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2015 Edition

What Kids Are Reading


And Why It Matters

See inside for author commentary by Andrew Clements, Dr. Christine King Farris, Phyllis Reynolds Naylor,
and Rodman Philbrick as well as lists of the books kids in grades 112 are reading most.

New: Data-driven insights into


reading practice, achievement,
nonfiction, and text complexity.

2014 by Renaissance Learning, Inc. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America. All logos, designs, and brand names for
Renaissance Learnings products and services, including but not limited Accelerated Reader, Accelerated Reader 360, AR, ATOS, Renaissance,
Renaissance Learning, the Renaissance Learning logo, and STAR Reading, are trademarks of Renaissance Learning, Inc., and its subsidiaries,
registered, common law, or pending registration in the United States and other countries. All other product and company names should be
considered the property of their respective companies and organizations.
Introduction 2014 by Bridgette Fortenberry.
Your brain on books, a foreword 2014 by Rodman Philbrick.
Why reading matters 2014 by Andrew Clements.
Why reading matters 2014 by Christine King Farris.
Why reading matters 2014 by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor.
This publication is protected by U.S. and international copyright laws. It is unlawful to duplicate or reproduce any copyrighted material without
authorization from the copyright holder. For more information, contact:
RENAISSANCE LEARNING
P.O. Box 8036
Wisconsin Rapids, WI 54495-8036
(800) 338-4204
www.renaissance.com
answers@renaissance.com
11/14

Visit www.learnalytics.com/wkar
for additional insights
on what kids are reading

Preface
Welcome to What Kids Are Reading: And Why It Matters, 2015 Edition. This years
report is based on data for more than 9.8 million students in grades 112 from
31,633 schools nationwide who read more than 330 million books during the
20132014 school year.
Prior editions of the report have focused almost exclusively on popular book
lists. While knowing the top books students are reading by grade, gender,
and so forth, is interesting and informative, this year, we are taking our
exploration into what kids are reading a step further by asking the
question, Why does reading matter?
Simply put, the characteristics of student reading practice matter a lotfor
improving reading-achievement performance, for meeting the goals of new
college- and career-readiness standards, and ultimately for helping students
become well-rounded and successful adults.
Renaissance Learning maintains arguably the largest database of readingpractice and achievement data in the world, thanks to widespread use of
the Accelerated Reader (AR) program and the STAR Reading assessment. In
addition to lists of popular books and author commentary on the importance
of reading, each section of this years report also uses the AR database to
answer fundamental questions about student book-reading behavior in the
U.S. and how it influences achievement and growth.1
It is time to explore.

1 Unless otherwise noted, the source of the data for these analyses is the Accelerated Reader hosted database, which includes book-reading records for
more than 9.8 million students in grades 112 from 31,633 schools nationwide who read more than 330 million books during the 20132014 school year.

ii

Contents
i

Preface

Your brain on books, a foreword by Rodman Philbrick, author of Freak the Mighty

Introduction by Bridgette Fortenberry, English Teacher, Baton Rouge Magnet High School

Section I: Overall reading

An analysis of reading practice

11 Why reading matters, by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, author of Shiloh


12 Top 25 books read overall, grades 112
25

Section II: Nonfiction reading

26

An analysis of nonfiction reading

27

Why reading matters, by Dr. Christine King Farris, author of My Brother Martin: A Sister Remembers
Growing Up with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

28

Top 25 nonfiction books read by boys and girls, grades 112

41

Section III: Exposure to complex texts

42

An analysis of reading challenge

45

Why reading matters, by Andrew Clements, author of Frindle

46

Top 25 fiction and nonfiction books read overall by text complexity grade bands

51

Appendix: About the report

Tables
41

Table 1. Students need exposure to text complexity throughout schooling to be college and career ready

51

Table A1. Students, books, words, and ATOS levels by grade

Figures
4

Figure 1. Girls outpace boys in words read after grade 4

Figure 2. Characteristics of daily independent reading practice relate to growth and achievement outcomes

Figure 3. Students with goals set for independent reading practice read more and achieve better outcomes

26 Figure 4. Boys read more nonficton than girls, yet fall short of targets
42 Figure 5. Complexity for older students mirrors some adult reading but misses rigor of college and career texts
43 Figure 6. Beyond grade 5, few students read books within their text complexity grade bands
53 Figure A1. AR Quiz screen

iii

iv

Your brain on books


A foreword by Rodman Philbrick, author of Freak the Mighty
Back in the 1980s there was a famous ad campaign designed to dissuade young people
from abusing drugs. You may have seen it on You Tube. The image of an egg sizzling on a
griddle, accompanied by the message: This is your brain on drugs. Any questions?

I certainly agreed with the premisedrugs are bad for the brain. But my reaction wasnt
the one intended, because the ad made me hungry. What about bacon?, I wanted to know.
How about home fries and toast? And in my author-warped mind the image morphed
into that of a brain sizzling with ideas and creative energy: This is your brain on books.
Any questions?
Yes, as a matter of fact. Many questions. What exactly is it that happens when words enter
the brain? How does a string of symbols somehow produce a highly personalized
experience that takes place entirely inside your head? What is it about the act of reading
just you, alone with a bookthat releases an expanding universe of ideas, opinions, and
characters who come to life in your mind? How is it possible that by opening a book a reader is able to leap tall
buildings in a single bound, travel to distant galaxies in the company of Stephen Hawking, and visit a courtroom to
hear Atticus Finch argue for an innocent mans life? Want to attend the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry?
Struggle to survive in a distopian world? No problemjust turn the page.
Heres my own personal theory. Researchers at University College of London have already shown that by memorizing
the streets of London, cab drivers increase the size and complexity of their own brains. Their brains get bigger. If that is
true, then surely it follows that reading must increase the size of the human imagination, and possibly the brain itself.
Inescapable conclusion: reading makes us smarter. And I dont mean it crams our heads with factsalthough it can do
that, if you want to win on Jeopardy. I mean that by collaborating with an author, by bringing a particular story or text to
life in our own minds, we are flexing our brains and making them stronger, sharper, better.
But theres something else going on with a brain on books, something even better than making ourselves smarter and
stronger. Reading is fun. There is no drug experience that compares to reading The Hobbit for the first time, at the age
of twelve. Or The Wind in The Willows at any age. Or Anne of Green Gables or Maniac McGee, or a million other books just
waiting for you to find them, and millions yet to be written. Virginia Woolf famously wrote on the importance of A Room
of Ones Own, and thats what reading provides: a place to go that is yours alone, available at no cost from your local
library, and carried with you wherever you may go, to be entered at your convenience.
Better than bacon. Better than eggs. Better, even, than candy. This is your brain on books. Any questions? Of course
there are.
Keep reading.

Rodman Philbrick grew up on the coast of New Hampshire and has been writing novels since the age of
sixteen. His young adult novel Freak The Mighty has become a standard reading selection in thousands
of classrooms worldwide, and now has more than three million copies in print. In 2010, Philbrick won a
Newbery Honor for The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg, a stage version of which was presented at
the Kennedy Center in 2012. His latest novel for young readers, Zane and The Hurricane, was published
in 2014.

vi

Introduction
by Bridgette Fortenberry, English Teacher,
Baton Rouge Magnet High School
Growing up in inner city New Orleans during the late 1980s was much like growing
up in Harper Lees Maycomb, Alabama, of To Kill a Mockingbird. Similarly to Scout,
Jem, and Dill, my siblings and I spent our summer days playing outside and making
mischief. We constantly convinced each other to be creative and cunning in our
daily antics. Also like Scout and Jem, my home did not always possess a television.
This left much of my youth spent with my face buried in a book. With the aid of
books from my elementary school and local library, I was transported through time
and space to places long gone and yet to be discovered. I was no longer the quiet,
timid one sitting alone in the living room; I was the brave adventurer traveling the
world getting my passport stamped and my mind exposed to cultures and
experiences far beyond my neighborhood. I grew up seeing books as the mainstay
of entertainment and enjoyment.
Work and research as a classroom
I implore educators to
educator has led me to the
encourage students to
disturbing realization that this
generation of students does not see
delve into nonfiction texts.
books through the same lens that I
saw these literary masterpieces.
Although some of them enjoy reading, many of them find it hard to reconcile the
time devoted to reading a book. In their opinion, that time could be spent watching
a television show or updating their social media page. As educators, we must strive
to be not discouraged by the possibility that this generation of children may not see
the world the way that we and our parents saw it. Instead, we must adjust our
lenses to see their reality of digital dependence and connect it to the present
literary landscape that features the very themes and concepts that continue to
challenge us all as human beings.
A great way to create this connection lies in teachers having conversations with
students about what intrigues them in life and then making the connection to
recommended literature. My results from beginning of the year discussions and
Accelerated Reader Status of the Class observations have demonstrated that
students still enjoy fiction texts that feature flawed characters and tragic heroes.
Students are drawn to the stories of those young men and women who do not
always get it right but continue to fight for the possibility of goodness.

Bridgette Fortenberry,
who has served as an
English educator for the
past decade, knows that
teaching is her true calling.
Throughout her classroom
tenure, she has received
two Baton Rouge High
School Teacher of the
Year Awards and has been
named District Finalist
once. She attributes this
recognition to her service
as the BRMHS AR Lead
teacher for the English
department and above
all to her commitment to
the education of children.
Additionally, she serves as
ACT Prep interventionist
and sponsor of several
service-oriented student
organizations. She has
also been called on several
occasions to share her
methodologies with
teachers both regionally
and in private practice.
Her educational
philosophy states that
the key to education is
firmness tempered
with caring.

For example, If I Stay by Gayle Forman captures the hearts of many young readers
because it shows the struggle of holding on when it would be much easier to let
go. Students who both read the text and watched the movie all responded that the
book engaged their hearts on a level that the film did not because the book
exposed the dark corners of the mind where the right answer is not always black and white. Another new classic, The
Hate List by Jennifer Brown, is riveting to both males and females who struggle with being an outsider. Students reach
the epiphany that high school is horrible for many people, but harming others has perpetual consequences. This novel
offers readers an opportunity to see what happens when daydreams come true and ultimately lead to nightmares. Both
of these selections showcase the turbulent nature of this generations struggle to find answers in a world inhabited with
a plethora of psychological pressures pushing them to polarizing positions. These books also offer a way for students to
process problems without suffering the devastating consequences that accompany passionate youthful choices.

Conversely, in addition to fiction, I have come to realize the


significance and importance of nonfiction to a generation
enthralled by reality television and blockbuster movies. Many
times students accept and emulate the behaviors and values
of these celebrities despite the obvious flaws shown on screen.
Therefore, I implore educators to encourage students to delve
into nonfiction textsit is remarkable to see the conversations of
contrast that develop from this additional valid information.

As educators, we must commit


to connecting ourselves to
this generation of students
through literature.

A noteworthy example with my students happened in connection to the hit films Freedom Writers and The Blind Side.
When I have recommended that students investigate Michael Ohers I Beat the Odds and The Freedom Writers The
Freedom Writers Diary, they have returned with revelations about the true people featured in film beyond the Hollywood
treatment. Afterwards, students identified more closely with these works because there was so much more to the story
on the written page than in the movies. These revelations do not have to stop at the movies; nonfiction texts can also
combat misconceptions seen on television. Having students look at Willie Robertsons The Duck Commander Family:
How Faith, Family, and Ducks Created a Dynasty or Beatrice Sparkss Annies Baby forces them to reconsider the validity
of all things reality. If students can reconsider the validity of what they perceive as truth, then they have to consider the
manner in which they are thinking, which ultimately is the goal of the consummate educator.
Hopefully, this introduction has made you reconsider the fact that we educators still possess a booming voice above
the din of digital distractions. If it has, use your voice and reconnect your students to the written word. What Kids Are
Reading serves as a fantastic resource for educators to foster that connection because it features selections by grade,
gender, genre, and book level and provides in-depth analyses on important components of student reading practice.
The lists, which feature the most popular selections, provide thought-provoking options for teachers to share with
students. It allows educators to have a link to what students might enjoy without teachers attempting to read all of
the young adult literature in the local library. The texts separated by gender and grade level are especially useful. For
example, an appropriate choice can be found for an eleven-year-old male sixth grader by a high school female English
teacher without either of them feeling lost.
As educators, we must commit to connecting ourselves to this generation of students through literature and deliberate
action. If students and teachers are bonded by the written word, the world will continue to create new possibilities and
revitalize the love of reading.

Section I: Overall reading


What are kids reading?
With more than 167,000 Accelerated Reader Quizzes available, AR makes the essential student practice component
of any reading curriculum more effective by helping teachers monitor and guide students independent reading.
Currently, the Accelerated Reader hosted databaseupon which this report is basedincludes book-reading
records for more than 9.8 million students from 31,633 schools nationwide who read more than 330 million books
during the 20132014 school year. The lists that begin on p. 12 rank the top 25 books read overall in grades 112.2 To
compare readership to the past two school years, view each books prior-year rankings.

Why it matters...
The importance of student practice in reading cannot be overstated. In order to read well and become well readas
is emphasized in college- and career-readiness standardsstudents must dedicate time and effort to practicing this
critical skill.
Explore an in-depth look at what AR data tells us about reading practice on p. 4. Then learn why reading matters to
guest essayist Phyllis Reynolds Naylor (author of Shiloh) on p. 11.

For additional insights on what kids are reading, visit www.learnalytics.com/wkar


2N
 ote: Because schools may optionally record demographic information about students in AR, gender data is available for approximately 68% of students.
Thus, book lists in this section compile records for boys, girls, and students for which gender was not recorded.

An analysis of reading practice


Think of any skillpiano, carpentry, cooking, algebra, basketball, and so forth. What do they all have in common? It
is impossible to do well at any of these activities without practicing extensively. Experts who study skill acquisition
have found that we have to dedicate a sufficient amount of time to practice, and that this time is best spent if we set
goals, work at the optimal level of challenge, receive immediate relevant feedback, and have opportunities to
elaborate on what we are learning (Ericsson, Prietula, & Cokely, 2007).
Reading is no exception. In order to become successful readers,
students need high-quality instruction and other supports, but
reading volume is also a non-negotiable part of the equation for
developing vocabulary, fluency, comprehension, writing, and
higher-order thinking skills (e.g., Anderson, Wilson, & Fielding,
1988; Baker, Simmons, & Kameenui, 1995; Cunningham &
Stanovich, 1998b).

Girls encounter nearly 3.8


million words between grades
112about 25% more than
boys, who encounter just over
3 million.

Regardless of whether books are assigned or self-selected, the


independent reading students do on a (hopefully) daily basis represents a form of self-guided practice. Mining data
on daily independent reading practice and achievement from millions of students who use Accelerated Reader
allows us to address important questions about independent reading practice, including what makes it so vital for
helping children become successful readers.
1. By grade and gender, how much independent book reading practice do American students do?
On average, students read the most books in grades 2 and 3 (about 57 and 51 per year, respectively), and the
fewest in grades 11 and 12 (about 5 per year). See the Appendix to this report for the average number of books
read by grade (table A1, p. 51).
The average number of words students read in books per year begins at about 25,000 in grade 1, rises each year
until its peak at about 436,000 in grade 6, and then decreases to the low 300,000s by the end of high school
(table A1, p. 51).
As seen below in figure 1, on average, girls read 761,000 more words than boys by the time they finish high
school. Girls encounter nearly 3.8 million words between grades 112about 25% more than boys, who
encounter just over 3 million.
Figure 1. Girls outpace boys in words read after grade 4

Examining reading volume is important for many reasons, one being vocabulary (Cunningham & Stanovich, 1998a).
Vocabulary can be thought of as knowledge of words and word meanings (National Reading Technical Assistance
Center [NRTAC], 2010, p. 1). Needless to say, students cannot understand a text unless they are familiar with words
and their meanings, or they have developed strategies to learn unfamiliar words. Students vocabularies need to
expand over time if they are to understand increasingly complex text as they progress toward college and careers.
It is no surprise then that reading experts and standards authors have repeatedly called attention to the critical role
vocabulary plays in the development of reading skills and learning in general (Anderson & Nagy, 1991; National
Governors Association Center for Best Practices/Council of Chief State School Officers, 2010).
Every student should be afforded opportunities to develop vocabulary through a variety of means, including direct
instruction, structured tasks, and independent reading practice, among others (NRTAC, 2010). Independent reading
practice is important because we know that in order for students to build and strengthen their vocabularies, they
need repeated exposure to words in a variety of contexts (Stahl, 2005). Independent book reading is not the only
way students get multiple word exposures, but it is an important one (Nagy, Anderson, & Herman, 1987).
In figure 1, the data indicate that girls typically encounter about 761,000 more words in books than boys by the time
they finish the 12th gradea 25% difference. The advantages in vocabulary exposure and practice enjoyed by girls
may help explain their superior performance on a number of reading-achievement tests such as the National
Assessment of Educational Progress (National Center for Education Statistics, 2013).
Gender aside, we should be asking whether every student is doing
enough independent reading practice to build vocabulary and hone
comprehension skills. Academic standards are mostly silent on how
long students should read each day, but it is worth noting that in
recent years some states and districts have launched awareness
campaigns suggesting students should work up to reading as many
as a million words per year (Denver Public Schools, 2007; Families in
Schools, 2014). Looking again at the averages in table A1 (Appendix,
p. 51), clearly, most students are falling well short of those goals. In
the next discussion, we examine the relationship between volume
and achievement in more detail.

Three characteristics of
reading practice explain
variance in achievement
outcomes: comprehension,
volume, and challenge.
(Renaissance Learning, 2012)

2. What characteristics of independent reading practice are associated with reading-achievement growth?
Prior research (Renaissance Learning, 2012) has demonstrated that three characteristics of reading practice
explain variance in achievement outcomes: comprehension, volume, and challenge.
Students who are able to find books at the right challenge level, read them at a high comprehension rate
(85% or higher), and spend 30+ minutes per day reading experience the strongest gains in achievement.
Of the three variables of independent reading practicecomprehension, volume, and challengethe most
powerful predictor of growth is comprehension. That is, the extent to which students understand the main points
of the books they read. Findings from prior research, reflected in figure 2 (next page), have detected a tipping point
around a comprehension level of about 85% (i.e., students averaging 85% or higher on Accelerated Reader
comprehension quizzes taken after reading a book). Students who maintain this level of success over a quarter,
semester, or school year are likely to experience above-average achievement growth.
In summarizing research studies over the past several years, Allington (2009) stated that the answer to the question
of whether reading volume affects reading proficiency is a pretty straightforward yes (p. 34). We have similarly
confirmed the role that volume, or the time students spend reading books, is critical. Using AR metrics such as the
number of words read and the challenge level of the books read, we are able to estimate the amount of time
students spend engaged with books each day. This reading time can occur either within and outside of class, or
both. We call it estimated engaged reading time (ERT). As with comprehension and the special 85% mark, prior
research has identified ERT values of 15 minutes of engaged time per day as the sweet spot associated with
accelerated reading-achievement growth (provided students comprehend what they are reading). Students
averaging upwards of 30 minutes per day of reading practice achieve even greater rates of growth.

Note, we are describing engaged reading time; we know that often teachers have to schedule more clock time to
ensure a certain amount of engaged time. For instance, to accomplish 25 minutes of engaged reading time per day,
teachers may need to schedule approximately 35 minutes of clock time either in the classroom and/or as homework.
Figure 2 presents comprehension and volume in a quadrant graph with two outcomes: (1) spring or end-of-year
reading achievement as a percentile rank (PR, interpreted as the percent of students in the same grade who scored
lower, with 50 being typical), and (2) fall-to-spring student growth percentile (SGP), interpreted as describing a
students growth experienced during the course of the year in comparison to a students academic peers (i.e.,
students in the same grade with a similar starting score). As with percentile rank, SGP operates on a 1 to 99 scale,
with 50 being typical. SGPs above 50 indicate accelerated growth relative to academic peers.
Figure 2. Characteristics of daily independent reading practice relate to growth and achievement outcomes

Spring achievement (PR)

99

High achievement, low growth

High achievement, high growth


Students who spend
30+ minutes daily
reading and show high
comprehension (85%+)
of what they read tend
to have accelerated
reading-achievement
growth and finish the
year well above their
grade peers.

50

Students who spend


little time daily reading
books and show low
comprehension of
what they read tend
to have slow readingachievement growth
and finish the year well
below their grade peers.

Low achievement, low growth

1
1

Low achievement, high growth

50

99

Fall-to-spring growth (SGP)


Note: Size of bubble indicates number of students in group.

Average percent
correct
(Daily reading
comprehension)

< 65%

6585%

> 85%

(Volume)

Median SGP:
student growth
percentile

(Spring achievement)

Number
of students

< 15 min.

13

21

125,937

1529 min.

12

21

15,503

30+ min.

11

20

5,176

< 15 min.

30

42

190,084

1529 min.

43

46

102,251

30+ min.

51

49

68,402

< 15 min.

71

62

131,602

1529 min.

80

70

134,510

30+ min.

