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    1.  If you  go through your collection and mark all the books that 2nd 
graders shouldn't  take, you are setting yourself up to have them do just that. 
I can't believe  someone would suggest - or actually do - that!
    1.  I was in a K-8 parochial school and the library was so physically 
small I  
couldn't have a separate "YA" section so it wasn't all that unusual for a  
2nd grader to come up with something that was probably too mature ( I  
remember particularly Philbrick's The Fire Pony having a cover that just  
seemed to cause the book to leap into the hands of 2nd grade boys).   If I 
saw it I would advise the child that the book was not written for 2nd  
graders but for the upper grades and would ask if their parents would care  
if they read books like that.  If they said no, I'd say with a smile  - 
great - but if your parent calls to complain about it I'll tell them you  
"lied."  If they knew their parents wouldn't really like it I'd get a  
sheepish smile and they'd put the book back but actually that didn't  happen 
often and the only complaint I ever got was once when a 2nd or 3rd  grade 
child checked out a middle-school book that I didn't see and when I  
explained the physical situation to the parent and that the book was not  
intended for a child her daughter's age and that I was sorry she was  unhappy 
her daughter had checked it out but that it was appropriate for  our older 
students that was all I heard.  I also told the kids that  it was okay to 
read it now but they might not understand everything and  that they might 
want to remember to read it again when they were  older.   I've always had a 
theory, based on my own personal  experience as a reader, that if the child 
already understands the content  (whether it's the situation or words like 
"scrotum" or in my case  "homosexual") then what's the difference if they 
read about it and if they  don't they'll do one of 3 things.  They'll either 
ask their  parent/teacher (hopefully not another kid) about it which should 
be good  for adult/child communication  (no way was I going to do that) or  
they'll try to find it on their own (aren't we supposed to encourage  
inquiry? I tried the dictionary which didn't help) or ignore it (wish I  
could remember the title of the book so I could see if understanding  
"homosexual" would make a difference in my understanding of the  plot)
    1.  You  don't do anything with the books what you do is discuss with the 
children how  to choose a good book and what to do if they choose a book they 
don't feel  comfortable reading after starting it (just close it). How are 
you going to  monitor each child's progression and reading maturity? Are you 
going to label  all the scary books for those who have nightmares?  How do you 
know if  they have nightmares? What I do is after discussing with the younger 
kids how  to choose a good book and the fact that the library has books on all 
things,  including books written for an older child in mind. We then discuss 
what might  be in those books and then I tell the kids that they (and their
parents)  need to decide what types of books they should be reading and what 
to do if  they pick a book that may be too mature for them.  We talk briefly 
about  the fact that everyone has their own individual reading interests and  
different types of books that they like to read.  We also talk about how  some 
people have lots of time to read and may want longer books and some can  only 
fit in short books.  I tell them that the books written for the  older kids 
have people and animals dying in them, a lot of violence sometimes,  
inappropriate language, can be very scary, and can contain stuff  
like............kissing. Yuck!   I also tell them that if they do  happen to choose 
a book like one 
of the above, that I will warn them at  checkout time by saying "You know that 
this book is written for the older  kids--if you want to you may go back and 
choose another book or take this  one."  90% of the kids choose another book-5% 
of the others just return  the book in the book return by the next morning. I 
also tell them that if they  do take it home and don't like it there is no 
rule that says they have to  finish it –unlike their vegetables :)
    1.  I am  attaching the labels you can print out of your AR program--that 
contain the  interest level.  Do you have those labels in your books?  My  
elementary librarian uses them to steer kids to books that are age-appropriate  
for them.  The Interest Levels are associated with grade  level:  k-3 lower 
4-8 middle  9-12  upper   You can find the publisher's  information online.  
This is taken from _www.renlearn.com_ ( :
    1.  I  think any book that you mark brings attention to it somehow.  In  
particular, any label that says "this book is NOT for you" will more than  
likely encourage kids to look at it whereas they otherwise probably would not  
have.  In our library we have a section for "Transitional Readers" --  those 
chapter books that are targeted at second graders (Magic Tree House,  Junie B. 
Jones, A to Z Mysteries, and any other fewer-than-100-pages chapter  books that 
seem appropriate).  Most of our second graders, when selecting  fiction, 
select from this section, as do many of the third graders.   Outside this section, 
third graders are mostly reading what their friends are  suggesting or what 
we're book talking.  I think you're right -- most kids  are quite good at self 
selection.  I've found that for MOST kids, when  they select a book that's too 
mature for them, they tend not to finish reading  it.  Usually if the topic is 
too mature, it's just not that interesting  for them.  Obviously, you'll get 
some requests for Bridge to Teribithia  that you wouldn't have a few months 
ago because of the movie.  I think  you simply have to honor those requests.  
Maybe if a kid that seems  particularly young to you checks it out, you can 
encourage him/her to read it  together with his/her parent.  
    1.  One  thing I did in my "old" library was place "guide lines" in the 
back of books.  This had nothing to do with reading level, but content.  I was 
in a K-8  library.  This is the general rule of thumb I used:

