Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Beyond Leveled Books - Second Edition

I received a lovely surprise this past Saturday on my way to our Columbus blogger get-together. I received the second edition of Karen Szymusiak and Franki Sibberson's Beyond Leveled Books: Supporting Early and Transitional Readers in Grades K - 5.

The first edition of Beyond Leveled Books came out in 2001; it hardly seems possible that 7 years have gone by! At the time I read their first book, I was enthralled with what Karen and Franki had to say about how important it is to support transitional readers by matching them with good books. And, believe or not, the second edition is jam-packed with even more ideas and suggestions about how to do this same thing!!

I spent several hours poring over the format of Beyond Leveled Books (Second Edition). The introduction to this book will knock your socks off. It is titled, "My Son Clark Kent", by Lisa Koch (also a contributing author for the second edition of Beyond Leveled Books). I first read this article on the Choice Literacy website. I believe this piece about Koch's son, Alec, is a must read for every reading teacher in the world!! Just as important, it is the perfect introduction for the theme of this book -- let's look at more than just leveled books when we're trying to match a reader with a book. Let's get to know our readers as more than just a level number or letter.

Another great addition to this edition are the guest author pieces. Karen, Franki, and Lisa have included articles within each chapter to support their thinking. These articles are written by people who know what they are talking about when it comes to children's literature -- Diane DeFord, Andria Klein, Lynn Salem, Josie Stewart, Katie DiCesare, Larry Swartz, Kathy Collins, Loren Long, Mary Lee Hahn, and Shari Frost. These articles flow so well with the topic already being discussed in the chapter. For example, in chapter 3, "Understanding Transitional Readers", there is an article written by Larry Swartz titled "Is There Life After Captain Underpants? Fiction for Transitional Boy Readers".

If you are a fan of the appendixes that have been included in other books by Franki and Karen, you will not be disappointed. The appendix in the latest Beyond Leveled Books is full of the latest forms these ladies have found work best with children.

The cover is even delightful -- it shows the black and white photo from the first edition at the top, and then at the bottom is a colored photo of three children enjoying a Scaredy Squirrel book. There's a certain symmetry to all of it.

I've been a big fan of Franki and Karen for years. I am fortunate to be able to call them colleagues and friends. What they have done for children's literacy in the past 7 years with the books they have published is just amazing. Their latest edition of Beyond Leveled Books (along with Lisa Koch) should belong to all teachers of reading.

Put Beyond Leveled Readers on your "to buy" list -- it is due out October 17, 2008.


  1. Ooo, you have piqued my interest. I really enjoyed the first edition!

  2. I can't wait for my copy to arrive in the mail! I loved the first edition so I am looking forward to reading this one!
    On a different note, one chapter book did you end up choosing to read aloud to your students?

  3. Hi Melanie,
    This book will be worth the wait!

    As far as read aloud -- I started with No Talking and it was a huge success - we tried all the contests ourselves as class. Very fun stuff!
    We are currently about 1/3 of the way through City of Ember, and it's starting to really pique their interest. I probably won't finish before the movie comes out Oct. 10, but I'll have a lot read.

    Hope that helps!

  4. Great has been on my mind to do the same. I will be linking to you when I am ready. Missed seeing you Sat!

  5. What a great write up-I can hardly wait to get my hands on it!