Our guest blogger today is Susan Kusel, a librarian, children's book buyer and selector at an independent bookstore, and the owner of a children's book consulting company. She has served on the Maryland Blue Crab Young Reader Award committee, the Cybils Easy Readers and Early Chapter Book Awards committee, the 2015 Caldecott Medal selection committee and she is currently a member of the Sydney Taylor Book Award committee. She blogs at Wizards Wireless.
There’s a genre of books for
children learning to read. They are usually (but not always) a certain size and
shape. They are often leveled.
What should we call this type of
I often hear the term Easy Readers,
which implies that
these books are easy to read. They aren’t easy for the children reading them
for the first time. Calling them easy diminishes the work of a new or
call them Beginning Readers, which is what the Geisel Award criteria calls
them. Everybody starts at the beginning. These are the books used when starting
to read. I have
met so many parents and kids who take the levels printed on the books very
seriously. They tell me they can only read Level 2 books, for example and they
resist books at other levels. The tricky
thing about the levels, and why it is important not to get tied to them, is
that they vary completely by publisher. A reading level marked Level 2 by one
publisher could be marked Level 3 by another.
shelve these books? Typically they get their own section, in both libraries and
bookstores. I think the way that makes it easiest for readers to find them is to
create beginner, intermediate and advanced categories. This system ignores the
levels and helps to place books that have no levels.
the wonderful things about the Geisel Award is all the non-traditional
Beginning Readers that have been honored. A book doesn’t have to look like a
reader in order to be a helpful tool for children learning to read. Take a glance at previous Geisel winners and
you’ll see books of poetry, non-fiction, graphic novels and picture books.
The Geisel criteria states that the award recognizes
winners with “literary and artistic achievements
that demonstrate creativity and imagination to engage children in
the key. Good, well written and illustrated books that help children learn to
very good place to start.