Green lines  for third grade and above

Blue lines for sixth grade and  above

Pink lines for seventh and eighth grade

I also put a red  dot on all non-fiction books appropriate for primary grades.
I told the  students that these were the guidelines and that it was their 
responsibility  to check the books.  I DID NOT check each book as it was checked  
out.  When challenged by a second grade parent it turned out the student  was 
ignoring the guidelines.  It was up to the parent to require students  use 
the lines.  Other parents did not want their children
restricted  in anyway.  I provided guidance, not parenting, in the  library. 
    1.  I  am passing on something that a elementary media person shared with 
me  once...
She had red label protectors on the non fiction books to remind the  kids to 
STOP and think before taking this book. Ask yourself "do you have  someone at 
home who will read it with you?" I think something similar would  work - 
though I wouldn't use red because I think they are hard to see through  for 
shelving, but perhaps yellow? It would be a easy way for you to monitor  and ask as 
the student is checking out.  I am in a MS and have done  something similar 
with what we call the 8th grade books.  These are books  with more mature themes, 
more violence and gore (i.e. almost all the Stephen  King and Anne Rice books 
are there).  Any 8th grader can check them out,  but 6th and 7th graders must 
have a note from home saying they can read  them.  We just make a note on
their patron record and it is painless.  Last year a MS in a neighboring town 
was targeted by a parent watch group  which took book information from one of 
those online book watch sites and  literally went through his catalog filing 
dozen of removal requests.  My  superintendent contacted me and asked what I 
had in place to protect us from a  similar action.  I told him about my 8th 
grade policy and he seemed to  think it a good idea and good safe guard.
    1.  I  taught second grade before I was a librarian. I book talk series I 
like  for them and after the read aloud have  boxes of books for them to 
select from. This is when I can get to it. Saves  the dropped books on the floor.
    1.  This  has been an ongoing discussion in my district for years.  I 
patterned  myself after a good friend in 2003-04 and created a 6th grade only  
collection.  Then I prepared myself with strong statements to help  everyone 
understand.  There are some wonderful children's books that you  will only read 
in the 3-5th grades, so read them instead of Lord of the Rings,  etc. I created 
a circ type for those books, labeled them and created a 6th  grade patron 
that could check out those books.  I explained everything to  everyone and that 
was that for one school year.  However, the next year I  began my national 
board cert process.  I read so much literature about my  profession and so much 
from ALA I changed my mind about access in my library.  So, I took away 
everything except the label.  Now, they are recommended  for 6th grade.  I have 
label to point out to a 2nd grade student or  teacher.  I am respected enough 
that usually that is all it takes.   It's my recommendation as a children's lit 
professional.  Now, I have  more students reading things best for them, and 
only a rare few who read those  high level books.  PS:  these books are not 
labeled because of  reading level.  It is subject matter and content.  I still 
believe  you'll only read Shiloh in elementary school, but you might read so 
many other  YAish books later.  Thanks what I do in OK. 
    2.  I  don't know what your age range is. I have K-8 and this often is a 
challenge  for me. If your students would not be reading anything truly 
inappropriate for  their age I would let them self select. But, I would try to see 
that they had  other more age appropriate books, too. So if they get tired of 
reading the  "big" chapter book they can read another easier one. 
    3.  We  have put circulation notes into our Follett program for a few of 
our  books. It is something about mature language and/or subject matter. It  
shows up when a book is scanned for checkout. It just provides a chance  to 
discuss with the student the appropriateness of his/her choice.   
