30 Mar 2009

What should she read next?

I was first introduced to Lexile.com by Lizzie at A Dusty Frame. I'm linking the blog post here because I found alot of useful stuff - not just the Lexile info in this post, and I'm sure you will too. Have you read Lizzie's inspirational blog? I thoroughly recommend all of it!

Anyhow, back to Lexiles. Lexiles are a simple way to estimate the level of difficulty of books for your kids to read independently. I don't know about you, but I'm always on a search for the perfect book for Jemimah to read next - not too easy; not too hard, but just right...bit like the porridge, really. From the Lexile site, here's what they're all about:

The Lexile Framework® for Reading is a scientific approach to measuring readers and reading materials. A key component of the Lexile Framework is a number called the Lexile measure. A Lexile measure indicates both the difficulty of a text, such as a book or magazine article, and a student’s reading ability. Knowing the Lexile text measure of a book and the Lexile reader measure of a student helps to predict how the book matches the student’s reading ability—whether the book is too easy, too difficult or just right.

Both a Lexile reader measure and a Lexile text measure are denoted as a simple number followed by an “L” (e.g., 850L), and are placed on the Lexile scale. The Lexile scale ranges from below 200L for beginning readers and beginning-reading text to above 1700L for advanced readers and text.

The Lexile Framework, which comprises both the Lexile measure and Lexile scale, is not an instructional program any more than a thermometer is a medical treatment. But just as a thermometer is useful in managing medical care, the Lexile Framework is useful in managing your child’s reading development.

The difficulty of a text is determined by the difficulty of the vocabulary - a book's semantic difficulty -as well as the complexity of the sentences contained therein - the syntactic complexity. Sometimes the Lexile measure is a surprise. Thornton Burgess' Old Mother West Wind is 1020L; The Little Engine That Could by Piper Watty is 680L. The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo, made popular by the film, is about the same at 670L. What this says to me is that a book that is thought of as a kindergarten book by a CM mum is not necessarily what is thought of as a kinder book by a child raised on a diet of Rainbow Magic Fairies or similar series book twaddle.

As homeschool mums, we don't have access to the online computer programme that determines our children's Lexile levels - that's what subscriber schools get for their money. That's not too great a problem though. There are a couple of ways to determine your child's reading level. The first is to look up a couple of books that your child can read well and determine their reading level from those. The second is to use the Ruth Beechick method where you count off 100 words, not counting rhyme or verse and chapter headings. If the child can read every word it is a book he or she can read independently; if she misses 3-5 words it is his correct instructional reading level; if she misses more than 5 then the book is likely to be too hard and it will only frustrate her to continue. We are looking for books that challenge our kids, but not ones that frustrate them so much that they go off in a paddy or just give up on reading all together.

Once you have your child's approximate Lexile level, you simply choose books that fall in his or her Lexile range. A reader’s recommended Lexile range is 50L above and 100L below her Lexile measure. That makes a book difficult enough to learn from as well as be enjoyable and not so hard that she will be unable to read it successfully.

Unfortunately, the Lexile level of a book will not give you an indication of its twaddle level. Many - I'd venture to say most - of the books on Lexile.com are not on my list of Living books. On the other hand, many living books are - particularly those of American origin.

Here is a list of the Lexile measures for the books I currently have on Jemimah's free read shelf. Some of these are free reads for AO2, her current year. A couple of them are on later AO years - these I've marked with a single asterisk. Aussie titles are marked with two asterisks. It is not a full list of anything in particular. Some of the easier titles are not even really very good literature. They do give you some idea, though, of the Lexile levels of many AO and CM recommended living books, and hopefully some of you might find it useful.

The books are listed in order of Lexile level. The books at the end are not in the Lexile database, and I have simply 'guesstimated' the level of these books. They are therefore very likely to be wrong, but they do give some idea of when to offer these books to your children.

Reading List Ages 6-8

Jemimah practices reading every day from a book that is at her instructional reading level. Often the book stretches her a little and I can't imagine her reading from it if I didn't require her to do so. That doesn't mean she doesn't enjoy reading. At the moment she is reading The BFG by Roald Dahl. This is her favourite film of all time, and she chose to read this book even though it is 710L and slightly higher than anything else she has read to far. That's okay. Reading during school time should challenge, allowing her to improve in both her reading and comprehension little by little. Out of school and at weekends she is more likely to read a book slightly lower than her instructional level.

There is a video summary of the Lexile system for visual learners here.

You can find books based on Lexile level and interest at the Find a Book site.

In Australia the Lexile system is available through Scholastic. You can get the Lexile level of a number of their titles here. Unfortunately their whole list is available only to registered schools, but you can access lists for years 2005-2009 by searching their site a little.


  1. Thanks for linking to my blog! I'm happy that something was of use to you.

    My sister is a school librarian--that's where I got the link;).

  2. Thanks for this link, Jeanne. Im off to link my friend.
    I noticed your twitter post about h/s with preschoolers! LOL! Would you like to 'borrow' a 3 yo???!!!LOL!


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