83

77

202,370

Daily engaged
reading time

(Growth)

Median PR:
percentile rank

Using figure 2, lets explore why comprehension is the most important of the reading variables:
In the figure, find the students who spend a lot of time reading (30+ minutes per day) but at low comprehension
levels (< 65%). Unsurprisingly, they finish the year well behind their peers in achievement. With a median SGP
of 11, their growth is slower than 89 percent of their academic peers.
Even students at a moderate comprehension level (6585%) only experience slightly accelerated growth if they
do a lot of reading; 30+ minutes per day is associated with a median SGP of 51.
In contrast, students hitting high marks both in comprehension (> 85%+) and in reading volume (30+ minutes)
tend to experience extremely high rates of growth (a median SGP of 83). About 21% of students in our sample
were in this group.
A third variable of daily independent reading practice known
to influence reading-achievement growth is challenge. In
other words, the difficulty or complexity level of the books
students read. Since Accelerated Reader is a personalized
system, each student is provided with his/her own suggested
range, or zone based on prior reading-achievement scores
and reading-practice behavior. We refer to this range as ZPD.3
Teachers often adjust students ZPDs based on how well they
are performing on AR comprehension quizzes.
Prior research (Renaissance Learning, 2012) on the
relationship of challenge to achievement growth has shown
the following, controlling for prior achievement and other
characteristics of independent reading practice:

When we examine less skilled


or struggling readers, we see
that those who read a lot of
appropriately challenging books
at high comprehension tended
to experience accelerated growth
throughout the school year and
thus close gaps.

Students who read within their personal ZPD tend to have accelerated achievement growth. About 54% of
books students read are within their ZPD.
The more students read below their personal ZPD, the slower their rate of growth. About 34% of books
students read are below their ZPD.
When students read above their personal ZPD, it can be associated with accelerated growth, but only if the
students understand a majority of a books main points. Otherwise, reading above ZPD is usually not beneficial.
About 12% of books students read are above their ZPD.
These results beg a chicken-or-the-egg? question. For students with high rates of growth, did they become stronger
readers because they engaged in successful and voluminous reading practice every day, or did they do a lot of
reading because they were good readers to begin with? We see evidence of both in the data. While it is true that highperforming students tend to do a lot of reading, it is also true that when we examine less skilled or struggling
readers, we see that those who read a lot of appropriately challenging books at high comprehension tended to
experience accelerated growth throughout the school year and thus close gaps. This is consistent with other studies
(Biancarosa & Snow, 2006; Gersten et al., 2008), which point out that while high-quality instruction and other factors
are important for helping struggling readers close achievement gaps, making sure students spend enough time with
engaging and appropriately challenging text must be part of the solution.
3. Does setting goals for independent reading practice help students read more, and read better?
Students with reading-practice goals are likely to read more books, experience higher success/comprehension
rates, and ultimately make greater gains in reading achievement.

3 ZPD, a theoretical concept inspired by Russian psychologist Lev Vygotsky, is based on appropriate level of difficultyneither too easy nor too hard
where students are challenged without being frustrated (Vygotsky, L. S. (1978). Mind in society: The development of higher mental processes. Cambridge,
MA: Harvard University Press).

It is a well-confirmed finding in various research literatures (e.g., psychology, sports, business) that setting goals
is associated with improved performance (Harrison, 2013; MacNamara, Holmes, & Collins, 2006). Reading is
no different.
In Accelerated Reader software, teachers have the option to set personalized goals for each student for independent
reading by marking period. Though not all teachers choose to set goals, those students who have goals set tend to
with
read more than their peers who do not.Students
These students
also tend to demonstrate greater growth on reading
AR goals
achievement tests, controlling for grade, prior
achievement, and other factors (see figure 3).
Figure 3. Students with goals set for independent reading practice read more and achieve better outcomes

On average, students with AR goals


(vs. those without set goals):*

32%

Read more

difficult

Took
more quizzes

books

Read at a

Read

higher
level

35%
more minutes
per day

of comprehension
Read

more
books

Scored

4%
higher

higher

Experienced
reading achievement growth
Earned

Achieve

34% greater
more AR points

growth

on reading
comprehension
quizzes

than students
without
AR goals

* Based on 20132014 data from 4,204,771 students reading


199,355,296 books.

References
Allington, R. L. (2009). If they dont read much 30 years later. In E. H. Hiebert (Ed.), Reading more, reading better (pp. 3054).

New York: Guilford.
Anderson, R., & Nagy, W. (1991). Word meanings. In R. Barr, M. Kamil, P. Mosenthal, & P. D. Pearson (Eds.), Handbook of reading research,

Vol. 2 (pp. 690724). New York: Longman.
Anderson, R. C., Wilson, P., & Fielding, L. (1988). Growth in reading and how children spend their time outside of school. Reading Research

Quarterly, 23(3), 285303.
Baker, S. K., Simmons, D. C., & Kameenui, E. J. (1995). Vocabulary acquisition: Synthesis of the research. Eugene: University of Oregon,

College of Education, National Center to Improve the Tools of Educators.
Biancarosa, G., & Snow, C. E. (2006). Reading nextA vision for action and research in middle and high school literacy: A report to Carnegie
Corporation of New York (2nd ed.). Washington, DC: Alliance for Excellence in Education. Retrieved from
http://carnegie.org/fileadmin/Media/Publications/PDF/ReadingNext.pdf

Cunningham, A. E., & Stanovich, K. E. (1998a). Early reading acquisition and its relation to reading experience and ability 10 years later.

Developmental Psychology, 33, 934945.
Cunningham, A. E., & Stanovich, K. E. (1998b). What reading does for the mind. American Educator, 22(1-2), 815.
Denver Public Schools. (2007). Million word campaign. Retrieved from
http://curriculum.dpsk12.org/lang_literacy_cultural/literacy/archives/million_words/index.shtml
Ericsson K. A., Prietula, M. J, & Cokely, E. T. (2007). The making of an expert. Harvard Business Review, 85(7/8), 114121.
Families in Schools. (2014). Million word challenge. Retrieved from http://www.millionwordchallenge.org/index.php
Gersten, R., Compton, D., Connor, C. M., Dimino, J., Santoro, L., Linan-Thompson, S., & Tilly, W. D. (2008). Assisting students struggling
with reading: Response to Intervention and multi-tier intervention for reading in the primary grades. A practice guide. (NCEE
2009-4045). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education
Evaluation and Regional Assistance. Retrieved from http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/wwc/pdf/practice_guides/rti_reading_pg_021809.pdf
Harrison, G. (2013). Psychological skills, coaching, and performance of cyclo-cross athletes (Unpublished thesis). University of

WisconsinLa Crosse.
MacNamara, A., Holmes, P., & Collins, D. (2006). The pathway to excellence: the role of psychological characteristics in negotiating the

challenges of musical development. British Journal of Music Education, 23(03), 285302.
Nagy, W. E., Anderson, R. C., & Herman, P. A. (1987). Learning word meanings from context during normal reading. American Educational

Research Journal, 24, 237270.
National Center for Education Statistics. (2013). The nations report card: Trends in academic progress 2012 (NCES 2013456). Washington,

DC: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics.
National Governors Association Center for Best Practices, Council of Chief State School Officers. (2010). Common Core State Standards
for English language arts & literacy in history/social studies, science, and technical subjects. Washington, DC: Author. Retrieved
from www.corestandards.org
National Reading Technical Assistance Center. (2010). A review of the current research on vocabulary instruction. Portsmouth, NH: RMC

Research Corporation. Retrieved from http://www2.ed.gov/programs/readingfirst/support/rmcfinal1.pdf
Renaissance Learning. (2012). Guided independent reading. Wisconsin Rapids, WI: Author. Retrieved from
http://doc.renlearn.com/KMNet/R005577721AC3667.pdf
Stahl, S. A. (2005). Four problems with teaching word meanings (and what to do to make vocabulary an integral part of instruction). In
E. H. Hiebert & M. L. Kamil (Eds.), Teaching and learning vocabulary: Bringing research to practice (pp. 95114). Mahwah, NJ:
Lawrence Erlbaum.

10

Why reading matters


by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, author of Shiloh
My first thought, when asked to write an essay about why reading is important, was that I
might well have been asked why air is important. How could I imagine life without it?
Growing up in the Great Depression, books were especially valued in my family because we
had so few of them. Of anything. Of those I remember was a set of Collier Encyclopedias
that doubled as roads and bridges for my little brothers toy cars. We had a mouse-eaten
collection of Sherlock Holmes, a Bible story book and a Bible, Child Rhymes by James
Whitcomb Riley, a set of Mark Twain, and my most beloved picture book, The Little White
Bed that Ran Away.
But we also had a library card in each of those seven or more different neighborhoods in
which we lived, and this brought us The Wind in the Willows, Alice in Wonderland, and a
whole host of books that, strange to say, were read to us every evening by one of our
parents almost until we entered junior high school. Whenever a teacher tells me that she reads aloud to her class each
day, I want to hug her. I can still hear my fathers voice, imitating each character from Tom Sawyers Aunt Polly to Huck
Finn and Injun Joe. If listening to these books was so wonderful, I think I decided, writing them must be even better.
And so I wrote. Dozens and dozens of little books on the backs of scratch paper. I regularly made excuses for refusing
sleepovers, reluctant to miss whatever continued story was being read to us back home. At sixteen, prompted by a
former Sunday school teacher-turned-editor, I wrote stories for various denominational publications, and received
occasional checks for fifteen dollars or so, depending on word length.
When I got to college, someone gave me a copy of a little 35 cent paperback called Good Reading, listing critics choices
of the best books in various categoriespsychology, science, literature, history, sociology, biographyand I began to
read. Voraciously. Any book I liked. I did not have to read to the end if I didnt like it. It was like a buffet: Animal Farm,
Main Street, Varieties of Religious Experience, The Golden Bough, Nineteen Eighty-Four, Theory of the Leisure Class, The
Sound and the Fury, Madame Bovary... All for my understanding and pleasure. No tests. No papers to write. Just enjoy,
enjoy. And then I began to write in earnest.
Now, when a teacher is reading one of my stories to a class and laughing so hard he has to hand the book to someone
else, children often write and tell me about it. When a teacher is reading something and there are tears in her eyes, I
hear about that too. Because when a book means that much to an adult, and when a student sees that a grown-up is
willing to share this treasure with him, hes hooked. And once you open that door to reading, its open for life.

Phyllis Reynolds Naylor had her first short story published when she was sixteen. She is now the author
of over 140 books for both children and adults. These include Shiloh, winner of the 1992 Newbery award,
and its sequels, and the long-running Alice series, following the life of a young girl from age 8 to 60.
Another series, popular among middle-grade readers, begins with The Boys Start the War and The Girls
Get Even. Naylor writes serious and coming-of-age novels, as well as humor, mystery, fantasy,
suspense, animal stories, gothic horror, and adventure. She lives in Gaithersburg, Maryland.
Photo by Patrice Gilbert.

11

Section I: Overall reading

Top 25 books read overall, grades 112


Grade 1
In total, 1,091,269 first graders read 45,333,897 books and 27,537,712,169 words during the 20132014 school year. The
average number of words read was 23,694 for boys and 25,283 for girls. Approximately 13% of the books were read to
students, 14% were read with students, and 73% were read independently.
Overall
Rank

201213
Rank

201112
Rank

Green Eggs and Ham, Dr. Seuss (1.5, LG)

The Foot Book, Dr. Seuss (0.6, LG)

Biscuit, Alyssa Satin Capucilli (1.4, LG)

Biscuit Goes to School, Alyssa Satin Capucilli (0.9, LG)

Biscuit Finds a Friend, Alyssa Satin Capucilli (0.8, LG)

Hop on Pop, Dr. Seuss (1.5, LG)

17

24

Hi, Fly Guy!, Tedd Arnold (1.5, LG)

Are You My Mother?, P.D. Eastman (1.6, LG)

One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish, Dr. Seuss (1.7, LG)

10

11

12

Go, Dog. Go!, P.D. Eastman (1.2, LG)

11

10

10

The Cat in the Hat, Dr. Seuss (2.1, LG)

12

11

Bathtime for Biscuit, Alyssa Satin Capucilli (1.1, LG)

13

13

13

Biscuit's New Trick, Alyssa Satin Capucilli (1.0, LG)

14

14

15

Biscuit Wants to Play, Alyssa Satin Capucilli (0.9, LG)

15

18

23

There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed Fly Guy, Tedd Arnold (1.6, LG)

16

15

14

David Goes to School, David Shannon (0.9, LG)

17

16

16

Biscuit's Big Friend, Alyssa Satin Capucilli (0.8, LG)

18

19

18

Biscuit Wins a Prize, Alyssa Satin Capucilli (0.9, LG)

19

12

If You Give a Pig a Pancake, Laura Numeroff (2.5, LG)

20

23

21

Biscuit Visits the Big City, Alyssa Satin Capucilli (1.0, LG)

21

21

20

Biscuit and the Baby, Alyssa Satin Capucilli (0.9, LG)

22

24

43

I Spy Fly Guy!, Tedd Arnold (1.5, LG)

23

27

33

Fly High, Fly Guy!, Tedd Arnold (1.4, LG)

24

20

17

The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Eric Carle (2.9, LG)

25

22

19

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, Laura Numeroff (2.7, LG)

Title, author (ATOS level, interest level)*

* The average ATOS level of the top 25 books read by first graders was 1.4. ATOS level and interest level together inform book selection. ATOS level is an estimate
of text difficulty reported on a grade-level scale. Interest levels refer to the sophistication/maturity of a texts content, ideas, and themes: LG (lower grades,
K3), MG (middle grades, 48), MG+ (middle grades plus, 6 and up), and UG (upper grades, 912).

12

Section I: Overall reading

Grade 2
In total, 1,438,167 second graders read 82,415,999 books and 119,207,024,815 words during the 20132014 school year.
The average number of words read was 78,862 for boys and 81,776 for girls. Approximately 8% of the books were read to
students, 6% were read with students, and 86% were read independently.
Overall
Rank

201213
Rank

201112
Rank

Green Eggs and Ham, Dr. Seuss (1.5, LG)

Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type, Doreen Cronin (2.3, LG)

Officer Buckle and Gloria, Peggy Rathmann (3.4, LG)

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, Laura Numeroff (2.7, LG)

The Foot Book, Dr. Seuss (0.6, LG)

The Cat in the Hat, Dr. Seuss (2.1, LG)

If You Give a Pig a Pancake, Laura Numeroff (2.5, LG)

If You Give a Moose a Muffin, Laura Numeroff (2.4, LG)

The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Eric Carle (2.9, LG)

10

10

10

If You Take a Mouse to School, Laura Numeroff (2.4, LG)

11

13

13

Hop on Pop, Dr. Seuss (1.5, LG)

12

11

12

If You Take a Mouse to the Movies, Laura Numeroff (2.1, LG)

13

12

11

Henry and Mudge and the Starry Night, Cynthia Rylant (2.2, LG)

14

14

14

Are You My Mother?, P.D. Eastman (1.6, LG)

15

21

27

Hi, Fly Guy!, Tedd Arnold (1.5, LG)

16

16

16

Diary of a Worm, Doreen Cronin (2.8, LG)

17

19

24

Henry and Mudge: The First Book of Their Adventures, Cynthia Rylant (2.7, LG)

18

15

18

If You Give a Pig a Party, Laura Numeroff (2.2, LG)

19

20

67

Fly Guy vs. the Flyswatter!, Tedd Arnold (2.1, LG)

20

24

19

One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish, Dr. Seuss (1.7, LG)

21

23

29

There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed Fly Guy, Tedd Arnold (1.6, LG)

22

17

15

Miss Nelson Is Missing!, Harry Allard (2.7, LG)

23

18

17

The Giving Tree, Shel Silverstein (2.6, LG)

24

38

42

Diary of a Spider, Doreen Cronin (2.5, LG)

25

22

21

If You Give a Cat a Cupcake, Laura Numeroff (2.4, LG)

Title, author (ATOS level, interest level)*

* The average ATOS level of the top 25 books read by second graders was 2.2. ATOS level and interest level together inform book selection. ATOS level is an
estimate of text difficulty reported on a grade-level scale. Interest levels refer to the sophistication/maturity of a texts content, ideas, and themes: LG
(lower grades, K3), MG (middle grades, 48), MG+ (middle grades plus, 6 and up), and UG (upper grades, 912).

13

Section I: Overall reading

Grade 3
In total, 1,518,290 third graders read 76,912,317 books and 286,892,342,977 words during the 20132014 school year. The
average number of words read was 178,907 for boys and 187,403 for girls.
Overall
Rank

201213
Rank

201112
Rank

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Hard Luck, Jeff Kinney (5.5, MG)

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days, Jeff Kinney (5.2, MG)

Charlotte's Web, E.B. White (4.4, MG)

15

11

Green Eggs and Ham, Dr. Seuss (1.5, LG)

Dogzilla, Dav Pilkey (4.2, LG)

Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Jeff Kinney (5.2, MG)

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules, Jeff Kinney (5.2, MG)

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Ugly Truth, Jeff Kinney (5.5, MG)

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Last Straw, Jeff Kinney (5.4, MG)

10

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Cabin Fever, Jeff Kinney (5.8, MG)

11

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Third Wheel, Jeff Kinney (5.6, MG)

12

12

12

The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs, Jon Scieszka (3.0, LG)

13

17

37

Because of Winn-Dixie, Kate DiCamillo (3.9, MG)

14

14

13

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, Laura Numeroff (2.7, LG)

15

11

15

First Day Jitters, Julie Danneberg (2.4, LG)

16

20

25

Wolf!, Becky Bloom (3.5, LG)

17

13

14

Penguin Chick, Betty Tatham (3.4, LG)

18

28

24

The Cat in the Hat, Dr. Seuss (2.1, LG)

19

27

30

Tops & Bottoms, Janet Stevens (3.2, LG)

20

10

Boom Town, Sonia Levitin (3.7, LG)

21

62

60

The Foot Book, Dr. Seuss (0.6, LG)

22

18

16

Where the Wild Things Are, Maurice Sendak (3.4, LG)

23

22

29

Stone Fox, John Reynolds Gardiner (4.0, MG)

24

24

22

If You Give a Pig a Pancake, Laura Numeroff (2.5, LG)

25

23

23

If You Give a Moose a Muffin, Laura Numeroff (2.4, LG)

Title, author (ATOS level, interest level)*

* The average ATOS level of the top 25 books read by third graders was 3.9. ATOS level and interest level together inform book selection. ATOS level is an estimate
of text difficulty reported on a grade-level scale. Interest levels refer to the sophistication/maturity of a texts content, ideas, and themes: LG (lower grades,
K3), MG (middle grades, 48), MG+ (middle grades plus, 6 and up), and UG (upper grades, 912).
8 Title published after prior-year report data collection.

14

Section I: Overall reading

Grade 4
In total, 1,495,999 fourth graders read 54,717,531 books and 464,251,801,862 words during the 20132014 school year. The
average number of words read was 293,658 for boys and 314,823 for girls.
Overall
Rank

201213
Rank

201112
Rank

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Hard Luck, Jeff Kinney (5.5, MG)

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Third Wheel, Jeff Kinney (5.6, MG)

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days, Jeff Kinney (5.2, MG)

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Cabin Fever, Jeff Kinney (5.8, MG)

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Ugly Truth, Jeff Kinney (5.5, MG)

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Last Straw, Jeff Kinney (5.4, MG)

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules, Jeff Kinney (5.2, MG)

Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Jeff Kinney (5.2, MG)

Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, Judy Blume (3.3, MG)

10

Because of Winn-Dixie, Kate DiCamillo (3.9, MG)

11

10

10

Stone Fox, John Reynolds Gardiner (4.0, MG)

12

16

16

Frindle, Andrew Clements (5.4, MG)

13

11

The Stranger, Chris Van Allsburg (3.7, LG)

14

17

15

The Adventures of Captain Underpants, Dav Pilkey (4.3, MG)

15

21

26

Island of the Blue Dolphins, Scott O'Dell (5.4, MG)

16

29

35

The Lightning Thief, Rick Riordan (4.7, MG)

17

12

13

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, Barbara Robinson (5.1, MG)

18

18

18

My Brother Martin: A Sister Remembers Growing Up with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.,
Christine King Farris (5.0, LG)

19

14

14

Captain Underpants and the Attack of the Talking Toilets, Dav Pilkey (4.7, MG)

20

19

23

Shiloh, Phyllis Reynolds Naylor (4.4, MG

21

15

11

Sarah, Plain and Tall, Patricia MacLachlan (3.4, MG)

22

47

I Survived: The Attacks of September 11, 2001, Lauren Tarshis (4.5, MG)

23

34

Tales from a Not-So-Graceful Ice Princess, Rachel Rene Russell (4.5, MG)

24

13

12

Grandfather's Journey, Allen Say (3.6, LG)

25

23

25

Tales from a Not-So-Popular Party Girl, Rachel Rene Russell (5.1, MG)

Title, author (ATOS level, interest level)*

* The average ATOS level of the top 25 books read by fourth graders was 4.9. ATOS level and interest level together inform book selection. ATOS level is an
estimate of text difficulty reported on a grade-level scale. Interest levels refer to the sophistication/maturity of a texts content, ideas, and themes: LG
(lower grades, K3), MG (middle grades, 48), MG+ (middle grades plus, 6 and up), and UG (upper grades, 912).
8 Title published after prior-year report data collection.

