What are the goals of our Community Reading Resource Library?
I’ve been so thankful to use the Highland Park Community Center Library over these past few months and now I’ve decided to transform it into a space we can all use: a community accessible Reading Resource Library. But exactly is a Reading Resource Library and why do we need one? Here’s a FAQ sheet.
1. What is a Reading Resource Library (RRL)?
A RRL is a community space filled with leveled books, games and activities for students to access as a way to develop and enhance their reading skills. Our goal is to fill this space with engaging materials and books so that kids will WANT to play and read. Kids and families will be able to check these resources out and use them at home. The summer slide is real (and so is winter break slide) and we want to encourage kids to practice reading in a variety of multisensory ways over these long breaks.
2. Why are we creating this as a community resource?
Because we love Highland Park, of course!! And because only 58% of our HP students are meeting state reading standards. We want to encourage reading and literacy not only for our Raising Hands students but for all our neighbors in Highland Park. As a friend once shared with me, “only once we bring people together in shared time and space can transformations happen.”
3. What are leveled books?
Public school teachers use a formal leveling system to determine each child’s corresponding lettered reading level (typically A to Z). For example, if your child is on a reading level M, they should be able to read M leveled books with relative ease. The teacher tracks progress and growth by re-leveling your child throughout the year. One common program used by the public school system is Fountas and Pinnell, a system of reading levels developed by Irene Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell to support their guided reading method. Our form of systematic tutoring, Orton Gillingham, does not use guided reading or provide “reading levels.” Instead we provide decodable readers which are texts that contain only word patterns that a student has been explicitly taught. At the same time, we understand the importance of providing a variety of engaging books to our students (such as Harry Potter and Junie B. Jones) so we encourage our students to read decodable readers and leveled readers.
4. Why do students need access to leveled books?
I often have parents approach me and ask, “how do I know what type of books to get for my child?” The goal of the RRL is to take away this element of guessing for parents. If you know your child’s reading level (ask your teacher), you can then visit our RRL and check out books that are pre-leveled using a color-coded leveling system. This way, you know the books are on your child’s level and you can even see what books they should be reading the next level up. While its great reading practice for your kids to read books that are too easy and good exposure to browse through books slightly more challenging, you don’t want your child to get bored or frustrated. This is why we encourage children to try books that are on or around their reading level.
5. What if my child is resistant to reading?
That’s why we’ll have access to games and activities as well. There are tons of engaging ways to practice reading that doesn’t involve books! How about a game of war or hangman or even Jenga? We’ll have educational versions of these games and we can show you how to play them.
6. Why not just go to the library?
The library can be overwhelming for new and struggling readers. Often times kids just go with the first book they see or choose a book that they think they should be reading rather than a book that is a better fit for them. The library also does not level their books. If a student wants to find a book on their level, they need to know the title before visiting the library or use a leveling database. Just yesterday while dropping off books at our local thrift shop, I met a fellow tutor. She was looking for books for her new student. I told her about our new RRL and now we may have our first patron. We hope to not only serve the kids and young adults of our community but also our educators!