Saturday, February 28, 2015

On John Green's Response to the Quote He Never Said

This week, one of my colleagues alerted me to an article about John Green and a quote that has been attributed to him, but was not actually written by him in any of his books. The Swiss Army Librarian posted about it, as did the Copyfight blog, and an interesting topic came up: the fact that because of digital rights management (DRM), an author was not able to search his own copy of an eBook to see if he had written the quote that has been attributed to him.

Let's start with this: What is digital rights management? According to the American Library Association, "the purpose of DRM technology is to control access to, track and limit uses of digital works." For eBooks, this means DRM "limit[s] copying, printing, and sharing of eBooks," according to Wikipedia.

Now, let's take it back to John Green. He needed to find out if the quote that was being attributed to him all over the Internet was, in fact, something he had actually written. The easiest way to do this? Check the book that the quote was said to come from, of course. With DRM, you might not be able to do that, so John Green illegally downloaded a copy of a book he had written, just so he could search the text for the quote. And for many, this is problematic, because, as the Copyright blog pointed out, DRM can prevent authors from doing things such as sharing samples of their books, or, in a case like John Green's, searching the text for a specific quote or passage.

As it turns out, John Green is just plain awesome, because once he confirmed that he didn't write the quote being attributed to him, he decided that his store, which was selling posters with that quote on it, would pay royalties to the person who did originally say the quote. That person turned out to be a thirteen year old Nerdfighter. In addition, John Green loved another image that person had on her Tumblr so much that they started selling that poster, too--with royalties going to the Nerdfighter.

I love this about John Green because he could have continued to accept the quote as being his, without researching it further, as he had done for several years, and instead, he not only said that the quote is not his, but he gave credit where it was due, and he took it a step further by deciding to pay the person royalties from posters already sold with that quote. I also love it because in his vlog where he discusses what happens, he touches on copyright and intellectual property, which is always an important issue to talk about. Here's the video.

I can't write this blog post without using John and Hank Green's catchphrase: Don't forget to be awesome. Because in this case, John Green didn't forget.

Want to know more about DRM? Check out the following websites.

Boing Boing: Here, author Cory Doctorow writes about DRM and why he believes it to be so problematic.
EPIC Digital Rights

Thursday, February 26, 2015

New and Novel: The Short Form - Essays and Stories

Short stories may have grown out of the fables of Aesop in the 6th century BCE, or out of the oral storytelling tradition. Up until the 18th century in Europe, a popular short story form was the anecdote ["a brief realistic narrative that embodies a point", Wikipedia]. However, the first proper collections of short stories were thought to have appeared in the early 1800s. In the early 1900s, short stories were flourishing due to publication in periodicals such as The Strand, the Saturday Evening Post, Atlantic Monthly, and others. Since 1945, short story collections continue to be published, but their popular readership has declined. Alice Munro brought the form back into the spotlight with to her 2013 Nobel Prize win. In an interview, Munro said:

Interviewer Adam Smith: And the award will bring a great new readership to your work ...
Alice Munro: Well I would hope so, and I hope this would happen not just for me but for the short story in general. Because it's often sort of brushed off, you know, as something that people do before they write their first novel. And I would like it to come to the fore, without any strings attached, so that there doesn't have to be a novel.
Essays, on the other hand, can be directly traced back to their French origin - Michel de Montaigne was the first to popularize this term in the 1500s, from the French "essayer" [to try or to attempt]. Since this term came into fashion, in the 18th and 19th centuries, many essays were written for public consumption, and may have contributed to the rise of magazine publication. Essays have been used a forum for politics, literary criticism, and more, and have found a place in education, with students being assigned essays to improve their writing skills.

At abcreads we have a romantic vision of both these forms - Fitzgerald, Hemingway, and Faulkner publishing their short stories during the Jazz Age; Southern story writers such as Katherine Anne Porter and Flannery O'Connor at work in the 1950s, Porter writing amidst her travels and O'Connor, debilitated by lupus, writing from her family farm in Georgia; Thoreau and Emerson's Transcendentalist essays celebrating nature; philosophers such as Voltaire, Francis Bacon, and Samuel Johnson scribbling their essays by candlelight during the Age of Enlightenment.