15

Section I: Overall reading

Grade 5
In total, 1,434,607 fifth graders read 39,018,894 books and 571,834,377,442 words during the 20132014 school year. The
average number of words read was 369,852 for boys and 410,892 for girls.
Overall
Rank

201213
Rank

201112
Rank

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Hard Luck, Jeff Kinney (5.5, MG)

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Third Wheel, Jeff Kinney (5.6, MG)

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Cabin Fever, Jeff Kinney (5.8, MG)

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days, Jeff Kinney (5.2, MG)

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Ugly Truth, Jeff Kinney (5.5, MG)

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Last Straw, Jeff Kinney (5.4, MG)

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules, Jeff Kinney (5.2, MG)

Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Jeff Kinney (5.2, MG)

Number the Stars, Lois Lowry (4.5, MG)

10

Hatchet, Gary Paulsen (5.7, MG)

11

10

10

Frindle, Andrew Clements (5.4, MG)

12

12

12

The Sign of the Beaver, Elizabeth George Speare (4.9, MG)

13

94

10,090

Wonder, R.J. Palacio (4.8, MG)

14

13

14

Holes, Louis Sachar (4.6, MG)

15

11

The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins (5.3, MG+)

16

Tales from a Not-So-Happy Heartbreaker, Rachel Rene Russell (4.2, MG)

17

18

17

The Lightning Thief, Rick Riordan (4.7, MG)

18

14

Tales from a Not-So-Graceful Ice Princess, Rachel Rene Russell (4.5, MG)

19

23

23

Tuck Everlasting, Natalie Babbitt (5.0, MG)

20

15

13

Tales from a Not-So-Popular Party Girl, Rachel Rene Russell (5.1, MG)

21

28

26

The Sea of Monsters, Rick Riordan (4.6, MG)

22

21

19

Island of the Blue Dolphins, Scott O'Dell (5.4, MG)

23

24

Tales from a Not-So-Smart Miss Know-It-All!, Rachel Rene Russell (4.7, MG)

24

16

16

Tales from a Not-So-Talented Pop Star, Rachel Rene Russell (4.9, MG)

25

17

15

Tales from a Not-So-Fabulous Life, Rachel Rene Russell (5.4, MG)

Title, author (ATOS level, interest level)*

* The average ATOS level of the top 25 books read by fifth graders was 5.2. ATOS level and interest level together inform book selection. ATOS level is an estimate
of text difficulty reported on a grade-level scale. Interest levels refer to the sophistication/maturity of a texts content, ideas, and themes: LG (lower grades,
K3), MG (middle grades, 48), MG+ (middle grades plus, 6 and up), and UG (upper grades, 912).
8 Title published after prior-year report data collection.

16

Section I: Overall reading

Grade 6
In total, 989,748 sixth graders read 16,409,285 books and 431,975,660,969 words during the 20132014 school year. The
average number of words read was 386,017 for boys and 463,351 for girls.
Overall
Rank

201213
Rank

201112
Rank

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Hard Luck, Jeff Kinney (5.5, MG)

Hatchet, Gary Paulsen (5.7, MG)

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Third Wheel, Jeff Kinney (5.6, MG)

The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins (5.3, MG+)

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Cabin Fever, Jeff Kinney (5.8, MG)

11

10

Number the Stars, Lois Lowry (4.5, MG)

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days, Jeff Kinney (5.2, MG)

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Ugly Truth, Jeff Kinney (5.5, MG)

129

1,215

10

Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Jeff Kinney (5.2, MG)

11

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules, Jeff Kinney (5.2, MG)

12

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Last Straw, Jeff Kinney (5.4, MG)

13

10

Catching Fire, Suzanne Collins (5.3, MG+)

14

14

13

The Lightning Thief, Rick Riordan (4.7, MG)

15

12

12

Tuck Everlasting, Natalie Babbitt (5.0, MG)

16

15

14

Holes, Louis Sachar (4.6, MG)

17

18

18

The Watsons Go to Birmingham1963, Christopher Paul Curtis (5.0, MG)

18

23

27

The Giver, Lois Lowry (5.7, MG)

19

27

19

The Sea of Monsters, Rick Riordan (4.6, MG)

20

13

11

Mockingjay, Suzanne Collins (5.3, MG+)

21

250

22,914

22

16

15

23

92

7,178

24

Tales from a Not-So-Happy Heartbreaker, Rachel Rene Russell (4.2, MG)

25

The House of Hades, Rick Riordan (4.8, MG)

Title, author (ATOS level, interest level)*

Divergent, Veronica Roth (4.8, UG)

Insurgent, Veronica Roth (5.0, UG)


Where the Red Fern Grows, Wilson Rawls (4.9, MG)
Wonder, R.J. Palacio (4.8, MG)

* The average ATOS level of the top 25 books read by sixth graders was 5.2. ATOS level and interest level together inform book selection. ATOS level is an estimate
of text difficulty reported on a grade-level scale. Interest levels refer to the sophistication/maturity of a texts content, ideas, and themes: LG (lower grades,
K3), MG (middle grades, 48), MG+ (middle grades plus, 6 and up), and UG (upper grades, 912).
8 Title published after prior-year report data collection.

17

Section I: Overall reading

Grade 7
In total, 747,005 seventh graders read 8,244,940 books and 310,120,010,824 words during the 20132014 school year. The
average number of words read was 347,079 for boys and 449,010 for girls.
Overall
Rank

201213
Rank

201112
Rank

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Hard Luck, Jeff Kinney (5.5, MG)

The Outsiders, S.E. Hinton (4.7, UG)

31

408

Divergent, Veronica Roth (4.8, UG)

The Giver, Lois Lowry (5.7, MG)

The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins (5.3, MG+)

261

2,728

Catching Fire, Suzanne Collins (5.3, MG+)

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Third Wheel, Jeff Kinney (5.6, MG)

66

9,507

10

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Cabin Fever, Jeff Kinney (5.8, MG)

11

13

14

Rikki-Tikki-Tavi, Rudyard Kipling (5.0, LG)

12

16

12

The Lightning Thief, Rick Riordan (4.7, MG)

13

Mockingjay, Suzanne Collins (5.3, MG+)

14

15

15

Freak the Mighty/The Mighty, Rodman Philbrick (5.5, UG)

15

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days, Jeff Kinney (5.2, MG)

16

The House of Hades, Rick Riordan (4.8, MG)

17

10

10

Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Jeff Kinney (5.2, MG)

18

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Ugly Truth, Jeff Kinney (5.5, MG)

19

18

17

The Watsons Go to Birmingham1963, Christopher Paul Curtis (5.0, MG)

20

11

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules, Jeff Kinney (5.2, MG)

21

12

11

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Last Straw, Jeff Kinney (5.4, MG)

22

Allegiant, Veronica Roth (5.7, UG)

23

17

16

Hatchet, Gary Paulsen (5.7, MG)

24

20

19

The Sea of Monsters, Rick Riordan (4.6, MG)

25

27

23

The Titan's Curse, Rick Riordan (4.2, MG)

Title, author (ATOS level, interest level)*

The Fault in Our Stars, John Green (5.5, UG)

Insurgent, Veronica Roth (5.0, UG)

* The average ATOS level of the top 25 books read by seventh graders was 5.2. ATOS level and interest level together inform book selection. ATOS level is an
estimate of text difficulty reported on a grade-level scale. Interest levels refer to the sophistication/maturity of a texts content, ideas, and themes: LG
(lower grades, K3), MG (middle grades, 48), MG+ (middle grades plus, 6 and up), and UG (upper grades, 912).
8 Title published after prior-year report data collection.

18

Section I: Overall reading

Grade 8
In total, 689,275 eighth graders read 6,563,065 books and 293,869,489,041 words during the 20132014 school year. The
average number of words read was 346,281 for boys and 472,832 for girls.
Overall
Rank

201213
Rank

201112
Rank

The Outsiders, S.E. Hinton (4.7, UG)

14

219

Divergent, Veronica Roth (4.8, UG)

69

1,013

The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins (5.3, MG+)

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Hard Luck, Jeff Kinney (5.5, MG)

40

9,922

Catching Fire, Suzanne Collins (5.3, MG+)

The Tell-Tale Heart, Edgar Allan Poe (7.3, UG)

10

10

The Diary of Anne Frank, Frances Goodrich (3.1, MG)

11

Allegiant, Veronica Roth (5.7, UG)

12

The House of Hades, Rick Riordan (4.8, MG)

13

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Third Wheel, Jeff Kinney (5.6, MG)

14

Mockingjay, Suzanne Collins (5.3, MG+)

15

13

18

Night, Elie Wiesel (4.8, UG)

16

12

11

The Lightning Thief, Rick Riordan (4.7, MG)

17

20

19

To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee (5.6, UG)

18

17

22

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, John Boyne (5.8, UG)

19

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Cabin Fever, Jeff Kinney (5.8, MG)

20

25

54

The Maze Runner, James Dashner (5.3, UG)

21

57

89

City of Bones, Cassandra Clare (5.0, UG)

22

24

20

The Sea of Monsters, Rick Riordan (4.6, MG)

23

The Mark of Athena, Rick Riordan (4.8, MG)

24

16

13

Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Jeff Kinney (5.2, MG)

25

15

12

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days, Jeff Kinney (5.2, MG)

Title, author (ATOS level, interest level)*

The Giver, Lois Lowry (5.7, MG)


The Fault in Our Stars, John Green (5.5, UG)

Insurgent, Veronica Roth (5.0, UG)

* The average ATOS level of the top 25 books read by eighth graders was 5.2. ATOS level and interest level together inform book selection. ATOS level is an
estimate of text difficulty reported on a grade-level scale. Interest levels refer to the sophistication/maturity of a texts content, ideas, and themes: LG
(lower grades, K3), MG (middle grades, 48), MG+ (middle grades plus, 6 and up), and UG (upper grades, 912).
8 Title published after prior-year report data collection.

19

Section I: Overall reading

Grade 9
In total, 166,768 ninth graders read 1,051,442 books and 52,811,234,090 words during the 20132014 school year. The
average number of words read was 262,708 for boys and 359,192 for girls.
Overall
Rank

201213
Rank

201112
Rank

20

257

Divergent, Veronica Roth (4.8, UG)

32

578

The Fault in Our Stars, John Green (5.5, UG)

The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins (5.3, MG+)

To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee (5.6, UG)

Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck (4.5, UG)

Romeo and Juliet, William Shakespeare (8.6, UG)

Catching Fire, Suzanne Collins (5.3, MG+)

The Most Dangerous Game, Richard Connell (5.3, UG)

Night, Elie Wiesel (4.8, UG)

10

40

15,407

11

The Outsiders, S.E. Hinton (4.7, UG)

12

Mockingjay, Suzanne Collins (5.3, MG+)

13

12

10

A Child Called "It": One Child's Courage to Survive, Dave Pelzer (5.8, UG)

14

11

11

Animal Farm, George Orwell (7.3, UG)

15

10

14

The Giver, Lois Lowry (5.7, MG)

16

Allegiant, Veronica Roth (5.7, UG)

17

The House of Hades, Rick Riordan (4.8, MG)

18

15

13

The Cask of Amontillado, Edgar Allan Poe (7.3, UG)

19

14

12

The Lightning Thief, Rick Riordan (4.7, MG)

20

81

280

Looking for Alaska, John Green (5.8, UG)

21

36

50

City of Bones, Cassandra Clare (5.0, UG)

22

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Hard Luck, Jeff Kinney (5.5, MG)

23

16

16

Speak, Laurie Halse Anderson (4.5, UG)

24

76

55

Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury (5.2, UG)

25

19

15

The Necklace, Guy de Maupassant (5.5, MG)

Title, author (ATOS level, interest level)*

Insurgent, Veronica Roth (5.0, UG)

* The average ATOS level of the top 25 books read by ninth graders was 5.5. ATOS level and interest level together inform book selection. ATOS level is an
estimate of text difficulty reported on a grade-level scale. Interest levels refer to the sophistication/maturity of a texts content, ideas, and themes: LG
(lower grades, K3), MG (middle grades, 48), MG+ (middle grades plus, 6 and up), and UG (upper grades, 912).
8 Title published after prior-year report data collection.

20

Section I: Overall reading

Grade 10
In total, 128,174 tenth graders read 717,143 books and 39,696,168,690 words during the 20132014 school year. The average
number of words read was 244,890 for boys and 347,970 for girls.
Overall
Rank

201213
Rank

201112
Rank

14

210

21

432

The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins (5.3, MG+)

Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck (4.5, UG)

To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee (5.6, UG)

42

21,152

Julius Caesar, William Shakespeare (10.8, UG)

Catching Fire, Suzanne Collins (5.3, MG+)

10

Animal Farm, George Orwell (7.3, UG)

11

Mockingjay, Suzanne Collins (5.3, MG+)

12

10

Lord of the Flies, William Golding (5.0, UG)

13

10

A Child Called "It": One Child's Courage to Survive, Dave Pelzer (5.8, UG)

14

43

182

15

Allegiant, Veronica Roth (5.7, UG)

16

30

40

City of Bones, Cassandra Clare (5.0, UG)

17

25

32

Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury (5.2, UG)

18

16

37

Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe (6.2, UG)

19

The House of Hades, Rick Riordan (4.8, MG)

20

15

20

A Raisin in the Sun, Lorraine Hansberry (5.5, UG)

21

20

18

Anthem, Ayn Rand (6.1, UG)

22

19

52

The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald (7.3, UG)

23

17

13

The Lightning Thief, Rick Riordan (4.7, MG)

24

18

16

Thirteen Reasons Why, Jay Asher (3.9, MG+)

25

12

217

The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Stephen Chbosky (4.8, UG)

Title, author (ATOS level, interest level)*


Divergent, Veronica Roth (4.8, UG)
Night, Elie Wiesel (4.8, UG)
The Fault in Our Stars, John Green (5.5, UG)

Insurgent, Veronica Roth (5.0, UG)

Looking for Alaska, John Green (5.8, UG)

* The average ATOS level of the top 25 books read by tenth graders was 5.6. ATOS level and interest level together inform book selection. ATOS level is an
estimate of text difficulty reported on a grade-level scale. Interest levels refer to the sophistication/maturity of a texts content, ideas, and themes: LG
(lower grades, K3), MG (middle grades, 48), MG+ (middle grades plus, 6 and up), and UG (upper grades, 912).
8 Title published after prior-year report data collection.

21

Section I: Overall reading

Grade 11
In total, 96,875 eleventh graders read 494,317 books and 29,349,166,084 words during the 20132014 school year. The
average number of words read was 253,812 for boys and 343,126 for girls.
Overall
Rank

201213
Rank

201112
Rank

The Crucible, Arthur Miller (4.9, UG)

The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald (7.3, UG)

13

199

Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck (4.5, UG)

18

407

The Fault in Our Stars, John Green (5.5, UG)

The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins (5.3, MG+)

Catching Fire, Suzanne Collins (5.3, MG+)

39

9,136

The Scarlet Letter (Unabridged), Nathaniel Hawthorne (11.7, UG)

10

Mockingjay, Suzanne Collins (5.3, MG+)

11

11

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Unabridged), Mark Twain (6.6, MG+)

12

12

To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee (5.6, UG)

13

17

A Raisin in the Sun, Lorraine Hansberry (5.5, UG)

14

Allegiant, Veronica Roth (5.7, UG)

15

10

10

A Child Called "It": One Child's Courage to Survive, Dave Pelzer (5.8, UG)

16

15

13

Night, Elie Wiesel (4.8, UG)

17

42

117

Looking for Alaska, John Green (5.8, UG)

18

21

31

City of Bones, Cassandra Clare (5.0, UG)

19

The House of Hades, Rick Riordan (4.8, MG)

20

17

19

The Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger (4.7, UG)

21

14

185

The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Stephen Chbosky (4.8, UG)

22

20

20

Thirteen Reasons Why, Jay Asher (3.9, MG+)

23

29

15

Animal Farm, George Orwell (7.3, UG)

24

26

49

Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury (5.2, UG)

25

24

18

The Lightning Thief, Rick Riordan (4.7, MG)

Title, author (ATOS level, interest level)*

Divergent, Veronica Roth (4.8, UG)

Insurgent, Veronica Roth (5.0, UG)

* The average ATOS level of the top 25 books read by eleventh graders was 5.6. ATOS level and interest level together inform book selection. ATOS level is an
estimate of text difficulty reported on a grade-level scale. Interest levels refer to the sophistication/maturity of a texts content, ideas, and themes: LG
(lower grades, K3), MG (middle grades, 48), MG+ (middle grades plus, 6 and up), and UG (upper grades, 912).
8 Title published after prior-year report data collection.

22

Section I: Overall reading

Grade 12
In total, 72,596 twelfth graders read 372,326 books and 22,066,438,107 words during the 20132014 school year. The average
number of words read was 251,695 for boys and 342,821 for girls.
Overall
Rank

201213
Rank

201112
Rank

19

185

Frankenstein (Unabridged), Mary Shelley (12.4, UG)

The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins (5.3, MG+)

Macbeth, William Shakespeare (10.9, UG)

28

332

44

4,822

Animal Farm, George Orwell (7.3, UG)

Mockingjay, Suzanne Collins (5.3, MG+)

10

14

The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald (7.3, UG)

11

Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck (4.5, UG)

12

10

11

Lord of the Flies, William Golding (5.0, UG)

13

Allegiant, Veronica Roth (5.7, UG)

14

11

10

Hamlet, William Shakespeare (10.5, UG)

15

16

15

Night, Elie Wiesel (4.8, UG)

16

25

45

City of Bones, Cassandra Clare (5.0, UG)

17

13

13

A Child Called "It": One Child's Courage to Survive, Dave Pelzer (5.8, UG)

18

14

17

The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini (5.2, UG)

19

17

12

1984, George Orwell (8.9, UG)

20

43

130

Looking for Alaska, John Green (5.8, UG)

21

67

131

Ender's Game, Orson Scott Card (5.5, UG)

22

24

40

Brave New World, Aldous Huxley (7.5, UG)

23

The House of Hades, Rick Riordan (4.8, MG)

24

21

22

Thirteen Reasons Why, Jay Asher (3.9, MG+)

25

15

107

The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Stephen Chbosky (4.8, UG)

Title, author (ATOS level, interest level)*


Divergent, Veronica Roth (4.8, UG)

The Fault in Our Stars, John Green (5.5, UG)


Catching Fire, Suzanne Collins (5.3, MG+)
Insurgent, Veronica Roth (5.0, UG)

* The average ATOS level of the top 25 books read by twelfth graders was 6.7. ATOS level and interest level together inform book selection. ATOS level is an
estimate of text difficulty reported on a grade-level scale. Interest levels refer to the sophistication/maturity of a texts content, ideas, and themes: LG
(lower grades, K3), MG (middle grades, 48), MG+ (middle grades plus, 6 and up), and UG (upper grades, 912).
8 Title published after prior-year report data collection.

23

24

Section II: Nonfiction reading


What are kids reading?
On the book lists in Section I (p. 12), the majority of students top book choices are fiction titlesthis is true in all
grades, 112. College- and career-readiness standards, however, emphasize that attention should also be paid to
nonfiction reading. Per the 2013 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) Reading Framework, The
development of the broad range of skills that the nations students need to read successfully in both literary and
informational texts is the responsibility of teachers across the curriculum, as well as of parents and the community
(National Assessment Governing Board, 2012, p. 6).4
For ideas to whet students nonfiction appetites, see the lists that begin on p. 28 that rank the top 25 nonfiction
books read by boys and girls in grades 112.5 The lists are based on Accelerated Reader data for more than
9.8 million students from 31,633 schools nationwide who read more than 330 million books during the
20132014 school year.

Why it matters...
In order to be successful in their lives in and outside of school, it is imperative that students read a broad array of
literature, especially nonfiction where data shows students are currently lacking. As college- and career-readiness
standards advise, it is through wide and deep reading of literature and literary nonfiction of steadily increasing
sophistication, students gain a reservoir of literary and cultural knowledge, references, and images; the ability to
evaluate intricate arguments; and the capacity to surmount the challenges posed by complex texts (NGA/CCSSO,
p. 35).6
Explore an in-depth look at what AR data tells us about nonfiction reading on p. 26. Then learn why reading matters
to guest essayist Dr. Christine King Farris (author of My Brother Martin: A Sister Remembers Growing Up with the Rev.
Martin Luther King, Jr.) on p. 27.

