Choosing Literature For your Classroom

The classroom teacher I am currently working with at my practicum school challenged me to choose a big book and plan a lesson around it. Eager to embrace the challenge, I readily accepted and being the bookworm that I am, I had a million different ideas in my head. However when I tried to plan my lesson I found that many of these ideas were completely inappropriate to use with a stage one, year one class. I must have read twenty different books without being able to make a decision, so I decided to find out how to level literature.

Fountas and Pinnell (1999) argue that texts need to be levelled in terms of their complexity and difficulty. In classrooms today, you will find what are called levelled readers. levelled readers are books specifically written for specific levels of difficulty and complexity. At the beginning of each school year students are tested and matched with readers that meet their current level of ability. Students are then able to progress as their level of reading proficiency increases. However other literacy experts (Stoove 2007) will argue that these levelled readers do not meet the criteria of children's literature.

Unfortunately children's literature is not levelled at all and so it can be difficult for teachers to gauge a book's level of difficulty. Thanks to Fellowes and Oakley (2010), here a few guidelines teachers can follow in order to select appropriate literature for their classrooms:

Search for texts that have; cumulative structures and predictable parts- students can make connections between the oral sound of a word and its written form as they can predict what will happen next thanks to repetition and, texts that use rhythm and rhyme

In order to develop comprehension it is important to select texts where students are able to make connections between what they are reading and their prior knowledge. It is also important that the text is matched to the readers interests. Consider the following:

How familiar are the students' to the content of the text?

What is the students' prior knowledge?

What is the structure of the text?

Will the text be of interest to the students?

Is the vocabulary and complexity appropriate for the students?

Is the length of the text appropriate for the activity?

Fortunately with the swing towards literature in the Australian National English Curriculum there are a online resources being established for the purpose of levelling literature. Lexiles are graded numbers given to books so that teachers can easily select texts appropriate for their grade level. Check out !

Teachers need to take care when selecting texts for their students. I followed these guidelines and came across a fantastic book called 'Inside a Barn In the Country' by Alyssa Satin Capucilli. It met all the criteria that was suggested by Fellowes and Oakley (2010) and it was relevant to the students own farm like animals on their properties. In one word: SUCCESS!


Fellowes, J. & Oakley, G. (2010). Language, literacy and early childhood education. South Melbourne: Oxford University Press

Fountas, I. C. & Pinnell, G. S. (1996). Guided reading: Good first teaching for all children. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann

Stoove, T. (2007). Levelling the reader, levelling the book. Synergy, 5(1), 32-34.

No comments:

Post a Comment