All that said, we hope you'll find something to enjoy from this list of some of the new and novel offerings of the short form, essays and stories, from the library catalog.

Essays and Miscellany

Discontent and Its Civilizations: Dispatches from Lahore, New York, and London by Mohsin Hamid

The Expo Files: Articles By the Crusading Journalist Stieg Larsson by Stieg Larsson

Short: An International Anthology of Five Centuries of Short-Short Stories, Prose Poems, Brief Essays, and Other Short Prose Forms edited with an introduction by Alan Ziegler

Ham - Slices of a Life: Essays & Stories by Sam Harris

What Makes This Book So Great: Re-Reading the Classics of Science Fiction and Fantasy by Jo Walton

I See You Made An Effort: Compliments, Indignities, and Survival Stories From the Edge of 50 by Annabelle Gurwitch

Study in Perfect: Essays by Sarah Gorham

100 Essays I Don't Have Time to Write: On Umbrellas and Sword Fights, Parades and Dogs, Fire Alarms, Children, and Theater by Sarah Ruhl

Capitalism: A Ghost Story by Arundhati Roy

The Fame Lunches: On Wounded Icons, Money, Sex, the Brontes, and the Importance of Handbags by Daphne Merkin

The Encyclopedia of Trouble and Spaciousness by Rebecca Solnit

Spent: Exposing Our Complicated Relationship with Shopping edited by Kerry Cohen

Bohemians, Bootleggers, Flappers, and Swells: The Best of Early Vanity Fair edited by Graydon Carter

The Empathy Exams: Essays by Leslie Jamison

Friday Was the Bomb: Five Years in the Middle East by Nathan Deuel

Forty-One False Starts: Essays on Artists and Writers by Janet Malcolm

Short Stories

Lucky Alan: And Other Stories by Jonathan Lethem

A Blink of the Screen: Collected Shorter Fiction by Terry Pratchett

Get in Trouble: Stories by Kelly Link

Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances by Neil Gaiman

High Crime Area: Tales of Darkness and Dread by Joyce Carol Oates

Karate Chop: Stories by Dorthe Nors

The Strange Case of Rachel K by Rachel Kushner

Mermaids in Paradise by Lydia Millet

Wallflowers: Stories by Eliza Robertson

The Lovers Set Down Their Spoons by Heather A. Slomski

Now We Will Be Happy by Amina Gautier

American Innovations by Rivka Galchen

The Wilds by Julia Elliott 

Crow Fair: Stories by Thomas McGuane


A Short History of the Short Story [Prospect]

A Brief History of the Short Story in America [Critical Mass]

In Praise of the American Short Story [New York Times]

A brief survey of the short story [Guardian series]

17 Personal Essays That Will Change Your Life [Buzzfeed]

150 Great Articles and Essays [The Electric Typewriter]

Monday, February 23, 2015

An Accidental Fan

I came home from work one day to find my husband sitting on the couch, watching a Nickelodeon cartoon.  I sat down next to him in a state of annoyed curiosity to see what this nonsense was all about.  It turned out to be, as I suspected, obnoxious!  And he kept doing it!  What's worse, I got drawn in and found myself on the couch for a full episode, slightly annoyed, but also intrigued by characters and a plot that seemed to be deepening.  After another episode, I didn't even find the show obnoxious, but funny and endearing - completely kid friendly, but apparently also fun for adults.  Before I knew it, I was in love with the epic little show:  Avatar, The Last Airbender!

Here's the background: the earth is divided into four nations: airbenders, earthbenders, firebenders, and waterbenders.  Individuals from these realms have mastery over their namesake element, but the nations are not at peace with one another.  To make a bad situation worse, the Avatar, the peacekeeper of all the nations, master of all four elements, has been missing without a trace for 100 years.  At the inception of the series, a brother and sister discover the Avatar frozen in ice, and they free him.  What follows is a rollicking adventure that takes the trio to the corners of the world and the edges of themselves.

