The ERS and Books and Language Materials
As one of many items considered in each scale, The Environment Rating Scales (ECERS-R, ITERS-R, FCCERS-R, SACERS-U) each include at least one item that is used to assess how books, language materials and language activities are experienced by children. One of the criteria considered in certain items is whether the books and language materials are appropriate for the ages and abilities of the children enrolled in the group being observed.
Assessors must commonly make decisions determining whether a particular book, language material or language activity meets the ERS definition of appropriate. In addition to meeting high levels of reliability during training with the authors, BrightStars assessors strive to meet high levels of internal reliability. Decisions resulting from conversations about ERS scoring decisions are tracked within the “Rhode Island Notes.” As part of this work, BrightStars keeps tracks of books that have been discussed in scoring decisions.
BrightStars does not provide a list of “recommended” or “not recommended” books because decisions surrounding classroom materials – including literacy materials – must be made carefully by programs themselves. We provide instead the following guidance specifically for child care settings and paraphrased from The Environment Rating Scales, for programs to consider when selecting written materials for their program:
-Appropriate books take into account the range of children’s ages, abilities, native languages, interests and visual or physical needs (e.g., sturdy vinyl or cloth books for infants or large print books for a child with a visual impairment.)
-Books cannot be considered appropriate if they “show violence in a graphic or frightening way” or “glorify violence.” The authors of the scales have further clarified that books that show aggression as a means to solve conflict cannot be considered appropriate either. Examples of inappropriate content may include pictures, text or language games that describe:
- using or pointing weapons
- threatening to eat or otherwise harm other characters
- detailed or graphic depictions of a predator killing or eating its prey
- historical figures assassinated, even if documenting a true event
- stereotypical representations of groups of people (e.g. cowboy vs Native American stories)
-Although this is a common misconception, fairy tales and Disney stories are not automatically counted off. These books are subject to the same considerations as all other language materials. Some versions of these books depict violence or aggression, while others have been altered to remove the inappropriate content.