What to Read? Navigating the Library Like a Pro


It’s summer time and my kids and I are ready to relax and enjoy some good books. Well, honestly, I’m ready to relax and enjoy some good books. They are ready to complete their 20 minutes of daily reading so that they can do other things, like play with Legos or Super Mario Smash Brothers.  Nevertheless, in order to get some reading done, we needed to go to our community library. The library is just one of the many places in Memphis that reward kids for reading in the summer. Piccadilly Restaurant also rewards kids for Summer Reading. Nevertheless, parents often walk into the library and tell the kids to “just get a book.” Or maybe they select a book for them that “looks” like it will be good. Navigating the library like a pro can be very difficult.

MMB library

At the library, Elijah was having a hard time finding a a funny book. (Elijah will be entering the 2nd grade this school year.) So I instructed him to ask the Librarian at the Information Desk for help. Moments later, the librarian strolls over with Elijah and states, “So he wants a book that’s funny?” I reply, “Yea. He’ll be going into the 2nd grade so I would like something that’s on his reading level.” She nods and shows us to the ever-famous Diary of a Wimpy Kid.

Librarian: Here is Diary of a Wimpy Kid. The kids say that’s really funny.

Me: It is, but it’s not on his grade level. He’s in 2nd grade, but he can read on a 3rd grade level.

Librarian: Well that’s fine. Diary of a Wimpy Kid is a 3rd grade book.

Me: No, it’s not. The entire series is on a 5th grade level. (The Grade Level Equivalent, or GLE, is 5.2 and higher.)

Librarian: (Proceeds to flip through the book.) No, I’m sure that it’s around a 3rd grade level. I see little kids coming to check out the books all the time.

Me: Just because they check them out, doesn’t mean they actually read them.

Elijah: My Mom knows what she’s talking about. She’s a Librarian too.

Librarian: Oh…okay…so what kids of books are you looking for?

Me: Some funny books on his reading level. What does your collection have?

Elijah ends up selecting Dog Man by Dave Pilkey. (Its GLE is 2.6.)

1 kid down, 3 to go.

While the other 2 kids are getting help from other librarians, I decide to tackle my youngest, Eve. She will be entering 1st grade, but she is not the best reader. I need to select a book that is on her level, something she can experience success while reading.  (Who wants to continue reading when you feel like you suck at it???)

The Children’s section in the library is filled with hundreds of picture books. Being a librarian, I know that many picture books are written on a 2nd or 3rd grade level. I am looking for a book that is on a 1st grade level. (A needle in a haystack). So I decided to whip out my favorite tool to make this “needle in a haystack search” a little quicker.

It’s an app called Points Scan Free. It’s my “go-to” tool as a librarian.

Point Scan Free App
Point Scan Free App

This app allows you to navigate any library like a pro by providing you with the reading levels of any book. All you have to do after downloading the app is select whether you want to search by title or author or if you want to scan the book. I strongly advise just scanning the book. You will click the barcode image and scan the barcode on the back of the book. The app will immediately tell you the title, author, and reading level of the book. It will also give you Accelerated Reader information, such as the amount of Accelerated Reader points and the quiz number. There have been a few occasions, like 1 in every 50 books I scan, in which I have had to type the title of the book in.

MMB picture books

To find a book that was appropriate for Eve, I simply pulled a few titles off the shelf and scanned their barcode using the app. In less than 2 seconds, I knew the reading level of the book. Eve finally selects “Stick and Stone” by Beth Ferry, GLE: 1.2.

FYI: A book that has a GLE of 3.2 is appropriate for a student reading at the 3rd grade level, 2nd month. A book that has a GLE of 7.9 is for a 7th grader, ninth month.

So maybe you aren’t a librarian, but you want your child to select books that they love and can read successfully. This app can help you be like the professionals. Parenting Chaos also offer more tips on selecting age appropriate books for kids. 

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Patricia is a Memphis native and LOVES Memphis to her core. She is the mom of 4 kids, Aiden (June 2008), Elliott and Elijah (January 2012), and Eve (November (2013). *Please ignore the lack of an age gap between the twins and Eve…things happen. Patricia is the wife of a tall, dark, and handsome man, Anthony. She graduate from the University of Memphis in 2007 and 2010, with a Bachelors degree in Exercise and Sports Science and a Masters Degree in Arts in Teaching. She earned her Library Endorsement from the University of Knoxville (hooray for online education.) Patricia is a school librarian and a blog writer, realworkwife.com. She loves to read, write, read, cook, read, run, read, travel, read, and hang out with Memphis. Yes, you read that right, she likes to hang out with the entire city. Life has dealt Patricia a series of highs, lows, and “why-me” moments, but you will never catch her without a smile in eyes, ignited from her soul within.


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