Beyond Leveled Books: An Appendix

Chapter 1:  Challenging Level-Book Mania

Recurring themes and key messages found in the text:
-Students should be able to choose what books they want to read if they're going to become lifelong readers.
-Although levels have merit and are useful tools when considering books, other things, such as interest and supports, that should be considered when looking at the book.

Key questions for SLMSs raised by the text:
-If teachers in the school overemphasize leveled books and only let their students read leveled books in class, how do school librarians support the students and the teachers at the same time?
-Sometimes, students simply have no idea what books to choose.  How do we help students pick books that they like?

Specific Strategies that SLMSs can use to promote/support reading:
-The school librarian could start a "My Favorite Books" program--maybe 30 minutes to an hour long.  Parents and children could come to the library, and parents could share their favorite childhood books with their children.  Children could also read their parents their favorite books, or parents read to their children the children's favorite picture books.  This would get parents involved and emphasize reading for personal pleasure.
-The SLMS could have a display in the library called "My Favorite Books."  This could be a reward for the classes that come in--at the end of the class, the SLMS could pick a student who was especially good during class, and that student gets to pick a book to put on the bookshelf.  The SLMS could ask the student why s/he picked the book.  This would get students thinking about what books they like, and why, and it would also let the student share their books with their peers.

Chapter 2: Expanding Our Definition of Just-Right Books in our K-1 Classrooms

Recurring themes and key messages found in the text:
-Leveled books are a great way of improving children's reading levels, but to foster the love of reading, other factors are more important.
-K-1 students don't have to read leveled books all the time to become independent readers.  Favorite books, characters, authors, and subjects play an equally important role in keeping students reading.
-In a classroom or library, it is good not to put too much emphasis on books' levels on the shelves.

Key questions for SLMSs raised by the text:
-How can we help improve students' reading levels, while at the same time encouraging them to pick books they love?  
-How do we present leveled books inconspicuously in the library?

Specific Strategies that SLMSs can use to promote/support reading:
-Let the students take out two books at a time, and encourage them to pick one "just right" leveled book and one book of their choice.
-Idea from the book:  Make books baskets--books separated out in baskets by popular authors, characters, or series.  If students find a character they love, this will encourage them to read more books about that character.  Plus, the books will be easier to find.
-Display as many picture book covers as possible, since children (and adults) choose books with an appealing cover.  This encourages choice.

Chapter 3: Understanding Transitional Readers

Recurring themes and key messages found in the text:
-Transitional readers are at an important stage in their development as readers.  They tend to have trouble with choosing appropriate and interesting books for themselves.  They require support from us as teachers and librarians in order for them to be able to choose books for themselves as independent readers.
-Each reader is unique, there are no set rules for how to help each transitional reader, it is up to us to understand the individual so that we can understand the individual's needs.  We must pay attention to each readers strengths and weaknesses.
-The main goal is to get readers from the transitional stage to the independent reader stage.
-Using leveled books can be "counterproductive" to finding the right books for unique students.

Key questions for SLMSs raised by the text:
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How can we create a library that supports as many individual readers as possible? 
-Do we have the kinds of texts that would support transitional readers?

Specific Strategies that SLMSs can use to promote/support reading:
-Observation: Including having conversations with kids, watching them as they use the library, even eavesdropping on their conversations with each other.
-Thoughtful teaching: Being responsive to the observations you have made of the students, always taking into account the differences of each individual reader.
-Modeling: Showing the students the reading behaviors that we want to encourage.
-Identification: There are many clues in texts that will help readers with difficult ideas like the movement of time and making inferences, we must make sure to show these clues to the readers.
-Selection: Making sure that the library has a large enough selection of books to support many different readers.

Chapter 4: When Levels and Learning Clash: Moving from Levels to Supports in Designing Instruction



Recurring themes and key messages found in the text:
- We need to consider more than the level of a text when dealing with transitional readers.  Beyond the levels are the specific needs of each individual transitional reader.
-The transitional stage of reading is when students also begin to understand their own reading patterns and personality.  This is their chance to discover what it is they are interested in, as well as to investigate different genres, perspectives, and subjects that are outside their comfort zone.
-Transitional readers need instructional that will show them how to understand and enjoy more sophisticated texts.  They cannot just move from level to another.
-There are many factors that contribute to whether or not a book is good for a certain student.  These factors encompasses every aspect of the book from the title to the subject.

Key questions for SLMSs raised by the text:
-In what ways are we showing readers how move up to more complicated texts? 
-How are we supporting the development of each reader's reading personality?


Specific Strategies that SLMSs can use to promote/support reading:
- Knowledge: We need to make sure that we don't only know the students, but the books as well, so that we are better able to match the right reader with the right book.
-Converse: We should be in conversation with students and teachers at all time about the books that are popular, interesting, controversial, etc.
-Opportunities: Give the readers the opportunity to explore the library.  Beyond exploration they should be able to talk, write, draw, even role-play about the books they are reading.
-Preview: Showing students how to "preview" books by themselves will help them make better book choices for themselves.  They should know how to glean from the title, front and back covers, table of contents, and even the dedication what the general idea of the book is.
-Choices: Show the readers that there are all kinds of books that might be great for the teacher or their little sister, but may not work for other readers.  They should be able to know when and why a book is just right for them.  We can explain to them that there are many factors that contribute to whether or not a book is just right: length vs. how much time each reader has, difficulty of vocabulary, complexity of issues addressed, etc.

