Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Reading Ladders by Teri Lesesne

I first met Teri at the very first Middle Mosaic in Nashville, first time. She was presenting at a round table and had an impressive list of YA books that would appeal to struggling readers. She is now the blog I read religiously (aka DAILY) and her books are no different. Her newest book is Reading Ladders: Leading Students From Where They Are to Where We'd Like Them To Be, (Heinemann, 2010). I have to confess, I've already read it twice and not just because she is gracious enough to chair our sessions at NCTE when we bumble through our own booktalks, not nearly as eloquently as she does. And, not because she was generous enough to put up her own money to get us the LCD player we had ordered but never showed up (Philly, 2009). And, not just because she is the Goddess of YA Literature. Teri is an amazing woman as well as professor and reader. So, without further ado: Reading Ladders.

Lesesne rightly begins her book with REASONS for giving students time to read in class as well as ways to build lifelong readers. I love how she later connects Laurie Halse Anderson's WFMAD to her suggestion of RFMAD- Reading Fifteen Minutes A Day in order to get ourselves familiar with YA lit. Of course, if you've read recent entries, I seem to stay up into the wee hours if I want to finish the YA book I'm reading.

Reading Ladders are ways to scaffold reading experiences for students that build up to the "classics" that some high schools are requiring in our age of never ending testing. In the book's forward, Jim Blasingame rightly notes that if a student is required to read Lord of the Flies in 9th grade, but the last book he/she read is Harry Potter, the gap is large and the student may have a difficult time bringing the needed reading skills to the table. These ladders are a genius way to help students build the reading skills necessary for the higher level tasks later in schooling.

My favorite part of the book is that Lesesne incorporates so many different genres of books in her ladders. She uses picture books as well as graphic novels and audiobooks (one of my favorites!) I will be suggesting this book to colleagues when I present on blogging, Google Reader set-up and YA lit in a few weeks. I am excited because two people have already emailed me telling me how excited they are that this is part of PD this year!

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