Friday, November 8, 2013

Hi-Lo Books Are Great Choices for Struggling Older Readers

Older kids with weak reading skills face a real conundrum. Studies indicate that the best way to become a better reader is to read more. But books that are written on a level that older struggling readers can manage independently often have too-simple plot-lines, much younger characters, and center on themes adolescents find uninteresting. Books about topics and characters they like, on the other hand, are too hard.

Kenny Louie

For this tricky group of students, hi-lo books can be a magic bullet. Hi-lo is an abbreviation for “high interest-low readability.” Books that fall into this category have fast-paced plots. The characters are older, and the topics are much more interesting to readers in upper elementary, middle, and high school. Students will find that the content is not all that different from what their peers are reading, but the stories are told with more basic words and shorter sentences that make them easier to get through. Hi-lo books are available through a variety of publishers, including HIP Books, Stoke Books, and Lorimer .

Tips for Selecting the Right Hi-Lo Book
  • The right hi-lo book must fit the reader on not just one but two counts: reading level and interest level. A perfect match will ensure that your high school student is reading a book he will both appreciate and be able to decode on his own. Good retailers will make both of these numbers readily available. 
  • This is one case where it’s okay to judge a book by its cover. Weak readers don’t want to feel stigmatized or embarrassed because their peers see them carrying around “special” books, so look for books whose covers look just like those of standard, grade-level books. 
  • Let the student in question make the final choice. It might help to select several possible titles that would all fit the bill, then ask the student to pick one. Buying the book online? No problem. Good retailers’ pages will display the cover image along with a description of the book. Some even allow users to rate the books they've read, so kids can make a fully informed choice.

1 comment:

  1. Good article. So true. My wife is a librarian who told me about the older kids who came in looking for books but who could only find books with cover art for 5-year olds. So, I wrote and published 3 books (interest level grades 5-9, reading level grade 1). They are popular in her school district with EL and Special Needs students. Inspiring to hear kids say it's the first chapter book they'd ever read and passed a test on even though they were in 8th grade. Kids bring their friends in and tell them, "this is the book you want." The kids just need books they can understand to get started. They need those first successes.