Children's Books discussion

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Conversations: books & readers > Strict adherance to reading levels?

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message 1: by Jennifer (new)

Jennifer (JenIsNotaBookSnob) (jenisnotabooksnob) | 170 comments I was just curious if others had noticed this trend. I work in a library, so I frequently observe parents selecting books for children. In the last few years I've noticed a tendency to be very strict with the reading levels that they want their children to read.

For example, I've observed parents telling their children that they can't get a book in their favorite series because the book is now below their reading level. I've seen 6 year old children who were 'not allowed' to check out picture books because they had started reading chapter books.

I've had parents get offended when I suggest a book that is below their child's reading level. Usually, the parent has not actually told me what reading level their child is and has simply asked for a good book for their child.

I was a good reader from an early age, so perhaps that's why I can't really relate. My parents brought me to the library and then just sat and waited for me to pick out whatever I wanted to pick out. They didn't care if I checked out adult nonfiction or children's picture books.

I just can't picture a point where I would discourage my daughter from reading anything. I still enjoy picture books, juvenile fiction, ya fiction, nonfiction and everything else.

I mean, obviously you wouldn't want your 4th grader reading exclusively picture books, but, I just don't see the harm in reading a mix of books.


message 2: by Vavita (new)

Vavita That is very sad. I don't live in USA but have two friends who are teachers there and they have told me that other teachers force kids (and parents) to follow the "rules" related to education.
We have reading levels in Germany but they are for guidance. Teachers do not provide any rules to us about what topic or level to read. Kids are responsible for deciding.


message 3: by Cheryl , Newbery Club host (new)

Cheryl  (cherylllr) | 6659 comments Mod
That is sad. All I can think is that maybe some children are not stretching themselves enough, according to parents or teachers. But I don't see that as a problem... don't make reading a chore and turn them off of it.

And besides, there are plenty of picture-books for older children, too... lots feature content you would not share with a preschooler. Also, appreciating the artwork in them is a valuable skill.

One thought - you don't have a limit, do you, of only four books at a time or something? So they have to get appropriate books to meet school requirements, and have no room on their card for pleasure books?


message 4: by Jennifer (new)

Jennifer (JenIsNotaBookSnob) (jenisnotabooksnob) | 170 comments Cheryl wrote: "That is sad. All I can think is that maybe some children are not stretching themselves enough, according to parents or teachers. But I don't see that as a problem... don't make reading a chore and ..."

Our library system is pretty generous with checkout limits, the limit is 25 items. It's the parents limiting to one or two books at a time and only from 'the list'.

I just read Lon Po Po and Jumanji again today just for the fun of it. It's so depressing to me that parents are just pushing those aside as having no value once you've passed that reading level.


message 5: by Cleo (last edited Jul 12, 2016 01:26PM) (new)

Cleo (cleopatra18) | 30 comments When I homeschooled my daughter when she was younger, we would spend about 15 minutes per day working on reading that would challenge her, and then I let her read what she wanted outside of that time, within reason. I say within reason because what you take in, is generally what is going to come out. So, for example, if you eat junk food, you aren't going to be very healthy, and conversely, if you allow children a diet of bad grammar and poorly constructed sentences, that's what the student will give you later on. I didn't really ban any books (except for the Junie B. Jones books ----- terrible! --- I could never understand why teachers use them), but I did try to guide her reading and explain why certain books were going to be useful later on (this could be with regard to their technical structure or the lessons they imparted), and why others were, quite frankly, garbage.

I think the U.S. is much better, but where we live in Canada, it's getting to be that the best place to find a good book is not at the library. Sad ........

“Some books should be tasted, some devoured, but only a few should be chewed and digested thoroughly.”
- Francis Bacon


message 6: by Manybooks (new)

Manybooks | 8436 comments Mod
That is not only sad, but overbearingly dictatorial!


message 7: by Manybooks (last edited Jul 12, 2016 07:18PM) (new)

Manybooks | 8436 comments Mod
Cleo wrote: "When I homeschooled my daughter when she was younger, we would spend about 15 minutes per day working on reading that would challenge her, and then I let her read what she wanted outside of that ti..."

Actually, the Junie B. Jones books work great. I have used them with intermediate and advanced ESL learners for error recognition exercises. And as long as teachers tell students NOT to imitate the grammar mistakes etc., there is no issue (but not all teachers do that, unfortunately).


message 8: by Manybooks (new)

Manybooks | 8436 comments Mod
Cleo wrote: "When I homeschooled my daughter when she was younger, we would spend about 15 minutes per day working on reading that would challenge her, and then I let her read what she wanted outside of that ti..."

