So, this ties into a story about my son and how we decide what he might like to read. It's his birthday today, btw - he's officially hit the double digits. The big 1-0. Ten. *sigh*
In fourth grade, our school district offers gifted-and-talented programming and I'm lucky enough to have a son who not only makes friends easily, is kind to others (except, occasionally, his little brother, but hey, he never claimed to be a saint), and plays four sports a year, but is also pretty gifted at reading and spelling. Can you tell I'm proud??? You might remember him from his blogfest post back in December.
Anyway, the school tested each 4th grader and sent home information on their lexile score. At the risk of embarrassing my son for life, I'm posting his here as an example of how to find books for a certain age group and how this can help you as a writer/reader. Stay with me, please (yes, there's a chance to participate at the end and it has nothing to do with this post. you know you want to.)
Zach's score, as a 4th grader, was a 793. If you don't know what a lexile score is, check out the website at http://www.lexile.com/ (it's okay, I didn't know either - I'm an early childhood teacher) Basically, they break down the score by grade level. So Zach's in 4th grade, but he reads as an average (50th percentile) 7th grade, 9th month student.
How does this help you? Well, say, you want to write a book that a fourth grade boy will read. Take Zach's lexile number and give it a range. Say 700 to 850, to account for differing levels, etc. Then enter it into the website and see what suggestions they give you (this is what I did when I bought him a new series for his birthday). Narrow by genre if you want to. And voila - a reading list. In fact, you don't have to do it for Zach (because I'm pretty sure I'm the only one who does). You can enter grade levels and find books. They might surprise you. OR perhaps you're looking for someone who reads at a fourth grade level, no matter what their age. Then look for a range of 400-500. Cool, huh? Barnes and Noble is also nice enough to put lexile numbers right on their website in most book descriptions. Find out more here.
Basically - if you're struggling with either "dumbing down" or "talking up" your characters thoughts and dialogues, this is a must-do. Find out what your target age group is reading and what they can/should read. And then read, read, read. You can not skip this part. Ever.
Oh, and this is a Mealtime Madness Monday, but I'm too busy making baked chicken, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and peas - along with birthday cake - to post a recipe. SO HERE'S THE GOOD PART OF THIS POST (besides all the other good things, of course):
erica and christy NEED YOUR HELP!!!!!!!
Please, please, please help us post recipes for Mondays in March. Email us your favorites at lynnea.west(at)gmail(dot)com. If you're chosen, we will feature your blog along with your recipe on one of our Monday posts!! Yay for exposure and yay for our blogging friends! We hope to see you and your yummy dishes soon!
Oh, and what are you reading today and how did you choose it? I'm reading Paper Towns by John Green. It is AMAZING. I picked it because Gae Polisner said that someone who read her ARC for The Pull of Gravity compared it to that book. It is AMAZING (did I say that?).