Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Can we all get on the same page, please?

On September 8, I received an email from Toon Books announcing its upcoming partnership with Candlewick Press.

TOON Books Partners with
Candlewick Press

I read it with mixed emotions.  Two great publishers joining together.  That’s good, right?   But I was (am) a bit apprehensive that Toon might be overshadowed by its new owner.  And why my concern for Toon Books?  Well, because they’re so darned good at easy readers.  I attended a graphic novel webinar which included comments and booktalks from Toon’s director, Fran├žoise Mouly.  As you know if  read my blog regularly, I am often frustrated by the nonconformity of easy reader leveling “systems.”  I questioned Ms. Mouly about the readability levels of Toon Books. She contacted me after the webinar with complete, thorough, and accurate information about Toon’s graphic easy readers.

The “mystery" book
Can you guess its reading level?
Just take a look at how Toon books differentiates their easy reading graphic titles.
Like many beginning reader series, they’re divided into three levels.  But here’s the difference - we’re not left to wonder what criteria was used to derive those levels.  Surprise, surprise!  Toon Books tells us! Each book has a listed Lexile Level, Guided Reading Level, and Reading Recovery Level.  Now I’m not a teacher, so I don’t specifically need those items, but surely all librarians can appreciate having the tools needed to appropriately shelve, catalog, and recommend our easy reader collections!  This is how it should be done, folks!

A visit to Toon in the Classroom  features teachers’ resources, online books, cartoon makers, reader’s theatre, book lists.  What more can you ask for? There are other publishers who get it right (Peachtree’s reading levels are also readily available), but it’s the exception rather than the rule.

Let’s hope Candlewick follows the tune of Toon Books and begins a movement to make this basic (and much appreciated information) an industry standard in beginning readers.  Kudos to Fran├žoise Mouly for leading the way.

If you agree with me, please, leave a comment, start a discussion on your own blog, send an email to someone, tweet, digg, whatever.  But this, I think, is a conversation that we should have.

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