Reading has no level

An article in the Guardian discusses a new study that says children are reading below their grade level. Philip Pullman, author of the Dark Materials trilogy, says that we should not be alarmed.

“I am a bit puzzled why there’s all this anxiety, that they’re not reading for pleasure, that they’re reading the wrong books. Well, no, it’s not the wrong book. If the child is enjoying it, it’s the right book.”

Quite right my friend. This argument comes up a lot with graphic novels too. They’re not “real books” and kids should be reading something educational. Blah blah. If they’re reading it, it’s a real book and it’s important! I read kids books all the time. Probably more than I read adult books. Does that mean there’s something wrong with me?

I was a little put off by another quote in the article concerning librarians.

“…teachers and librarians are quite properly keen to motivate kids to read, and sometimes fear to recommend books that pupils might find difficult in case it ‘puts them off’.”

I think librarians in general may have trouble recommending books at their age level only because we don’t know the child personally. You take their grade level and their suggestion of books they have previously loved and go from there. Teachers can administrate tests to see their students reading level, at the library we just take their word for it. And if it ends up that we recommend a book that’s a level down but they still read it and enjoy it, I’m okay with that.

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