Schools and libraries do a great job of developing grade-level or thematic summer reading lists. Unfortunately, most classrooms are comprised of children whose reading abilities vary significantly—in some cases, from two grades below level to two grades above level. These grade-level and/or one-size-fits-all reading lists are not effective because:
- They do not cover much of the reading ability range of a particular grade. Lower-ability readers typically are left out.
- They are organized alphabetically by author's last name, rather than by text difficulty. Organizing a reading list by text difficulty gives children a goal and allows them to track their growth throughout the summer.
- Their length can intimidate reluctant readers. A tight and considered list of 15 books is better than a list of 60 books.
- They typically do not include summaries or cover images, which are the two most important pieces of information that a young person uses to choose a book.
- They tend to go stale. Childhood favorites of educators and award-winners from the 1950s should be in the minority, compared to books published within the last three years.
- They do not take into account an individual reader's interests and goals.
Lexile measures and "Find a Book" make it easy to build customized reading lists for readers at all developmental levels. To make functional summer reading lists, arrange the books by Lexile zone (every 100L) or ability level, and include a wide developmental range of books in each list. You can also point children to "Find a Book," where they can create their own personalized reading lists that they can use at the library, bookstore or online when selecting books to practice reading.
The Durham County Library made a popular set of reading lists organized by Lexile range to go along with its existing grade-level lists. The library section column in its Lexile-based lists provides basic developmental level information for parents, making it easy to find appropriate books targeted to their child's individual reading level.