Sunday, November 16, 2008

Beyond Leveled Books

Recently, Stenhouse Publishers, sent me a book to review for them. I was so excited to receive Beyond Leveled Books by Karen Szymusiak, Franki Sibberson, and Lisa Koch. But to review this book in one post will be impossible. After reading the forward, the list of mini lessons, and the first chapter I knew that I had much to gain from this book. Franki Sibberson, if you don't know is a co-blogger. Her blog, A Year of Reading, is a great place to land when you are looking for that perfect book. I have found myself browsing over there several times in the past. She and Mary Lee have much to offer to us in the teaching world.
Beyond Leveled Books draws you in during the first chapter as they persuade you to move away from the bookroom, away from the prepublished books from your basal, and to really evaluate the books you are placing in the hands of your children.
Chapter two begins by showing us that there is a place for leveled books, it is beside the real books. These books, in baskets are arranged with in our classrooms for students to pick from. Chapter 2 has an extensive list of authors that k-1 students can choose as "just right" texts for independent reading. This book list would be great for teachers who are just beginning to understand what Reader's Workshop is all about, and how to select and set up their classroom library.
However, where my learning occurred was through the rest of the book. These authors have shown me how to move my first grade readers into that transitional territory and then into independence. The authors discuss the importance for these transitional readers to choose books within a series. (Henry and Mudge, Mr. Putter and Tabby, The Magic Treehouse, etc.) When readers choose series books they can rely on the characters to carry them through the new material. They learn to rely on these sections of the book, they come to trust the author and even struggling readers can use their comprehension strategies because of the "known."
Again, there is another extensive list of series books, picture and chapter, that a teacher could use to select and use within their classroom.
Mostly, I have loved just reading that others that teach are excited about children learning to love books. At the end of the book the ladies give this information:
"In a time of test scores and accountability, teachers are being forced to spend precious classroom time in ways that do not necessarily foster lifelong reading. We worry that in the name of accountability we are increasingly pressed to find time for the things we know our transitional readers need." Amen sisters! This book keeps me from searching for those things that my students need, it is within this book. I am anxious to use the mini lessons, and strategies suggested in this book. I can more explicitly teach in my crunch of time. Thank you for showing me the important "stuff."
More to come from this book:
Mini lesson, mini lesson, mini lesson (this book is full of them!)
Ways to take learning home for your students, there are lots of ways to encourage your families in their discussions about books.
Graphic Novels, and their take (I love Graphica!)
Go get this book, it is phenomenal!!!!!


Karen Szymusiak said...

Thsnk you for the nice review of our book!

Cathy said...

Dude!!! How do I get in to help review books???