Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Looking at labels on the #road2reading 1.10.17

All journeys have a starting place.
This is a weekly place to find books and tools 
that you may use with readers at the start of their reading journey.
Join in the conversation at #road2reading.

We see labels everywhere we go.  Some people diligently read food labels.  Others look for labels that will save money, or promise quality goods.  We label where we put things so we can find items quickly.

But not all labels are helpful.  Sometimes a label predetermines how we approach, react towards, or think about someone or something.  Sometimes labels are derogatory and/or unnecessary.  Sometimes labels are incorrect.

How do we label those who are beginning their road to reading?  As educators, we know that everyone starts on the road in different places and their journeys on the road are not always paced the same way.  What we do know, is readers need to be supported as they journey along this road.  They need books, and lots of them.  They need books that interest them, books they want to read.  And while that will appeal to their interests, they also need to practice the skills they are learning and be supported and challenged with their reading as they grow.

When we think about those who are beginning on the road to reading and the books they need to practice their skills, these books have sight words, short sentences, and often predictable plots with words that are supported by lots of picture clues.  Unfortunately these books are often given a label - easy.  Easy readers, easy chapter books.  Some people learn to read quickly and probably don't need these books for a long time.  But as mentioned earlier, all readers are on a different pace on this road and not everyone is a speed demon.  We know these readers.  We have these readers.  And for many of them, the word "easy" is a negative label.

We do love to categorize things and put things with similarities together.  But going forward, can we please not label these books as "easy".  I tend to use "early".  Seeing as these are used early on a reading journey, that's become my default word.  What have you used?  Is there a word, or a label that you use that might categorize these books in a positive light?

One of the most disheartening signs I've seen is at the library this past summer.  I thought I was in for a real treat seeing this gorgeous statue outside of the public library:

But once inside, I found this label by the picture books.  All picture books.  What message is the library sending patrons who want to read a picture book?  Even my 6th grader was offended by the signage.

I'm always on the lookout for books that help support our readers who are starting their lifelong reading journey.  Because even thought they need support while they start, they still deserve books that have great characters and stories.  Here are some of my favorites.

Wolfsnail: A Backyard Predator
Wolfsnail: A Backyard Predator
by Sarah C. Campbell
There's a reason why this won a Geisel Honor.  This book is so disgusting, it's great!  Gross, but you can't tear your eyes away from the photographs, are sure to bring the readers to the book, but with the quick text, it will help readers feel supported.  I promise they'll keep coming back to this book!

Dolphins (Seedlings)     Diggers     
"Seedling" series
various authors
This is a fantastic series for those starting their reading journey.  Beautiful and eye appealing photos (as opposed to the first book!) and text filled with sight words and large font.  There are many books published about animals and they also have a series on transportation and construction.

See Me Run
See Me Run
by Paul Meisel
This is a book I've actually had to replace in my classroom library because the first copy fell apart after being loved so much.  Kids love dogs and they love silly stories.  The companion book, See Me Dig, is pretty funny too!

The Watermelon Seed
The Watermelon Seed
by Greg Pizzoli
Pizzoli is a master at creating lovable characters who have a problem that readers can relate to - who hasn't worried about eating a seed and wondering if something is going to grow inside of them?

I Used to Be Afraid
I Used to Be Afraid 
by Laura Vaccaro Seeger
Check out all the books by her - short on text, big on expressive illustrations!

by Jeff Mack
Another book that is short on text and big on illustrations.  I love how Mack is always able to convey a tough problem that is so relatable to kids in his books.

Is That Wise, Pig?
Is That Wise, Pig?
by Jan Thomas
It's funny, you know the ending is coming and it's great when it happens!

Who Hops?
Who Hops? 
by Katie Davis
Bordering on the ridiculous, having fun, and learning a little bit of nonfiction information while you read.

Andy & Sandy and the First Snow
Andy and Sandy and the First Snow
by Tomie de Paola and Jim Lewis
Easy reader new series, some of them are about common experiences.

A final resource to leave with you is the new Guessing Geisel blog.  Every week they spotlight a new book/series or give tips about books that are great for #road2reading learners.  Take a look at the blog here.

Don't miss Alyson Beecher's post about a great collection of early readers from publisher Holiday House.  Visit her post here.

Do you have any favorite early readers?  Share titles and series in the comments so we can learn about other great books for our collections.
Better yet, do you have a blog post or a list of early readers on Goodreads?  Link up with us! The more titles we have at our disposal, the better for our readers!


  1. Shelley Moore Thomas's Good Night, Good Knight! is an excellent early reader series.

    1. Thanks for the suggestion, I added them to my list to check out!

  2. Happy coincidence, today's Shelf Awareness is a cornucopia of early readers: http://www.readytoread.com
    Such an important point about labeling, Michelle.