Categorizing Children’s Books Used in the CASA Program by Reading Levels and Life Skill Themes

Faculty Mentor(s)

Dr. Laura Pardo, Hope College

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This project was an extension of a previous one that researched the effectiveness of CASA on elementary student’s academic achievement. CASA is an after school tutoring program for at risk elementary students in the Holland area. Tutors are Hope College students who volunteer their time and come from a variety of majors. The results of the first study showed that one of CASA’s strengths was in the relationships developed between the tutors and the K-5 students. To build on this strength, the CASA program administrators decided to design and implement a Life Skills component to the CASA program. Each tutoring session would include 20-30 minutes of activities focused on one of the life themes (examples include cooperation, respect, goal setting, cultural diversity, friendship, and problem solving). During the summer, the current project occurred and involved cataloging and categorizing over 1800 children’s books used in the tutoring program. The books were first entered into a data base and then readability was determined for each book. Books were then categorized into CASA’s life skills themes. Findings revealed that some themes need more books, and that many books are subject matter based (i.e. The Magic School Bus series which focus on science concepts) and do not fit easily into the life skills themes. CASA has implemented the life skills component during the fall 2011 semester, and data from this work will be analyzed and available prior to the celebration.


This research was supported by the Carl Frost Center for Social Science Research.

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