I've just finished Reading Ladders by Teri Lesesne known here on livejournal as professornana . I purchased this book when it came out earlier this spring since I follow Teri here and also on twitter. I love reading her reviews of books, and I know, from reading her previous books, that we share similar views on the importance of giving kids the time and space to read during their school days. I finally got around to starting the book because it is the subject of the latest book club on the English Companion Ning. (If you are not already a member, come join us! It's some of the best professional development you'll find.) This book turned out to be a great first-professional-book-of-the-summer.
Reading Ladders did not disappoint. While there was not a lot of information in this book that was new to me, it did give me more ammunition to use when people ask why I give up "valuable classtime" to let kids read. For a teacher who is considering moving toward a workshop approach in her reading class or a new teacher just starting her career, this book offers some great advice for building and maintaining a classroom library, rationale for student-chosen reading in school.
The real thinking for me happened when Teri began discussing her concept of reading ladders and how to build them. These chapters really had me considering how and why I recommend books to kids in my classroom. When students ask me to recommend a book for them, I usually ask, "What are you in the mood for?" as we wander over to my bookcases. I know the books my students have read, because they write to me each week about their books. However, I don't always try to move students to a more complex or more challenging book. Teri's reading ladders do just that - they take readers where they are and purposely and thoughtfully move them forward. This is something I need to think more about as I plow through my huge to-be-read pile of YA books. With over 800 books in my classroom library, I have hundreds of ladders just waiting to be built.
Thank you, Teri, for your unwavering campaign to get kids the time and space they need to read and unfettered access to quality YA literature. With the move in education toward scripted programs that drill and drill, we need voices like yours (and Kelly's, and Jim's, and Donalyn's, and Nancie's) out there to speak out for what's best for kids!