For some reason, leveling books has always seemed like this top-secret venture…like only certain teachers in this elite book-leveling society could do the task. Well, today I will divulge my two go-to tools that I can always depend on when leveling books.
Memory: The first time I leveled a library was during my first co-teaching partnership. My co-teacher seemed to be a rolodex of children’s books and their correlating levels. Every book she picked up had a home and she knew exactly where to find it! As you can imagine, this was highly frustrating for a first timer. I kept picking up a book and not knowing what level it was, where it lived or how to label it. That is when I decided I had to learn the art of book leveling! I am proud to say that last year, I leveled multiple libraries at my school and I did almost all of the books by memory! Here are the tools that helped me…
1. The book-leveling bibles:
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Both of these books are by Fountas and Pinnell. They offer organized book lists so you can find many books for your child to read. How can this help? Imagine this: Your child’s teacher informs you that your child is reading books at a level P. You think to yourself, “What does that even mean?” How do you know what books your child should be reading? You can look at the P book list in the Fountas and Pinnell book to get an idea of what kinds of books are appropriate.
2. Scholastic Book Wizard: The Book Wizard by scholastic is a book search tool. You can select the appropriate reading system. I always like to choose “Guided Reading” so that I can see the letter level, but you have a variety of other options as well. Then all you have to do is type in a book title, author or keyword to find a book. Here is an example of a book search for Henry and Mudge:
Should a parent have an in-depth understanding of book leveling? Not unless they are obsessed with libraries like me! One thing that parents should understand is what makes a book appropriate for their child. If a teacher tells you that your child is now reading level J books, and you have no conceptual understanding of what that means, you will have a hard time supporting your reader at home. Searching for books with these two leveling tools will help you begin to understand the characteristics of each level as your child develops as a reader.