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Books that Require at Least a 9th-12th Grade Level Reading Proficiency*
Ranked by Their Popularity Amongst 9th through 12th Graders
Read in the 2013-2014 High School Year
According to Accelerated Reader® Independent Reading Data*
This page is no longer updated on this site due to a lack of interest.
The page remains so any links to it will work.
As of this this update (1/2016) newer data is still available at Learnalytics®
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* Thanks to Renaissance Learning® for making data from their database available at Learnalytics®.
More data is available from their website including the difficulty level of specific books.
This report was based upon books read by 466,000 9th through 12th graders.
  Read their report What Kids Are Reading: And Why It Matters, 2015 Edition for an interesting discussion of text complexity.
Here are some highlights from the section of that report entitled "An analysis of reading challenge":
 
•  "The difficulty level of books read independently by high school students is roughly comparable to bestselling books that adults
read; however, the average difficulty level of books students read is lower than many newspaper articles, and is considerably
lower than what may be required for college and career."
•  "We present text difficulty in ATOS levels, a metric that takes into account vocabulary plus word and sentence structure,
reported on a grade-level scale (e.g., a book with a 7.1 score is estimated to be understood by a typically performing
seventh-grade student in the first month of the year)."
•  This text complexity table has highlights from a more comprehensive table in the report which also describes sample selection:
 
Type of Reading Average
Grade Level
Complexity
Minimum
Grade Level
Complexity
Maximum
Grade Level
Complexity
New York Times Best Sellers - Fiction 5.6 4.6 7.2
New York Times Best Sellers - Nonfiction 7.6 5.810.2
New York Times most viewed articles 10.6 9.011.8
First-year college textbooks 13.812.714.9
Career documents 10.6 9.711.7
•  "[I]t is important to bear in mind that pushing students to read more difficult texts at the expense of comprehension could
actually be detrimental..."
•  "[Text complexity grade levels] do not denote where students should be doing the majority of their reading, but rather are
primarily meant to guide choices for select instructional reading. ... [S]tudents will benefit most from exposure to complex text
during instructional periods where scaffolding, coaching, and discussion are available."
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