I know that AR got a second life when ATOS levels became part of CCSS's machinations for determining whether or not a book is "appropriate" for a particular grade level. Now lexiles and levels are at the heart of book selection once again. The problem is, using scientific formulae is not the best way to select an artistic product.
I talk about books all the time (no surprise to those who know me). Rarely, do I mention the ATOS and Lexile scores except to point out that they are unreliable means for determining the quality of a book. So, how do we determine books to share?
1. Well, we could listen to kids for a start. What topics, issues, themes, characters, etc. are of interest to them? I began reading fantasy because I had so many kids who loved these books. Now I do, too. I might never have discovered some wonderful books were it not for recommendations from my students.
2. I participate in social networks that talk books endlessly. From #titletalk to #bookaday to The Centurions of 2013, I hang out with folks who love books and who are free with their recommendations of books I might want to read.
3. I read reviews. I notice books on lists for awards and selection lists. I seek out titles that have gotten recognitions.
4. I try books out with kids. I booktalk.
5. I do a gut check. If a book makes me laugh or cry or wince or any number of other reactions, chances re there are other readers for whom this book will also work.
We have no need for ATOS and Lexiles as long as we read ourselves. Ditch the programs; read the books.