For additional insights on what kids are reading, visit www.learnalytics.com/wkar


4 National Assessment Governing Board. (2012). Reading framework for the 2013 National Assessment of Educational Progress. Washington, DC: U.S.
Government Printing Office.
5N
 ote: Because schools may optionally record demographic information about students in AR, gender data is available for approximately 68% of students.
Thus, in the boy and girl lists in this section, records for students of unknown gender are excluded.
6N
 ational Governors Association Center for Best Practices, Council of Chief State School Officers. (2010). Common Core State Standards for English
language arts & literacy in history/social studies, science, and technical subjects. Washington, DC: Author. Retrieved from www.corestandards.org

25

An analysis of nonfiction reading


New college- and career-readiness standards are placing emphasis on reading and comprehending a wide variety
of text types (literary, informational/nonfiction, poetry, and so forth). Informational texts are seen as particularly
important, because nonfiction reading of this kind represents the majority of reading students must do in college
and career. It also helps broaden their background knowledge of the world around them.
The NAEP frameworks (National Assessment Governing Board, 2012) are often cited as a desirable mix of fiction and
nonfiction reading. NAEP calls for an increasing shift to nonfiction reading over time, from 50% nonfiction in 4th
grade to 55% in 8th grade to 70% in 12th grade, to help students prepare for the demands of college and career.
How much independent book reading that students engage in is nonfiction, by grade and gender, and how
does this relate to goals outlined in new college- and career-readiness standards?
Overall, the amount of nonficton book reading students do is considerably lower than goals outlined in the
NAEP framework.7
Boys read a greater percentage of nonfiction books at all grade levels compared to girls.
Figure 4 presents the percent of nonfiction books read by students during the 20132014 school year, relative
to the NAEP framework. Although nonfiction reading peaks around grades 4 and 5 for both genders, it never comes
close to the NAEP guidelines (5070% nonfiction). The percent of nonfiction books students read independently
varies from 2031% for boys and 1321% for girls. Note, these data focus specifically on books, and do not contain
data on reading of articles, so the total percentage of student reading that is nonfiction may be higher than
indicated here.
Figure 4. Boys read more nonfiction than girls, yet fall short of targets

Nonfiction reading

100%
80%

70%

60%

Boys
Girls
NAEP framework

55%

50%

40%
20%
0%
1

10

11

12

Grade
Note: Enhancements made to Accelerated Reader 360 software will permit future tracking of
nonfiction article reading and thus present a fuller picture of student reading.

Reference
National Assessment Governing Board. (2012). Reading framework for the 2013 National Assessment of Educational Progress.
Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office. Retrieved from
https://www.nagb.org/publications/frameworks/reading/2013-reading-framework.html

7N
 ote: We recognize that students may complete additional nonfiction reading from non-book sources not captured in our database.

26

Why reading matters


by Dr. Christine King Farris, author of My Brother Martin: A Sister Remembers Growing Up
with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Growing up in an African American family during the time of segregationist
Jim Crow laws meant that we were somewhat excluded from the larger
society around us. It was reading, however, that afforded us much needed
emotional and intellectual expansion. In my childhood home, Aunt Ida, my
grandmothers sister, read to me and my brothers. She was determined to
show us the joys and wonders of reading while we were young. On most
days, either after school or after dinner, Aunt Ida selected some of the most
amazing material to read to us, sometimes to peak our curiosity and other
times to make us laugh. She read excerpts from the newspaper, sections
from the encyclopedia, and passages from a storybook. As a result, we
developed an eagerness for reading. The more we read, the more the world
around us unfolded.
I can recall reading a few classics along the way. Little Women, written by Louise May Alcott, was one that Ill never
forget. I connected with this story. Just as I was a growing girl, so were the main characters in the book. The life
challenges they faced were also, in many ways, similar to my reality. My reading of this novel provided inspiration
and a wonderful sense of transformation. It prompted me to imagine the height of what was possible for my own
lifes journey.
Reading is empowering. Perhaps the best example of the power of reading can be found in the life of my brother, Martin
Luther King, Jr. He became one of Americas greatest leaders. Growing up with him, I saw firsthand the influence of
reading in his life. Reading motivated him to begin writing at an early age. At fourteen years of age, he wrote a wonderful
essay for an oratorical contest, entitled, The Negro and the Constitution, which later became a major underpinning in
his quest for social change and also his famous, I Have a Dream speech. He continued to write in his adult years and
authored six books. Reading was a real driving force for him. It was his introduction to books about Indian leader
Mahatma Ghandi that directed him to an unwavering devotion to the practice of nonviolence. It was his serious reading
of the Bible and of varied philosophers that gave him the substance for his many speeches and sermons, galvanizing
people across the world. The photos of his home and office libraries are a testament to what a major source of
stimulation reading was for him.
My own personal library is filled with lots of wonderful textbooks, magazines, novels, amazing short stories, and
autobiographies, because I enjoy reading so. I am certain that my love for reading set a clear path for me, leading me
to a job as an elementary school reading teacher and subsequently to a job as a college professor, with emphasis in
readinga career totaling sixty-five years. Reading has afforded me many years of pleasure and discovery and gave me
the incentive to write a few books of my own. My hope is that I have written them in such a way that readers gain the
kind of insight, inspiration, and power that made the difference in my family.

Dr. Christine King Farris is Professor Emerita of Spelman College and Senior Vice-President of The
Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change, in Atlanta, Georgia. As the sister of the late
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., she and her entire family were swept up in one of Americas most exciting
and meaningful historical movements. She is the author of My Brother Martin, for young readers; Martin
Luther King: His Life and Dream, a worktext for educators; March On, a childrens book about the famous
March on Washington and Through It All, her personal memoir.

27

Section II: Nonfiction reading

Top 25 nonfiction books read by boys and girls, grades 112


Grade 1
Boys

Girls
Title, author (ATOS level, interest level)*

Rank

From Head to Toe, Eric Carle (1.0, LG)

Me on the Map, Joan Sweeney (1.8, LG)

I'm a Caterpillar, Jean Marzollo (0.9, LG)

I'm a Caterpillar, Jean Marzollo (0.9, LG)

Red-Eyed Tree Frog, Joy Cowley (1.3, LG)

From Head to Toe, Eric Carle (1.0, LG)

Me on the Map, Joan Sweeney (1.8, LG)

Red-Eyed Tree Frog, Joy Cowley (1.3, LG)

Animal Babies, Bobbie Hamsa (1.0, LG)

I Am Water, Jean Marzollo (0.6, LG)

I Am Water, Jean Marzollo (0.6, LG)

Dogs, Helen Frost (0.5, LG)

Fish, Helen Frost (0.5, LG)

Animal Babies, Bobbie Hamsa (1.0, LG)

Fly Guy Presents: Sharks, Tedd Arnold (2.8, LG)

A Whisper Is Quiet, Carolyn Lunn (0.5, LG)

Johnny Appleseed, Jane Kurtz (1.1, LG)

Cats, Helen Frost (0.6, LG)

10

Dogs, Helen Frost (0.5, LG)

I'm a Seed, Jean Marzollo (1.0, LG)

11

Cats, Helen Frost (0.6, LG)

Purple Is Part of a Rainbow, Carolyn Kowalczyk (1.1, LG)

12

Sharks, Martha E.H. Rustad (1.5, LG)

Johnny Appleseed, Jane Kurtz (1.1, LG)

13

Dinosaur Babies, Lucille Recht Penner (2.1, LG)

Fish, Helen Frost (0.5, LG)

14

Johnny Appleseed, Patricia Demuth (1.8, LG)

I Am an Apple, Jean Marzollo (1.0, LG)

15

Ants, Cheryl Coughlan (1.0, LG)

Johnny Appleseed, Patricia Demuth (1.8, LG)

16

Sea Stars, Lola M. Schaefer (1.3, LG)

Rabbits, Helen Frost (0.8, LG)

17

Dinosaurs, Dinosaurs, Byron Barton (2.9, LG)

A Buzz Is Part of a Bee, Carolyn Lunn (1.4, LG)

18

A Day with Firefighters, Jan Kottke (1.0, LG)

The Tiny Seed, Eric Carle (2.7, LG)

19

Snakes, Martha E.H. Rustad (0.9, LG)

Birds, Helen Frost (0.6, LG)

20

Octopuses, Lola M. Schaefer (1.5, LG)

Horses, Martha E.H. Rustad (0.8, LG)

21

Where Do Frogs Come From?, Alex Vern (1.0, LG)

Little Dog Lost: The True Story of a Brave Dog Named Baltic,
Mnica Carnesi (1.5, LG)

22

Rabbits, Helen Frost (0.8, LG)

Ladybugs, Cheryl Coughlan (1.2, LG)

23

Little Dog Lost: The True Story of a Brave Dog Named Baltic,
Mnica Carnesi (1.5, LG)

Toms Rivera, Jane Medina (1.5, LG)

24

A Buzz Is Part of a Bee, Carolyn Lunn (1.4, LG)

Plenty of Penguins, Sonia W. Black (1.4, LG)

25

Plenty of Penguins, Sonia W. Black (1.4, LG)

Hamsters, Helen Frost (0.7, LG)

* The average ATOS level of the top 25 nonfiction books read by first graders was 1.3 for boys and 1.1 for girls. ATOS level and interest level together inform book
selection. ATOS level is an estimate of text difficulty reported on a grade-level scale. Interest levels refer to the sophistication/maturity of a texts content, ideas, and
themes: LG (lower grades, K3), MG (middle grades, 48), MG+ (middle grades plus, 6 and up), and UG (upper grades, 912).

28

Section II: Nonfiction reading

Grade 2
Boys

Girls
Title, author (ATOS level, interest level)*

Rank

The Tiny Seed, Eric Carle (2.7, LG)

The Tiny Seed, Eric Carle (2.7, LG)

Fly Guy Presents: Sharks, Tedd Arnold (2.8, LG)

Tara and Tiree, Fearless Friends, Andrew Clements (2.0, LG)

Tara and Tiree, Fearless Friends, Andrew Clements (2.0, LG)

Super Storms, Seymour Simon (3.8, LG)

Super Storms, Seymour Simon (3.8, LG)

My Name Is Gabriela: The Life of Gabriela Mistral,


Monica Brown (4.3, LG)

Hungry, Hungry Sharks, Joanna Cole (2.8, LG)

How Much Is a Million?, David M. Schwartz (3.4, LG)

Fire Fighter!, Angela Royston (2.2, LG)

Splish! Splash! Animal Baths, April Pulley Sayre (2.6, LG)

Splish! Splash! Animal Baths, April Pulley Sayre (2.6, LG)

A Harbor Seal Pup Grows Up, Joan Hewett (2.0, LG)

Dinosaurs, Dinosaurs, Byron Barton (2.9, LG)

Penguin Chick, Betty Tatham (3.4, LG)

Fly Guy Presents: Space, Tedd Arnold (3.3, LG)

Helen Keller and the Big Storm, Patricia Lakin (2.7, LG)

10

How Much Is a Million?, David M. Schwartz (3.4, LG)

Lemonade for Sale, Stuart J. Murphy (2.8, LG)

11

Amazing Snakes!, Sarah L. Thomson (3.2, LG)

Fire Fighter!, Angela Royston (2.2, LG)

12

Abe Lincoln's Hat, Martha Brenner (2.6, LG)

Dinosaurs, Dinosaurs, Byron Barton (2.9, LG)

13

My Name Is Gabriela: The Life of Gabriela Mistral,


Monica Brown (4.3, LG)

Ant, Rebecca Stefoff (3.2, MG)

14

A Harbor Seal Pup Grows Up, Joan Hewett (2.0, LG)

Jellies, Twig C. George (3.4, LG)

15

Dinosaur Babies, Lucille Recht Penner (2.1, LG)

Abe Lincoln's Hat, Martha Brenner (2.6, LG)

16

Penguin Chick, Betty Tatham (3.4, LG)

Exploring Parks with Ranger Dockett, Alice K. Flanagan (2.7, LG)

17

Dinosaur Days, Joyce Milton (2.6, LG)

A Weed Is a Flower: The Life of George Washington Carver,


Aliki (4.3, LG)

18

Ant, Rebecca Stefoff (3.2, MG)

From Head to Toe, Eric Carle (1.0, LG)

19

From Head to Toe, Eric Carle (1.0, LG)

Life Cycle of a Pumpkin, Ron Fridell (3.5, LG)

20

Jellies, Twig C. George (3.4, LG)

Dolphins!, Sharon Bokoske (2.8, LG)

21

Exploring Parks with Ranger Dockett, Alice K. Flanagan (2.7, LG)

Fly Guy Presents: Sharks, Tedd Arnold (2.8, LG)

22

Frogs!, Elizabeth Carney (2.6, LG)

A Tree Is Nice, Janice May Udry (2.2, LG)

23

Lemonade for Sale, Stuart J. Murphy (2.8, LG)

Dewey: There's a Cat in the Library!, Vicki Myron (2.8, LG)

24

The Bravest Dog Ever: The True Story of Balto,


Natalie Standiford (2.5, LG)

Animals Building Homes, Wendy Perkins (3.3, LG)

25

Helen Keller and the Big Storm, Patricia Lakin (2.7, LG)

The Bravest Dog Ever: The True Story of Balto,


Natalie Standiford (2.5, LG)

* The average ATOS level of the top 25 nonfiction books read by second graders was 2.8 for boys and 2.9 for girls. ATOS level and interest level together inform book
selection. ATOS level is an estimate of text difficulty reported on a grade-level scale. Interest levels refer to the sophistication/maturity of a texts content, ideas, and
themes: LG (lower grades, K3), MG (middle grades, 48), MG+ (middle grades plus, 6 and up), and UG (upper grades, 912).

29

Section II: Nonfiction reading

Grade 3
Boys

Girls
Title, author (ATOS level, interest level)*

Rank

Penguin Chick, Betty Tatham (3.4, LG)

Penguin Chick, Betty Tatham (3.4, LG)

America's Champion Swimmer: Gertrude Ederle,


David A. Adler (4.4, LG)

America's Champion Swimmer: Gertrude Ederle,


David A. Adler (4.4, LG)

Nights of the Pufflings, Bruce McMillan (4.5, LG)

What Do Illustrators Do?, Eileen Christelow (3.7, MG)

Roberto Clemente: Pride of the Pittsburgh Pirates,


Jonah Winter (4.5, LG)

Nights of the Pufflings, Bruce McMillan (4.5, LG)

What Do Illustrators Do?, Eileen Christelow (3.7, MG)

The Story of Ruby Bridges, Robert Coles (4.4, LG)

The Story of the Statue of Liberty, Betsy Maestro (4.3, LG)

The Story of the Statue of Liberty, Betsy Maestro (4.3, LG)

Aero and Officer Mike: Police Partners, Joan Plummer Russell


(4.8, LG)

Author: A True Story, Helen Lester (3.8, LG)

If You Made a Million, David M. Schwartz (4.1, LG)

Aero and Officer Mike: Police Partners, Joan Plummer Russell


(4.8, LG)

Young Thomas Edison, Michael Dooling (4.7, LG)

If You Made a Million, David M. Schwartz (4.1, LG)

10

Yonder Mountain: A Cherokee Legend, Robert H. Bushyhead


(3.8, LG)

Yonder Mountain: A Cherokee Legend, Robert H. Bushyhead


(3.8, LG)

11

Author: A True Story, Helen Lester (3.8, LG)

Young Thomas Edison, Michael Dooling (4.7, LG)

12

Martin's Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.,
Doreen Rappaport (3.4, LG)

Roberto Clemente: Pride of the Pittsburgh Pirates,


Jonah Winter (4.5, LG)

13

Fly Guy Presents: Sharks, Tedd Arnold (2.8, LG)

Martin's Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.,
Doreen Rappaport (3.4, LG)

14

The Magic School Bus Inside the Earth, Joanna Cole (3.6, LG)

How Much Is a Million?, David M. Schwartz (3.4, LG)

15

How Much Is a Million?, David M. Schwartz (3.4, LG)

Hottest, Coldest, Highest, Deepest, Steve Jenkins (4.9, LG)

16

Hungry, Hungry Sharks, Joanna Cole (2.8, LG)

The Magic School Bus at the Waterworks, Joanna Cole (3.7, LG)

17

Hottest, Coldest, Highest, Deepest, Steve Jenkins (4.9, LG)

Animal Homes, Ann O. Squire (4.8, LG)

18

Amazing Snakes!, Sarah L. Thomson (3.2, LG)

The Magic School Bus Inside the Earth, Joanna Cole (3.6, LG)

19

Fly Guy Presents: Space, Tedd Arnold (3.3, LG)

Happy Birthday, Martin Luther King, Jean Marzollo (4.2, LG)

20

The Magic School Bus at the Waterworks, Joanna Cole


(3.7, LG)

Hairy, Scary, Ordinary: What Is an Adjective?, Brian P. Cleary


(3.9, LG)

21

Sharks!, Anne Schreiber (3.0, LG)

Johnny Appleseed, Steven Kellogg (4.4, LG)

22

The Story of Ruby Bridges, Robert Coles (4.4, LG)

A Mink, a Fink, a Skating Rink: What Is a Noun?, Brian P. Cleary


(3.3, LG)

23

Animal Homes, Ann O. Squire (4.8, LG)

A Tree Is Growing, Arthur Dorros (4.2, LG)

24

Abe Lincoln's Hat, Martha Brenner (2.6, LG)

The Bravest Dog Ever: The True Story of Balto,


Natalie Standiford (2.5, LG)

25

Amazing Sharks!, Sarah L. Thomson (3.1, LG)

Looking at Lincoln, Maira Kalman (3.3, LG)

* The average ATOS level of the top 25 nonfiction books read by third graders was 3.8 for boys and 4.0 for girls. ATOS level and interest level together inform book
selection. ATOS level is an estimate of text difficulty reported on a grade-level scale. Interest levels refer to the sophistication/maturity of a texts content, ideas, and
themes: LG (lower grades, K3), MG (middle grades, 48), MG+ (middle grades plus, 6 and up), and UG (upper grades, 912).

30

Section II: Nonfiction reading

Grade 4
Boys

Girls
Title, author (ATOS level, interest level)*

Rank

My Brother Martin: A Sister Remembers Growing Up with the


Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Christine King Farris (5.0, LG)

My Brother Martin: A Sister Remembers Growing Up with the


Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Christine King Farris (5.0, LG)

Finding the Titanic, Robert D. Ballard (4.0, LG)

Finding the Titanic, Robert D. Ballard (4.0, LG)

Mighty Jackie: The Strike-Out Queen, Marissa Moss (4.0, LG)

The Story of Ruby Bridges, Robert Coles (4.4, LG)

Lou Gehrig: The Luckiest Man, David A. Adler (4.6, LG)

Smile, Raina Telgemeier (2.6, MG)

Boss of the Plains: The Hat That Won the West, Laurie Carlson
(4.9, LG)

Mighty Jackie: The Strike-Out Queen, Marissa Moss (4.0, LG)

Snowflake Bentley, Jacqueline Briggs Martin (4.4, LG)

Boss of the Plains: The Hat That Won the West, Laurie Carlson
(4.9, LG)

Martin's Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.,
Doreen Rappaport (3.4, LG)

Snowflake Bentley, Jacqueline Briggs Martin (4.4, LG)

The Story of Ruby Bridges, Robert Coles (4.4, LG)

Lou Gehrig: The Luckiest Man, David A. Adler (4.6, LG)

The Magic School Bus Inside the Earth, Joanna Cole (3.6, LG)

Martin's Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.,
Doreen Rappaport (3.4, LG)

10

So You Want to Be President?, Judith St. George (4.8, MG)

Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes, Eleanor Coerr


(4.1, MG)

11

How Much Is a Million?, David M. Schwartz (3.4, LG)

How Much Is a Million?, David M. Schwartz (3.4, LG)

12

Adelina's Whales, Richard Sobol (5.0, LG)

Happy Birthday, Martin Luther King, Jean Marzollo (4.2, LG)

13

The Wimpy Kid Movie Diary: How Greg Heffley Went


Hollywood, Jeff Kinney (6.5, MG)

Balloons over Broadway: The True Story of the Puppeteer of


Macy's Parade, Melissa Sweet (5.4, LG)

14

Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes, Eleanor Coerr (4.1, MG)

So You Want to Be President?, Judith St. George (4.8, MG)

15

Who Was Neil Armstrong?, Roberta Edwards (5.4, MG)

Looking at Lincoln, Maira Kalman (3.3, LG)

16

Happy Birthday, Martin Luther King, Jean Marzollo (4.2, LG)

Adelina's Whales, Richard Sobol (5.0, LG)

17

Balloons over Broadway: The True Story of the Puppeteer of


Macy's Parade, Melissa Sweet (5.4, LG)

Hairy, Scary, Ordinary: What Is an Adjective?, Brian P. Cleary


(3.9, LG)

18

The Magic School Bus at the Waterworks, Joanna Cole (3.7, LG)

The Magic School Bus Inside the Earth, Joanna Cole (3.6, LG)

19

How Ben Franklin Stole the Lightning, Rosalyn Schanzer (5.1, LG)

How Ben Franklin Stole the Lightning, Rosalyn Schanzer (5.1, LG)

20

Looking at Lincoln, Maira Kalman (3.3, LG)

The Magic School Bus at the Waterworks, Joanna Cole (3.7, LG)

21

The Man Who Walked Between the Towers, Mordicai Gerstein


(3.7, LG)

A Mink, a Fink, a Skating Rink: What Is a Noun?,


Brian P. Cleary (3.3, LG)

22

Salmon Summer, Bruce McMillan (3.7, MG)

Who Was Neil Armstrong?, Roberta Edwards (5.4, MG)

23

Fly Guy Presents: Sharks, Tedd Arnold (2.8, LG)

Salmon Summer, Bruce McMillan (3.7, MG)

24

Teammates, Peter Golenbock (5.4, LG)

The Man Who Walked Between the Towers, Mordicai Gerstein


(3.7, LG)

25

Amazing Snakes!, Sarah L. Thomson (3.2, LG)

Johnny Appleseed, Steven Kellogg (4.4, LG)

* The average ATOS level of the top 25 nonfiction books read by fourth graders was 4.4 for boys and 4.2 for girls. ATOS level and interest level together inform book
selection. ATOS level is an estimate of text difficulty reported on a grade-level scale. Interest levels refer to the sophistication/maturity of a texts content, ideas, and
themes: LG (lower grades, K3), MG (middle grades, 48), MG+ (middle grades plus, 6 and up), and UG (upper grades, 912).

