Sunday, March 5, 2017

Leveling Easy Readers; or, How we make everybody happy

Front of easy reader shelf with 5 Finger Rule bookmarks
Originally, we had all the easy readers arranged alphabetically by author. That was it. Parents were continually asking what level their child should be reading and this increased as the local school district added four year old kindergarten and extended Scholastic Reading Counts and Lexiles to all grades. Personally, I'm against leveling, in general. However, our collection is there for the patrons, not for me! So, I came up with a compromise. All the books with a "level 1" got a red sticker, "level 2" got a green sticker, and "level 3" got a blue sticker. If the publisher hadn't put a level on the book, I just guesstimated.

This satisfied parents who want to just point and say "you're only allowed to read the red sticker books" but it also satisfied my own resistance to leveling books and gave kids quite a wide range since publisher levels vary so wildly.

Colored stickers for levels
In 2014 I added a nonfiction section to the easy readers and circulation continued to expand rapidly. We were getting good turnover for easy readers, and parents were generally finding what they wanted, but schools continued to extend use of Lexiles (A-M levels) down to younger kids and we were getting more and more requests for younger and younger easy readers.

New Books
By 2015 easy readers were growing rapidly in popularity and requests and I hired an awesome assistant who had previously been an elementary school teacher. We discussed ways to better organize the easy reader section and I set her loose to work her magic. Up through 2016 Jess worked on relabeling the books more accurately, making sure each color corresponded to an accurate level. She also added an early literacy center, easy reader bundles, and new signage and handouts. I started ordering boxes of paperbacks like BOB books, which we packaged for circulation and which proved extremely popular. By the end of 2016 our easy reader circulation had increased by 3,000 from 2015. In addition to the already high demand by parents and emergent readers, the school district adopted Lucy Calkins curriculum in the fall of 2016 and teacher requests for easy readers for character studies also skyrocketed.

In January of 2017 I bit the bullet and did a massive weed of the easy readers, removing all of the paperbacks (which were in horrible condition) and multiple worn, damaged, and outdated books. I am currently in the process of spending a significant chunk of budget, as well as grant money, to replace damaged and worn materials and bolster the collection of emergent readers, buying multiple copies of the titles we've found that are truly emergent titles.

Scan of the easy reader level comparison chart

Easy Reader tub books - tv tie ins. Paperback and non-leveled

Literacy center

Literacy center and lexile binders

1 comment:

Jen Robinson said...

Funny, I just organized my daughter's easy readers by level at home (there are a bunch b/c of review copies - I've been hanging on to them for years for the right time), easiest to hardest from left to right. The first time I pointed this out to her she reached in and grabbed one from the middle :-). Of course she's not really reading them on her own yet anyway, but I intend to remain flexible.