A recent “tweet” by Keisa Williams (if you use Twitter, she’s a “must-follow”) is prompting this post.
Keisa shared a pretty cool-looking book recommendation site called Lexile. By using it, students can find books about topics of interests that are supposed to be on their reading “level.”
I sometimes wonder about the whole idea of separating books by reading “levels.” I feel like it can discourage students from seeking more challenging texts about topics of interest to them. I’ve been pleasantly surprised to see some of the kinds of books students will struggle through because they find them so engaging.
That’s not to say that I’m completely against doing something like that. In my own classroom, because I teach such a wide range of students ranging from early Intermediate English Language Learners to International Baccalaureate diploma candidates (and everybody in-between) I have some division in my classroom library. I emphasize all the time, though, that these few and broad classifications are just a guide. One way I encourage “cross-pollination” is by having separate sections for the “popular” books in each level — books that over the years have clearly been the books most-read by students in all of my classes.
Right now, I don’t have any book recommendation tools on my The Best Places To Get Blog, Website, , Book, Movie, & Music Recommendations list that have any kind of leveling system (at least, I don’t think I do — I might be wrong).
I’d be very interested in hearing people’s perspective on all this. I don’t know of any research on this topic that would back me up or offer different conclusions. Let me know what your experience is, and if you know of any related research. I’m open to changing my mind.