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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Recommended reading for kids reading well above or below their grade level

A question I often get is something along the lines of "What are some good books for a ________ grader?" The question is pretty straightforward if the child is an average reader for his or her grade. You can refer to booklists on the library's website or elsewhere on the Internet geared specifically for certain grades.

Things get a little more challenging when the child is reading well above or well below his or her grade level. The recommended reading lists for a particular grade are generally geared towards average readers so they may not meet the needs of these readers.

For advanced readers, the challenge is finding books that are age appropriate that are not too easy or boring for the child. Although these kids may be capable of reading several grades above their grade level, parents may be concerned that the content in these books is inappropriate.

For children reading below their grade level, the challenge is finding books that the kids can read without overwhelming them, that also appeal to their age. Such kids may also be embarrassed to read anything they see as 'babyish'.

http://www.lexile.com/findabook makes it easy to search for books for children reading well above or well below their grade level. This site allows you to search by lexile level if you know it but if you don't that's okay. There is also an option to input the child's grade and whether or not the child finds the books he or she reads for school difficult, challenging, or easy. From that information, an approximate lexile range will be given.

Once you enter the lexile level or grade, you will then be asked which types of books the child is interested in reading. You then receive a list of books that are targeted to a specific reading level as well as reading interests. There are several options for narrowing down search results. One that I've found particularly helpful is limiting by lexile code.

The NC (nonconforming) lexile code is assigned to books that have a lexile level marked higher than the publisher's intended audience or developmental level. This is useful for matching high-ability readers with vooks that are still at an appropriate developmental level.

Conversely, the HL (high-low) lexile code is assigned to books that have a lexile level marked lower than the publisher's intended audience or developmental level. This is useful for matching struggling or reluctant readers with books that still have age appeal to them.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Reading Rewards

Did you know that your child can participate in a summer reading program online? Reading Rewards makes this possible. Kids set up an account, which must be approved by a parent. There is no charge. The family then determines together what rewards should be set for a given amount of reading.
Certificates can be printed out upon completion of reading goals.

Kids can earn RR Miles for their reading. These miles can then be traded in for prizes such as Club Penguin or Webkinz trading cards. These miles must be approved by a parent.

Groups can also be created through Reading Rewards, enabling teachers or school librarians to manage several kids reading records through a single account.

Reading Rewards has a social component too. Kids can invite friends to join. Kids can share what they're reading and can see what their friends are reading. Kids can write their own reviews, and get recommendations from friends and outside sources like NEA, Parents Choice Foundation, or American Library Association. Kids can play games with friends or individually. For every 10 minutes of reading, kids get a guess at cracking the code or an attempt to aim at a Battleship.

Reading Rewards is particularly great for families who aren't always able to make it to the library in the summer or just want an additional program to supplement their library's summer reading program.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Chat Reference: AskMN

You're at home, you have an urgent need for certain information which you're not sure how to find, and the library is closed. AskMN comes to the rescue. AskMN is a chat reference service with a librarian in real time. It is available for free to Minnesota residents and students 24/7. When you're done with your session, you'll be sent a transcript to your email for future reference. AskMN also welcomes class visits. Just fill out a special form, notifying AskMN of the visit.

AskMN is an invaluable resource and one I have recommended to many of my library users. One example that comes to mind is when I have had students come into the library near closing time with an assignment due the next day.