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Early Release in Action: Week 3 Professional Development - Book Ladders

It can be a challenge for a teacher to get a reluctant reader excited about reading. On a Wednesday in October, Reading Intervention Teacher Danielle Scribner shared with other teachers how book ladders have made a difference for many of her students.

What is a book ladder? It's a small collection of books on the same topic or theme, arranged by level. The student chooses a high-interest topic and starts at a level below their comfort level. This boosts their reading confidence. As the student moves through levels of text complexity, they are building a ladder to the next book or the next goal. For example, if a student is really interested in baseball, their book ladder would contain books with varying degrees of difficulty on baseball. They would work through all of the books until they reach their "goal book."

Kinnaman has 50 different book ladders on a variety of topics. Teachers can check out each book ladder set. They only give the student one book at a time. When the student is comfortable reading the book, it goes in their book box and they move on to the next text. This allows the student to revisit that book any time during their book ladder.

The teachers participating in the professional development asked questions about how to start a book ladder library, funding, sources for finding books on certain subjects and how to determine reading levels of texts.

Scribner says book ladders are ideal for struggling readers, reluctant readers or kids who just aren't motivated to read.