Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Harry Potter isn't # 1: What are Kids Reading?

According to a report released by Renaissance Learning, kids are reading a wide variety of books, and not just J.K. Rowling's popular Harry Potter series.

What are Kids Reading?, lists the top 20 books read in 2007 by more than 3 million students in grades 1 - 12 who logged on to the Renaissance Learning web site to take quizzes on books that they read during the year. The book lists are available by grade level, region of the country (South, Northeast, Midwest and West) and by gender.

It's fascinating to look at the lists and remember books that I enjoyed as a child. Classics like Green Eggs and Ham, Charlotte's Web and To Kill a Mockingbird are listed along with newer classics such as The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Bridge to Terabithia and The Giver. Judy Blume, J.K. Rowling, Gary Paulsen, Louis Sacher, Jerry Spinelli and Lemony Snicket are all well represented, along with Shakespeare, Bradbury and Steinbeck.

Interestingly, the top book for teens in grades 9-12 was A Child Called It by Dave Pelzer. Pelzer just appeared in Harrisburg on Monday, May 5 at a program sponsored by the Jewish Family Service of Greater Harrisburg. I wonder how many teens were there?


Anonymous said...

Be sure to read the report and not just the article. The author essays are particularly interesting, especially the Handler (Lemony Snicket) and Curtis ones and the last section of the report.

Because this comes from Accelerated Reader there was a finite list of books and books may have been chosen for reasons other than enjoyment (quick, short, easy come to mind) so that they could take the most tests to get the highest score to get the top prize.

Children might have been reading other things than the ones someone has deemed best for their grade level for fun at the same time they were reading for the “tests.”

The popularity by grade level looks a bit skewed to me. Big Spring kids are not way above average and our kids are reading way beyond Doctor Seuss Cat in the Hats and The Very Hungry Caterpillar by second grade.