It's Lexile time again!

Back in the old day, when asking for a book recommendation, children explained what they had been reading, and what they were looking for now. We’d ask if they liked historical fiction, fantasy, science fiction, or realistic fiction. Through the exchange, we’d get to know their likes and dislikes; when to challenge them and when not to.

But now, when asking for book suggestions we hear, “My child has a Lexile rating of 600. Could you find a book with the same number?” What a way to spoil reading for enjoyment!

The Lexile rating system was developed by MetaMetrics, an educational measurement company. MetaMetrics developed the software that measures how difficult a text is to comprehend based on semantic difficulty and syntactic complexity. To find out more about Lexile and MetaMetrics, visit their web site at

One of the downsides of the Lexile rating system is that it does not rate the books’ content, quality of writing, or developmental suitability. We’ve done some research. For example, a Lexile rating of 670 pulls up Lauren Child’s picture book, Beware of the Storybook Wovles along with Alice Walker’s The Color Purple. There is no comparison in content matter. And, the higher your Lexile number is, the more challenging it is to find age-appropriate books.

It’s maddening! Children who are already comfortable with reading can become frustrated with selecting a book based on the Lexile Rating System. Imagine your child spending hours devouring a series to then find out, half way through the series that the Lexile number is far lower than they were tested. Do you tell your child they can no longer read that series? How is that going to give them a love of reading?

Successful readers read whatever they want, above and below their ability. As parents, you can foster and encourage them by providing a broad spectrum of reading materials and making regular visits to the public library.

See you at the library.