Reading Ladders: Leading Students from Where They Are to Where We'd Like Them to Be
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Reading Ladders: Leading Students from Where They Are to Where We'd Like Them to Be

4.0 of 5 stars 4.00  ·  rating details  ·  275 ratings  ·  66 reviews
Many of us are searching continually for that just-right book for each and every one of our students. It is my hope to help you find those books. More importantly, I hope to help you guide students to the next great book and the one after that. That is the purpose of Reading Ladders. Because it is not sufficient to find just one book for each reader. -Teri Lesesne

"I finish...more
Paperback, 129 pages
Published February 14th 2010 by Heinemann Educational Books (first published 2010)
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Jennifer Brinkmeyer
Here's my version of the table of contents:

Ch 1: I like that she brings up how response is neglected. I've been thinking about the books students read in my classes and it makes me wonder why I don't make more space to respond. How can they possibly get passed their feelings about a book when their feelings aren't acknowledged?

Ch 2: An affirmation of all that I already believe: read-alouds, access, models, and time are all necessary for building lifelong readers.

Ch 3: Discussing what motivates r...more
This is a must-read for all reading teachers. Lesesne talks about the merits of using contemporary literature in the classroom and building literacy ladders. I have lots of post-it-note flags sticking out of the pages marking great ideas. She's a high school expert, but there is a lot here for elementary teachers, too. One of the ways I'd like to use reading ladders is to build background knowledge using picture books for historical fiction books like A Long Way from Chicago, Wednesday Wars, Cou...more
Full of great ideas for helping kids move from one book to the next and keeping the sustained reading going, this is a must-read for teachers who care about helping kids to become lifelong readers. This one deserves a place next to Atwell's THE READING ZONE and Donalyn Miller's THE BOOK WHISPERER. Highly, highly recommended.
Alyson (Kid Lit Frenzy)
Lesesne's book captures what I always felt in my gut but wasn't sure how to put it into words. Scaffolding books to keep moving readers along the continuum. Now the challenge - implementing it and providing reading ladders for teachers to help them catch the vision.
The Styling Librarian
I sat and read Reading Ladders Leading Students from Where They Are to Where We’d Like Them to Be by Teri S. Lesesne @professornana from cover to cover. Sometimes I had to adapt and think primary as Teri shared her insights into YA content but overall it was one of those professional books that I appreciated from beginning to end. I initially purchased this book because I appreciate Teri’s insights shared on and secondly because I was hoping to expand my abil...more
Christina V.
This is a good book to read for any teacher who wants to start incorporating independent reading (which I'm going to refer to now as IR) in their classrooms. I personally believe that IR is so incredibly important for students. I know some educators who scoff at the idea of IR because they think that it's a waste or time, or that teachers use it to get out of "real" teaching, or that it's not rigorous enough, but I don't think that's true. IR, when it's done right, can be an incredible stepping...more
The Reading Countess
I have kids who are either reluctant readers at the beginning of the year, or who read like my six year old eats: only a handful of favorites are ingested and the rest of the good stuff sits ignored on the plate/lunch kit. As a reading teacher, it's been my challenge (or is that pleasure?) to coax these readers into discovering the joys of both reading and choosing genres outside of their comfort zone. I've also had students who are proficient, even voracious readers. These readers chew up books...more
Finding the first book for a reluctant reader isn't very tough...but finding the next and the next is where it gets tricky. This is what Lesesne is all about -- scaffolding the next and the next -- increasing the complexity, the challenge as we continue to throw books at kids. I have always known if I can get a student reading, I can find another book for him. I call Harry Potter a gateway drug, because it's the way into a reading life.

Lesesne has the research that shows we must read aloud to st...more
Jul 01, 2010 Marsha rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: everyone
Interesting book with tons of great ideas. I get this notion of the top and bottom rung and it makes sense.

I am so focused on helping my students develop an interest in nonfiction that I have to consider how this would work in my science class. I could definitely see having a bottom rung be a picture book that makes the topic accessible. This would give all kids an introduction to the topic....and if it was a DK Eyewitness books they could either read the information or the captions or look at t...more
Maggie Front
Jul 29, 2012 Maggie Front rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: educators
The idea of moving students from where they are comfortable reading to the next level(s) attracts me; however, the ladder strategy seems unwieldy for teachers with large numbers of students. The practical aspect of using reading ladders with 90 students is something I'm grappling with.

