Friday, May 17, 2013

New EC and MG Sections in the Media Center

I've been playing around with the idea of creating an Easy Chapter Book section and a Middle Grade section for awhile. I thought creating these sections might help solve three problems:

1)  Students who are in older grades who need shorter chapter books to read will know exactly what section to go to in order to find these types of books.
2)  Younger students who REALLY want to read chapter books can find chapter books that are appropriate for their age level.
3)  Younger students won't be drawn to books that are really not age appropriate for them, even though they may have a high reading level.

I started off by creating just the Easy chapter book section to see how it would go.  It was a big hit.  Even the older students were going to that section to find chapter books.  At first I had only a couple of shelves, but by the end of the year, I had a whole aisle, 4 shelves of books for the Easy Chapter Book section.  To make it easy to find books, I even labeled books in a series.

Many of the upper grade teachers require their students to only read chapter books, but slower readers tend to shy away from them, so the shorter chapter books are a perfect fit for them.  Books in this section range from second grade level up to fifth grade level with most being around 50-60 pages and none going over 150 pages.  The longer books have larger print, so really aren't as long as they seem.

I was afraid that the "Easy" label might negate solution #1, so I will be calling the Easy section the Everybody section next year, which means EC will stand for Everybody Chapter books.

I am really excited about the change, but it does mean that I had to relabel some books from FIC to EC and from FIC to MG.

It took a while, but I think in the long run, it will be worth it. I labeled all the "new" MG books with a neon green spine label to make them easy to spot and easy to shelf.

Now the MG books can even be easily found in the Wildcat Favorites section.  This should help solve any problems volunteers might have with checking out appropriate level books for younger grades.  (You can read more about the Wildcat Favorites section here.)

I will still be keeping the fiction section to house fiction books that are longer, but would be appropriate for any age student to read, if it fits their reading ability and interest.  The MG label will apply to chapter books that have an interest level of 5th grade and up, although the reading level of the book might be lower.

We'll see how it goes, but I am very hopeful and very excited about this change and I think the kids will be, too.

Do you have any special sections in your Media Center?


  1. Hi Jo,
    I have been struggling with this concept since I started at my new school- someone "leveled" the chapter books but didn't use any rhyme or reason- so for example I have come across the same title in all 3 sections! I do see value in separating fiction in the way you do but I am stuck on what criteria to use to determine what goes where. I think with content for older kids that somewhat easier but with the middle and lower I want to have a clear rule as to what goes where and that is the piece I am struggling with- should I use the range set on the vendor I use? Should I follow Fountas and Pinnell for the lower levels(we use F &P at my school)? Is it just eyeballing the white space etc? How are you deciding what goes where?

    1. It did take me some time to figure out the process. In fact, I moved books in and out of the Easy Chapter book section all last year until I decided to create the Middle Grade section. What I did first was I looked at the length and print of the book and if I was unfamiliar with the book, I read the description. I also used our online catalog to look at the interest level, not just the reading level. We use Destiny and it's pretty good about having that information. Based on those things, I placed the books in the most appropriate section. Chapter books that are more juvenile in content, but are longer, I still kept in the fiction section, but if they are shorter I have them in the Everybody Chapter books. I try to keep in mind, "should a first or second grader be reading this book?" before I move it to the Everybody Chapter book section. I'll work on a series list of Easy Chapter books and post it soon to give you an idea of what I have put in that section. Good luck!

  2. I would love to see the list of Everybody Chapter books in your section. I am going to do this in my library when I return next week. Thank you for your inspiration!

    1. I am not back a school for a few more weeks, but I will make a note to make a list of those books when I get back. I actually meant to write a post about it before now. This was a good reminder. Thanks for reading and commenting. =)