Jennifer Brinkmeyer's Reviews > Reading Ladders: Leading Students from Where They Are to Where We'd Like Them to Be

Reading Ladders by Teri S. Lesesne
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Mar 25, 11

Read from March 21 to 25, 2011

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 readers was interesting. She emphasized title, cover, and opening paragraph as book variables of motivation one should consider in book talking. This will help me decide how to go about sharing a book. Her student variable was gender. I can admit certain students gravitate toward certain books based on title, genre, etc. and that one should be aware of if they are only sharing a certain type of book with students, but it stalled me out in the book because I'm not sure it needed to be addressed this way. Discussing the importance of students to see themselves in the book options would have been more meaningful to me.

Ch 4: Or, ch 2 in detail.

Ch 5 and most of the rest: Examples of ladders. A reading ladder is when you construct a series of books so that when a student finishes one they have something to read NEXT. This is huge. Good readers have plans about what they want to read next. This idea is not something I have to think about. When a student asks me for a recommendation, I have their recent book history flipping through my mind. I scan the booksplosion that is my room and have a stack of 3-5 for them to choose from within moments. Book talks are also my ladders. I'll share books that springboard from class texts or trends. I do not need to fill out a little ladder picture to do this. Here's what I appreciate:
-Ladders do not just have to be built through genre or same/similar authors. It can be character-driven, style-driven, plot-driven, etc. I do this some, but it's good to be reminded of a wider vision.
-Often we expect middle-school-turned-ninth-graders to be ready for The Odyssey and Romeo and Juliet. This book asks how we scaffold for these experiences, or scaffold students to adult-level reading. Also, not a new concept, but it's a question worth asking.


In reflecting back on the content and organization of this book, I'm seeing that this was predominantly old learning. I feel like I fell for the teacher trap of a book about a great idea. This is a book of self-congratulation for teachers already in the process. It's affirming, yes, but progressive? Nope.

It is rare that I am this negative and cranky about a book, but I paid $15 for Teri to tell me things she already knew and I already knew. It feels like teacher branding, where she took her book reputation, re-organized and revised some pre-existing notions, and cashed in.

I guess I just need a reading ladder of my own away from books like this.
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Miss Stahmer (new)

Miss Stahmer I've definitely seen you doing all these things at school. I think it would be a good book for someone like me, who's just starting out. I feel like I could benefit from seeing it all written out.

I tend to ignore the reader response lens and I'm seeing now how important it is for kids to help them enter into a text and express themselves/make it their own. I'd definitely like to read this.


Jennifer Brinkmeyer You're welcome to borrow it!


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