Monthly Archives: November 2013

I had a mother ask me the other day if she should allow her middle school aged daughter to read Mockingjay, the final installment in The Hunger Games trilogy. I had a few random questions float through my head but I asked the most obvious one – had she read the other two books. The mother said yes, she was just worried because she had heard this one was worse.

I told her to let her daughter read the book.

I mean, she had made it this far, she had survived The Hunger Games, the Quarter Quell, let her read about the rebellion against the Capitol.

Yes, Mockingjay is not the watered down super mega happy ending Rowling I will never forgive you that many children’s series have, but it’s not a children’s book. It’s for young adults. It’s not meant to sugar-coat the world.

And if what I’ve heard about the Divergent series is true, this is going to be the new trend in YA lit, using Science Fiction and Fantasy the way they should be used, to hold a mirror up to our society, not to gaze into the mirror and see what we want most in the world, but to look into it and see reality.

I did suggest that maybe Mom also read the books because there is a lot to discuss. It always boggles my mind that parents are concerned but not *quite* concerned enough to pick up these hot books and read them along with their children and use them as an opportunity for discussion. That’s the way to nurture a reader, to teach kids to think critically about the media they are inundated with every day, to create a thinker and not just a consumer.

…I should really rename this blog “why are you on a soap box”…but whatever, I’m not giving up this sweet URL. 😛

RANT TIME! Lexiles – just stop

Seriously, who ever you are out there telling kids that they need to read on “their lexile level”, just stop. That is NOT how you teach people to read. It does not help improve their reading. All it does is make them unable to pick up the books they want to read and struggle with titles that they are uninterested in.

When I’m helping a reluctant reader find a book and I hear the word “lexile” I want to scream. If you want your child to enjoy reading, match them up with a book that is interesting to them and fits into their life.

Let’s be honest, you’re just telling your kid they are deficient in some way. It’s like the parent that tells the child “that’s too hard for you”. Now they have an *approved* way to make their child feel bad about not reading on a certain made-up level. Instead of saying “you’re too dumb/slow/below the grade level” now parents can say “it has to be on a lexile of” blah blah blah.

Guess what, the Lexile is generated by a computer, and we all know how great *those* work. It scans the text, calculates the vocabulary, and makes up a number. Meaning the writing in a classic novel by Ernest Hemingway is on par or lower than Hunger Games. Yeah, THOSE are the same reading experience. (Go ahead, search some of your favorites and see how ridiculous this thing is. Think about what kind of reader you would have been with this restriction placed on you.)

(oh and surprise surprise these are the geniuses behind the new Common Core that everyone is so excited about)

Please please please – do not enforce lexiles! If you need it for your behind-the-scenes paperwork, that is fine, but don’t mention it to a parent or child. They will obsess over it and there will be no gray area. I just had a young girl ask about the lexile level of a book and – guess what – the publisher did not get it submitted for a lexile rating so it doesn’t have one. So she is not allowed read it. And when it comes to reading and school, kids can really only fit in what “counts”.

Do yourself and your child a favor: Find a librarian that loves to read and knows how to do reader’s advisory for kids, tweens, and teens, they can find a book that will connect with your child, not just fill in another standardized test way, but on a level that will make them get why people get excited about reading. We are out here, Reader’s Advisory is one of our favorite parts of the job.

Okay…my rant is over. For now…

But if you want more READER!WRITER!RAGE check out these posts:
How the Lexile system harms students

Guess My Lexile (this one has lots of great links at the bottom too)