Teaching students the concept of reading ladders to help them develop awareness of themselves as readers will be an informative exercise for me, this year. I envision mini-lessons using short stories or picture bo...more
Erin Reilly-Sanders
I really like the way Lesesne writes- her tone is conversational and the sentence structure casual resulting in a slim volume that is easy to read but that covers some really great ideas on how we both start kids as readers and encourage their continued participation in this wonderful activity. The book is pretty well organized, although the second chapter is a bit of backtracking from the first, but is a concise and useful reminder of how kids develop reading skills and appreciation. One of the...more
I almost abandoned this book after the first few chapters. However, I enjoy following Teri Lesesne on Twitter, so I continued. Although the first few chapters may not be groundbreaking for teachers with a few years under their belts, chapters 5, 6, and 7 demonstrate Lesesne's vast knowledge of young adult literature. Chapter 6 specifically ("Upping the Ante with Reading Ladders") gives solid ideas for how reading ladders can be incorporated into the classroom to model comparing and contrasting v...more
Much of the commentary on free voluntary reading in this book is seen in many other books that I've read. However, I appreciated learning about the concept of reading ladders and definitely see how they can be used to move struggling readers forward and push advanced readers. It seems that a lot of the success using these reading ladders rests on a very knowledgeable classroom teacher or librarian who is very familiar with books of all genres. Not sure how well this would work in an environment...more
Katie Clark
While the idea is good and there are a lot of good resources given in it, I don't think it'll help too much for my teaching 6th grade students. Most of the specific novels are for older. I would have liked more anecdotal stories to show how these have worked for readers. I also feel that this is a lot of work being asked of the teacher to come up with a reading plan and to be the guru of choosing books. While I often start that way, I like to get my students into finding other ways of finding wh...more
I think this book gives great tips to present and future teachers. The text helps all those "but what if" questions. I really enjoyed the text.
Barb Keister
Reading Ladders shows teachers how we need to think beyond just finding that perfect book to start a student reading, and develop a progression of books that builds on where students are as readers. I'm thinking this book would be a part of a reading ladder itself! I'd put it with Donalyn Miller's Book Whisperer, Penny Kittle's Book Love, and Jim Trelease's Read Aloud Handbook. A wonderful resource of young adult lit for middle school and high school teachers, but the reading ladders concept is...more
Excellent book for organizing books in a variety of ways. Lesesne specializes in young adult readers, but our librarians have used this book with all levels of readers. We found that we can create reading ladders within one grade level quite well - perhaps not with the same intensity and interconnectedness Lesesne intended, but it does work on an intended level. Reading Ladders is a friendly, easy read that invites teachers and librarians to sit down and think about books, and what can be better...more
This book was okay, but I felt like there were too many reading ladders already made and not enough explanation about how to get from the bottom of the reading latter to the top. If I am going to take the time to read a book to help in my classroom, I want to know how I can make this work for myself instead of just reading the ladders that have been created. Maybe this was geared more for middle school instead of upper elementary because I didn't really find it that helpful.
Liz B
Teri Lesesne is a wonderful person and educator. I respect her very much and love to hear her speak. This book was not what I wanted it to be, and it felt mostly like a rehash of why teachers should help kids to read books they like. I am on board with that. What I wanted was information & practical suggestions on leading students from where they are to where we'd like them to be. I didn't really get that from this, to my disappointment. Oh well.
The feeling of helping a reluctant reader find the "perfect" book to motivate and inspire them is great, but what next. This book gives practical tips and examples for helping youth find the next book, and the next, by creating reading ladders. Reading ladders are connections between books that help students develop a love for reading and an increase in literacy skills one step at a time. Great for teachers and teen librarians.

Awesome resource for teachers to help students move along in their reading. Teri Lesesne's knowledge of children's literature is mind-boggling. The sheer volume of titles, however, might overwhelm a teacher new to (or not yet bought into) voluminous reading. I'd recommend this for someone who has already begun their quest to regular reading, otherwise a teacher might get lost in the number of books mentioned.
Dawn Little
While much of this book was affirmation of my own thinking, the idea of "ladders" was new to me. I love how Teri Lesesne provides a practical way to scaffold reading and move students gradually from simple to complex. Additionally, it is such an easy way to help guide students to make connections between texts. I will read children's literature in the lens of "ladders" from now on. Fantastic resource!
This is exactly what I was missing last year when I did the Book Whisperer experiment (very successfully, I might add= 46 readers read 1,700 books in their sixth grade year!).
It encourages learners to read deeper with each book by following their interests and scaffolding upward in the lexiles. For those of us who love to read, and love to encourage this in others, it is a wondrous resource.
I like the concept of reading ladders, which I was already doing unknowingly, but this is also more structured than I was doing. I liked the reading ladders she offered, but I was mostly on board because I have read so widely and recognized most of the titles listed. Those teachers who have not read widely in the YA titles they want to move their students from will not get much from this book.
Shannon Clark
Talk about text to text connections and compare and contrast with texts. This one takes the cake!

Love love love the concept of reading ladders which help show kids how texts are related inane different ways.

This book not only promotes the love of reading and explains the factors needed to create lifelong readers, it also sheds a new light on text progression and text connections.

This is how middle school teachers need to look at book leveling instead of Lexile. This idea suggests teachers need to read a lot which may seem overwhelming to some. I like the idea the author suggests at the end - start with one ladder and work from there. I also like the shifts toward thinking, reacting, feeling, and connecting books as an important comprehension piece.
Lesesne's inspiring depth of expertise kept me turning pages from front to back in one sitting. Many sticky notes now employed (deployed?) for return reads. Thanks everso, Teri.

Now, if only we could find her equivalent for the tricky territory of high school readers who are on the cusp of YA/adult books...
Informative - I love the high interest book list that Teri Lesesne includes. I got some great ideas that I plan to use in my middle school library. This really helped me with my literature circle selections that my teachers requested. I agree with Lesesne's discussion of lexiles and book selections.
Lesesne takes time to provide clear and concise information in building lifetime readers. The book itself at times is a bit redundant. I feel this book could have accomplished it's purpose in half the pages it has. The reading lists and resources it provides are phenomenal.
Mark Isero
This is an important book, especially to combat complaints that independent reading is not rigorous. Ms. Lesesne argues that good teachers can help students climb "reading ladders" from books they immediately find interesting to the classics. I like this book.
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