Understanding Lexile Levels
The Lexile Framework is an approach to measuring a child’s reading ability and the evaluation of the complexity and difficulty of a text. Teachers use Lexile measures when charting growth of their students, planning instruction, and sharing information with parents. We all want students to read fluently with good comprehension. We also expect the complexity of text and understanding to increase as a child progresses throughout their educational career and into adulthood.
Educators should guide students to “good fit books with just the right amount of challenge”. Traditionally these books would be a healthy balance between the student’s Lexile score and books that would be 50-100L above their measured score.
To help citizens understand the Lexile system, the lowest Lexile number is 0L and the highest is 2000L. Any letters written before the numbers give information about the text and complexity.
BR = Beginning Reader
AD= Adult Directed Books ( books for adults to read to children)
HL=High Interest but Low Complexity
Understanding the Numbers and Codes
Lexile.com provides many resources including identifying the Lexile score of most books, tools to support instruction, word lists, and a Find a Book tab. This is a very helpful site, but please remember this site does not look at developmentally appropriate content, content that might be harmful, or standards or morals that you and your community may find objectionable. The Pavement Education Project recognizes that children need books and reading materials that they find interesting. They also should have regular books and materials within their Lexile reading range that will challenge their development.
The Focus on the Family website called Plugged In has reviews and recommendations for books, movies, games, etc. Facebook groups like Book Reviews for Christian Families can also help you search for books for your kiddos. The webpage Lexile Find a Book can be a helpful tool when looking for titles, but remember, it does not screen for objectionable content. When purchasing books, Amazon and other book vending sites often include Lexile Scores in the product description on the left. Don’t forget to take a look at what your children are self selecting in the library and are using in the classroom. Look at the content and lexile levels. Knowledge is power!
Our website hopes to include recommended reading lists in the not so distant future. Let us know if you would like to be part of a team of readers and reviewers.
Where Can I Find Good Fit Books for My Child?
Using Follett, the Online Card Catalog
to Locate Books
Most North Carolina school districts uses the Destiny Follett management system to catalog books in school media centers. Students and teachers use it to search and access books and possibly other resources. Some districts may include eBooks, audiobooks, etc. as part of their subscription.
Some of the features of the Destiny Follett system include easy search by author, title, or subject. The interest level and a basic reading level of the book is listed as well as the call number (or address of the book's location in the library). Recently, we are seeing descriptions of the books included. The system makes it fairly simple for the librarians to add new books. The site is accessible for students from school or home. Once they login to the district portal with their student ID, they can begin searching. The My Stuff tab at the top (only visible when logged in) allows students and parents to see what is currently checked out to them. We do not know if the setting can be adjusted to show all past books checked out to a particular student but we think that information could be beneficial for parents.
The system allows for the creation of collections of books by topic (for students or teachers) by the media specialist or librarian. Unless the collection was created by the media specialist in that specific library, not all the books pictured might be available. However, book titles and descriptions shown could make it possible for them to be searched in other systems, like Sora, Libby, etc., and checked out perhaps through the public library system.The Destiny Follett system allows for parents, citizens, and the community to see what is available on the shelves of the library.
We encourage parents to request the districts's policy in regards to adding books to the library. Does the policy allow anyone to donate books to the library? What books would be acceptable for donation? Will the librarian replace favorite classics like The Hungry Caterpillar or The Scarlet Letter if they are so worn that they need to be discarded? Some districts have unspoken policies that exclude books printed before the year 2000. Some of the classics and books you remember will may no longer be available to future students.
Knowledge is power. Familiarize yourself with the library system.
Did You Know?
According to the Follett website, nearly $2 trillion in ESSER Funds are still available in 2024 to support schools and students. The website states Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Funds provide a significant boost to your learning initiatives. Follett is here to provide guidance on using ESSER Funds effectively using our unique analytical tools that can diagnose the strength and gaps in your collection. Social transformative books have been required as a funding qualification for recipients. If your state or district accepts ESSER funds, what is expected of them?
