Books for [blank] grade

February 4, 2011 § 1 Comment

I get a lot of questions from students (and sometimes parents) about where in the Curriculum Library they can find books for a child in a particular grade. I feel a little apologetic as I explain that the books are not arranged that way. I can’t just point to a section of shelves and say “Here is where you will find the books for fifth graders.” In fact, it is impossible to arrange a library this way, since any single book could be read by a child in any number of grades. Individual reading ability, personal interests, and purpose all play a part in what is appropriate for any given child. For students who expect to get an easy answer, this may be frustrating, I know.

So how is one to identify a book that would work for a particular child or a particular assignment in an education class (which in theory, should be focused on teaching a particular child or group of children)? When choosing a book for any purpose, here are a few things to consider before beginning your search in the catalog or the stacks:

1) Are you looking for a book that will fit the average reader at that grade level? The struggling reader? A challenging book for that grade level?

2) Do you want the child (hypothetically or actually) to read the book themselves? With help? Or do you want to read the book aloud to him or her? These choices make a difference, since children learning to read can understand stories far beyond the level at which they can personally read.

3) How are you planning on using the book? What kind of activities will you structure around the story, if any? Depending on the intended use of the story, a simple or complicated plot may be in order.

4) Is there a particular subject which you would like to use, or which you think the target audience would find particularly compelling?

Considering the answer to these four questions is the best place to start. If catalog searches and browsing prove unfruitful, I sometimes have luck with Google searches; however, it is best to consider the above questions first, since “best read-aloud books about dinosaurs for first graders” would produce a more targeted(though similar) list than “best books for first graders.”

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