31

Section II: Nonfiction reading

Grade 5
Boys

Girls
Title, author (ATOS level, interest level)*

Rank

The Wimpy Kid Movie Diary: How Greg Heffley Went Hollywood,
Jeff Kinney (6.5, MG)

Smile, Raina Telgemeier (2.6, MG)

And Then What Happened, Paul Revere?, Jean Fritz (5.3, MG)

The Story of Ruby Bridges, Robert Coles (4.4, LG)

The Story of Ruby Bridges, Robert Coles (4.4, LG)

Balloons over Broadway: The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy's


Parade, Melissa Sweet (5.4, LG)

Balloons over Broadway: The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy's


Parade, Melissa Sweet (5.4, LG)

And Then What Happened, Paul Revere?, Jean Fritz (5.3, MG)

Looking at Lincoln, Maira Kalman (3.3, LG)

Rosa, Nikki Giovanni (4.9, LG)

Martin's Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.,
Doreen Rappaport (3.4, LG)

Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes, Eleanor Coerr (4.1, MG)

Volcanoes, Seymour Simon (5.1, MG)

Looking at Lincoln, Maira Kalman (3.3, LG)

Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes, Eleanor Coerr (4.1, MG)

Martin's Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.,
Doreen Rappaport (3.4, LG)

Rosa, Nikki Giovanni (4.9, LG)

The Wimpy Kid Movie Diary: How Greg Heffley Went Hollywood,
Jeff Kinney (6.5, MG)

10

Smile, Raina Telgemeier (2.6, MG)

Wilma Unlimited: How Wilma Rudolph Became the World's Fastest


Woman, Kathleen Krull (5.1, MG)

11

The Man Who Walked Between the Towers, Mordicai Gerstein (3.7, LG)

Happy Birthday, Martin Luther King, Jean Marzollo (4.2, LG)

12

How Much Is a Million?, David M. Schwartz (3.4, LG)

How Much Is a Million?, David M. Schwartz (3.4, LG)

13

The Magic School Bus Inside the Earth, Joanna Cole (3.6, LG)

Who Was Anne Frank?, Ann Abramson (4.6, MG)

14

Wilma Unlimited: How Wilma Rudolph Became the World's Fastest


Woman, Kathleen Krull (5.1, MG)

Volcanoes, Seymour Simon (5.1, MG)

15

Barnum's Bones: How Barnum Brown Discovered the Most Famous


Dinosaur in the World, Tracey Fern (6.2, LG)

The Magic School Bus Inside the Earth, Joanna Cole (3.6, LG)

16

Teammates, Peter Golenbock (5.4, LG)

Who Was Walt Disney?, Whitney Stewart (4.9, MG)

17

Happy Birthday, Martin Luther King, Jean Marzollo (4.2, LG)

The Man Who Walked Between the Towers, Mordicai Gerstein (3.7, LG)

18

A Boy Called Slow, Joseph Bruchac (4.3, MG)

Nubs: The True Story of a Mutt, a Marine & a Miracle, Brian Dennis (4.8, LG)

19

Who Was Jackie Robinson?, Gail Herman (4.5, MG)

Barnum's Bones: How Barnum Brown Discovered the Most Famous


Dinosaur in the World, Tracey Fern (6.2, LG)

20

John Cena, Adam Stone (4.0, MG)

Can't You Make Them Behave, King George?, Jean Fritz (5.6, MG)

21

The Magic School Bus at the Waterworks, Joanna Cole (3.7, LG)

Hairy, Scary, Ordinary: What Is an Adjective?, Brian P. Cleary (3.9, LG)

22

Can't You Make Them Behave, King George?, Jean Fritz (5.6, MG)

Who Was Dr. Seuss?, Janet B. Pascal (5.3, MG)

23

Football, Ray McClellan (4.0, LG)

Heaven Is for Real: A Little Boy's Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven
and Back, Todd Burpo (6.3, MG+)

24

Who Was Babe Ruth?, Joan Holub (4.4, MG)

A Boy Called Slow, Joseph Bruchac (4.3, MG)

25

The Magic School Bus Inside the Human Body, Joanna Cole (4.6, LG)

Who Was Rosa Parks?, Yona Zeldis McDonough (4.8, MG)

* The average ATOS level of the top 25 nonfiction books read by fifth graders was 4.6 for boys and 4.5 for girls. ATOS level and interest level together inform book selection. ATOS level is an
estimate of text difficulty reported on a grade-level scale. Interest levels refer to the sophistication/maturity of a texts content, ideas, and themes: LG (lower grades, K3), MG (middle
grades, 48), MG+ (middle grades plus, 6 and up), and UG (upper grades, 912).

32

Section II: Nonfiction reading

Grade 6
Boys

Girls
Title, author (ATOS level, interest level)*

Rank

The Wimpy Kid Movie Diary: How Greg Heffley Went Hollywood,
Jeff Kinney (6.5, MG)

Smile, Raina Telgemeier (2.6, MG)

Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes, Eleanor Coerr (4.1, MG)

A Child Called "It": One Child's Courage to Survive, Dave Pelzer (5.8, UG)

Smile, Raina Telgemeier (2.6, MG)

Heaven Is for Real: A Little Boy's Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven
and Back, Todd Burpo (6.3, MG+)

Passage to Freedom: The Sugihara Story, Ken Mochizuki (4.1, MG)

Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes, Eleanor Coerr (4.1, MG)

Woodsong, Gary Paulsen (5.6, MG)

Passage to Freedom: The Sugihara Story, Ken Mochizuki (4.1, MG)

A Child Called "It": One Child's Courage to Survive, Dave Pelzer (5.8, UG)

The Story of Ruby Bridges, Robert Coles (4.4, LG)

Chasing Lincoln's Killer, James L. Swanson (7.5, MG+)

The Wimpy Kid Movie Diary: How Greg Heffley Went Hollywood,
Jeff Kinney (6.5, MG)

Wilma Unlimited: How Wilma Rudolph Became the World's Fastest


Woman, Kathleen Krull (5.1, MG)

Small Steps: The Year I Got Polio, Peg Kehret (5.2, MG)

Football, Jonatha A. Brown (3.4, LG)

Wilma Unlimited: How Wilma Rudolph Became the World's Fastest


Woman, Kathleen Krull (5.1, MG)

10

Football, Ray Broekel (3.3, LG)

The Lost Boy: A Foster Child's Search for the Love of a Family,
Dave Pelzer (5.1, UG)

11

The Story of Ruby Bridges, Robert Coles (4.4, LG)

Woodsong, Gary Paulsen (5.6, MG)

12

Heaven Is for Real: A Little Boy's Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven
and Back, Todd Burpo (6.3, MG+)

Soul Surfer: A True Story of Faith, Family, and Fighting to Get Back on
the Board, Bethany Hamilton (6.0, MG+)

13

Small Steps: The Year I Got Polio, Peg Kehret (5.2, MG)

Who Was Anne Frank?, Ann Abramson (4.6, MG)

14

Teammates, Peter Golenbock (5.4, LG)

Martin's Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.,
Doreen Rappaport (3.4, LG)

15

Football, Tanis Booth (5.0, MG)

Balloons over Broadway: The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy's


Parade, Melissa Sweet (5.4, LG)

16

Martin's Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.,
Doreen Rappaport (3.4, LG)

The Diary of a Young Girl, Anne Frank (6.5, MG+)

17

Si-cology 1: Tales & Wisdom from Duck Dynasty's Favorite Uncle,


Si Robertson (5.8, MG+)

Chasing Lincoln's Killer, James L. Swanson (7.5, MG+)

18

John Cena, Adam Stone (4.0, MG)

Sir Cumference and the Dragon of Pi: A Math Adventure,


Cindy Neuschwander (3.8, LG)

19

Sir Cumference and the Dragon of Pi: A Math Adventure,


Cindy Neuschwander (3.8, LG)

Looking at Lincoln, Maira Kalman (3.3, LG)

20

Football, Ray McClellan (4.0, LG)

One Direction: Straight to the Top, Riley Brooks (6.3, LG)

21

The Man Who Walked Between the Towers, Mordicai Gerstein (3.7, LG)

Who Was Walt Disney?, Whitney Stewart (4.9, MG)

22

My Life in Dog Years, Gary Paulsen (5.6, MG)

One Direction, Lynn Peppas (6.0, MG)

23

Sir Cumference and the First Round Table: A Math Adventure,


Cindy Neuschwander (4.3, LG)

Rosa, Nikki Giovanni (4.9, LG)

24

The Magic School Bus Inside the Earth, Joanna Cole (3.6, LG)

My Life in Dog Years, Gary Paulsen (5.6, MG)

25

Basketball, Jonatha A. Brown (3.4, LG)

Who Was Dr. Seuss?, Janet B. Pascal (5.3, MG)

* The average ATOS level of the top 25 nonfiction books read by sixth graders was 4.7 for boys and 4.8 for girls. ATOS level and interest level together inform book selection. ATOS level is an
estimate of text difficulty reported on a grade-level scale. Interest levels refer to the sophistication/maturity of a texts content, ideas, and themes: LG (lower grades, K3), MG (middle grades,
48), MG+ (middle grades plus, 6 and up), and UG (upper grades, 912).

33

Section II: Nonfiction reading

Grade 7
Boys

Girls
Title, author (ATOS level, interest level)*

Rank

A Child Called "It": One Child's Courage to Survive, Dave Pelzer (5.8, UG)

A Child Called "It": One Child's Courage to Survive, Dave Pelzer (5.8, UG)

Chasing Lincoln's Killer, James L. Swanson (7.5, MG+)

Smile, Raina Telgemeier (2.6, MG)

The Wimpy Kid Movie Diary: How Greg Heffley Went Hollywood,
Jeff Kinney (6.5, MG)

Heaven Is for Real: A Little Boy's Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven
and Back, Todd Burpo (6.3, MG+)

Night, Elie Wiesel (4.8, UG)

The Lost Boy: A Foster Child's Search for the Love of a Family, Dave Pelzer
(5.1, UG)

Woodsong, Gary Paulsen (5.6, MG)

Soul Surfer: A True Story of Faith, Family, and Fighting to Get Back on the
Board, Bethany Hamilton (6.0, MG+)

I Am a SEAL Team Six Warrior: Memoirs of an American Soldier,


Howard E. Wasdin (6.6, UG)

Night, Elie Wiesel (4.8, UG)

Heaven Is for Real: A Little Boy's Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven
and Back, Todd Burpo (6.3, MG+)

The Miracle Worker, William Gibson (5.2, UG)

Football, Jonatha A. Brown (3.4, LG)

Chasing Lincoln's Killer, James L. Swanson (7.5, MG+)

Football, Tanis Booth (5.0, MG)

The Diary of a Young Girl, Anne Frank (6.5, MG+)

10

Smile, Raina Telgemeier (2.6, MG)

One Direction, Lynn Peppas (6.0, MG)

11

The Miracle Worker, William Gibson (5.2, UG)

Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes, Eleanor Coerr (4.1, MG)

12

Football, Ray Broekel (3.3, LG)

Woodsong, Gary Paulsen (5.6, MG)

13

Si-cology 1: Tales & Wisdom from Duck Dynasty's Favorite Uncle,


Si Robertson (5.8, MG+)

While the World Watched: A Birmingham Bombing Survivor Comes of


Age During the Civil Rights Movement, Carolyn Maull McKinstry (7.4, UG)

14

The Lost Boy: A Foster Child's Search for the Love of a Family,
Dave Pelzer (5.1, UG)

The Wimpy Kid Movie Diary: How Greg Heffley Went Hollywood,
Jeff Kinney (6.5, MG)

15

Brian's Song, William Blinn (5.1, UG)

Red Scarf Girl: A Memoir of the Cultural Revolution, Ji-li Jiang (5.0, UG)

16

Basketball, Jonatha A. Brown (3.4, LG)

We Beat the Street: How a Friendship Pact Led to Success,


Sampson Davis (5.8, UG)

17

Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes, Eleanor Coerr (4.1, MG)

Brian's Song, William Blinn (5.1, UG)

18

How They Croaked: The Awful Ends of the Awfully Famous,


Georgia Bragg (6.8, MG)

Marley & Me: Life and Love with the World's Worst Dog, John Grogan
(6.9, UG)

19

Happy, Happy, Happy: My Life and Legacy as the Duck Commander,


Phil Robertson (6.3, MG+)

Chinese Cinderella, Adeline Yen Mah (5.7, UG)

20

We Beat the Street: How a Friendship Pact Led to Success,


Sampson Davis (5.8, UG)

One Direction: Straight to the Top, Riley Brooks (6.3, LG)

21

Guts: The True Stories Behind Hatchet and the Brian Books,
Gary Paulsen (6.5, MG)

How They Croaked: The Awful Ends of the Awfully Famous,


Georgia Bragg (6.8, MG)

22

Bomb: The Race to Build--and Steal--the World's Most Dangerous


Weapon, Steve Sheinkin (6.9, UG)

The Story of Ruby Bridges, Robert Coles (4.4, LG)

23

While the World Watched: A Birmingham Bombing Survivor Comes of


Age During the Civil Rights Movement, Carolyn Maull McKinstry (7.4, UG)

Freedom Walkers: The Story of the Montgomery Bus Boycott,


Russell Freedman (7.7, MG)

24

Football, Cynthia Klingel (2.1, LG)

Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story, Gregg Lewis (6.7, MG+)

25

LeBron James, Dan Osier (1.7, MG)

My Life in Dog Years, Gary Paulsen (5.6, MG)

* The average ATOS level of the top 25 nonfiction books read by seventh graders was 5.3 for boys and 5.5 for girls. ATOS level and interest level together inform book selection. ATOS level is an
estimate of text difficulty reported on a grade-level scale. Interest levels refer to the sophistication/maturity of a texts content, ideas, and themes: LG (lower grades, K3), MG (middle grades,
48), MG+ (middle grades plus, 6 and up), and UG (upper grades, 912).

34

Section II: Nonfiction reading

Grade 8
Boys

Girls
Title, author (ATOS level, interest level)*

Rank

Night, Elie Wiesel (4.8, UG)

Night, Elie Wiesel (4.8, UG)

A Child Called "It": One Child's Courage to Survive, Dave Pelzer (5.8, UG)

A Child Called "It": One Child's Courage to Survive, Dave Pelzer (5.8, UG)

The Diary of a Young Girl, Anne Frank (6.5, MG+)

The Diary of a Young Girl, Anne Frank (6.5, MG+)

Chasing Lincoln's Killer, James L. Swanson (7.5, MG+)

Heaven Is for Real: A Little Boy's Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven
and Back, Todd Burpo (6.3, MG+)

Bad Boy: A Memoir, Walter Dean Myers (6.5, MG)

The Lost Boy: A Foster Child's Search for the Love of a Family, Dave Pelzer
(5.1, UG)

Football, Tanis Booth (5.0, MG)

Bad Boy: A Memoir, Walter Dean Myers (6.5, MG)

I Am a SEAL Team Six Warrior: Memoirs of an American Soldier,


Howard E. Wasdin (6.6, UG)

Smile, Raina Telgemeier (2.6, MG)

The Lost Boy: A Foster Child's Search for the Love of a Family,
Dave Pelzer (5.1, UG)

Soul Surfer: A True Story of Faith, Family, and Fighting to Get Back on
the Board, Bethany Hamilton (6.0, MG+)

Football, Jonatha A. Brown (3.4, LG)

Chasing Lincoln's Killer, James L. Swanson (7.5, MG+)

10

Heaven Is for Real: A Little Boy's Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven
and Back, Todd Burpo (6.3, MG+)

One Direction, Lynn Peppas (6.0, MG)

11

Football, Ray Broekel (3.3, LG)

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass: An American Slave,


Frederick Douglass (7.9, UG)

12

Happy, Happy, Happy: My Life and Legacy as the Duck Commander,


Phil Robertson (6.3, MG+)

Surviving Hitler: A Boy in the Nazi Death Camps, Andrea Warren (6.1, UG)

13

The Wimpy Kid Movie Diary: How Greg Heffley Went Hollywood,
Jeff Kinney (6.5, MG)

Tuesdays with Morrie, Mitch Albom (5.5, UG)

14

Basketball, Jonatha A. Brown (3.4, LG)

Marley & Me: Life and Love with the World's Worst Dog, John Grogan
(6.9, UG)

15

Maus: A Survivor's Tale, I: My Father Bleeds History, Art Spiegelman


(3.2, UG)

I Have Lived a Thousand Years: Growing Up in the Holocaust,


Livia Bitton-Jackson (4.8, UG)

16

Si-cology 1: Tales & Wisdom from Duck Dynasty's Favorite Uncle,


Si Robertson (5.8, MG+)

Farewell to Manzanar, Jeanne Houston (6.7, MG)

17

Surviving Hitler: A Boy in the Nazi Death Camps, Andrea Warren (6.1, UG)

Maus: A Survivor's Tale, I: My Father Bleeds History, Art Spiegelman (3.2, UG)

18

Basketball, Rennay Craats (5.0, MG)

Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story, Ben Carson (6.8, MG+)

19

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass: An American Slave,


Frederick Douglass (7.9, UG)

How They Croaked: The Awful Ends of the Awfully Famous,


Georgia Bragg (6.8, MG)

20

Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the


Lost Heroes of SEAL Team 10, Marcus Luttrell (7.2, UG)

One Direction: Straight to the Top, Riley Brooks (6.3, LG)

21

How They Croaked: The Awful Ends of the Awfully Famous,


Georgia Bragg (6.8, MG)

She Said Yes: The Unlikely Martyrdom of Cassie Bernall, Misty Bernall
(6.6, UG)

22

Rocket Boys/October Sky, Homer Hickam (5.9, UG)

Rocket Boys/October Sky, Homer Hickam (5.9, UG)

23

Woodsong, Gary Paulsen (5.6, MG)

Harriet Tubman: Conductor on the Underground Railroad, Ann Petry


(6.6, MG)

24

The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game, Michael Lewis (7.2, UG)

One Direction: Superstardom!, Riley Brooks (6.3, LG)

25

Football: Rules of the Game, Bryant Lloyd (4.3, MG)

The Story of Ruby Bridges, Robert Coles (4.4, LG)

* The average ATOS level of the top 25 nonfiction books read by eighth graders was 5.6 for boys and 5.7 for girls. ATOS level and interest level together inform book selection. ATOS level is an
estimate of text difficulty reported on a grade-level scale. Interest levels refer to the sophistication/maturity of a texts content, ideas, and themes: LG (lower grades, K3), MG (middle grades,
48), MG+ (middle grades plus, 6 and up), and UG (upper grades, 912).