Would You Like to Search a School or School District in our state? Go to gofollett.com or contact us.
Books We Love!
Graphic novels are in the schools, public libraries, and colleges. The New York Times includes graphic novels as a category on its booklists. Struggling students and erudite academicians laud the benefits of the new genre. The Scholastic magazine, a chief proponent and distributor of graphic novels, defines the literary form as “any book in a comic book format that resembles a novel in length and narrative development.” Graphic novels incorporate benefits and shortcomings of both novels and comic books.
Graphic novels are akin to or the next iteration of the children’s comic book. The comic book, at its conception and infancy, had a wide variety of themes including superheroes. Yet, some people were concerned that comic books potentially would corrupt the young readers and retard their reading progress. These concerns led to the Comic Code Authority (CCA) tasked with ensuring the proper values were depicted in the comic books (Lloyd Sealy Library). The themes of the comic books and their values were strongly compatible with the superhero theme and, thereby, undergirded the success of the superhero morality plays of the good hero overcoming and conquering the evil villain. Comic books soon became a lucrative literary venture.
In 1986, Will Eisner introduced a new genre -- birthed from the comic book --the graphic novel. The expanded “comic book” was a collection of stories about a neighborhood in the Bronx. The format appealed to a new expanded reading audience. However, it was Art Spiegelman who brought the new literary format into popularity (Lloyd Sealy Library). It resembled a novel in length and story line; however, the graphic novel’s story was driven by pictures and supplemented with only sparse text. Graphic novels not only differed from traditional comic books in their length but also subject matter. The topics ranged from classical literature to backstreet pulp fiction. Often, a graphic novel, then and now, departed from the innocence of the superhero’s overcoming the menacing, evil villain to more edgy subjects.
Current research of graphic novels overwhelmingly touts the benefits. Educators report that graphic novels promote reading for the reluctant and poor readers, for the non-native English speakers, the unmotivated readers, and the beginning readers (Reader’Advisory Guide to Graphic Novels). They claim pictures help reading comprehension, and therefore, are valuable tool for developing cognition. Graphic novels are not just for the reluctant or poor reader but are also popular with older fluent readers. Graphic novels make complex literary classics comprehensible. The story line is more easily understood with visual images, rather than words.
The Readers’Advisory Guide to Graphic Novels asserts that the genre promotes visual literacy for the 21 st century’s media demands. In addition to the academic advantages, emotionally, there is no shame associated with graphic novels as attested by the popularity with more skilled and older readers.
However, like the parents who were concerned about comic books of the 1950s, parents have their reservations about graphic novels. Though many may concede that graphic novels appeal to and motivate reluctant readers and help them comprehend subject matter, many parents are apprehensive, even cynical, of graphic novels’ net benefits for developing skilled readers and thinkers. Words are the tools of thinking. Relying on pictures for context promotes guessing for word meanings. Vocabulary is developed through reading and writing. A picture-driven story undermines both basic cognitive skills. Graphic novels cultivate passive, feckless learning habits. The mind is developed much like muscles. Effective learning requires resistance. Synapsis and memories are made stronger when effort is applied. Processing information from the words “requires constant voluntary attention” (Rossiter & Silberstein, 2001), whereas pictorial information processing is passive. Graphic novels reduce literature to an arid, anemic story line. The art of good literature is lost in the pictorial Cliff Notes approach. Divergent thinking is starved by the lack of literary devices. Learning is hard work and a lengthy process. One must ask at what point is the reluctant reader weaned from pictures to text. When will the underlying problem of poor reading strategies be addressed for the reluctant reader?
Sexually explicit pictures found in school library graphic novels incite emotional responses rather than reasoned ones. Being led by emotions (visceral responses) makes the reader easily manipulated. Often age-inappropriate, or sexually graphic novels have a low reading level (see Lexile Levels) and are accessible to younger children. Formats for comic books, graphic novels, and novels have cognitive relevance, but content should be the primary consideration for evaluating a book, not the conveyance. Content of graphic novels can be pornographic yet readily accessible for the youngest or poorest reader. Content is packaged to reach a certain audience. Judge the book by its format but then look inside and examine the content.