    4.  I am  in a 6-8 school, but the same principal applies.  I put  a "YA" 
sticker on the books that have a more mature theme. I tell all the  students 
during orientation that the books marked with that sticker are of a  more 
mature nature that they know what their parents expect of them, and then  I let 
them make their own decision. I haven't had a problem so  far. 
    5.  I work  in a Jr. High/High school and have the same situation here.  
I  have
been putting labels that I have prepared, "Contains mature situations  or
bad language," inside the front cover of the book where I stamp the  due
date.  This reminds me when I am checking the books out to point  this out
to the student and ask if this would be ok with their  parent.  Placing the
label inside the cover does not advertise that  there are mature situations
or bad language in the book.  This also  places the responsibility back on
the student and if a parent calls to  complain about what their child is
reading, I inform them that the child  felt this material would be
acceptable to them. 
    6.  I  would LOVE to hear how our fellow LM-Net folks handle this issue
(labeling  - or not, for more mature readers).  I am currently in a k-2 
school, next  year will be combining with 3-5.  I forsee the problem, but like you, 
am  hesitant to prohibit kids from choosing books from the entire  
collection.  I really don't want to have a section that younger kids may  not go 
but may have to. 
    7.  I am adamantly against labeling.  Have you tried teaching a 5 finger
rule and comprehension lesson? You could  stress that it's not enough to
be able to read the words; they must  understand them. Model for the
class by reading a passage from one of those  "enticing" books; ask the
class to explain the passage to you in their own  words. Stress how they
won't do well on an AR test if they're not ready to  understand the
story. You could also provide individual incentives for  those students
who choose books just right for extra AR point,  stickers, etc.
Just some ideas. 
    8.  I use a YA sticker for grades 5th  only material.  I am in a K-5.  
Some books are just not appropriate  for younger children but I feel they are 
needed by about age 10...what do you  think? 
    9.  I'm facing a similar issue.   One of the librarians in or district 
puts a blue sticker on the spine of  mature books.  To check out a "blue 
sticker" book, they either need a  certain reading level or parent/teacher 
(written). Thanks for  posting, you aren't the only one is a similar 
    10. We changed from being a 6-8  school, to being a K-8 this year and 
yes, we label the books that we can  identify.  We put a red "UG" (upper grade) 
on those book spines, and  beside the barcode inside.  We have had 2nd graders 
trying to  check out the Traveling Pants series, for one example. That is just 
not a  series that I would recommend for 2nd graders.  I had a book challenge 
on  it last year from a 6th grade parent.  
    11. We mark mature subjects with a  small red label; only children with a 
signed permission slip from home can  take them out (and only 5th -8th at 
that). I have no qualms about it - if kids  read those books at too young an age, 
they probably won't enjoy or understand  that, nor will they go back and read 
them again later at a more appropriate  age. 
    12. I do not identify books by grade  nor do I level. Early in the school 
year, I do lessons on choosing the "just  right" book. As a group the classes 
and I establish criteria on how to  identify that "just right book." I will 
ask students before they check out  books how the book matches the criteria. I 
don't single out student whom I  feel might be over their heads or under 
shooting their reading level. Usually,  the students who have books that might not 
"fit" will put the book on the cart  and look for something new. However, if 
the student continues to check out the  book, I do not interfere.

Ruie Chehak,  Library Media Specialist
Sallie Jones Elementary School
1230 Narranja  Street
Punta Gorda, FL  33950
"Be who you are  and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter 
and those who matter  don't mind." ~ Dr. Seuss
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