Last year, I shared with readers Simon Spotlight's Ready-to-Read Science Fun Stuff and History of Fun Stuff series. This year, Simon Spotlight has a new Ready-to-Read series called Living In... Thank you to Chloe Fraboni, Associate Editor with Simon Spotlight (a Simon & Schuster Imprint), I was able to learn more about the series. Chloe took some time to answer a few questions. Her answers are below.
Every early reader series seems to use a slightly different system for leveling books. How does Simon Spotlight decide on a reading level for their books? Do you use lexiles? AR? other?
We work with vetted guidelines for each of our Levels and all of our readers are professionally leveled by a reading/literary specialist and educational consultant. She assigns the books a guided reading level, grade level, and reading recovery equivalent score. From there the books are assigned to a “Ready-to-Read” level between pre-level one and level three (you can find the corresponding guided reading levels on our website: readytoread.com/levels).
Currently, there are two books in the new LIVING IN... series. How many will be in the series? Can we get a peek at the upcoming covers?
We have seven planned so far! Readers can visit Brazil and Italy this spring, followed by China and Mexico in the summer, and then India and South Africa in the fall! We also have Australia planned for spring 2017, but no cover is available yet.
The last page lists various demographics about the country being featured. As a child, I loved demographics. Was there any thought about adding web resources or additional resources for children looking for more information?
We don’t provide web resources because we can’t control where they link out to and therefore can’t ensure that they comply with Children's Online Protection Policy Act (COPPA).
In the Level 2 books, there were limited text features. Do the Level 3 nonfiction readers include more text features? This is a skill teachers are working on with children in the lower grades and I know that I look for whether they are included or not in books.
They do! Our level 3’s include a table of contents, chapters, headings, and (more so for our Science of Fun Stuff books) labeled diagrams and charts. In the backmatter of our level 3’s, we also use subheadings and keywords.
It’s much trickier to include text features in our level 2’s, since these have strict text and even art standards, but we did sneak a few in for the reason you mention above—wanting to introduce these features to kids in the lower grades. You’ll notice in Brazil we have a labeled map, and each of our Living in . . . titles includes a spread about some of the country’s most famous cities, each of which has a corresponding labeled illustration.
Moving forward, each book in the Living in series will also include a glossary on page 2 to cover more complex words (such as region, plateau, etc.) and foreign words (like cities, clothing, traditions, and foods). We’ll be including glossaries starting with China and Mexico this summer.
Thank you Chloe for answering so many questions, and I am excited to share this new series here on Kid Lit Frenzy.
My quick thoughts on the books:
According to the Simon Spotlight...Each book is narrated by a kid growing up in their home country and is filled with fresh, modern illustrations as well as loads of history, geography, and cultural goodies that fit perfectly into Common Core standards. Join kids from all over the world on a globe-trotting adventure with the Living in… series—sure to be a hit with children, parents, educators, and librarians alike!
Living in...Brazil by Chloe Perkins; Illustrated by Tom Woolley (Simon Spotlight, February 2, 2016)
For young readers who are curious about other countries and cultures, this new series provides an introduction by touching upon things that have personal meaning to them. Family, sports, food, and local attractions feature prominently in the books.
Living in...Italy by Chloe Perkins; Illustrated by Tom Woolley (Simon Spotlight, February 2, 2016)
Recently, I was looking for high interest books for second graders who are still building confidence and stamina in their reading. When I read these two books, I was hoping they would enjoy these books as much as I did.
I am looking forward to reading more in this series. Look for Living In....Brazil and Living in...Italy at your local indie bookstore.
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