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Reading Ladders

Leading Students from Where They Are to Where We'd Like Them to Be

By Teri Lesesne
Foreword by Jim Blasingame

Teri has a simple idea for increasing text complexity for any student: start with their preferences. Reading Ladders shows how, rung-by-rung, you can connect students to book after book—each a little more complex than the last.

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Full Description

Many of us are searching continually for that just-right book for each and every one of our students. It is my hope to help you find those books. More importantly, I hope to help you guide students to the next great book and the one after that. That is the purpose of Reading Ladders. Because it is not sufficient to find just one book for each reader.Teri Lesesne

"I finished the Twilight Series—now what?"

With Reading Ladders, the answer to a question like this can become the first rung on a student’s climb to greater engagement with books, to full independence, and beyond to a lifetime of passionate reading.

"The goal of reading ladders," writes Teri Lesesne, "is to slowly move students from where they are to where we would like them to be." With reading ladders you start with the authors, genres, or subjects your readers like then connect them to book after book—each a little more complex or challenging than the last. Teri not only shares ready-to-go ladders, but her suggestions will help you:

  • select books to create your own reading ladders
  • build a classroom library that supports every student’s needs
  • use reading ladders to bolster content-area knowledge and build independence
  • assess where students are at and how far they’ve climbed.

"If we are about creating lifetime readers and not just readers who can utilize phonological awareness and context clues to bubble in answers on a state test," writes Teri Lesesne, "then we need to help our students form lasting relationships with books and authors and genres and formats." Use Reading Ladders, help your students start their climb, and guide them to new heights in reading.

(click any section below to continue reading)


  1. Meeting Students Where They Are: Why Use YA Literature in the First Place?
  2. Lincoln Logs: How We Begin to Build Lifelong Readers Motivating Readers
  3. Creating Lifelong Readers
  4. Building Reading Ladders
  5. Upping the Ante with Reading Ladders
  6. Climbing the Ladder to Assessment


A. Trade Book Bibliography

B. Professional Text Bibliography

C. Possible Themes for Reading Ladders


Companion Resources

Teri has created a wiki to share information about Reading Ladders. Visit to read her thoughs and share your own.


This book is very helpful if you teach reading in a middle school or elementary. T.Lesesne is an incredible reader, and writer. She sees things the same as my students, and you can tell she relates to the characters in the books she suggests. I have realized I can't read as much as my 60 students, not to mention all the different genres that they like. So it makes it hard to suggest what to read next. This book helps a lot. I am enjoying the journey thru all of her books. D. Kistner “teachergirl,” Dallas/Ft. Worth, TX, 8/2/10