professornana (professornana) wrote,

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Making the Match: Knowing the Kids

The first book I wrote (and I need to state here that I still get a weird feeling when I say or write these words: I wrote a book! and then I wrote more?) is now 12 years old, a preteen, if you will. MAKING THE MATCH: THE RIGHT BOOK FOR THE RIGHT READER AT THE RIGHT TIME (Stenhouse, 2003)is still meaningful despite the fact that the myriad of booklists in the appendices. In the book I talk about 3 areas we need to have skills. #1: we need to know the kids; #2 we need to know the books; #3 we need to know strategies to connect kids and books.

A recent article discusses how to "make the match" more effectively. Here is the link to that article:

Tip #1: Get to Know the Student. The more I know about a student’s background, her likes and interests, and what she has already read, the more I can help steer her towards good book choices. Research shows that students want guidance when choosing a book, so, of course always let students choose, but selecting three or four book to offer up for them to peruse and decide from is a suggested approach.

I would add more, of course. After all, this was the subject for a third of the book I wrote all those years ago. Donalyn Miller and Penny Kittle have added to this topic as well. If you have not read BOOK LOVE, READING IN THE WILD, THE BOOK WHISPERER, please remedy that situation. Knowing the kids and their needs and interests and preferences will always be essential. And it will always be something that changes and grows as kids change and grow. Needs and interests and preferences differ from grade to grade, class to class and even kid to kid. Now that we are back from winter break, it is important to check once again with those kids who left us before Christmas. What new interests, preferences, needs do they have? What did they read over the break? What do they think they might want next? Developing that classroom library collection is a year round task.

This admonition to know the kid is and should be central to all we do. It is what, I think, reformists miss. They do not know child, tween, and teen development. They do not know Piaget, Maslow, Kohlberg, Havighurst, Ericson, and others. If reformists DID understand development, they would understand the false promise of standards that all must meet at the same time (grade level) and in the same way (testing is the chief assessment in almost all places that are focused on CCSS). Those of us with kids understand how crazy we were when the first child failed to hit the milestones that books on parenting declared. Speech delayed? Not walking? Yikes! Of course, we soon learned that not all kids were privy to Dr. Spock's charts. Some kids are verbal earlier. Some kids walk later.

Levels and Lexiles operate in the same way. Anything that narrows CHOICE is something we should think about seriously.
Tags: knowing readers, making the match
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