I can’t resist the call of a book collection.  So I talked Dots into letting me reorganize her Chinese books.

She thinks I’m helping her.  But really, I get to check out books I would otherwise not know about.  As I learned during our session, she buys a lot of books through books.com.tw 博客來, many I’ve never heard off and several I’ve been wanting to check out but can’t bear to buy because my kids are mostly out of the picture book stage.

Organizing Dots’ books comes with two unique challenges.  One, I can’t wait till she buys more bookshelves since I am just visiting.  This means that I couldn’t really do a complete reorganization of her books.  Two, I was unfamiliar with her collection.

But, I’m pleased with what we managed to do in a few hours.

We started by gathering most of the books together.  Her English and Chinese books were mixed together over 7 shelves, 5 in the living room and 2 in the bedroom.

To restate, my typical process for organizing is:

  1. Buy some name stickers
  2. Decide how many bookcases you need and where you will put them
    1. They should be in the same room
    2. They will be at children’s eye level, so you can only use bottom 3-4 bookshelves of any given bookcase if you have young children
  3. Kondo your books
  4. Sort them into 5 piles
  5. Put books on shelf in order

Since this was a quick sort, we didn’t buy name stickers nor bookshelves. Dots also wanted a bookshelf in her room for the kids to read out of, so we didn’t drag that shelf over to the living room.

Typically I sort fiction books into Board Books, Toddler Picture books, Picture books, Bridging Books, Children’s Literature.  In this instance, the books really were in two broad categories, Picture books and Bridging Books.   I didn’t bother taking all the books down; just started sorting the picture books by height.

I quickly became stumped because I was unfamiliar with the collection.  How do you sort when you don’t know where the books should go?

“Well d’uh”, you say, “Sort into picture books and chapter books.”

But I was unfamiliar with some of the bridging books she purchased.  What level do they belong to? For example, what about the Little Backpack sets and the Mr. Men and Little Miss sets?  These are picture books because the language isn’t simple and designed for early readers.  But Dots’ daughter is reading these books right now as practice readers, should I put them in the chapter book section so we can level her reading?  Or should I go with the idea that while children can continue to go back and read picture books as they’re learning to read, we need to separate out the bridging books because they’re especially designed as early readers?   The books serve different functions.

In the end, I left these two sets in the bridging book section.  As a way to help Dots know where they fit in the scheme of reading levels so she knows what other books to offer her daughter after she’s done with the Little Backpacks.  Since you want to offer children books below, at, and above their level, I tend to think of picture books as below Astroboy‘s level, to be used to entice him to read during quiet reading time, while I work with him on reading books at his level during homeschooling time.

But everyone uses their books a bit differently.  It feels like this method fits their way of using books better.  Depending on Dots’ feedback, I may suggest she move them back to picture book area.

How to Determine Book Level

Dots has a really great Level 0 Bridging Book and picture book collection, many of them books I’d never heard of.  So this is the first time I’ve really had to think hard about how to level her books.

A book is a Picture Book if it is heavily picture based and the text contains a lot of advanced vocabulary.  These books are meant to be read to.  Often the illustration tells its own story or contains details not in the story.  In Bridging Books, (aka Early Reader/Chapter Books), the story is mainly in the text, and the illustration supports it.  The vocabulary and sentence structures are simple.   Books specifically written for early readers in mind often also have big fonts.

For example, Mr. Men and Little Miss are bridging books because the illustrations are very simple.  Most of the stories are in the text itself.  But the font is very tiny.  For this reason, you can catalogue it two ways (though books.com.tw puts it under Bridging Books).  You can use it as a picture book and read to your child, or you can offer it to your children to read as a later bridging book.

Once you’ve determined a book is a bridging book, an easy way to sort them into levels is to look at the number of pages and how many sentences per page. The only problem is, Bridging books is a new concept in the Taiwanese book market.  So there are still tons of books out there that have tiny font and hence skew the page count.  Here’s a general guideline for books designed as bridging books.  I added the Level 0.

  • Level 0: <3k characters.  Less than 32 pages.
  • Level 1: <5K characters.  Around 64 pages.  Illustration to text ratio 1:1
  • Level 2: 5k-10k characters.  Around 128 pages.  Illustration to text ratio 1:2
  • Level 3: 10k-20k characters.  Only some illustrations.
  • Level 4: 20k-40k.  Few illustrations

So I methodically flipped through Dots’ bridging books and guessed what level they were based on these guidelines.  Honestly there is no exact answer.  Thumper very often would pick a book that’s way higher level than I thought.  A lot of it is how enticing a book is to the reader.  They’re always happy to slog through a book they enjoy and then complain that a book has too many characters for the ones that don’t.

Tada!  Here’s our finished two bookshelves.  Her textbooks, magazines, and upper level books probably will take up another bookshelf.  So in total, she has around 1.5 BB (Ikea Billy Bookcase) of books.

I also took pics of books I don’t own for my future shopping list.


 

So I’m sure what you really want to know is what books she has.  Here are some of the notable picture books I took pics of.

露露硬頁翻翻書系列套書

There’s also a 露露操作書系列套書 set.  This is a set of cute board books that is appropriate for babies and toddlers to learn about shapes, colors, getting dressed, putting on shoes, etc.

 

 

鯊魚可以上體育課嗎? Could a Shark Do Gymnastics

Astroboy was recently into sharks so this book caught my eye.  It’s always hard when your child is into a certain topic and you want to find some non-fiction picture books that are fun to read.

 

我不喜歡你這樣對我!Jungle Bullies

This drew my eye because I can imagine a teacher using this book in the classroom.  How do you tell other children when you don’t like what they’re doing?

 

 

 理由‧意見 好好說 系列套書

The blue book, I have a Reason, comes up with various reasons for things children do that adults don’t approve of, like picking your nose.  The other book, “I have an objection”, wonders at things like, why do our parents not consult us before deciding on our bath time?  Both have that funny Japanese humor and looks at adult actions from children’s point of view.

 

樂讀123 

This series of 15 books is from a publisher I’m not familiar with.  It sounded like a good possibility for people looking for books with around 3000 characters.  Reading 123 閱讀123 doesn’t have that many books that are this short.

 

 

There are of course more books than this.  But it would take me too long to list every book that looks interesting!

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