What are high/low books?

High interest / low reading level books are books that appeal to children who are older than the reading level of the book.

High/low books in a way are a mismatch: the reading level is lower than the age of the child to whom the book appeals. A good example is the Fudge series by Judy Blume. The early books are written at a second grade level but appeal to third or fourth grade children because the narrator begins as a fourth grader and grows older in the series.

Too many words on a page make reading hard.These books appeal to children who are struggling to read. The stories are about kids their age doing activities they do. These books are also good for ESL students whose age might not align with their reading level in English, and for disabled children, including those with dyslexia, who are behind their peers in their reading level.

What makes these books different? They share many of these qualities:

  • Shorter, everyday vocabulary words with concrete meanings
  • Short sentences
  • Short paragraphs
  • Large margins
  • Unjustified right margins (margins that look ragged)
  • Larger type size (minimum 11 point) in clear fonts
  • Realistic characters who are the same age as the reader
  • Easily differentiated characters
  • A fast moving plot which is low on description
  • Compelling stories
  • Chronological order (no flashbacks)
  • One point of view, not two
  • Illustrations, photos, graphs and maps
  • Tight, concrete writing

Many lists of these books can be found online.

A long list can be found at http://www.schoolonwheels.org/pdfs/3328/Hi-Lo-Book-List.pdf. This list gives the reading level (RL) and the interest level (IL) plus a one sentence description of the book. All the books on this list are fiction.

Some small house book publishers are known for publishing books for reluctant readers who often happen to be high/low readers. At http://www.nbss.ie/sites/default/files/publications/READ_-_hilow_books.pdf you can find the books of several publishers which are geared to students older than their reading level suggests. These books are mostly appropriate for high schoolers.

At http://www.booktrust.org.uk/books/children/bookmark/booklists/141/ there is a list of 14 books for various age levels written below age level.

http://specialeducation.answers.com/english-and-math/10-high-interest-low-reading-level-books-for-teens-with-reading-difficulties gives information about ten books, some nonfiction, which are written at low reading levels but which would still appeal to kids in their teens.

The largest teachers’ union in Britain has a listing of book publishers and book series appropriate for high/low readers. Go to http://www.teachers.org.uk/node/12418 .

Seven publishers of high/low books are listed at http://www.writing-world.com/children/foster03.shtml. Included are hyperlinks to those publishers. –Mrs. K

 

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