What is Manga? What is Anime?
Anime and Mental Health
Awards and Medals
What is the Difference Between YA and Adult Books?
Who Wins an Award and Why?
It can be puzzling. Writers, librarians, and parents don't always agree.
YA (industry abbreviation for Young Adult) novels are marketed for children 12-18 years of age. They are written about teenage characters with story lines meant to appeal to this age group; the category has had crossover into the adult market over the last several years. There lies much of the difficulty.
Young Adult books are meant to be the next level of reading material after middle-grade fiction as teens transition to adult fiction. They are often coming of age stories. They are engaging and may have some level of romance between the characters, such as kissing but they should not contain actual sexual content. The readers and reviewers at the PEP are noticing more and more books labeled YA in middle and high schools with detailed sexual content, including bondage, violence and erotica. Parents must be alert to these sexualized books. We have quite a few listed on our website. Many have received awards of one kind or another.
How did that book win that award?
The American Library Association gives out many awards to authors and illustrators. One of the most notable is the Randolph Caldecott Award. The Caldecott winners must have outstanding illustrations and appeal to children ages 5-14. In the past, Caldecott winners and honor books were mostly picture or juvenile books that were chosen by parents and teachers to be read to younger students and children. They become favorites, not just because of the pictures but because the stories are entertaining, interesting, and age appropriate. According to the guidelines, in addition to the exceptional illustrations, the book should not be didactic in nature. If you have children, you are probably familiar with these books.
Past Caldecott Winners and Caldecott Honor Award Winners
Over the last decade there has been change. This One Summer by Mariko and Jillian Mamaki won a 2015 Caldecott Honor Award. Take a look at it and see if you would agree. Other graphic novels targeting middle and high school are also receiving recognition. My Friend Dahmer by Derf Backderf is an example. Backderf is a two time Eisner award nominee. His book My Friend Dahmer was recognized as a great graphic novel for teens by the ALA and won an Alex award in 2013. Obviously some graphic novels are not meant for children and the content may not be worthy of recognition.
The John Newbery Medal is another prestigious award given yearly by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association, to the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children. Two favorites from the past were Shiloh by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor (1992) and Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli (1991). More recent winners have been challenged due to controversial content and language more than obscenities, but not always.
Several new awards have made an appearance on books in elementary and middle schools. Most students, parents, teachers, and librarians assume if a book won an award, it must be a good book. A closer look reveals books with agendas promoting values that are uncommon within most North Carolina communities.
Here are just three examples of books frequently found in middle schools. George, Looking for Alaska, and Out of Darkness. George by Alex Gino is a recipient of the following: Children's Stonewall Award, Lambda Literary Award, and Children's Choice Book Award. The first two awards are for exceptional merit relating to the gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender experience and content.
Looking for Alaska by John Green won the Printz award, an award that recognizes the "best book written for teens, based entirely on its literary merit". While it was a quick easy read, It violated NC Statutes on Obscenity. It also contained a glorified suicide. Out of Darkness by Ashley Perez is another example of an award winning book not appropriate for minors because it contains detailed depictions of incestual rape.
The Alex Awards are given to ten books written for adults that have special appeal to young adults, The winning titles are selected from the previous year's publishing. These books all received the award over the last several years: Lawn Boy; Gender Queer; Red, White, and Royal Blue; and The Kite Runner. Take a look at excerpts under the book tab. We question whether these books are appropriate for young adults in a public school setting. They all violate NC Statutes regarding obscenity.
The Pavement Education Project encourages you to be aware of the books your child selects from the media center, on class recommended reading lists, and books located in classroom libraries. We believe an award no longer ensures a book is fit for reading by a child, teen, or young adult. Furthermore, The American Library Association may no longer have the values and standards you and your family hold dear.
Resources: American Library Association. https://www.ala.org
Young Adult Library Services Association. https://www.ala.org/yalsa/