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  • August 2009
    M T W T F S S
    « Jul   Sep »

The Lexile Framework: Don’t know what it is? Read all about it.

*Note: If you are just interested in learning about the Lexile Framework (which is absolutely fascinating) and not my random attempt at playwriting, please scroll down to “The Lexile Framework.” Don’t worry, I won’t be offended. Maybe a tear, perhaps even a sniffle or two, but that’ll be it. Promise.

With that said, Enjoy!

At the Library

A Comedy of Manners and Something Else

Characters in the Play

HOLLY, a teen services librarian

LILY, a teen department intern

Skip to


SCENE I. Teen Department. Librarians’ Desk.

Enter HOLLY and LILY

Lily sits at computer 1. On the screen is a glaringly white word document saved as “Titles for Reluctant Readers.” Holly sits at computer 2, initially unaware of Lily’s quiet desperation at computer 1.


Umm… Holly? I can’t seem to find any hi-lo* titles that aren’t published by Orca. Do you have any suggestions?

* A few minutes earlier, Lily had asked Holly what hi-lo meant only to realize that, much to her mortification, the definition “Hi-low stands for High Interest, Low Vocabulary, and are books for readers with lower levels of literacy” was contained in an e-mail that she had just opened and supposedly read.


Each year the ALA provides a list of Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers. The lists should be posted on its website. Here, let me show you.

HOLLY pulls up the ALA website on computer 1. In the background, a choir of teens starts to sing as LILY looks in awe at list after list of hi-lo titles, fiction AND non-fiction.


wOooow…Thanks Holly!

LILY starts to click excitedly through the lists. For the next however many minutes, only the sound of chattering teens and clicking mice can be heard.


Umm…Holly? How do they actually decide which titles are hi-low and which are…well….not?


There is something called the Lexile Framework that publishers and librarians use to gauge the reading level of a particular book. Let’s see if we can look it up.

To be continued…


And so began my recent (and by all signs enduring) preoccupation with the Lexile Framework. It’s really kinda neat. You should check it out.


According to Lexile.com the Lexile Framework, developed by educational measurement company MetaMetrics®, is:

  • a scientific approach to measuring reading ability and the difficulty of reading materials.

  • The Lexile Framework includes a Lexile measure and the Lexile scale.

  • A Lexile measure represents both the difficulty of a text, such as a book or an article, and an individual’s reading ability. Lexile measures are expressed as a number followed by an “L” (e.g., 850L), and are placed on the Lexile scale.

  • The Lexile scale is a developmental scale for measuring reading ability and text difficulty, ranging from below 200L for beginning readers and beginning-reader materials to above 1700L for advanced readers and materials.

How is a Lexile text measure determined?

The text measure for each book is calculated using an equation. The equation takes two factors into account:

  1. Semantic Difficulty: variety of words used (more variety=larger vocabulary=higher text measure=more difficult to read)

  2. Syntactic Complexity: sentence length

For a more detailed explanation, click here!

Where is the Lexile Framework used?

At school:

  • State assessments, such as those published by North Carolina, California, Texas and Georgia, and other national standardized tests, from publishers such as CTB/McGraw-Hill, Harcourt Assessment, Northwest Evaluation Association, Pearson Education and The Riverside Publishing Company.

  • about half of U.S. students receive a Lexile


Pennsylvania has NOT adopted the Lexile Framework for Reading.

At Publishing Houses:

  • Over 150 publishers have Lexile measures for their titles

  • There are 425+ publishers in the U.S. so about 35.3% of publishers that use Lexile.

At Libraries:

  • For reading level appropriate recommendations, booklists, etc…

Here are the Lexile ratings for this summer’s most popular teen books.

To look up your favorite books click HERE!

Twilight Saga by Stephenie Meyer

  • Twilight 720L
  • New Moon 690L
  • Eclipse 670L

Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling

  • Sorcerer’s Stone 880L
  • Chamber of Secrets 940L
  • Prisoner of Azkaban 880L
  • Goblet of Fire 880L
  • Order of the Phoenix 950L
  • Half-Blood Prince 1030L
  • Deathly Hollows 980L

The Clique by Lisi Harrison: 790L

Also (because I couldn’t resist) I looked up some of my summer favorites as well as some notoriously dense (or just really famous) classics.

Katsa is gifted, cursed, “graced” with the ability to kill. When she was eight years old, Katsa accidentally killed her cousin for harassing the palace women, and since then her uncle the king has used her skills for his own twisted ends. Katsa, now sixteen, is sick of being the king’s monster pet. Someone is spreading dangerous lies throughout the seven kingdoms, and Katsa and her new friend Po are determined to uncover the truth.

In a future North America, there is no Fear Factor. No Survivor. The people of the 12 districts of Panem rebelled against the Capitol years ago and lost: Now each year, the Capitol brings them the Hunger Games, the ultimate reality show. One boy and one girl are chosen from each district fight to the death in a nation-wide televised blood bath.

Abandoned by her drug-addicted mother at the age of eleven, high school student Taylor Markham struggles with her identity and family history at a boarding school in Australia.

After spending her summer running the family farm and training the quarterback for her school’s rival football team, sixteen-year-old D.J. decides to go out for the sport herself, not anticipating the reactions of those around her.

  • Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce: 1120L

  • Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen: 1190L

  • Moby Dick by Herman Melville: 1200L

  • Hamlet by William Shakespeare: 1390L

  • Paradise Lost by John Milton: 1460L


The Lexile Framework is addictive. While I encourage you to look up the Lexile measure for your favorite books and such, please do not view it as the ultimate authority on what you should be reading.

The Lexile measure does NOT take content into consideration, and there are books out there with fairly simple syntax and vocabulary but very teen/adult content.

Also since the Lexile measure places each book and reader at a definite “level”, it is tempting to use it to make decisions about your own ability to read and understand different texts. Do NOT judge yourself or your reading abilities based on a Lexile reading. Read whatever books interest you whether they have “high” or “low” Lexile measures.

***Happy Reading!***

2 Responses

  1. Even preteen-aimed books like The Clique have a higher Lexible measure than Twilight! BRB, laughing forever.

  2. *Lexile, not Lexible. I can’t spell.

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