Monday, October 22, 2012

Testing Conundrum

I was recently asked about a common testing conundrum. It's also a reading conundrum. What does a kid read when his ability level is high, but his grade level is much lower? Say he's a sixth grade boy with the ability to read Catcher in the Rye, but really, does he want to? Do we want him to?  Let's make it even worse. There has to be a test!! What's a guy to read? Fortunately, with a little guidance, it's not quite as bad as it used to be. Publishers have seen the need and authors are prolifically churning out series titles to curb your every testing need.

As a librarian, I would encourage you to ask questions before you answer that question. What genre does he like to read? Favorite author? Favorite book? You can waste a lot of time making suggestions by going down the wrong path. Take a moment to do a little inventory questioning before you rattle off the best authors/series.

Suppose he likes adventure/mystery. He could try:

Patrick Carmen
John Feinstein
Magaret Haddix
Will Hobbs
Dorothy Hoobler
Anthony Horowitz
Kenneth Oppel
James Patterson
Rick Yancey

Maybe he likes fantasy:
DJ MacHale
Terry Pratchett
Rick Riordan
Jonathan Stroud
Neal Shusterman

How about nonfiction?
Marc Aronson
Candace Fleming
Russell Freedman
Kathleen Krull

You'll note that none of these belong to the "Dead White Writers' Club." In fact, there are even a few women on the list.

In addition, there are online sites to help you in the selection process. Unfortunately, your school may not have the test. (which is another problem all together) You can go to AR BookFinder and use the advanced feature to select an appropriate book. Enter your interest level, ATOS level, choose a genre, a language, and narrow it down with additional factors to browse through potential titles. Parents, teachers, and librarians will appreciate the "warnings" of sex or language that appear in the short descriptions.

Check with your school or public library and look for a product called What Do I Read Next? (a Gale product) And certainly check out Jon Scieszka's Guys Read site. If your guy isn't sure what he wants to read or which authors he might like, check out the new series, Guys Read. Each of the projected 10 volume series will cover a different genre. It's a great way for guys to test the water to see which author's they like. Each book is full of the best in people (not just guys) who write for guys in a short story format.

How about you? What do you do when you get into the Testing Conundrum?