35

Section II: Nonfiction reading

Grade 9
Boys

Girls
Title, author (ATOS level, interest level)*

Rank

Night, Elie Wiesel (4.8, UG)

Night, Elie Wiesel (4.8, UG)

A Child Called "It": One Child's Courage to Survive, Dave Pelzer (5.8, UG)

A Child Called "It": One Child's Courage to Survive, Dave Pelzer (5.8, UG)

The Lost Boy: A Foster Child's Search for the Love of a Family,
Dave Pelzer (5.1, UG)

The Lost Boy: A Foster Child's Search for the Love of a Family,
Dave Pelzer (5.1, UG)

The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game, Michael Lewis (7.2, UG)

Heaven Is for Real: A Little Boy's Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven
and Back, Todd Burpo (6.3, MG+)

Happy, Happy, Happy: My Life and Legacy as the Duck Commander,


Phil Robertson (6.3, MG+)

The Pregnancy Project: A Memoir, Gaby Rodriguez (6.5, UG)

Through My Eyes, Tim Tebow (6.9, UG)

Tuesdays with Morrie, Mitch Albom (5.5, UG)

We Beat the Street: How a Friendship Pact Led to Success,


Sampson Davis (5.8, UG)

A Stolen Life: A Memoir, Jaycee Lee Dugard (5.2, UG)

Tuesdays with Morrie, Mitch Albom (5.5, UG)

Marley & Me: Life and Love with the World's Worst Dog, John Grogan (6.9, UG)

The Duck Commander Family: How Faith, Family, and Ducks Created a
Dynasty, Willie Robertson (6.1, MG+)

We Beat the Street: How a Friendship Pact Led to Success,


Sampson Davis (5.8, UG)

10

I Am a SEAL Team Six Warrior: Memoirs of an American Soldier,


Howard E. Wasdin (6.6, UG)

The Miracle Worker, William Gibson (5.2, UG)

11

Heaven Is for Real: A Little Boy's Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven
and Back, Todd Burpo (6.3, MG+)

The Glass Castle: A Memoir, Jeannette Walls (5.9, UG)

12

Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the


Lost Heroes of SEAL Team 10, Marcus Luttrell (7.2, UG)

Martin Luther King Day, Linda Lowery (4.1, LG)

13

Si-cology 1: Tales & Wisdom from Duck Dynasty's Favorite Uncle,


Si Robertson (5.8, MG+)

A Man Named Dave: A Story of Triumph and Forgiveness, Dave Pelzer


(5.9, UG)

14

A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier, Ishmael Beah (6.1, UG)

I Have Lived a Thousand Years: Growing Up in the Holocaust, Livia


Bitton-Jackson (4.8, UG)

15

Martin Luther King Day, Linda Lowery (4.1, LG)

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou (6.7, UG)

16

The Miracle Worker, William Gibson (5.2, UG)

Anne Frank, Anne Schraff (5.4, MG+)

17

Maus: A Survivor's Tale, I: My Father Bleeds History, Art Spiegelman (3.2, UG)

She Said Yes: The Unlikely Martyrdom of Cassie Bernall, Misty Bernall (6.6, UG)

18

Anne Frank, Anne Schraff (5.4, MG+)

Farewell to Manzanar, Jeanne Houston (6.7, MG)

19

Chasing Lincoln's Killer, James L. Swanson (7.5, MG+)

The Diary of a Young Girl, Anne Frank (6.5, MG+)

20

The Hot Zone, Richard Preston (7.3, UG)

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass: An American Slave,


Frederick Douglass (7.9, UG)

21

No Easy Day: The Firsthand Account of the Mission That Killed Osama
Bin Laden, Mark Owen (6.5, UG)

Soul Surfer: A True Story of Faith, Family, and Fighting to Get Back on
the Board, Bethany Hamilton (6.0, MG+)

22

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass: An American Slave,


Frederick Douglass (7.9, UG)

A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier, Ishmael Beah (6.1, UG)

23

Bad Boy: A Memoir, Walter Dean Myers (6.5, MG)

Bad Boy: A Memoir, Walter Dean Myers (6.5, MG)

24

American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S.


Military History, Chris Kyle (6.3, UG)

The Hot Zone, Richard Preston (7.3, UG)

25

Football, Jonatha A. Brown (3.4, LG)

Annie's Baby: The Diary of Anonymous, a Pregnant Teenager,


Beatrice Sparks (5.7, UG)

* The average ATOS level of the top 25 nonfiction books read by ninth graders was 5.6 for boys and 5.6 for girls. ATOS level and interest level together inform book selection. ATOS level is
an estimate of text difficulty reported on a grade-level scale. Interest levels refer to the sophistication/maturity of a texts content, ideas, and themes: LG (lower grades, K3), MG (middle
grades, 48), MG+ (middle grades plus, 6 and up), and UG (upper grades, 912).

36

Section II: Nonfiction reading

Grade 10
Boys

Girls
Title, author (ATOS level, interest level)*

Rank

Night, Elie Wiesel (4.8, UG)

Night, Elie Wiesel (4.8, UG)

A Child Called "It": One Child's Courage to Survive, Dave Pelzer (5.8, UG)

A Child Called "It": One Child's Courage to Survive, Dave Pelzer (5.8, UG)

Tuesdays with Morrie, Mitch Albom (5.5, UG)

The Lost Boy: A Foster Child's Search for the Love of a Family,
Dave Pelzer (5.1, UG)

The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game, Michael Lewis (7.2, UG)

Heaven Is for Real: A Little Boy's Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven
and Back, Todd Burpo (6.3, MG+)

The Lost Boy: A Foster Child's Search for the Love of a Family, Dave Pelzer
(5.1, UG)

Tuesdays with Morrie, Mitch Albom (5.5, UG)

Happy, Happy, Happy: My Life and Legacy as the Duck Commander,


Phil Robertson (6.3, MG+)

The Glass Castle: A Memoir, Jeannette Walls (5.9, UG)

In Cold Blood: A True Account of a Multiple Murder and it


Consequences, Truman Capote (7.1, UG)

The Pregnancy Project: A Memoir, Gaby Rodriguez (6.5, UG)

The Glass Castle: A Memoir, Jeannette Walls (5.9, UG)

A Stolen Life: A Memoir, Jaycee Lee Dugard (5.2, UG)

Through My Eyes, Tim Tebow (6.9, UG)

Marley & Me: Life and Love with the World's Worst Dog, John Grogan (6.9, UG)

10

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass: An American Slave,


Frederick Douglass (7.9, UG)

In Cold Blood: A True Account of a Multiple Murder and its


Consequences, Truman Capote (7.1, UG)

11

The Duck Commander Family: How Faith, Family, and Ducks Created a
Dynasty, Willie Robertson (6.1, MG+)

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass: An American Slave,


Frederick Douglass (7.9, UG)

12

Heaven Is for Real: A Little Boy's Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven
and Back, Todd Burpo (6.3, MG+)

Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood, Marjane Satrapi (3.3, UG)

13

Maus: A Survivor's Tale, I: My Father Bleeds History, Art Spiegelman (3.2, UG)

It Happened to Nancy, Anonymous (5.4, UG)

14

Si-cology 1: Tales & Wisdom from Duck Dynasty's Favorite Uncle,


Si Robertson (5.8, MG+)

Warriors Don't Cry (Abridged), Melba Pattillo Beals (6.5, UG)

15

A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier, Ishmael Beah (6.1, UG)

Maus: A Survivor's Tale, I: My Father Bleeds History, Art Spiegelman (3.2, UG)

16

Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the


Lost Heroes of SEAL Team 10, Marcus Luttrell (7.2, UG)

She Said Yes: The Unlikely Martyrdom of Cassie Bernall, Misty Bernall
(6.6, UG)

17

American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S.


Military History, Chris Kyle (6.3, UG)

Farewell to Manzanar, Jeanne Houston (6.7, MG)

18

I Am a SEAL Team Six Warrior: Memoirs of an American Soldier,


Howard E. Wasdin (6.6, UG)

The Freedom Writers Diary: How a Teacher and 150 Teens Used Writing to
Change Themselves and the World Around Them, Freedom Writers (6.4, UG)

19

Football, Tanis Booth (5.0, MG)

The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game, Michael Lewis (7.2, UG)

20

The Hot Zone, Richard Preston (7.3, UG)

Funny in Farsi: A Memoir of Growing Up Iranian in America, Firoozeh


Dumas (7.3, UG)

21

Coming Back Stronger: Unleashing the Hidden Power of Adversity,


Drew Brees (6.6, UG)

Annie's Baby: The Diary of Anonymous, a Pregnant Teenager, Beatrice


Sparks (5.7, UG)

22

Warriors Don't Cry (Abridged), Melba Pattillo Beals (6.5, UG)

A Man Named Dave: A Story of Triumph and Forgiveness, Dave Pelzer (5.9, UG)

23

Rocket Boys/October Sky, Homer Hickam (5.9, UG)

A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier, Ishmael Beah (6.1, UG)

24

Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood, Marjane Satrapi (3.3, UG)

The Hot Zone, Richard Preston (7.3, UG)

25

Ghosts of War: The True Story of a 19-Year-Old GI, Ryan Smithson (5.2, UG)

Chinese Cinderella, Adeline Yen Mah (5.7, UG)

* The average ATOS level of the top 25 nonfiction books read by tenth graders was 5.5 for boys and 5.5 for girls. ATOS level and interest level together inform book selection. ATOS level is an
estimate of text difficulty reported on a grade-level scale. Interest levels refer to the sophistication/maturity of a texts content, ideas, and themes: LG (lower grades, K3), MG (middle grades,
48), MG+ (middle grades plus, 6 and up), and UG (upper grades, 912).

37

Section II: Nonfiction reading

Grade 11
Boys

Girls
Title, author (ATOS level, interest level)*

Rank

Night, Elie Wiesel (4.8, UG)

A Child Called "It": One Child's Courage to Survive, Dave Pelzer (5.8, UG)

A Child Called "It": One Child's Courage to Survive, Dave Pelzer (5.8, UG)

Night, Elie Wiesel (4.8, UG)

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass: An American Slave,


Frederick Douglass (7.9, UG)

The Lost Boy: A Foster Child's Search for the Love of a Family,
Dave Pelzer (5.1, UG)

Into the Wild, Jon Krakauer (8.1, MG)

Heaven Is for Real: A Little Boy's Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven
and Back, Todd Burpo (6.3, MG+)

Tuesdays with Morrie, Mitch Albom (5.5, UG)

The Glass Castle: A Memoir, Jeannette Walls (5.9, UG)

The Glass Castle: A Memoir, Jeannette Walls (5.9, UG)

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass: An American Slave,


Frederick Douglass (7.9, UG)

The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game, Michael Lewis (7.2, UG)

Tuesdays with Morrie, Mitch Albom (5.5, UG)

Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the


Lost Heroes of SEAL Team 10, Marcus Luttrell (7.2, UG)

Into the Wild, Jon Krakauer (8.1, MG)

The Lost Boy: A Foster Child's Search for the Love of a Family,
Dave Pelzer (5.1, UG)

In Cold Blood: A True Account of a Multiple Murder and its


Consequences, Truman Capote (7.1, UG)

10

Happy, Happy, Happy: My Life and Legacy as the Duck Commander,


Phil Robertson (6.3, MG+)

The Pregnancy Project: A Memoir, Gaby Rodriguez (6.5, UG)

11

The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates, Wes Moore (7.1, UG)

The Last Lecture, Randy Pausch (6.3, UG)

12

In Cold Blood: A True Account of a Multiple Murder and its


Consequences, Truman Capote (7.1, UG)

A Stolen Life: A Memoir, Jaycee Lee Dugard (5.2, UG)

13

The Duck Commander Family: How Faith, Family, and Ducks Created a
Dynasty, Willie Robertson (6.1, MG+)

The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates, Wes Moore (7.1, UG)

14

The Last Lecture, Randy Pausch (6.3, UG)

I Have Lived a Thousand Years: Growing Up in the Holocaust,


Livia Bitton-Jackson (4.8, UG)

15

Heaven Is for Real: A Little Boy's Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven
and Back, Todd Burpo (6.3, MG+)

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou (6.7, UG)

16

No Easy Day: The Firsthand Account of the Mission That Killed Osama
Bin Laden, Mark Owen (6.5, UG)

Marley & Me: Life and Love with the World's Worst Dog, John Grogan
(6.9, UG)

17

Through My Eyes, Tim Tebow (6.9, UG)

Enrique's Journey: The Story of a Boy's Dangerous Odyssey to Reunite


with His Mother, Sonia Nazario (5.6, UG)

18

Tweak: Growing Up on Methamphetamines, Nic Sheff (4.9, UG)

The Freedom Writers Diary: How a Teacher and 150 Teens Used Writing to
Change Themselves and the World Around Them, Freedom Writers (6.4, UG)

19

American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S.


Military History, Chris Kyle (6.3, UG)

The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game, Michael Lewis (7.2, UG)

20

Maus: A Survivor's Tale, I: My Father Bleeds History, Art Spiegelman (3.2, UG)

Farewell to Manzanar, Jeanne Houston (6.7, MG)

21

Always Running: La Vida Loca, Gang Days in L.A., Luis J. Rodrguez (6.2, UG)

Annie's Baby: The Diary of Anonymous, a Pregnant Teenager, Beatrice Sparks (5.7, UG)

22

Si-cology 1: Tales & Wisdom from Duck Dynasty's Favorite Uncle,


Si Robertson (5.8, MG+)

Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of


Everything, Steven D. Levitt (9.2, UG)

23

A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier, Ishmael Beah (6.1, UG)

A Man Named Dave: A Story of Triumph and Forgiveness, Dave Pelzer (5.9, UG)

24

Killing Kennedy: The End of Camelot, Bill O'Reilly (8.6, UG)

A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier, Ishmael Beah (6.1, UG)

25

I Have Lived a Thousand Years: Growing Up in the Holocaust, Livia Bitton-Jackson (4.8, UG)

Angela's Ashes, Frank McCourt (5.9, UG)

* The average ATOS level of the top 25 nonfiction books read by eleventh graders was 6.2 for boys and 6.1 for girls. ATOS level and interest level together inform book selection. ATOS level is
an estimate of text difficulty reported on a grade-level scale. Interest levels refer to the sophistication/maturity of a texts content, ideas, and themes: LG (lower grades, K3), MG (middle
grades, 48), MG+ (middle grades plus, 6 and up), and UG (upper grades, 912).

38

Section II: Nonfiction reading

Grade 12
Boys

Girls
Title, author (ATOS level, interest level)*

Rank

Night, Elie Wiesel (4.8, UG)

A Child Called "It": One Child's Courage to Survive, Dave Pelzer (5.8, UG)

A Child Called "It": One Child's Courage to Survive, Dave Pelzer (5.8, UG)

Night, Elie Wiesel (4.8, UG)

Into the Wild, Jon Krakauer (8.1, MG)

The Lost Boy: A Foster Child's Search for the Love of a Family,
Dave Pelzer (5.1, UG)

Tuesdays with Morrie, Mitch Albom (5.5, UG)

Heaven Is for Real: A Little Boy's Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven
and Back, Todd Burpo (6.3, MG+)

The Lost Boy: A Foster Child's Search for the Love of a Family, Dave Pelzer
(5.1, UG)

Tuesdays with Morrie, Mitch Albom (5.5, UG)

The Glass Castle: A Memoir, Jeannette Walls (5.9, UG)

The Glass Castle: A Memoir, Jeannette Walls (5.9, UG)

Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the


Lost Heroes of SEAL Team 10, Marcus Luttrell (7.2, UG)

Into the Wild, Jon Krakauer (8.1, MG)

The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game, Michael Lewis (7.2, UG)

The Pregnancy Project: A Memoir, Gaby Rodriguez (6.5, UG)

Happy, Happy, Happy: My Life and Legacy as the Duck Commander,


Phil Robertson (6.3, MG+)

In Cold Blood: A True Account of a Multiple Murder and its


Consequences, Truman Capote (7.1, UG)

10

A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier, Ishmael Beah (6.1, UG)

A Million Little Pieces, James Frey (4.2, UG)

11

American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S.


Military History, Chris Kyle (6.3, UG)

A Stolen Life: A Memoir, Jaycee Lee Dugard (5.2, UG)

12

Heaven Is for Real: A Little Boy's Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven
and Back, Todd Burpo (6.3, MG+)

A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier, Ishmael Beah (6.1, UG)

13

No Easy Day: The Firsthand Account of the Mission That Killed Osama
Bin Laden, Mark Owen (6.5, UG)

It Happened to Nancy, Anonymous (5.4, UG)

14

In Cold Blood: A True Account of a Multiple Murder and its


Consequences, Truman Capote (7.1, UG)

A Man Named Dave: A Story of Triumph and Forgiveness, Dave Pelzer


(5.9, UG)

15

The Duck Commander Family: How Faith, Family, and Ducks Created a
Dynasty, Willie Robertson (6.1, MG+)

Annie's Baby: The Diary of Anonymous, a Pregnant Teenager,


Beatrice Sparks (5.7, UG)

16

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and


Redemption, Laura Hillenbrand (7.7, UG)

Marley & Me: Life and Love with the World's Worst Dog, John Grogan
(6.9, UG)

17

Through My Eyes, Tim Tebow (6.9, UG)

She Said Yes: The Unlikely Martyrdom of Cassie Bernall, Misty Bernall (6.6, UG)

18

Life in Prison, Stanley "Tookie" Williams (6.4, UG)

The Last Lecture, Randy Pausch (6.3, UG)

19

The Hot Zone, Richard Preston (7.3, UG)

Three Little Words: A Memoir, Ashley Rhodes-Courter (5.4, UG)

20

Tweak: Growing Up on Methamphetamines, Nic Sheff (4.9, UG)

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass: An American Slave,


Frederick Douglass (7.9, UG)

21

Si-cology 1: Tales & Wisdom from Duck Dynasty's Favorite Uncle,


Si Robertson (5.8, MG+)

The Hot Zone, Richard Preston (7.3, UG)

22

Football, Tanis Booth (5.0, MG)

Escape from Camp 14: One Man's Remarkable Odyssey from North
Korea to Freedom in the West, Blaine Harden (8.1, UG)

23

Basketball: Rules of the Game, Bryant Lloyd (4.2, MG)

Three Weeks with My Brother, Nicholas Sparks (6.0, UG)

24

I Am a SEAL Team Six Warrior: Memoirs of an American Soldier,


Howard E. Wasdin (6.6, UG)

Life in Prison, Stanley "Tookie" Williams (6.4, UG)

25

The Last Lecture, Randy Pausch (6.3, UG)

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou (6.7, UG)

* The average ATOS level of the top 25 nonfiction books read by twelfth graders was 6.1 for boys and 5.9 for girls. ATOS level and interest level together inform book selection. ATOS level is
an estimate of text difficulty reported on a grade-level scale. Interest levels refer to the sophistication/maturity of a texts content, ideas, and themes: LG (lower grades, K3), MG (middle
grades, 48), MG+ (middle grades plus, 6 and up), and UG (upper grades, 912).

39

40

Section III: Exposure to complex texts


What are kids reading?
The National Center for Education Statistics reports that the number of students enrolling in postsecondary
programs is steadily increasing; however, a large proportion of college students need remedial courses, and many
are not able to graduate in a reasonable timeframe, if at all (Radford, Berkner, Wheeless, & Shepherd, 2010).8 The
difficult transition from high school to college may be exacerbated by a substantial gap in text complexitythe
challenge level of a given textbetween what students are exposed to at the secondary level as compared to
postsecondary materials (NGA/CCSSO, 2010).9
During a 2011 study by Nelson, Perfetti, Liben, and Liben, Renaissance Learning computed text complexity grade
bands for ATOS,10 which complied with new standards outlining end-of-year goals for reading comprehension to be
achieved with scaffolded instructional supports (see table 1).11
Table 1. Students need exposure to text complexity throughout schooling to be college and career ready
Common Core State Standards
grade bands

New text complexity grade bands


(Recommended ATOS level ranges)

K1

0.13.3

23

2.85.1

45

5.07.0

68

7.010.0

9CCR/college and career readiness

9.714.1

The lists that begin on p. 46 rank the top 25 fiction and nonfiction books read overall by text complexity grade
bands,12 based on Accelerated Reader data for more than 9.8 million students in grades 112 from 31,633 schools
nationwide who read more than 330 million books during the 20132014 school year.

Why it matters...
Text complexity grade bands can help educators determine if students are on the pathway to college and career
readiness, in terms of being able to comprehend sufficiently complex text. Note, these are end-of-year goalsnot a
guideline for all daily independent reading practice: Students need opportunities to stretch their reading abilities
but also to experience the satisfaction and pleasure of easy, fluent reading within them (NGA/CCSSO, 2010, p.9).13
Explore an in-depth look at what AR data tells us about reading challenge on p. 42. Then learn why reading matters
to guest essayist Andrew Clements (author of Frindle) on p. 45.
For additional insights on what kids are reading, visit www.learnalytics.com/wkar
8 Radford, A. W., Berkner, L., Wheeless, S. C., & Shepherd, B. (2010). Persistence and attainment of 200304 beginning postsecondary students: After 6 years.
First look (NCES 2011-151). U.S. Department of Education. Washington, DC: National Center for Education Statistics. Retrieved from
http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2011/2011151.pdf
9 National Governors Association Center for Best Practices, Council of Chief State School Officers. (2010). Common Core State Standards for English
language arts & literacy in history/social studies, science, and technical subjects. Appendix A: Research supporting the key elements of the standards,
Glossary of terms. Washington, DC: Author. Retrieved from www.corestandards.org
10 To learn more about ATOS, see discussion in Appendix, p. 53.
11 N
 elson, J., Perfetti, C., Liben, D., & Liben, M. (2011). Measures of text complexity: Testing their predictive value for grade levels and
student performance. Technical Report to the Gates Foundation (also to be submitted for publication). Retrieved from
http://achievethecore.org/content/upload/nelson_perfetti_liben_measures_of_text_difficulty_research_ela.pdf
12 N
 ote: Because schools may optionally record demographic information about students in AR, gender data is available for approximately 68% of
students. Thus, book lists in this section compile records for boys, girls, and students for which gender was not recorded.
13 National Governors Association Center for Best Practices, op. cit.

