professornana (professornana) wrote,

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Knowing the research

After I had posted about levels and lexiles a few days ago, a conversation erupted on Facebook with Paul Hankins and a few other friends about all of the restrictions we place on kids and their reading. Not only are levels and lexiles used to restrict book selection, in some schools kids cannot read any book that has been made into a movie. I get it. As a middle school teacher, I had kids sign up for a conference on books that I knew they had not read. It became apartness soon as the conference got underway. Generally speaking, books made into movies are not carbon copies. Many times there are significant differences.

When I taught undergrad YA classes, students often complained about the ending to The Chocolate War. To quiet the complaints, I showed them the movie based on the book. In case you have missed the movie, it ends with Jerry winning in the boxing ring. A jubilant Brother Leon and Archie look on nodding in approval. It is a kick in the gut, and the students in my classes found it even more disquieting than Cormier's resolution. Books and movies often diverge in the storytelling.

However, I counter this with some research that indicates teens are more likely to read a book once they have sen the movie it is based upon. If you do not trust this research, it has been replicated twice over the span of 25+ years with similar results. And this latest set of facts (research) from Publisher's Weekly reinforces it:

Look at the Top Ten Bestselling Books from last year:

Top 10 Print Bestsellers, 2014

Rank Title Author Imprint Total units
1 The Fault in Our Stars (trade paper) John Green Penguin/Speak 1,813,574
2 The Long Haul Jeff Kinney Abrams/Amulet 1,560,410
3 Divergent Veronica Roth HarperCollins 1,426,292
4 Insurgent Veronica Roth HarperCollins 1,310,210
5 Killing Patton O’Reilly/Dugard Holt 1,190,152
6 Allegiant Veronica Roth HarperCollins 1,146,369
7 Gone Girl Gillian Flynn Broadway 962,797
8 The Fault in Our Stars (movie tie-in) John Green Penguin/Speak 923,182
9 The Fault in Our Stars (hardcover) John Green Dutton 769,065
10 Frozen Victoria Saxon Random/Disney 784,691

Eight of the top ten books are there because of a movie. And here are the stats for the juvenile book sales. 75% of these books are here because of movies as well.

1. The Fault in Our Stars (trade paper)
by John Green (Penguin/Speak)
Unit Sales: 1,813,574
2. The Long Haul
by Jeff Kinney (Abrams/Amulet)
Unit Sales: 1,560,410
3. Divergent
by Veronica Roth (HarperCollins/Tegen)
Unit Sales: 1,426,292
4. Insurgent
by Veronica Roth (HarperCollins/Tegen)
Unit Sales: 1,310,210
5. Allegiant
by Veronica Roth (HarperCollins/Tegen)
Unit Sales: 1,146,369
6. The Fault in Our Stars (movie tie-in)
by John Green (Penguin/Speak)
Unit Sales: 923,182
7. The Fault in Our Stars (hardcover)
by John Green (Dutton)
Unit Sales: 796,065
8. Frozen
by Victoria Saxon (Random/Disney)
Unit Sales: 784,691
9. If I Stay
by Gayle Forman (Penguin/Speak)
Unit Sales: 747,935
10. Looking for Alaska
by John Green (Penguin/Speak)
Unit Sales: 738,518
11. The Maze Runner
by James Dashner (Delacorte)
Unit Sales: 696,021
12. Frozen: Journey to the Ice Palace
by Frank Berrios (Random/Disney)
Unit Sales: 682,146
13. Minecraft: Redstone Handbook
by Scholastic (Scholastic)
Unit Sales: 678,978
14. Minecraft: Essential Handbook
by Scholastic (Scholastic)
Unit Sales: 671,500
15. Four
by Veronica Roth (HarperCollins/Tegen)
Unit Sales: 651,383
16. Frozen: Big Snowman
by Tish Rabe (Random/Disney)
Unit Sales: 603,803
17. Hard Luck
by Jeff Kinney (Abrams/Amulet)
Unit Sales: 598,654
18. Paper Towns
by John Green (Penguin/Speak)
Unit Sales: 577,449
19. Frozen: A Tale of Two Sisters
by Melissa Lagonegro (Random/Disney)
Unit Sales: 557,547
20. Frozen: Troll Magic
by Courtney Carbone (Random/Disney)
Unit Sales: 499,643

Bottom line: we need to cease and desist from the restrictions including re-reading, levels and Lexiles, movie tie-ins, and page count (who decided a good book has to have more than X number of pages?). As Donalyn Miller says LET MY PEOPLE READ. Let them have the FREADOM to read.
Tags: books, levels, lexiles. programs, reading
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