professornana (professornana) wrote,

Stop. THIS.

Yesterday, there was a post on Facebook about the reading levels of popular songs. Ling with the math was the usual wringing of hands about the decline in readability in song lyrics over time. Really?

The time has come to cease and desist with this pointless "analysis" of ANYthing using syllables and sentences (and syntax and semantics, too. I'm looking at you, lexiles). Using this part to whole kind of thinking is like using a paint by number approach to art. I used to love those paint by number sets. But my finished product NEVER looked like the one on the cover. How about placing a Picasso on a grid and reproducing it? Ditto for results. And even when I draw the Pigeon along with Mo Willems, my bird is not the Pigeon.

We need to stop trying to boil down these elements as if they were some sort of magical formula that would help us match books to readers. I have posted here time and again the absurd results that can come from counting letters and words and sentences in an attempt to come up with a number value for a book. I offer instead these questions to consider.

1. As I am reading this book, am I imagining the reader(s) I will hand it to once I am done?
2. Is this a subject of interest to readers?
3. Do the characters ring true?
4. Is the plot well constructed?
5. Does the author have her or his own style?
6. Does this book offer insight to the reader?

The list could go on, but you get the drift. When it comes to matching reader to text, we need to eschew levels and lexiles. Mathematical formulae cannot do this. Charts and graphs and lists cannot do this. Computers cannot do this. Programs cannot do this. Only readers can recommend books to other readers. Teacher need to read, read widely, read deeply. Those who do are placing books in the hands of kids who are so eager to read they snatch books. Want proof? Look at blog posts and Twitter feeds and Facebook posts from Katherine Sokolowski, John Schu, Colby Sharp, Donalyn Miller, Karin Perry, Travis Jonkers, Liz Burns, Jennifer Huber Swan to name just a few.

Let us avoid talking about parts (yeah, I like Picasso, but I think there is too much blue used in this painting) and pieces (I like it, Dave, but I can't dance to it) and concentrate instead on the WHOLE.
Tags: and more idiocy, levels, lexiles
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