As part of a Stanford alumni day of service, I spent Saturday at an elementary school library helping to mark books with the Accelerated Reader grade level, quiz number and points awarded for doing well on the quiz. The school has quite a few books, most of which have an associated quiz in the AR computer. Kids enjoy earning points so much they sometimes choose high-point books they’re not all that interested in, the librarian told us.
My partner and I coded lots of sports books, lots of Beverly Cleary and Roald Dahl and some Artemis Fowl. Sometimes the reading level or the points seemed odd: Barbara Cohen’s Passover story, Carp in the Bathtub, was only one point, while similar books were three or four points. (Thirteen was the highest we handled in the C and D authors.)
Both of us questioned whether Sandra Cisneros’ House on Mango Street, which includes a sexual assault on a young girl, belongs in an elementary library. (AR marks it as upper-grade reading with a surprisingly low reading level.) The librarian said she’d take a closer look at the book, which had been donated.
It was fun. I love children’s books.