Chapter 5: Taking a Closer Look at Series Books

Recurring themes and key messages found in the text:
Although, as librarians and educators we would like to move students away from reading series books to reading more difficult novels, students enjoy series books and reading series books can be beneficial to readers.  By reading series books students are able to develop skills of predicting what will happen further in the series.  Series books can help reluctant or struggling readers by providing them consistent books with characters or plots that they enjoy.  Series readers can also explore the social nature of reading by recommending certain series to other readers based on their extensive familiarity with the characters, settings, and storylines.  When readers move onto more complex texts, experience with series books will help students because they will have had experience with varieties of characters and different plots. There are series books available for struggling readers as well as advanced readers so that students can all share the experience of getting to know and following favorite characters over several books.  Students do not remain with series books forever.  Many students will stop reading a series in the middle to read another book and then return to the series later.  Some students will read some of a series and then leave it completely without finishing the remaining books in the series.  By letting students decide how much of a series is interesting to them, they learn how to make decisions as readers.

Key questions for SLMSs raised by the text:
-What series books would be appropriate for the students that the librarian serves? 
-What supports should be within the books, such as pictures, short chapters, and size of print? 
-How can the librarian promote individual novels to readers of series books? 
-Would it benefit the students for the library to have displays related to themes that bring in series books, novels, nonfiction titles, etc. all together?

Specific Strategies that SLMSs can use to promote/support reading:
-First and foremost, have a variety of series books available for students.  Instead of relying only on book jackets for individual books in a series, maybe have small write-ups of what a series is about and what order the books go in for the students that want to read them in order. 

-In book discussions with a series book, take advantage of the opportunity to have the students make predictions and then revisit these predictions after students have read the next book in the series. 

-Librarians can discuss their own reading of series books during their lives and how they moved away from them and back to them.  By discussing what we read, we show students what our reading patterns are and they can reflect on their own reading patterns.

Chapter 6: Using Picture Books, Nonfiction, and Graphic Novels with Transitional Readers

Recurring themes and key messages found in the text:
-Picture books can be used with transitional readers to teach difficult concepts/literary elements like words with double meanings, finding proof in the text, visualizing settings, flashbacks etc--to help students make sense of things that they'll encounter in future reading.
-Reading nonfiction requires a different set of strategies and some explicit teaching on concepts like directional words, learning to read/integrate charts and other visual aids in the text (diagrams, time lines, etc). Also, teachers need to provide non-"school reading" non-fiction--not just books related to the curriculum, but fun non-fiction as well. Books with a narrative style work well for elementary-age students.
-Graphic novels are increasingly popular (some have 8x the check-out rate of popular fiction books at school libraries) and are another good way to reach students who may struggle with reading or are reluctant readers. They can also teach students to look at different ways authors put words/pictures together and how the author uses words in different ways.

Key questions for SLMSs raised by the text:
-How can we help teachers build appropriate classroom collections?
-How can we support teachers' efforts to use non-traditional materials to engage readers and teach difficult literary concepts?
-How can we better collaborate with teachers on these projects?
-How can we promote non-fiction to transitional readers?

Specific Strategies that SLMSs can use to promote/support reading:
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Building displays around graphic novels, non-fiction, pictures books, etc.
-Books talks or reading groups that especially focus on non-fiction and how it can be appealing to transitional readers.
-Mini-lessons on learning literary techniques/difficult concepts using picture books.


Chapter 7: Organizing for Thoughtful Instruction


Recurring themes and key messages found in the text:
-Taking a cue from bookstores when it comes to classroom/library displays--books should be face out and easy to browse. All books in one series in a basket with similar series nearby, or books organized by themes like mystery adventures, humorous stories, animal characters with human experiences, etc--so kids can discover new titles they may find appealing, making the choice on their own. Separate areas for non-fiction/poetry.
-Also, the importance of reading workshops, which can include read-aloud time, mini-lessons, reflection time, independent/partner reading, reader response, reading conferences, literature circles, and share time.
-Also crucial: getting to know the students as individuals so we can better match them with books. Ways to do this: be in touch with parents, talk to students one-on-one to gauge their reading levels and interests, read books about reading and books to spur discussion about reading and books, have informal conversations with them about what they're reading (and ask them to retell so we can see their comprehension), formal assessments, etc.

Key questions for SLMSs raised by the text:
-How can librarians get to know these students well when we don't see them as often as teachers?
-How can we best communicate with teachers to find out about individual students and their needs and interests?
-How can we work with teachers on reading workshops and other similar programs?
-What strategies can we use to organize the library and displays to get kids interested in something new or make it easy for them to find something they'll enjoy?

