Confession time..

This was originally posted on October 17, 2017 but was lost in my website upgrade.

Confession time. When I walk into a classroom and see books and libraries organized by levels, I cringe.

Like many things in the field of education, the trend towards leveling books by guided reading / Fountas and Pinnell / Lexile level may have begun with good intentions - trying to get the appropriate books into the hands of young readers. But like many other things, we've let the pendulum swing way too far - and we are officially in the land of over-labeling.  Here's why I find leveled libraries problematic....

  1. The leveling systems were created to be used solely by teachers / librarians, NOT for children / parents.  Is there anything more defeating than a child saying, "I'm not allowed to read this book because it's a Level G and I'm a Level E reader".

  2. The difference between each level is relatively minor - and the leveling system does not take into account all of the other complicating factors of reading - background knowledge that a reader brings to the page, vocabulary, and motivation.

  3. Levels do not translate into lifelong reading habits.  Think of yourself as an adult reader. When you go to the library, do you choose a book by its level?

Don't believe me? Read more here - in these additional resources.  Author Donalyn Miller write that levels violate a student's academic privacy.  A statement by the America Association of School Librarians writes that "labeling and shelving books by its assigned label on the spine...threatens the confidentiality of students' reading levels." Even the creators of the leveled system - Gay Su Pinnell and Irene Fountas - have come out saying that "the A to Z reading levels to be used in the way they often are". It's time to stop the madness and lose the levels.

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