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The perfect book for your child’s reading level. Does it exist or is it a myth? Have no fear, it does exist but it takes a little work on everyone’s part to find it.

The current trend is to use Lexile levels to determine a student’s reading level. According to Lexile.com, the “Lexile Framework is a scientific way to match readers with text using the same scale. Lexile measures connect learners with resources at the right level of challenge.” Schools are giving out a number range within which students are to find books.

Lexile levels are determined by pulling 125 words per every 1000 in a book. Depending on the size and complexity of the words along with punctuation concepts such as commas verses periods, a number is given to that particular book. The Lexile level can range from 0 to 2000.

While vocabulary and punctuation are taken into consideration, comprehension is not. This is where parents/caregivers/teachers need to help out. Just because a book is within a child’s Lexile level, it may not be an appropriate book for that child to read. The opposite is true also in that you do not want to deny a child the pleasure of reading a book they are interested in simply because it has a lower Lexile level.

A great example of this would be the fourth grade class that visited the library earlier this school year. Their Lexiles were between 770 and 860. That meant that all of the Rick Riordan series, Percy Jackson and Heroes of Olympus, as well as the ever popular Diary of a Wimpy Kid series were out of their range and therefore technically not something they were supposed to check out. The mind-boggling part of this to me was that the Riordan series, rich in Greek and Roman mythology, is listed at 590 to 740 whereas Diary of a Wimpy Kid is listed at 1010 to 1060 for a nonsensical, fun read.

When you begin looking into the Lexile levels of the Young Adult books you will find that most of them are between 550 and 800. This is forcing the students to either read down to Juvenile with books such as Diary of a Wimpy Kid or read up to adult to meet their Lexile requirements. Finding the correct level in the adult section can still prove to be difficult. Some books, long considered classics, have low Lexiles. Grapes of Wrath by Steinbeck only has a level of 680 and A Farewell to Arms by Hemingway is only given a 730. To get to their given level they would be reading books such as Les Miserables by Hugo or Richard Wright’s Native Son. Both of which would exceed a majority of the students’ comprehension levels not to mention possibly missing their interest level.

Lexile levels give everyone a great place to start looking for books for the young reader but it also takes some common sense on everyone’s part to ensure they get a book that is appropriate for their reading level, their age and their interests. Seem like a lot of work? We are always here to help. Stop by the Youth Services Department and we will do our best to find that perfect book for your student because it isn’t just a myth. It really does exist!!

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