Specific Strategies that SLMSs can use to promote/support reading:
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Program focused on books about books/reading, to get students talking about their experiences. (This chapter has a good list of questions to ask about books students are reading/enjoying.)
-Reading groups, conferences, literature circles, etc.
-Displaying books by themes like mystery adventures, humor, etc, so students can discover something new that may be similar to something they already love.


Chapter 8: Grouping for Instruction


Recurring themes and key messages found in the text:
Group discussions about books helps students identify themselves as readers.  Instead of grouping students based on their reading levels, it is more successful to group students by what skills they need to improve.  This allows for the teacher to give mini-lessons to each group on the skill that the students need to address.  Groups will disband and form into new groups based on new skills to be learned.  Books are chosen to address the skills rather based on reading level.  Students can also form their own reading groups based on what they would like to read or learn, giving them greater sense of themselves as readers.  Read-aloud sessions can create a whole class reading group that learns new reading strategies without having each student independently reading the same book while they are all working on the same reading skills.  Whole class read-aloud sessions are a great opportunity to gain inference skills by analyzing the book's cover, jacket blurb, about the author section, and reviews. 


Key questions for SLMSs raised by the text:
Successful grouping relies heavily on the teacher knowing the students well.  The teacher must know the reading skills that students are struggling with as well as their interests so that they can choose texts that will support the reader's skill needs but will also entice them.  How can the librarian help in choosing texts for small groups without knowing the students as well as the classroom teacher?  The librarian may have to work more closely with the teacher in selecting texts based on what the teacher would like to find in a text rather than independently selecting texts for student groups based on their more general knowledge of the students. 


Specific Strategies that SLMSs can use to promote/support reading:
-Help teachers identify which texts would provide the best supports for reading groups working on a specific skill.
- Lead book discussions with reading strategies such as previewing a book before reading the text. 
-Provide visual reminders in the library of different reading strategies that readers can use either independently or in groups.

Chapter 9: Building a Reading Community 


Recurring themes and key messages found in the text:
-Know what successful readers do—reflect on your own practices and talk with other readers about the reading process so that you can identify the habits of lifelong readers and then use this knowledge to develop strategies to teach in the classroom.
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We want kids to discuss books with us and with others when we’re not present so we need to orchestrate these types of conversations that lifelong readers have so that students can then engage in them on their own.
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We can mine our own experiences as readers for how to instill a love of reading in our students.
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We can communicate with students about our own experiences as readers to show them the value of reading and to help them reflect on what they do as readers.
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Self-reflection by both teachers and students is an integral part of reading instruction.
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Community is an important part of reading instruction and helps students expand their love of reading beyond the classroom.

Key questions for SLMSs raised by the text:
-What is our role in creating a community of readers at our schools? How can we support classroom teachers in this effort and also work independently to support this goal?
-Do our students see us as readers? Do they see other teachers in the school as readers? If not, how can we change this?
-How can we engage teachers in modeling lifelong reading for our students?
-Do we expect the school librarian and the language arts and English teachers to be solely responsible for instilling a love of reading in our students?

Specific Strategies that SLMSs can use to promote/support reading:
-Create opportunities to book talk with students and have other people in the school community (tech specialist, principal, teachers, parents) give book talks, as well.
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Give minilessons with teachers where you reflect on your own habits as a reader.
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Encourage students to recommend books to each other through podcasts, book reviews on the OPAC, conversations, etc.
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Create book clubs that meet at convenient times for both teachers and students (lunch time, before school) so that they can come together to discuss books.
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Create a visiting author program and encourage all teachers to read this author’s books with students for a few minutes every day (homeroom is a good time for this) so that when the author comes, everyone is familiar with his or her work. This could even be a “one book, one school” program.


Chapter 10: Taking the Conversation Home

Recurring themes and key messages found in the text:
-One of our roles is helping parents understand how they can support their transitional readers at home.
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We must help parents select appropriate books for their transitional readers by giving them a number of strategies to try and making recommendations.
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We can create assignments that foster reading at home and involve our students’ parents in their reading.
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Parents can play a vital role in the lives of transitional readers if we give them the right support.
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If the school and the home reading environments are connected with--rather than isolated from--each other, young readers will benefit.

Key questions for SLMSs raised by the text:
-How can I help teachers involve parents in their children’s reading lives?
-What programs can I create for the library that will involve parents in their children’s reading lives?
-What ways do I have of communicating with parents so that they can learn about the readings strategies children are learning at school?
-What strategies can I use to help parents select appropriate books for their children?


Specific Strategies that SLMSs can use to promote/support reading:

-One strategy mentioned in this chapter is giving students interview questions to ask their family members about their reading habits or about their favorite books from childhood in order to foster conversations about reading.
-Another strategy is to send home a piece of reading (poem, news article, story, etc.) that was done in school and ask students to discuss it with family members.
-A similar strategy is the Grand Discussion, where parents and their children come to school having read the same book or story. They meet with other families to discuss the reading (similar to a book club).
-Teachers can share with parents the strategies they teach in minilessons so that parents can work on the same things at home.
-Parents can be sent a letter and asked to respond about what they have seen at home in regard to changes in their children’s reading skills and habits.


Erin Griffin
Alicia Korenman
Stephanie McKee
Jill Molloy
Kaitlin Torp