Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Reading Rants


Okay I have a rant I must get off my shoulders.  The Accelerated Reader (AR) program.  If you aren’t familiar with this you can learn more here.  I have three children varying in ages from 6 to 9.  My two oldest read way above their grade levels (proud mamma moment!).  Now with the AR system they read a book and take a test on the computer at school on it.  Each book is rated with a reading level and a certain number of points.  So far so good.  My issue is: how the heck do they decide what reading level a book is?!  

My 9yo son has recently started reading the Cirque de Freak series by Darren Shan.  He LOVES them and I can’t believe how fast he’s reading them.  It has been a struggle just to get him to read the required 20 minutes a day and now he’d rather read than play video games!  Yay!

The problem with this situation?  He is over a 6th grade reading level and these books (which are well over 200 pages each and were found in the YA section of the library) range from a 4.8 to a 6.2.  What makes one book so much higher than the others?  There are lots of books that I bet you’re reading or have read that you would be shocked at what the “reading level” is.
·         Twilight by Stephenie Meyer  4.9
·         Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins  5.3
·         Matched by Ally Condie  4.8
·         The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan  4.5
·         Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by JK Rowling  6.9
·         The Wizard of Oz by Frank L Baum  7.0
·         Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick  4.5
·         The City of Bones by Cassandra Clare 5.0
·         Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr  4.7

I could go on but the point is that this list seems silly.  I certainly would let my 4th or 5th grader read  Hush, Hush or The City of Bones but I would let my 2nd grader read Harry Potter and The Wizard of Oz.  I’ve heard the ratings are partly determined by average number of syllables in words and average number of sentences per 100 words.  Apparently they don’t take content into account at all. 

Perhaps this is just another reason we as parents should be careful what our children read but I think there should be a better rating system, because in a system where Wizard of Oz is a 7th grade book and Twilight is a 4th grade one, there’s a problem!

Okay enough of that!  On a much lighter note I got my first shipment of books yesterday so I have paperbacks available for purchase.  If you order through me I will sign it.  If you are holding out for a hardback then it will be a couple more weeks.  I will be setting up a place to purchase books using paypal today or tomorrow!