41

An analysis of reading challenge


In Section I (p. 7), we briefly summarized research on the benefits of students reading at the right level of challenge,
and the role that increasing challenge can play provided students can understand slightly more complex text.
New academic standards are placing greater emphasis than ever on the challenge level, or complexity, of text
students are able to read. Prior research (Williamson, 2006) has established a gap between the text students typically
experience in high school and the complexity of material they are expected to handle in college and career.
Subsequent projects have attempted to close this gap by suggesting grade-by-grade text complexity goals that
aim to put K12 students on a pathway to meet later challenges (Nelson et al., 2011).
Needless to say, we cannot expect students to comprehend complex text on summative tests if they have not
had an opportunity to tackle such text both instructionally with supports and during their independent reading
practice time. Figure 5 sheds light on the difficulty level of books students read on their own, and on how students
book-reading habits compare both to what adults read and to what may be required for college and career. We
present text difficulty in ATOS levels (Milone, 2014), 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).
1. What is the complexity level of books students read independently, and how does it compare both to what
adults read and to what may be expected in college and career?
The average difficulty level of independently read books steadily increases through elementary school and
peaks at 5.2 in grade 12 (see table A1 in the Appendix, p. 51).
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.
Figure 5. Complexity for older students mirrors some adult reading but misses rigor of college and career texts
15.0
B

9.0

TM

ATOS level

12.0

6.0
5.2

3.0
0

1.8
Grades 1 through 12

Best sellers, articles, etc.

College and career

What students read

What adults read

Postsecondary

Source*

What adults read

Postsecondary

Min

Max

Avg

A. Sample NYT fiction best seller books, 2013

4.6

7.2

5.6

B. Sample NYT nonfiction best seller books, 2013

5.8

10.2

7.6

C. Huffington Post articles

5.4

11.5

9.2

D. Time magazine articles

5.0

12.2

10.1

E. USA Today articles

8.4

12.0

10.3

F. New York Times articles

9.0

11.8

10.6

G. Books most assigned to Incoming college freshmen

6.0

11.2

7.6

H. Sample first-year college textbooks

12.7

14.9

13.8

I. Sample career documents

9.7

11.7

10.6

42

2. To what extent do students meet new text complexity goals?


To comply with new standards, text complexity grade bands were established to indicate the complexity of
text students should be able to comprehend to remain on a pathway of college and career readiness. Data on
independent book reading suggest that nearly all students read at least one book in their target range for the
elementary grades, but those rates decline over time. By high school, fewer than 15% of students read one or
more books in their target range.
Research suggesting that students do not graduate high school prepared for the difficult levels of text they encounter
in college and career settings prompted Nelson et al. (2011) to conduct a study that resulted in new more rigorous
text complexity grade bands. Under the researchers direction, Renaissance Learning participated in the study and
computed text complexity grade bands for ATOS for grades 112. To do so, Renaissance researchers started with
estimates of college and career text complexity, and then worked backwards to the early grades to create a pathway
for college and career readiness.
The new text complexity grade bands are rigorous and beyond what most students are likely to encounter in their
independent reading practice, particularly beyond elementary school. Consequently, we find the number of
students reading books within the grade bands falls precipitously as grade level increases. As seen in figure 6, in
grades 25, between 81 and 98% of students independently read at least one book in or above their recommended
text complexity grade band. In grades 68, these rates fall to between 24 and 32%. In high school, they drop further
to between 7 and 14%.

100%

12.0

80%

9.0

60%

6.0

40%

3.0

20%

10

11

12

0%

Students reading in grade bands

15.0

TM

Text complexity grade bands


(ATOS levels)

Figure 6. Beyond grade 5, few students read books within their text complexity grade bands
Text complexity grade
bands (difficulty
necessary for college
and career readiness)
Percent of students
reading one or more
books independently
in/above their text
complexity grade band

Grade
In considering how to help more students successfully read within the text complexity grade bands, it is important to
bear in mind that pushing students to read more difficult texts at the expense of comprehension could actually be
detrimental (Renaissance Learning, 2012; see also the discussion on importance of comprehension, Section I, p. 5).
Also, the bands 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. As grade level increases, reading within the text complexity
grade bands will be more challenging, and students will benefit most from exposure to complex text during
instructional periods where scaffolding, coaching, and discussion are available.
As students are encouraged to read increasingly complex texts, it will also be very important to assess
comprehension. Using information about how well students understand what they are reading, educators will
be able to guide reading choices and provide instructional supports in order to expose students to a level of text
complexity that is as challenging as possible without crossing the line to being incomprehensible.

43

References
Milone, M. (2014). Development of the ATOS Readability Formula. Wisconsin Rapids, WI: Renaissance Learning. Retrieved from
http://doc.renlearn.com/KMNet/R004250827GJ11C4.pdf
Nelson, J., Perfetti, C., Liben, D., & Liben, M. (2011). Measures of text complexity: Testing their predictive value for grade levels and student
performance. Technical Report to the Gates Foundation (also to be submitted for publication). Retrieved from
http://achievethecore.org/content/upload/nelson_perfetti_liben_measures_of_text_difficulty_research_ela.pdf
Renaissance Learning. (2012). Guided independent reading. Wisconsin Rapids, WI: Author. Retrieved from
http://doc.renlearn.com/KMNet/R005577721AC3667.pdf
Williamson, G. L. (2006). Aligning the journey with a destination: A model for K16 reading standards. Durham, NC: MetaMetrics, Inc.
* Text complexity sources:

A. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_New_York_Times_Fiction_Best_Sellers_of_2013

B. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_New_York_Times_Non-Fiction_Best_Sellers_of_2013

C. Ten most popular articles as of Sept. 16, 2014 on http://www.huffingtonpost.com/news/mostpopular/

D. Ten articles appearing in Time magazine, Sept. 22, 2014, Vol. 184, No. 11

E. Ten most popular/top stories from USA Today, Sept. 1617, 2014

F. Ten most viewed articles in last 24 hours from New York Times as of Sept. 16, 2014

G. T
 horne, A., Plum, C., Wood, P., & Carter, T. (2013, August). Beach books: 20122013: What do colleges and
universities want students to read outside class? A report by the National Association of Scholars. Retrieved
from http://www.nas.org/articles/beach_books_2012_2013

H. Nelson et al., op. cit.

I. Nelson et al., op. cit.

44

Why reading matters


by Andrew Clements, author of Frindle
I cant recall a time when reading didnt matter to me. At the very beginning, I was in it for
the pure fun of zipping along on adventure after adventure with Danny Meadow Mouse,
with Eeyore and Pooh, with Tom Swift, with Robin Hood, and with Robinson Crusoe. Fun,
fun, and more fun, page after page.
Reading eventually mattered in a different way. It was how I managed to keep up with my
schooling and convince the majority of my teachers not to flunk me. I survived junior high
and high school, and reading led me to become an undergraduate English major. At the
start of each term, I hauled two shopping bags filled with books back to my room. This
was the reading that made me truly love great stories, great thinking, and great writing.
Reading has never mattered in this world more than it does right now. There is a
superabundance of writing out there today, trillions upon trillions of words, assembled
into novels and stories and poems and articles and countless other forms, exploring every topic imaginable. Printed
on paper or humming in blinking server farms as electrostatic zeroes and ones, the words wait for their readers.
All words are equally available to every writer, but all writing is not created equal. And it is by thoughtful, evaluative
reading that the good writing gets sorted from the bad, the strong from the weak, the deep from the shallow, and
the honest from the false. Readers must individually decide which writing is worth sharing and promoting and
preserving. We each build our own librariesthe words we invite into our hearts and homes, the words that come
and dwell with us personally and permanently. Reading matters.
Are there people whod like to limit or control what we get to read or not read? Yes, among them, the tyrants and
demagogues of this world. These are some of the only people on Earth who would dare suggest that reading doesnt
matter. But of course, it does.
Reading has always been about the freedom to think for oneself. Teaching a slave to read in the Old South was
considered a crime, but brave people broke those laws. Historically, reading has always been a critical step along the
path to moral, physical, and intellectual freedomand it still is. Reading matters.
None of us would ever have become the readers we are if great writing hadnt been done first. Reading matters
because its how we get to know the best that has been thought and written. And all those enlightening words
remain, patiently waiting for their readers. I am so grateful to know this.
Well, I started out all light and cheery, and then veered off into deep waters. Sorry about that. But as delightful as
reading is and should be at every level, this is also a very serious business were about here. I feel greatly honored
to know so many parents and teachers and librariansand booksellers and agents and authors and editors and
publisherswho are dead earnest in their work to give children wonderful books to read. And I thank each of you.

Andrew Clements has written many books for children, among them Frindle, Because Your Daddy Loves
You, and Things Not Seen. He and his wife live in Maine, and they have four grown sons.

Photo by Bill Crofton.

45

Section III: Exposure to complex texts

Top 25 fiction and nonfiction books read overall by text complexity grade bands
ATOS Levels 0.13.3
Fiction

Nonfiction
Title, author (ATOS level, interest level)*

Rank

Green Eggs and Ham, Dr. Seuss (1.5, LG)

The Tiny Seed, Eric Carle (2.7, LG)

The Foot Book, Dr. Seuss (0.6, LG)

Smile, Raina Telgemeier (2.6, MG)

The Cat in the Hat, Dr. Seuss (2.1, LG)

Fly Guy Presents: Sharks, Tedd Arnold (2.8, LG)

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, Laura Numeroff (2.7, LG)

From Head to Toe, Eric Carle (1.0, LG)

If You Give a Pig a Pancake, Laura Numeroff (2.5, LG)

Abe Lincoln's Hat, Martha Brenner (2.6, LG)

Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type, Doreen Cronin (2.3, LG)

Hungry, Hungry Sharks, Joanna Cole (2.8, LG)

If You Give a Moose a Muffin, Laura Numeroff (2.4, LG)

Dinosaurs, Dinosaurs, Byron Barton (2.9, LG)

The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Eric Carle (2.9, LG)

Amazing Snakes!, Sarah L. Thomson (3.2, LG)

Hop on Pop, Dr. Seuss (1.5, LG)

Fly Guy Presents: Space, Tedd Arnold (3.3, LG)

10

Are You My Mother?, P.D. Eastman (1.6, LG)

The Bravest Dog Ever: The True Story of Balto,


Natalie Standiford (2.5, LG)

11

The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs, Jon Scieszka (3.0, LG)

Me on the Map, Joan Sweeney (1.8, LG)

12

Hi, Fly Guy!, Tedd Arnold (1.5, LG)

Looking at Lincoln, Maira Kalman (3.3, LG)

13

The Giving Tree, Shel Silverstein (2.6, LG)

Red-Eyed Tree Frog, Joy Cowley (1.3, LG)

14

If You Take a Mouse to School, Laura Numeroff (2.4, LG)

Frogs!, Elizabeth Carney (2.6, LG)

15

One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish, Dr. Seuss (1.7, LG)

Sharks!, Anne Schreiber (3.0, LG)

16

If You Take a Mouse to the Movies, Laura Numeroff (2.1, LG)

I'm a Caterpillar, Jean Marzollo (0.9, LG)

17

Biscuit, Alyssa Satin Capucilli (1.4, LG)

Dinosaur Babies, Lucille Recht Penner (2.1, LG)

18

There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed Fly Guy, Tedd Arnold
(1.6, LG)

Tara and Tiree, Fearless Friends, Andrew Clements (2.0, LG)

19

Diary of a Worm, Doreen Cronin (2.8, LG)

A Mink, a Fink, a Skating Rink: What Is a Noun?, Brian P. Cleary


(3.3, LG)

20

Miss Nelson Is Missing!, Harry Allard (2.7, LG)

Dolphins!, Sharon Bokoske (2.8, LG)

21

Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, Judy Blume (3.3, MG)

Dinosaur Days, Joyce Milton (2.6, LG)

22

Fly Guy vs. the Flyswatter!, Tedd Arnold (2.1, LG)

Amazing Sharks!, Sarah L. Thomson (3.1, LG)

23

Go, Dog. Go!, P.D. Eastman (1.2, LG)

The Statue of Liberty, Lucille Recht Penner (2.3, LG)

24

If You Give a Pig a Party, Laura Numeroff (2.2, LG)

A Tree Is Nice, Janice May Udry (2.2, LG)

25

Dinosaurs Before Dark, Mary Pope Osborne (2.6, LG)

The Titanic: Lost...and Found, Judy Donnelly (3.0, LG)

* ATOS level and interest level together inform book selection. ATOS level is an estimate of text difficulty reported on a grade-level scale. Interest levels refer to the
sophistication/maturity of a texts content, ideas, and themes: LG (lower grades, K3), MG (middle grades, 48), MG+ (middle grades plus, 6 and up), and UG
(upper grades, 912).

46

Section III: Exposure to complex texts

ATOS Levels 2.85.1


Fiction

Nonfiction
Title, author (ATOS level, interest level)*

Rank

The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Eric Carle (2.9, LG)

Penguin Chick, Betty Tatham (3.4, LG)

The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs, Jon Scieszka (3.0, LG)

The Story of Ruby Bridges, Robert Coles (4.4, LG)

Divergent, Veronica Roth (4.8, UG)

How Much Is a Million?, David M. Schwartz (3.4, LG)

Because of Winn-Dixie, Kate DiCamillo (3.9, MG)

Martin's Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.,
Doreen Rappaport (3.4, LG)

Officer Buckle and Gloria, Peggy Rathmann (3.4, LG)

Fly Guy Presents: Sharks, Tedd Arnold (2.8, LG)

The Lightning Thief, Rick Riordan (4.7, MG)

My Brother Martin: A Sister Remembers Growing Up with the


Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Christine King Farris (5.0, LG)

Where the Wild Things Are, Maurice Sendak (3.4, LG)

The Magic School Bus Inside the Earth, Joanna Cole (3.6, LG)

Number the Stars, Lois Lowry (4.5, MG)

Hungry, Hungry Sharks, Joanna Cole (2.8, LG)

Diary of a Worm, Doreen Cronin (2.8, LG)

Dinosaurs, Dinosaurs, Byron Barton (2.9, LG)

10

Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, Judy Blume (3.3, MG)

Amazing Snakes!, Sarah L. Thomson (3.2, LG)

11

Charlotte's Web, E.B. White (4.4, MG)

Happy Birthday, Martin Luther King, Jean Marzollo (4.2, LG)

12

The Adventures of Captain Underpants, Dav Pilkey (4.3, MG)

The Magic School Bus at the Waterworks, Joanna Cole (3.7, LG)

13

Holes, Louis Sachar (4.6, MG)

Finding the Titanic, Robert D. Ballard (4.0, LG)

14

The Sea of Monsters, Rick Riordan (4.6, MG)

Fly Guy Presents: Space, Tedd Arnold (3.3, LG)

15

Corduroy, Don Freeman (3.5, LG)

Looking at Lincoln, Maira Kalman (3.3, LG)

16

A Bad Case of Stripes, David Shannon (3.8, LG)

Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes, Eleanor Coerr (4.1, MG)

17

Stone Fox, John Reynolds Gardiner (4.0, MG)

If You Made a Million, David M. Schwartz (4.1, LG)

18

Tales from a Not-So-Happy Heartbreaker,


Rachel Rene Russell (4.2, MG)

The Man Who Walked Between the Towers, Mordicai Gerstein


(3.7, LG)

19

Tales from a Not-So-Graceful Ice Princess,


Rachel Rene Russell (4.5, MG)

Hairy, Scary, Ordinary: What Is an Adjective?, Brian P. Cleary


(3.9, LG)

20

Captain Underpants and the Attack of the Talking Toilets,


Dav Pilkey (4.7, MG)

Super Storms, Seymour Simon (3.8, LG)

21

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day,


Judith Viorst (3.7, LG)

Sharks!, Anne Schreiber (3.0, LG)

22

Bad Kitty School Daze, Nick Bruel (3.3, LG)

A Picture Book of Martin Luther King, Jr., David A. Adler (3.8, LG)

23

Tales from a Not-So-Popular Party Girl, Rachel Rene Russell


(5.1, MG)

Johnny Appleseed, Steven Kellogg (4.4, LG)

24

The Outsiders, S.E. Hinton (4.7, UG)

Snowflake Bentley, Jacqueline Briggs Martin (4.4, LG)

25

Wonder, R.J. Palacio (4.8, MG)

A Mink, a Fink, a Skating Rink: What Is a Noun?, Brian P.


Cleary (3.3, LG)

* ATOS level and interest level together inform book selection. ATOS level is an estimate of text difficulty reported on a grade-level scale. Interest levels refer to the
sophistication/maturity of a texts content, ideas, and themes: LG (lower grades, K3), MG (middle grades, 48), MG+ (middle grades plus, 6 and up), and UG
(upper grades, 912).

47

Section III: Exposure to complex texts

ATOS Levels 5.07.0


Fiction

Nonfiction
Title, author (ATOS level, interest level)*

Rank

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Hard Luck, Jeff Kinney (5.5, MG)

My Brother Martin: A Sister Remembers Growing Up with the


Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Christine King Farris (5.0, LG)

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Third Wheel, Jeff Kinney (5.6, MG)

The Wimpy Kid Movie Diary: How Greg Heffley Went


Hollywood, Jeff Kinney (6.5, MG)

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days, Jeff Kinney (5.2, MG)

Balloons over Broadway: The True Story of the Puppeteer of


Macy's Parade, Melissa Sweet (5.4, LG)

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Cabin Fever, Jeff Kinney (5.8, MG)

A Child Called "It": One Child's Courage to Survive, Dave Pelzer


(5.8, UG)

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Ugly Truth, Jeff Kinney (5.5, MG)

Teammates, Peter Golenbock (5.4, LG)

Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Jeff Kinney (5.2, MG)

Heaven Is for Real: A Little Boy's Astounding Story of His Trip


to Heaven and Back, Todd Burpo (6.3, MG+)

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules, Jeff Kinney (5.2, MG)

Wilma Unlimited: How Wilma Rudolph Became the World's


Fastest Woman, Kathleen Krull (5.1, MG)

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Last Straw, Jeff Kinney (5.4, MG)

Who Was Dr. Seuss?, Janet B. Pascal (5.3, MG)

The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins (5.3, MG+)

And Then What Happened, Paul Revere?, Jean Fritz (5.3, MG)

10

Hatchet, Gary Paulsen (5.7, MG)

Who Was Neil Armstrong?, Roberta Edwards (5.4, MG)

11

Catching Fire, Suzanne Collins (5.3, MG+)

Barnum's Bones: How Barnum Brown Discovered the Most


Famous Dinosaur in the World, Tracey Fern (6.2, LG)

12

Frindle, Andrew Clements (5.4, MG)

Titanic: A Nonfiction Companion to Tonight on the Titanic,


Will Osborne (5.1, LG)

13

The Giver, Lois Lowry (5.7, MG)

Coral Reefs, Jason Chin (6.4, LG)

14

Tales from a Not-So-Popular Party Girl, Rachel Rene Russell


(5.1, MG)

Now & Ben: The Modern Inventions of Benjamin Franklin,


Gene Barretta (5.1, LG)

15

Tales from a Not-So-Fabulous Life, Rachel Rene Russell (5.4, MG)

Who Was Abraham Lincoln?, Janet B. Pascal (5.5, MG)

16

The Fault in Our Stars, John Green (5.5, UG)

How Ben Franklin Stole the Lightning, Rosalyn Schanzer (5.1, LG)

17

Insurgent, Veronica Roth (5.0, UG)

Ghosts: A Nonfiction Companion to A Good Night for Ghosts,


Mary Pope Osborne (5.3, LG)

18

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, J.K. Rowling (5.5, MG)

Adelina's Whales, Richard Sobol (5.0, LG)

19

Island of the Blue Dolphins, Scott O'Dell (5.4, MG)

The Lost Boy: A Foster Child's Search for the Love of a Family,
Dave Pelzer (5.1, UG)

20

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, Barbara Robinson (5.1, MG)

Who Was Albert Einstein?, Jess M. Brallier (5.8, MG)

21

Tuck Everlasting, Natalie Babbitt (5.0, MG)

Who Was Steve Jobs?, Pam Pollack (5.0, MG)

22

The Bad Beginning, Lemony Snicket (6.4, MG)

If Dogs Were Dinosaurs, David M. Schwartz (5.5, MG)

23

Mockingjay, Suzanne Collins (5.3, MG+)

Jump! From the Life of Michael Jordan, Floyd Cooper (5.2, LG)

24

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, J.K. Rowling (6.7, MG)

Who Was Harry Houdini?, Tui T. Sutherland (5.8, MG)

25

The Watsons Go to Birmingham1963,


Christopher Paul Curtis (5.0, MG)

Trapped By the Ice! Shackleton's Amazing Antarctic


Adventure, Michael McCurdy (5.6, MG)

* ATOS level and interest level together inform book selection. ATOS level is an estimate of text difficulty reported on a grade-level scale. Interest levels refer to the
sophistication/maturity of a texts content, ideas, and themes: LG (lower grades, K3), MG (middle grades, 48), MG+ (middle grades plus, 6 and up), and UG
(upper grades, 912).

