George Lucas Educational Foundation

How to label AR books

How to label AR books

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I'm beginning my first job as an LMS, and it just so happens to be in a brand new school (I feel very lucky!). While the newness is quite exciting, it also means there are lots of decisions to be made. One of them I'm struggling with right now is how to label the books which are Accelerated Reader. My big internal debate is how do I balance the need for these books to be easily located by the students (i.e. I need a level 3 book, so I'll grab a book marked with a green sticker) vs. the desire to give the students some privacy in their reading levels (i.e. I'm in 5th grade, but I need a level 3 book). My gut feeling is to simply mark all AR books the same way with levels being indicated on the sticker inside the book (and of course on the OPAC), but I worry this doesn't make the library "shopper" friendly. Any thoughts or suggestions?

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Debbie Jo's picture
Debbie Jo
School Librarian - RUSD

This is a dilemma! I am thankful that neither of my elementary schools uses AR. Our local public library does not label for AR or lexile levels -so I have an ally with them.
There were some teachers that wanted "easy readers" labeled. I felt - just as you do - that being an older student reading an "easy reader" would not help struggling or reluctant readers. I found spine labels that say "Awesome Reader" and use them at both schools. So it provides a guide of sorts - and students or teachers will have to look inside the books to see if they fit. If a teacher insists students must check out a book they can read I always make sure kids know they can select another book (or two) because they want to. So it's often about compromise and I do try to select "readers" that kids will enjoy.
Are there other school librarians in your district you could talk to about this? Is there already a standard way of labeling books?
I like your idea to put the levels inside the books if you have to indicate a level.
Best of luck in your new position - how wonderful to be in a new school!

Ash's picture

I opened a brand new building last year, and I had the same thoughts. I ended up just doing AR stickers on the inside of the books with the level, the quiz #, and the points. Students quickly pick up on where to look for AR. I personally wouldn't have any stickers on the outside that could give lower levels away. The students will also quickly pick up on the fact that ones with the smiley stickers or whatever are lower level books. If you want an easy way for students to find lower level books, I recommend using the AR Book Guide, where you can print off lists of books from your catalog according to the level, which kids can then use to look for books. If you can't purchase the AR Book Guide, then you may want to compile a list on your own. Generally, the kids just use the catalog or AR Book Finder to find the right level book. I also put a lot of books on top the shelves (mixed levels) for students to easily grab and look at AR levels. Good luck at your new building! It's really nice to start a building off the way you want it. :)

Deven Black's picture
Deven Black
Middle school teacher-librarian in the Bronx, NY

I just took over a library that was run by the same woman for 56 years. She labeled and segregated books she considered to be "easy readers," often just because they had illustrations. I want to changed the labels to not reflect ER and integrate them onto the general fiction shelves. Sometimes even advanced readers like to look at a picture book, I know I do.

Rebecca Meeks's picture
Rebecca Meeks
School Media Specialist

I understand your concern. Labels make me uncomfortable. I suppose a compromise might be to label with the AR blue sticker on the spine. On the inside, simply attach a label with information you deem pertinent to your patrons, such as reading level, point value, quiz number, title of book. If you decide to set up a simple dot color system, may I suggest using a modified rainbow code: ROYGBW. R=red (0.0-1.9); O=orange (2.0-2.9); Y=yellow (3.0-3.9); G= green (4.0-4.9); W=white (5.0 and up). Our teachers appreciate the system. The colored dot is placed inside the book cover next to the label, so that the youngest of readers can easily spot it. It is more work for you. The teachers are pressured to get the children in and out of the library fast, so as to have more time to teach. Gone are the days of casual browsing! Hope this helps you. Have used this system for about 14 years now.

LeeAnna Mills's picture

I too opposed labels on the outside. I printed the stickers that have reading level, quiz # and points inside the books. AR is denoted in my OPAC Destiny as well. So far this has worked well for my school.

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