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Posted on November 10, 2015 at 6:00 am
This is the time of year when the library starts to be inundated with kids looking for the “right” book. I usually define a “right” book as one that makes a kid’s face light up. I love helping match readers to books, and when a kid can hardly wait to get home to start reading, my librarian heart is happy. But now that school has been in session for a few months, finding the “right” book becomes a little more complicated. Instead of looking for any book that might capture their attention and become their next favorite, kids are now asking for help finding specific books on their reading lists or often they are asking for help finding a book with the “right” Lexile.
Love it or hate it, the Lexile Framework for Reading is used by schools as a way to inform and direct students’ reading. I don’t want to get into the politics of Lexile scores, but I do want to help parents and students understand how Lexile scores work, and make the job of finding the “right” book a little bit easier.
So what is a Lexile score? In simple terms, it is a score assigned to a book that indicates its level of reading difficulty. The idea is to help kids find books that will challenge them, but at the same time will not be too challenging. If you really want to know the science behind how a Lexile score is determined, you can find it here (they lost me at Rasch Psychometric Model).
I think it’s also important for parents and students to be aware of the limitations of Lexile scores. As the website states, “Lexile measures do NOT measure age-appropriateness, the book quality, the book’s theme or other such characteristics of the book.” Suddenly, finding the “right” book just got more complicated. If your child is given a recommended Lexile score of 900, you can pull a stack of books with a 900 Lexile and still aren’t guaranteed that any of them will be appropriate for your reader. So, how DO you find the “right” book?
There are several ways to go about this, but unfortunately none of them are straightforward. First, you can search for books using lexile.com. You can either look up the Lexile of a specific book by its title, or you can search using a Lexile score or range and get a list of books with the appropriate Lexile.
Scholastic’s Book Wizard is another helpful site. When you visit the site, click on the Lexile button to search by title. Once you have a book pulled up with the right Lexile score, you can use the Book Alike button to get recommendations of other books with similar Lexile scores and themes. Keep in mind that the themes are broad, so some books will appeal to your reader while others will not. Another trick is to search for recommended Lexile reading lists online. This site has quite a few Lexile book lists.
You can also search for books with a specific Lexile score or within a desired range on the SCLD Catalog page. Click on the Lexile Reading Level Search link on the left hand side of the page, set a specific score or range, and you’ll find plenty of books to check out.
I hope this information makes Lexile scores a little less intimidating, and makes your next search for the “right” book a bit easier. Of course, you don’t have to do it alone. Library staff are available to help you in your hunt for the “right” book for your reader. Since one of the most frequent requests we get is help finding books with a high Lexile that are still appropriate for an elementary student, I thought I’d get you started with a high Lexile book list. These titles are all located in our children’s section and have a Lexile of 1000 or greater. Happy reading!
By Lemony Snicket
After the sudden death of their parents, the three Baudelaire children must depend on each other and their wits when it turns out that the distant relative who is appointed their guardian is determined to use any means necessary to get their fortune. (Lexile: 1010)
By Nancy Springer
Enola Holmes, the much younger sister of detective Sherlock Holmes, must travel to London in disguise to unravel the disappearance of her missing mother. (Lexile: 1020)
By Jeff Kinney
Greg records the ups and downs of middle school in this journal-style series. Disclaimer: The first book in the series, and several others, do not meet the 1000 Lexile criteria. However, since this series is so popular, and many of the books do break the 1000 mark or hover close to it, I included it. (Lexile: 950)
By Christopher Paul Curtis
In 1859, 11-year-old Elijah Freeman, the first free-born child in Buxton, Canada—a haven for slaves fleeing the American south—uses his wits and skills to try and bring to justice a lying preacher, who has stolen money that was to be used to buy a family’s freedom. (Lexile: 1070)
Also by this author, The Watsons Go to Birmingham. (Lexile: 1000)
By Gary Paulsen
After a plane crash, 13-year-old Brian spends 54 days in the wilderness, learning to survive with only the aid of a hatchet given to him by his mother. He also begins to learn how to survive his parents’ divorce. Many of Paulsen’s other titles are also higher than a 1000 Lexile. (Lexile: 1020)
By J.R.R. Tolkien
Bilbo Baggins, a respectable, well-to-do hobbit, lives comfortably in his hobbit-hole until the day the wandering wizard Gandalf chooses him to take part in a dangerous adventure. (Lexile: 1000)
By Maryrose Wood
When Penelope Lumley takes a job as a governess, she has no idea what she’s getting herself into. The three children under her care appear to have been raised by wolves, and that’s just the beginning of the mysteries surrounding Ashton Place. (Lexile: 1000)
By Sheila Every Burnford
A Siamese cat, an old Bull Terrier, and a young Labrador Retriever travel together 250 miles through the Canadian wilderness to find their family. (Lexile: 1320)
By Scott O’Dell
Karana is a 12-year-old girl who ends up stranded on an island. This book is filled with adventure as Karana figures out how to survive all on her own, in the middle of nowhere. (Lexile: 1000)
By Jim Benton
In her diary, middle school student Jamie Kelly describes her life at home and at school, including her attempts to triumph over her nemesis, the beautiful and popular Angeline. (Lexile: 1120)
By Louisa May Alcott
Meet the March sisters: talented and tomboyish Jo, beautiful and kind Meg, sweet and humble Beth, and spoiled and fiery Amy. With four girls and a father off to war, life is never dull in the March household. (Lexile: 1300)
By Sharon Creech
Jack hates poetry. Unfortunately, his teacher keeps making him write it. With the help of a dog, Jack comes to realize that poetry isn’t all that bad. (Lexile: 1010)
By Betty MacDonald
From her upside-down house, the eccentric Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle gives parents marvelous cures for such common children’s diseases as Won’t-Put-Away-Toys-itis, Answerbackism, and Fighter-Quarrelitis. (Lexile: 1070)
Also by this author, Nancy and Plum. (Lexile: 1020)
By Ruth Stiles Gannett
Elmer sets out to rescue a dragon who is being held captive by cruel animals. (Lexile: 1040)
By Ingrid Law
This tale recounts the adventures of Mibs Beaumont, whose thirteenth birthday has revealed her “savvy”—a magical power unique to each member of her family—just as her father is injured in a terrible accident. (Lexile: 1070)
By J.K. Rowling
In the world of Harry Potter, The Tales of Beedle the Bard is a wizarding classic. This collection of folktales will captivate those who just can’t get enough of Harry. (Lexile: 1290)