48

Section III: Exposure to complex texts

ATOS Levels 7.010.0


Fiction

Nonfiction
Title, author (ATOS level, interest level)*

Rank

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, J.K. Rowling (7.2, MG)

Chasing Lincoln's Killer, James L. Swanson (7.5, MG+)

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, J.K. Rowling (7.2, MG+)

Winter's Tail: How One Little Dolphin Learned to Swim Again,


Juliana Hatkoff (7.0, LG)

The Tell-Tale Heart, Edgar Allan Poe (7.3, UG)

Rascal, Sterling North (7.1, MG)

The Slippery Slope, Lemony Snicket (7.1, MG)

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass: An American Slave,


Frederick Douglass (7.9, UG)

The Call of the Wild, Jack London (8.0, MG)

The Great Fire, Jim Murphy (7.6, UG)

The Ruins of Gorlan, John Flanagan (7.0, MG)

"The President Has Been Shot!" The Assassination of John F.


Kennedy, James L. Swanson (8.0, MG)

The End, Lemony Snicket (7.3, MG)

Shh! We're Writing the Constitution, Jean Fritz (7.1, MG)

Animal Farm, George Orwell (7.3, UG)

The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game, Michael Lewis (7.2, UG)

The Wizard of Oz/The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (Unabridged),


L. Frank Baum (7.0, MG)

Freedom Walkers: The Story of the Montgomery Bus Boycott,


Russell Freedman (7.7, MG)

10

The Penultimate Peril, Lemony Snicket (7.4, MG)

I Feel Better with a Frog in My Throat: History's Strangest


Cures, Carlyn Beccia (7.1, MG)

11

Eldest, Christopher Paolini (7.0, UG)

I Am: Martin Luther King Jr., Grace Norwich (7.1, LG)

12

The Pearl, John Steinbeck (7.1, UG)

Candy Bomber: The Story of the Berlin Airlift's "Chocolate


Pilot", Michael O. Tunnell (7.2, MG)

13

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (Unabridged), Mark Twain


(8.1, MG+)

The Boy on the Wooden Box: How the Impossible Became


Possible...on Schindler's List, Leon Leyson (7.0, MG)

14

Brisingr, Christopher Paolini (7.8, UG)

Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing


and the Lost Heroes of SEAL Team 10, Marcus Luttrell (7.2, UG)

15

Inheritance, Christopher Paolini (7.5, UG)

I Am: Albert Einstein, Grace Norwich (7.2, LG)

16

The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald (7.3, UG)

Titanic: Voices from the Disaster, Deborah Hopkinson (7.4, MG)

17

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland/Alice in Wonderland,


Lewis Carroll (7.4, MG)

I Am: George Lucas, Grace Norwich (7.5, LG)

18

White Fang (Unabridged), Jack London (7.4, MG)

Lincoln's Last Days: The Shocking Assassination that


Changed America Forever, Bill O'Reilly (7.5, MG+)

19

The Tales of Beedle the Bard, J.K. Rowling (8.3, MG)

Stolen into Slavery: The True Story of Solomon Northup, Free


Black Man, Judith Fradin (7.1, MG+)

20

Romeo and Juliet, William Shakespeare (8.6, UG)

Phineas Gage: A Gruesome but True Story About Brain


Science, John Fleischman (7.4, UG)

21

Anne of Green Gables (Unabridged), L.M. Montgomery (7.3, MG)

I Am: George Washington, Grace Norwich (7.1, LG)

22

The Raven, Edgar Allan Poe (7.1, MG)

John Cena, Robert Grayson (7.6, MG)

23

Tunnels, Roderick Gordon (7.0, MG)

Four Perfect Pebbles: A Holocaust Story, Lila Perl (7.3, MG)

24

The Cask of Amontillado, Edgar Allan Poe (7.3, UG)

While the World Watched: A Birmingham Bombing Survivor


Comes of Age During the Civil Rights Movement,
Carolyn Maull McKinstry (7.4, UG)

25

Peter Pan/Peter Pan and Wendy (Unabridged),


James M. Barrie (7.2, MG)

Dogs on Duty: Soldiers' Best Friends on the Battlefield and


Beyond, Dorothy Hinshaw Patent (7.1, LG)

* ATOS level and interest level together inform book selection. ATOS level is an estimate of text difficulty reported on a grade-level scale. Interest levels refer to the
sophistication/maturity of a texts content, ideas, and themes: LG (lower grades, K3), MG (middle grades, 48), MG+ (middle grades plus, 6 and up), and UG
(upper grades, 912).

49

Section III: Exposure to complex texts

ATOS Levels 9.714.1


Fiction

Nonfiction
Title, author (ATOS level, interest level)*

Rank

Frankenstein (Unabridged), Mary Shelley (12.4, UG)

Snakes, Kelly L. Barth (11.0, UG)

The Black Cat, Edgar Allan Poe (9.9, UG)

The Hunger Games Companion: The Unauthorized Guide to


the Series, Lois H. Gresh (9.9, UG)

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Washington Irving (11.0, UG)

10,000 Days of Thunder: A History of the Vietnam War,


Philip Caputo (9.7, MG)

Julius Caesar, William Shakespeare (10.8, UG)

Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal,


Eric Schlosser (10.4, UG)

Macbeth, William Shakespeare (10.9, UG)

The Radioactive Boy Scout: The True Story of a Boy and His
Backyard Nuclear Reactor, Ken Silverstein (10.1, UG)

A Midsummer Night's Dream, William Shakespeare (10.9, UG)

When Plague Strikes: The Black Death, Smallpox, AIDS,


James Cross Giblin (9.8, UG)

The Scarlet Letter (Unabridged), Nathaniel Hawthorne (11.7, UG)

The U.S. Marine Corps, Hunter Keeter (10.3, MG)

The Pit and the Pendulum, Edgar Allan Poe (10.1, UG)

Spies of Mississippi: The True Story of the Spy Network that Tried
to Destroy the Civil Rights Movement, Rick Bowers (10.1, MG)

Pride and Prejudice (Unabridged), Jane Austen (12.0, UG)

Fact, Fiction, and Folklore in Harry Potter's World: An


Unofficial Guide, George W. Beahm (10.0, MG)

10

Hamlet, William Shakespeare (10.5, UG)

Why We Can't Wait, Martin Luther King Jr. (10.4, UG)

11

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (Unabridged), Jules Verne


(10.0, MG)

Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany, Earle Rice Jr. (9.7, UG)

12

The Metamorphosis, Franz Kafka (10.5, UG)

Holler If You Hear Me: Searching for Tupac Shakur,


Michael Eric Dyson (9.9, UG)

13

The Fall of the House of Usher, Edgar Allan Poe (11.4, UG)

Where Men Win Glory: The Odyssey of Pat Tillman,


Jon Krakauer (9.7, UG)

14

Oliver Twist (Abridged), Charles Dickens (10.7, MG)

George Washington Carver, Gene Adair (9.8, MG)

15

The Odyssey, Homer (10.3, UG)

UFOs, Patricia D. Netzley (9.9, UG)

16

Wuthering Heights (Unabridged), Emily Bront (11.3, UG)

The Shark, Adam Woog (10.0, UG)

17

Robinson Crusoe, Daniel Defoe (12.3, UG)

British Royal Marines: Amphibious Division of the United


Kingdom's Royal Navy, Bill Scheppler (10.6, MG)

18

Journey to the Center of the Earth (Unabridged), Jules Verne


(9.9, UG)

Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad,


Louise Chipley Slavicek (9.7, UG)

19

The Swiss Family Robinson (Bloomsbury Edition),


Johann Wyss (10.0, MG)

Snake, Chris Mattison (9.7, UG)

20

A Tale of Two Cities (Unabridged), Charles Dickens (9.7, UG)

A Brief History of Time, Stephen W. Hawking (10.5, UG)

21

The Swiss Family Robinson (Unabridged), Johann Wyss (9.7, MG)

The Army in Action, Susan Sawyer (10.3, UG)

22

Oliver Twist (Unabridged), Charles Dickens (11.3, UG)

Shark, Mark Carwardine (10.3, UG)

23

The Three Musketeers (Unabridged), Alexandre Dumas (11.3, UG)

Barack Obama, Sherri Devaney (10.3, UG)

24

Beowulf, Anonymous (10.4, UG)

Sally Ride, Jane Hurwitz (9.9, MG)

25

The Purloined Letter, Edgar Allan Poe (10.4, UG)

Sharks & Rays, Time-Life Editors (10.4, UG)

* ATOS level and interest level together inform book selection. ATOS level is an estimate of text difficulty reported on a grade-level scale. Interest levels refer to the
sophistication/maturity of a texts content, ideas, and themes: LG (lower grades, K3), MG (middle grades, 48), MG+ (middle grades plus, 6 and up), and UG
(upper grades, 912).

50

Appendix: About the report


What kids are reading
How do we know? We know because of our Accelerated Reader software, first developed by educator Judi
Paul 30 years ago as a way to motivate her own children to read and now in use at tens of thousands of schools
worldwide. With AR, teachers know how well, how much, and at what level of challenge students are reading.
Students take an AR Reading Practice Quiz after each book they read, and in turn, Accelerated Reader provides
teachers with daily information about the key indicators of successful reading practicequality (comprehension),
quantity (time spent reading), and difficulty (text complexity level).
Unlike publisher book-sale records, best-seller lists, or library-circulation
data, which tell us what books were purchased or checked out to read,
Accelerated Reader reveals which books students actually read, from cover to
cover. Because our data is compiled from comprehension quizzes students
have passed on these books, we have unique insight into the books kids are
truly reading.

Accelerated Reader
reveals which books
students actually read,
from cover to cover.

Why it matters
In the past, this report has mainly focused on sharing lists of the most popular books being read by kids nationwide
as a helpful and informative reference for educators, parents, and students in finding great books to read. With the
wealth of data available via our Accelerated Reader database, in addition to providing our trademark lists, we
decided this year to dig further into the data and share insights into key aspects of student reading practice and
how they influence reading achievement and growth.
The data
The Accelerated Reader hosted databasehoused at the Renaissance Learning Data Center in Wisconsin Rapids,
Wisconsin, which provides cost savings and additional security/data protectionis the source of the data for
What Kids Are Reading: And Why It Matters, 2015 Edition. The report is based on AR book-reading records for more
than 9.8 million students in grades 112 who read more than 330 million books during the 20132014 school year
(see table A1). The students are from 31,633 schools, spanning all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.
Table A1. Students, books, words, and ATOS levels by grade (AR hosted database, 20132014 school year)
Grade

Students

Books read

Average books
read per student

Average words
read per student

Average ATOS
level of books read

1,091,269

45,333,897

41.5

25,234

1.8

1,438,167

82,415,999

57.3

82,888

2.5

1,518,290

76,912,317

50.7

188,958

3.1

1,495,999

54,717,531

36.6

310,332

3.6

1,434,607

39,018,894

27.2

398,606

4.0

989,748

16,409,285

16.6

436,480

4.3

747,005

8,244,940

11.0

415,186

4.6

689,275

6,563,065

9.5

426,423

4.8

166,768

1,051,442

6.3

316,978

4.8

10

128,174

717,143

5.6

310,031

5.0

11

96,875

494,317

5.1

303,796

5.1

12

72,596

372,326

5.1

305,257

5.2

Total

9,868,773

332,251,156

51

Although we recognize that not all reading that happens in or outside the classroom is captured through Accelerated
Reader software, it is reasonable to assume that for users of AR much book reading is captured this way. AR Quizzes
currently number more than 167,000nearly half of which are for nonfiction/informational textswith additional
quizzes created each week. The sheer volume of available AR Quizzes allows students a wide range of book
selection; virtually every book found in a school, classroom, or local library has a quiz available.14
Insights
What Kids Are Reading: And Why It Matters goes beyond
informative lists of popular books. Each section of the report
delves into the Accelerated Reader database to share what we
know about the books students read and how those reading
habits influence their college and career readinessin other
words, why it matters what and how students read. Three main
topics shape the report:

Each section of the report


delves into the Accelerated
Reader database to share
what we know about the books
students read and how those
reading habits influence their
college and career readiness.

1. An analysis of reading practice: Extensive research has


shown that not only the quantity of reading (or time
spent reading) but also the quality of what is read (how
carefully, or with what level of comprehension, students read) can help students read well and become well
read. The more carefully students read, the more they comprehend, and the more their reading practice leads
to improved reading achievement.15
2. An analysis of nonfiction reading: College- and career-readiness standards emphasize student reading of a
wide variety of materials, including the importance of reading nonfiction/informational texts; however,
students are falling far short of these goals.
3. An analysis of reading challenge: With college- and career-readiness standards and other educational
advocates16 calling for an emphasis on student reading of increasingly complex materials in order to be ready
for college and career, it will do no good for students to read materials at higher difficulty levels if they do not
understand what they are reading.

In addition, four guest essayists share their thoughts on why reading matters throughout the report: Andrew
Clements, author of Frindle; Dr. Christine King Farris, author of My Brother Martin: A Sister Remembers Growing Up with
the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.; Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, author of Shiloh; and Rodman Philbrick, author of Freak
the Mighty.
About Accelerated Reader
After 30 years, Accelerated Reader continues to withstand the test of time.
The program has not only evolved but also stayed true to its core objective,
to promote and manage independent reading practice, a purpose both
standards and research literature support.

After 30 years,
Accelerated Reader
continues to withstand
the test of time.

14 Note:
(1) S
 chools optionally record demographic information about students in AR; thus, gender data is available for approximately 68% of students. In
Sections I and III, overall reading comprises records for boys, girls, and students for which gender was not recorded. In Section II, information for
boys and girls is reported individually omitting records for students of unknown gender.
(2) T
 he sample of data from the AR database, upon which the report is based, is one of convenience rather than truly representative of U.S. schools, so
exhibit care when interpreting the results. However, with reading records for more than 9.8 million students at more than 31,000 U.S. schools, it cannot
be disputed that this sample is significant. The AR database is one of a kindno other study captures student reading behavior on this scale.
3) R
 enaissance Learning is deeply committed to the protection of school and student data. For this and all other publications, we go to great lengths to
provide aggregated data that is useful to educators, parents, and researchers while stopping well short of releasing information that could be used to
identify any district, school, teacher, or student. For more information about our data security and confidentiality policies, see
http://doc.renlearn.com/KMNet/R0054577B8522158.pdf.
15 R
 enaissance Learning. (2012). Guided independent reading. Wisconsin Rapids, WI: Author. Retrieved from
http://doc.renlearn.com/KMNet/R005577721AC3667.pdf
16 e.g., ACT, Inc. (2006). Reading between the lines: What the ACT reveals about college readiness in reading. Iowa City, IA: Author.

52

At its core, Accelerated Reader has a three-step approach. After a


teacher assists with setting individualized reading goals, each
student (1) reads a self-selected book, (2) takes a computerized AR
Reading Practice Quiz of 3, 5, 10, or 20 items (depending on book
length, see figure A1), and (3) receives immediate feedback, which
is also shared with the teacher, about their level of comprehension
(i.e., percent correct on the AR Quiz), the number of words read,
and the books ATOS level.

Figure A1. AR Quiz screen

Accelerated Reader is in use by educators from coast to coast


because it saves teachers time, motivates students to read
more, and is more reliable and accurate than traditional
methods of tracking student book reading. To ensure that
teachers make the most of their AR data and that students benefit
to the greatest extent possible, fidelity of implementation is
guided by research-based best practices, which educators learn
through Renaissance Learning professional development.
Best practices recommend that students are guided to read books not only at appropriate levels of challenge but
also of interest to them. In other words, while students may be assigned books to read as part of a schools core
curriculum, they should also have opportunities to self-select books about topics, characters, and locations,
for example, of interest. As students grow into readers, it is increasingly important they have a choice over what
they read. Choice is motivating for students, and it can also foster a lasting love of reading. Renaissance Learning
recommends students consider several factors, guided by a teachers professional judgment, when selecting a
book to read.
ATOS level
Considering text complexitythe level of challenge presented by a given textis critical in book selection.
Accelerated Reader uses the ATOS Readability Formula, a reliable and valid quantitative measure of text difficulty
(Milone, 2014)17 that puts students and texts on the same scale (NGA/CCSSO, 2010, p. 7).18 In an objective
evaluation of text complexity measures, Nelson et al. (2011) conducted a study to assess the validity of six such
metrics, including ATOS, and found that all of the metrics were reliably, and often highly, correlated with grade level
and student performance-based measures of text complexity across a variety of text sets, and across a variety of
reference measures (p. 46).19
An ATOS level is assigned to each book with an AR Quiz available, taking into account three important predictors of
text difficultyaverage sentence length, average word length, and average word difficulty levelto help educators
assist students in finding books to read at appropriate levels. This formula is especially useful because it is reported
on a grade-level scale, so that both books and student achievement share the same easy-to-interpret metric. For
example, an ATOS level of 5.4 indicates that the text could likely be read by a student whose reading skills are at a
fifth-grade level, in the fourth month of the school year.
Interest level
An ATOS level matched to a students independent reading range (ZPD),20 though a reliable and valid estimate of
text challenge level, does not necessarily indicate that the subject matter of a book is suitable for the student. Other
17 M
 ilone, M. (2014). Development of the ATOS Readability Formula. Wisconsin Rapids, WI: Renaissance Learning. Retrieved from
http:// doc.renlearn.com/KMNet/R004250827GJ11C4.pdf
18 N
 ational Governors Association Center for Best Practices, Council of Chief State School Officers. (2010). Common Core State Standards for English
language arts & literacy in history/social studies, science, and technical subjects. Appendix A: Research supporting the key elements of the standards,
Glossary of terms. Washington, DC: Author. Retrieved from www.corestandards.org
19 N
 elson, J., Perfetti, C., Liben, D., & Liben, M. (2011). Measures of text difficulty: Testing their predictive value for grade levels and student performance.
Technical Report to the Gates Foundation (also to be submitted for publication). Retrieved from
http://achievethecore.org/content/upload/nelson_perfetti_liben_measures_of_text_difficulty_research_ela.pdf
20 Z
 PD, a theoretical concept inspired by Russian psychologist Lev Vygotsky, is based on appropriate level of difficultyneither too easy nor too hard
where students are challenged without being frustrated (Vygotsky, L. S. (1978). Mind in society: The development of higher mental processes. Cambridge,
MA: Harvard University Press).

53

factors thought to affect students understanding of text, such as content,


Interest level and ATOS
structure, and language conventionality, as well as student motivation,
level are intended to
background knowledge, and purpose for reading, must also be considered.
In Accelerated Reader, each book is also assigned an interest level (IL) code
work together to inform
in addition to an ATOS level. Interest levels, which are based on publisher
book selection.
recommendations, provide a qualitative measure of text complexity that
refers to the sophistication and maturity level of a books content, ideas,
and themes: LG for lower grades (K3), MG for middle grades (48), MG+ for
middle grades plus (6 and up, for more mature middle-grade readers), and UG for upper grades (912).
Interest level and ATOS level are intended to work together to inform book selection. For example, Alice Walkers The
Color Purple and John Steinbecks The Grapes of Wrath have ATOS levels of 4.0 and 4.9, respectively, indicating that
average-performing students in fourth grade or higher would likely be able to read the text; however, because of the
books mature themes, both are coded with an IL of UG, or upper grade.
Accolades
Accelerated Reader has earned praise as a proven program (Promising Practices Network, 2013)21 and a model
program with strong evidence (National Dropout Prevention Center/Network, 2010).22 Currently, the large evidence
base supporting the effectiveness of Accelerated Reader comprises of 173 research pieces. Of these, 30 are
experimental or quasi-experimental studies, generally considered by the research community to provide the
strongest evidence of effectiveness and to fit the definition of scientifically based research27 were published as
articles in peer-reviewed journals, and 148 were led independently.
Explore
Visit www.learnalytics.com/wkar for additional insights on what kids are reading, to create customized book lists,
and more.

21 P
 romising Practices Network. (2013). Programs that work: Review of Accelerated Reader. Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation. Retrieved from
http://www.promisingpractices.net/program.asp?programid=292
22 N
 ational Dropout Prevention Center/Network. (2010). Review of model programs: Accelerated Reader. Clemson, SC: Clemson University, Author.
Retrieved from http://www.dropoutprevention.org/modelprograms/show_program.php?pid=316

54

Visit www.learnalytics.com/wkar
for additional insights
on what kids are reading

Renaissance Learning
P.O. Box 8036 Wisconsin Rapids, WI 54495-8036
(800) 338-4204 www.renaissance.com

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