February 24, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

New Reading Lists Aid Advanced Readers

Librarians, teachers, and parents who have a child reading at an advanced level and seek challenging but age-appropriate books have a new resource from the Children’s Book Council. The Reading Beyond book lists are the brainchild of the American Library Association-Children’s Book Council Joint Committee.

There are three provided lists: for kindergarten through first graders reading at a third grade level, second and third graders reading at a fifth grade level, and fourth and fifth graders reading at a seventh grade level. Each listing contains 25 titles. The 75 books were chosen from more than 600 submitted by publishers and librarians, initially evaluated by the ALA member librarians of the committee and then finalized by the full committee. The books were evaluated for their content as well as the challenge they would present to advanced readers. The committee also considered a variety of genres and formats.

The lists took years to develop. The project was originally called Reading Up. The group chose to change the title to Reading Beyond because they wanted to encourage reading beyond levels and limits.

“Reading Up implies advanced comprehension, and certainly that’s part of the profile of the readers for whom we built the list,” said committee cochair Susan Polos. “Reading Beyond considers children’s developmental readiness for some content.” The committee recognized that voracious readers need more suggestions than are found on many reading lists, and theirs offer a strong mix of genres and diverse titles.

Committee member Christi Showman Farrar, consultant at the Massachusetts Library System, shared the recommendations with youth consultants at the ALA’s annual conference in Chicago, where it was warmly received.

“This is awesome,” exclaimed Danielle Margarida, youth services coordinator with the Rhode Island Office of Library and Information Services. “I wish I had this as a resource for all the parents of every advanced five-year-old interested in reading The Odyssey.” Parent and author Diana Peterfreund called the list, “so amazing and so useful for kids like my Q, who has a hard time finding books that are interesting to her but also provide appropriate reading levels. ”

The suggestions contain such award-winning authors and titles as Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick (Scholastic, 2011) and The Inquisitor’s Tale: Or, The Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog by Adam Gidwitz and illustrated by Hatem Aly (Dutton, 2016). The Book of Nature Poetry: More than 200 Poems with Photographs That Float, Zoom, and Bloom!, edited by J. Patrick Lewis and photographs by National Geographic (National Geographic, 2015), and Cars on Mars: Roving the Red Planet by Alexandra Siy (Charlesbridge, 2009) are also mentioned.

The fully annotated 2017 Reading Beyond list can be downloaded at CBCbooks.org.

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Rocco Staino About Rocco Staino

Rocco Staino @RoccoA is the retired director of the Keefe Library of the North Salem School District in New York. He is now a contributing editor for School Library Journal and also writes for the Huffington Post.

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