Monday, March 24, 2008

Picking the Right Books

As I read this article on washingtonpost.com, I found myself questioning it/responding to it many different ways.

  1. I wish my school had parents that commented (or even complained!) about what we read. I have one parent out of 21 that tells me what her son is reading and asks for advice on other texts.
  2. I disagreed with the statement that, "Picking books appropriate in theme and reading level is an art rather than a science, librarians and educators say." I think it is indeed a science. I have spent many hours being trained on how to determine the correct reading level a child should be reading, and frankly I think the theme is just common sense. I am a first year teacher and it's not rocket science to know whether a book is thematically appropriate. Which brings me to another thought...
  3. I want to give the teacher who read the book about slavery the benefit of the doubt. It began with, "They took the sick and the dead and they dropped them into the sea like empty wine barrels. But wine barrels did not have beating hearts, crying eyes, and screaming mouths. . . . No one knows how many millions died. Except the sharks." One disclaimer - I teach Kindergarten but I don't think I would read this to 3rd graders BUT I don't know the context, the conversation before and after the reading, nor do I know if the teacher edited her reading. I often have to change up the phrases or vocabulary to make the text more reasonable for my kiddos.

I just hope that the kids in my class capture the love of reading much like I did - total immersion. Books everywhere. Numerous read alouds every day. Book Talks. "Oh my goodness that book is SO GOOD! Don't you LOVE it?!" My kids think I love books more than life itself. As they should.

1 comment:

Jenny said...

I had missed that article. I'm so glad you brought it to my attention.

I'm torn about that book with 3rd graders as well. And I think you are right, we don't know the whole story. I had a reading group of 4th graders read The Slave Dancer by Paula Fox. It was too much for them. They were very bright, mature students, but I miss judged it. I think there is some art to helping children find the right books. But I wonder if that is more true as they get older.