As teachers, we must take care what we tell parents about lexile measures. Lexiles seem like an easy answer when choosing reading material, but these measures are a quantitative measure only and do not take into account text complexity, content, themes, literary quality, or whether or not the material is appropriate for the maturity and values of the child.
Lexiles are sometimes valuable for choosing guided reading and for specific reading instruction. For individual leisure reading, students should have the freedom to choose what they enjoy. If they love reading, their fluency and comprehension will improve with practice, and they won’t practice if they hate books. The data in To Read or Not to Read (2007) says that more people can read but don’t than people who can’t read at all.
Stephen Krashen has made a career of studying reading research, and his conclusion is that it doesn’t matter what kids read as long as they do read. (Krashen. The Power of Reading. 2004)
A Complete Reader must be proficient in phonetics, fluency, comprehension, semantics, and syntax, yes, but the interest, attitude, motivation, and engagement must underlie the technicalities. (Mayne, 1915; cited in Igniting a Passion for Reading: Successful Strategies for Building Lifetime Readers by Steven Layne) “It should be the teacher’s aim to give every child a love of reading, a hunger for it that will stay with him through all the years of his life.”
Choosing books by lexile measures alone changes students’ priorities so the only thing that matters is the reading level. This cuts the soul right out of literacy and what it means to be a literate person.
I join Juanita in applauding the "young ladies" in our outstanding profession!
Yesterday afternoon I spent an hour at Iseley Elementary in Belle Aire (north of Wichita) celebrating the Wm. Allen White Awards program with children at the request of Iseley's librarian Nicole Thomsen. Nicole had organized the hour as well as she'd organized her new library, and I was especially impressed with the obvious instruction which was occuring in the beautiful new space with the help of her fellow librarian Andrea Brainard.
As I drove home, I reflected on the future of school librarianship. Young ladies like Nicole and Andrea as well as our 2012 Advocacy winners give me hope--and make me proud. I'm also proud of the role we "oldies" and KASL can play in supporting our younger counterparts. (Keep up the good work, "oldies"--I see plenty of great work in your libraries too!)
Two cereal box books have been voted best of the state in the KASL Advocacy Project. The boxes are on display at the Kansas State Library in Topeka. Winners are: Jasmine Bates/Lydia Miller of Sterling Grade School and Odalys Escobedo of Ingalls Grade School.
The winner of the bookmark contest is Tiffany Logan, El Dorado Middle School-her slogan was "Reading points me in the right direction"
Congratulations to these four young ladies.
Juanita Jameson KASL Immediate Past President H Good Middle School Library 1412 N. Main Garden City, KS
It takes guts to stand in front of an audience of school librarians and tell them you hated books as a child. But that's the way Bruce Hale felt growing up.
"I thought books were boring," he said.
So how did Hale turn out to be a bestselling children's book author with more than 25 published books to his credit? It's there in the title of his keynote speech: "Dream Big: How the Right Books (and Right Librarians) Turned a Reluctant Reader into an Author."
"When I started working on my dream of being an author, I knew it helped to have a home to support that," said Hale, who was raised just outside of Los Angeles. "And for me that was the public library."
Hale, who lives in Santa Barbara, Calif., was the guest speaker Thursday at the Kansas Association of School Librarians statewide conference at the Salina Bicentennial Center.
The conference, which continues today, brought together about 180 elementary, middle and high school librarians from throughout Kansas to attend seminars and workshops dealing with library-oriented subjects ranging from new technology to programming ideas.
"They're given professional development they won't get in their own schools," said Gwen Lehman, president of the Kansas Association of School Librarians. "It's a good opportunity for them to connect with other librarians from around the state, ask questions and see how things work in other districts."
The librarians are joined by members of the Kansas Association for Educational Communications and Technology and the Kansas State Department of Education for the joint conference.
'My best friend was the TV'
Hale writes and illustrates books for young readers that range from picture books to a book series featuring a lizard-like detective called Chet Gecko.
As a small child, Hale said his imagination initially was fed not by books but by television.
"My best friend was the TV," he said.
Hale said that after watching a pirate show, he wanted to be a pirate. That is, until he found he would have to set sail on the ocean and risk seasickness. Then, after watching a western with Clint Eastwood, he decided to be a cowboy.
"But my parents refused to buy me a horse," he said.
Then he saw Kirk Douglas play a dashing gladiator in "Spartacus" and decided the gladiatorial ring was his destiny. When Hale's dad said he might have to fight wild tigers and lions, Hale reconsidered his career path once again.
'Tarzan of the Apes'
Then Hale discovered a book his dad was reading: "Tarzan of the Apes." The classic story of the English nobleman who was raised by apes and became king of the jungle instantly captured Hale's imagination.
"I've said that all it takes to make a reader is the right book at the right time," he said. "The book 'Tarzan' turned me into a reader. Then my dad told me the book was written by Edgar Rice Burroughs. I never knew a real man wrote that book, I thought it came out of a machine.
"After I found that Burroughs had created 'Tarzan' from his imagination, I decided being an author would be a cool job."
Those great librarians
That led Hale to his nearby public library, which, he said, was an old 1920s building that inside smelled like old leather.
"Those great librarians guided me to other books that had a similar adventurous feel as 'Tarzan,' " he said.
From then on, Hale said, libraries and librarians always have had a significant place in his heart.
"Not only do I still use the library, I travel to a lot of libraries to speak," he said. "Authors and librarians are like best buds, because we support each other's work."
-- Reporter Gary Demuth can be reached at 822-1405 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.