What if a book you think is garbage has a different effect on your daughter? It does happen and children should be encouraged to develop their own tastes even if it does not mesh with their caregivers. I certainly did not always like the same types of books my parents liked (and thought it was massively ignorant of my father to claim that historical girls and school fiction would rot my brain).


message 9: by Jennifer (new)

Jennifer Stewart (goodreadscomjenniferjstewart) I think it is a trend, unfortunately. Many parents perceive picture books as baby books, and since children are beginning to read in kindergarten now, they push to 'graduate' their kids to chapter books. The thing is, many picture books are more sophisticated than early readers or chapter books with richer vocabulary, with all sorts of connections to make between pictures and words. And of course, they are meant to be shared between a loving adult and a child. My mother was a children's librarian and she let me read whatever I wanted, and I did the same with my own kids.


message 10: by Manybooks (new)

Manybooks | 8436 comments Mod
Jennifer wrote: "I think it is a trend, unfortunately. Many parents perceive picture books as baby books, and since children are beginning to read in kindergarten now, they push to 'graduate' their kids to chapter ..."

Exactly, there is a huge difference between sophisticated picture books and early board type books. Personally, I have often found many chapter books quite monotonous.


message 11: by Cleo (last edited Jul 13, 2016 07:51AM) (new)

Cleo (cleopatra18) | 30 comments Manybooks wrote: "Actually, the Junie B. Jones books work great. I have used them with intermediate and advanced ESL learners for error recognition exercises. And as long as teachers tell students NOT to imitate the grammar mistakes etc., there is no issue (but not all teachers do that, unfortunately). ..."

Yes, I could see them perhaps working with mature ESL students, but I don't have much experience in that area to comment. Teaching ESL has always interested me though. I would imagine that it has its rewards and is rather enjoyable too!

I think they are egregiously harmful to elementary school students who are first learning letters, then words and how to put them together to eventually form more and more complex sentences. They teach how to do something the wrong way, which seems enormously counter-productive. Not to mention, generally the child does not even have a base yet to determine which is correct or incorrect.


message 12: by Cleo (new)

Cleo (cleopatra18) | 30 comments Manybooks wrote: "What if a book you think is garbage has a different effect on your daughter? It does happen and children should be encouraged to develop their own tastes even if it does not mesh with their caregivers. I certainly did not always like the same types of books my parents liked (and thought it was massively ignorant of my father to claim that historical girls and school fiction would rot my brain)...."

Well, you probably could get into a whole discussion here about purpose in reading ...... again, some people want a chocolate bar and others want a healthy meal.

I'm rushing out right now but C.S. Lewis' essay Different Tastes in Literature talks about this subject and tries to determine the good and bad and in-between (not too clearly, but I think it gives the reader information and a better ideas of "tastes"). If you want to read my blog post it would give you an idea. I more or less agree with him and he puts it much more eloquently and succinctly than I could. :-)


message 13: by Steve (new)

Steve Shilstone | 188 comments A well-known 7th grade teacher/blogger/writer, Pernille Ripp, starts her kids each year reading picture books.


message 14: by Amelia (new)

Amelia C | 1 comments I also agree that parents should allow their children to try reading a book that perhaps is not has high as his/her level. Students are practicing literacy skills regardless of what they are reading. I think there should be a balance of reading for personal interest and reading "school" books.


message 15: by Manybooks (new)

Manybooks | 8436 comments Mod
Amelia wrote: "I also agree that parents should allow their children to try reading a book that perhaps is not has high as his/her level. Students are practicing literacy skills regardless of what they are readin..."

And parents should not simply dismiss picture books as a matter of course, as there are many that a both sophisticated and challenging.

Or how about dual language picture books to practice a child's foreign language skills, the earlier one starts with this, the better.


message 16: by Manybooks (new)

Manybooks | 8436 comments Mod
Cleo wrote: "Manybooks wrote: "What if a book you think is garbage has a different effect on your daughter? It does happen and children should be encouraged to develop their own tastes even if it does not mesh ..."

I think as long as one does not eat a steady diet of junk, occasional indulgences are fine, and that goes with books as well. I read a mix of books from philosophy, linguistics, German, English and French classics (everything but horror and romance, although historical romance, at times, yes).


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