With about 400 books that were previously unleveled now identified by genre and reading level, I was feeling pretty good about the progress in the classroom library. Machine-like, I’ve been able to go through 2 or 3 boxes of books on the white book shelves each morning. Last night, however, as I was checking on the category for all the math-themed books I used to support our math series, I began to have my doubts.
Within Mary Brown’s website is a category I had been ignoring – picture books. Reading over how this website defines a picture book gave me that sinking feeling – had I actually categorized much of this library incorrectly? Were the books I had assigned to other genres really picture books? If the illustrations are as important as the prose, which of “my” books aren’t picture books? As Ms. Brown points out, books can fall into more than one genre category.
I have no clear answer here. For me, at the grade level at which I am teaching, I’d like my readers to grow so that, even with some of the exquisite illustrations found in books (Jan Brett, Trina Schart Hyman, Susan Jeffers, Tomie DePaola, Chris Van Allsburg— too many favorites to name) students are using visualization skills to turn the words in the text to the pictures in their heads. So my executive decision (it’s a classroom’s library after all) is to use the genre identification of Picture Book only when it applies to wordless (or nearly wordless) books. I’m sure there is some basis in library science to disagree, but this makes sense to me.
So with 400 books now in the database and another 10 baskets of leveled books to sort through, I can report progress is being made – slowly.