Creating any sort of “library” at home may seem a little bit daunting, but I promise, it’s doesn’t have to be! You also don’t need to go out and buy hundreds of dollars worth of books and have a full-blown library room in your house either! A few books, some organizational tools, and a small shelf/nook/cabinet are all you need.
I’m going to help you get started…
Now, being a huge book nerd myself, we’ve always had lots and lots of books at our house. Annnd, because of my teacher background, I have our books organized by genre and category. One of those categories has always been “I Can Read” books. In this bin I’ve always kept a few BOB books and an array of “learning to read”/beginner books. But it wasn’t until I took on this project that I realized my one bin of “I Can Read” books contained 12 (TWELVE!) different levels of texts! No wonder Ardyn was getting frustrated!
*Linking these white book bins HERE.* (My chapter books are in the size small and I keep picture books in the size medium)
Then, I was having a conference with Ardyn’s teacher this year and she mentioned the alphabetical “level” that Ardyn should be reading at and I decided to organize our books & create a mini leveled library for her in our home. I asked A’s teacher if there was an easy way to find books according to level these days and she filled me in on something that did NOT exist when I used to teach: book scanning/leveling apps!!! We used to have to use websites and databases and all kinds of old-fashioned things like that! 😉
A NOTE ON BOOK LEVELING:
- Now let me detour here for a minute and say that I have not studied book leveling extensively in many years and there are over 8 (that I know of) different systems and rubrics out there used for leveling books. It can get pretty complex! (If you want to dive in, click here) If you want to keep it surface level, then keep reading. Today, in this blog post, when I talk about “using an A-Z system”, I mean that I leveled the books mainly by: the Scholastic Guided Reading Level (GRL) and Fountas & Pinnell (F&P). Now, both of those use an A-Z system, and they are, for all intents and purposes, the same. (Many forums claim they are exactly the same system, others (Fountas & Pinnell, specifically) swear they are different. I’m in the “close enough” camp!) Why does this even matter?? Well, You may have noticed that some of the “beginning reader” publishing companies like “I Can Read” and “Step into Reading” are starting to list an alphabetical reading level on their book covers. (See photo below) Nice, right?! This makes things super easy for parents and teachers to grab books at a glace– HOWEVER, different publishing companies use different leveling systems. (So, if two books claim to be “level D” on their cover, you may find one company leveled with Guided Reading Level and one leveled with Fountas & Pinnell, so those two “Level D” books may not necessarily be created equal–Although at the beginner stage, they’re probably pretty dang close! Does that make sense?) While this may not matter too much with the two leveling systems mentioned above, it CAN make a difference if a company levels according to another system like Reading A-Z (see chart below) in which case, the differentiation between leveling can be significant. For the purpose of this blog post and for Ardyn’s Leveled Library, I didn’t do any complex converting and just leveled the books by face value (what they said on the book cover) or what my app scanned them as. I tried to stick to GRL/F&P systems and figured- “close enough!”
So now, you’re basically a leveling expert & ready to get started! 😉
Search your “app store” for a book-scanning-leveling app. Now that you’re an expert, you know to look to see which system each app is using to level!
Scholastic Book Wizard App (Guided Reading Level)
Level It Books (gives you levels from 4 different leveling systems, which is great!)
I did not cross reference! If one app or the book itself said it was a level “L”, I threw it in with the Ls!
I started by scanning and leveling the beginner books we already had at home. I found that most of them were way above the level Ardyn was currently reading at. Oopsie! After assessing what we already had at home, I did some shopping to fill in the gaps!
Now, sometimes the book I was trying to scan was “not found in the system” (super frustrating!) in which case, I tried my best to look at comparative books and guesstimate a level myself.
After putting all of our old and new books into leveled piles, I snagged some colored dot stickers from Amazon and assigned each color to a letter, A-L. (I’ll explain why I stopped at L later.)
I grabbed some cardboard magazine holders and started building our little leveled-library by putting 3 letters worth per box! Since I was only going A-L, four boxes was all I needed.
*Note, I only leveled A-L, because at level L+, you start moving into beginner chapter books like Mercy Watson, Magic Tree House, Junie B Jones, etc. So I did not do a comprehensive A-Z library (which I used to have in my 3rd grade classroom), but instead just a beginner’s version, figuring once Ardyn is on to chapter books, I can help guide her and teach her how to choose “just right books” for herself! This is way easier to manage when you are only focused on your own child and not a classroom of 25!
After I set up the “Library”, Ardyn and I went over it together. I told her which letter would be considered “easy”, which letter is currently “just right” for her and which letter would be her “challenge myself” category. Essentially giving her a span of 3 letters/colors to choose books from. (Not pictured: I used a little colored clip and clipped it onto the box lip, above her “just right” level/color, as an easy visual in case she forgets!)
(Also just noticing that Max ripped my letter “I” off…just pretend it’s there, right after “H” where it should be!)
I took a little trip to Target and revamped the girls’ book baskets that they keep by their bed. I got them each a new book light, a small timer, a few cute bookmarks and put a cup with a mini pencil, and a chunk of post-it notes in each girls’ basket. I also added some sight word flash cards to Ardyn’s basket. (I don’t love the idea of “timing” your reading, but they are supposed to read for 15 minutes a night for school so Q insists on knowing when she’s hit her “quota.”)
The girls know to fill their baskets and change out books as often as needed. Q, for the most part, just works through a chapter book at a time, but for Ardyn, I like her to choose 3-5 leveled books and stick with them all week for practice. She gets so excited to read me a book before bed and then reveal that it was from her “challenge myself” level! It’s been so motivating and I’ve really seen her reading take-off since we started using a leveled library at home!
I hope this was helpful! Feel free to reach out on Instagram if you have any questions!
HERE ARE SOME BOOKS/SETS THAT ARDYN HAS BEEN LOVING:
First Little Readers (I love that you can purchase a box BY level! Makes it so much easier!)
Guided Science Readers (again, purchase by level! And you know how I feel about mixing in nonfiction! Just keep in mind nonfiction books are usually more difficult that fiction & are sometimes not leveled accordingly, or so I’ve found. )
BOB Books (always and forever, love these for “learning to read”)
A Kiss for Little Bear (Level G)
Step into Reading Books I noticed a lot of the NEW Step Into Reading Books have the alphabetical level printed on the back! Some of the older ones we had at home, did not. Step into Reading levels using Fountas & Pinnell, for those of you that have been following 😉
Poppleton in Fall (Level J)
I Can Read Books (Look at back cover for Guided Reading Level)
IF YOU ARE LOOKING FOR MORE INFORMATION ON LEVELING, CHECK OUT THESE SITES:
Accelerated Reader An AMAZING Book Leveling resource!
Reading A-Z If you want to go all in and compare 8 different leveling systems, this chart is fantastic!
Scholastic Book Wizard Type in the book name and get the Scholastic A-Z level!
Learn About Leveled Reading A great jumping-off point for parents wanting to learn more!
Level Books Not Children An explanation from Fountas & Pinnell
AtoZ Teacher Stuff Another database for searching for book titles by level
Or just type “Guided Reading” into google! There are so many amazing charts and visuals to help you get started!
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