Teach Your Children to Hate Books Using Lexile Scores!

No_booksStupid people are on the offensive against books…again.

The latest attempt to teach our children to hate reading is something called LEXILE SCORES. This is an entire system developed by some education conglomerate that measures the difficulty of a text based on sentence length and word frequency. So the worth of an entire novel is based on those two qualities alone. It has no measure for theme or maturity level or even age-appropriateness. You copy and paste a section of the text into the LEXILE SCORE GENERATOR and it measures the text based on that sample and farts out a three or four-digit score that determines whether or not a student should read that book or not (based on the child’s own farted-out lexile score, of course).

The flawed system creates all sorts of ridiculous scenarios like suggesting a third grader with a high lexile score read Madam Bovary (Even I don’t want to read Madam Bovary). It totally ignores the work of minimalists such as Ernest Hemingway who is considered one of America’s greatest writers because of his simple sentences and straight-forward vocabulary. Here’s what I’m talking about:

Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises: 610 lexile score

Julie Andrews’ The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles: 620 lexile score

Therefore, The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles, a children’s novel,  is considered to be a more complex novel than Hemingway’s work. That’s right, Hemingway, you just got bitch-slapped by Mary Poppins. Kids, get out your Hemingway, poppa’s comin’ to town!

This is just one example of how ridiculous the entire system is. The Lemony Snicket series has some of the highest lexile scores of any listed fiction work because the books are filled with run-on sentences and nonsense words. So not only does this system not judge works accurately, but it rewards bad writing! It’s just another example of education trying to fix a problem that doesn’t exist. If you truly want to know about a novel, here’s an idea: READ THE DAMN BOOK!

As a writer of literature and a teacher of literature, this kind of bullshit angers me more than anything else because not only is it not helpful in promoting literature to our youth, it’s actually harmful to students and educators. Let’s stop trying to slap labels on books (and children while we’re at it). That’s the great thing about books: what makes a great book great is such an intangible thing. It can’t be summed up in a three or four-digit number. Children shouldn’t be confined to reading books within their “range” because the books within their range might be boring or uninteresting or just not for them. If a student needs a recommendation, ask a teacher or a librarian or some other knowledgeable adult who knows how pointless lexile scores are.

If you want children to read, the answer is simple: get good literature into their hands.



~ by themoderntranscendentalist on February 19, 2013.

2 Responses to “Teach Your Children to Hate Books Using Lexile Scores!”

  1. I couldn’t agree more. Our school in Monroe, OH has adopted this insane Lexile score to dictate what our children can read. My son is 10 and has a lexile of 1018. He is not “allowed” to read 90% of the wonderful AGE APPROPRIATE books I have on his shelves. He received the Inkheart trilogy for his birthday last month and he “can’t” read it as it is below his lexile. His teacher recommend the Lemony Snicket series and he hates it. I am beyond pissed off. So, by lexile standards, my 10 year old will never be allowed to read A Farewell to Arms in high school?? What , as a parent, can I do??

    • At the school where I teach we have to change every single book we teach because they’re no longer “age appropriate” for our students due to their lexile scores. We’re going to end up teaching far inferior novels that the students aren’t interested in. Most teachers already know how ridiculous the entire system is. As a parent the only thing you can do is complain to anyone who will listen and provide your child with quality literature at home. Push good books NOT lexile scores!

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