STEAM, #STEM, activity books, growing bookworms, math, Matt de la Pena, NCTE, reading communities, and reading aloud. Continue reading
Posted Aug 12, 2016 at Jen Robinson's Book Page
Certainly kind of strange, but I thought it was fun :-).
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Woodpecker Wants A Waffle is a joyful celebration of persisting to get what you want, even if you have to be a bit sneaky about it. It has kid-friendly humor, fun language aspects for read-aloud, and no moral message at all. A delight through and through. I think it would make a wonderful group read-aloud; libraries will definitely want to give Woodpecker Wants A Waffle a look. Parents may want to make sure there are actual waffles available before reading this one at home, though. Recommended! Continue reading
Posted Aug 11, 2016 at Jen Robinson's Book Page
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In this issue of the Growing Bookworms Newsletter I have four book reviews (picture book through middle grade) as well as a post about the many benefits of sorting through our picture books. I also have one post about my daughter's latest literacy milestone, inventing connections to authors and illustrators. I close with two posts with links that I shared recently on Twitter, and one with more in-depth highlights from articles about the joy of learning. Continue reading
Posted Aug 10, 2016 at Jen Robinson's Book Page
Thanks, sprite. That's a good point. Certainly nothing in my post was meant to diminish the efforts of the librarians. In communities like these, libraries are a critical oasis in the "book deserts".
They do pile up! I'm trying to get my daughter used to the idea that weeding has to be done periodically. I think it will be a gift to her in the long run, actually (hmm, another benefit to this process). She was surprisingly ok with a lot of the board books that I weeded - I think because she didn't remember them very well.
I picked up The Peculiar Night of the Blue Heart because I had enjoyed Lauren DeStefano's previous book, A Curious Tale of the In-Between. Once I started reading this new title I as unable to put it down. The Peculiar Night of the Blue Heart is a creepy tale of two children who live in a group home near the woods. Continue reading
Posted Aug 9, 2016 at Jen Robinson's Book Page
She does frequently surprise me with the books that she wants to keep. But I have books that were lost between various moves of my parents that I still regret, so I do know the lesson above keeping books...
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Recently my six-year-old daughter was complaining tearfully about not being in charge of anything. Keeping her room clean didn't cut it as a suggestion. So I suggested that she could be in charge of organizing her picture books and setting some aside for donation. This suggestion took, and we've been working in small chunks on this rather large project. Continue reading
Posted Aug 8, 2016 at Jen Robinson's Book Page
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Here are highlights from the links that I shared on Twitter this week @JensBookPage. Topics this week include: #DiverseBooks, #KidLitCon, #BookLists, #PictureBooks, book deserts, book reviews, free reading time, growing bookworms, beginning readers, kidlitosphere, libraries, math, schools, and STEM. Continue reading
Posted Aug 5, 2016 at Jen Robinson's Book Page
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The Ark Plan is the first book in a new middle grade post-apocalyptic series by Laura Martin called Edge of Extinction. The premise is irresistible, and the execution is both suspenseful and entertaining. The premise is that scientists have brought dinosaurs to life, shades of Jurassic Park. The dinosaurs, however, brought with them a global pandemic that nearly wiped out the human race. Humans (in the US, anyway) have retreated to four underground bunkers, led by a man calling himself Noah. Dinosaurs roam the earth. Continue reading
Posted Aug 4, 2016 at Jen Robinson's Book Page
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In this post I share three recent articles related to the joy of learning. The first is for parents, and is about "the right way" to bribe your kids to read. While I am philosophically opposed to bribing my daughter to read, I did find some good points in the article (particularly quotes from Edward Deci, author of Why We Do What We Do). The second article is about how to make math more emotionally engaging for kids, and the third is about helping kids to find joy in reading in school. Both of these latter two articles are focused more on teachers than parents. I found all of these articles worth reading. Continue reading
Posted Aug 3, 2016 at Jen Robinson's Book Page