The 3 season series ended all too soon for me, but the ending was a satisfying one.  I was excited to discover that there is a sequel series in progress called The Legend of Korra, and began to watch it after taking a break to recover from the epic-ness that was Avatar. (I am still a little surprised at how attached I became to a Nickelodeon cartoon - even as a kid I didn't like cartoons).  The Legend of Korra continues the story of the Avatar, with plenty of references to the original story, 70 years after Avatar, The Last Airbender ends.  It, too, is a high quality show.  The bad news is, our DVD collection does not include The Legend of Korra.  The good news is, we have Avatar, The Last Airbender

We also have copies of the comic book series that sprang up, which takes place after the Avatar cartoon episodes end, and before The Legend of Korra begins.  These are entitled the same as the cartoon they are based on, and they are just as good because after so many episodes of Avatar, you can imagine the characters' voices as you read (or is that just a weird thing I do?). 

Another product of Nickelodeon's show was a 2010 movie of the same title.  I cannot recommend the movie, however.  Even watching the trailer told me, among other things, that the movie has little semblance to the show, and where is it similar, it simply does not possess the same likeability.  In fact, on Rotten Tomatoes, a site where critics rate movies as "rotten" or "fresh," the movie was decidedly rotten, with only 6% rating it positively.  To be fair, it would be difficult to successfully cram 3 seasons of a great show, with lots of character development, taking place over lots of time, neatly into an hour and forty minute block of time.  And, hey, if you're not going to bother with the cartoon series, it's possible the movie wouldn't be so bad.  You can find out for yourself, because we do have copies.

Take a look at all of the above by clicking these links to our catalog:

The Cartoon Series On DVD

The Comics

The Movie

Is there anyone else out there who has fallen in love with a cartoon (book, movie) they thought they would hate?  Please share in the comments!

Also, check out Lomas Tramway's Graphic Novel Book Club!

Friday, February 20, 2015

African-American History Month: Books for Children & Teens

February is African-American History Month! To honor this event, we've taken a page from Left Bank Books' Black Lives Matter reading list* with our attempt to compile a list of books for children and teens which provide "history and context" for issues of race in the United States. Our list, like Left Bank Books', is also not comprehensive, but reflects some of the offerings on this topic available in the library catalog. You will find more titles using a subject search of African Americans History Juvenile or Civil Rights History Juvenile. 

Is there a book you'd like to recommend for young readers?  Let us know in the comments! 


Freedom on the Menu: The Greensboro Sit-Ins by Carole Boston Weatherford

Freedom Summer by Debbie Wiles

Seeds of Freedom: The Peaceful Integration of Huntsville, Alabama by Hester Bass

Sugar Hill: Harlem's Historic Neighborhood by Carole Boston Weatherford

Harlem Renaissance Party by Faith Ringgold


Many Thousand Gone: African Americans From Slavery to Freedom by Virginia Hamilton

One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia

Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice by Phillip Hoose

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker by Patricial Hruby Powell

My Name is Truth: The Life of Sojourner Truth by Ann Turner

Harlem Hellfighters by J. Patrick Lewis

The Girl from the Tar Paper School: Barbara Rose Johns and the Advent of the Civil Rights Movement by Teri Kanefield

Sit-In: How Four Friends Stood Up By Sitting Down by Andrea Davis Pinkney  

Harlem Summer by Walter Dean Myers

Courage Has No Color: The True Story of the Triple Nickles - America's First Black Paratroopers by Tanya Lee Stone

Seven Miles to Freedom: The Robert Smalls Story by Janet Halfmann 

Young Adult

The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights by Steve Sheinkin

Because They Marched: The People's Campaign for Voting Rights That Changed America by Russell Freedman

Fire in the Streets by Kekla Magoon

No Crystal Stair: A Documentary Novel of the Life and Work of Lewis Michaux, Harlem Bookseller by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson


A Guide to Teaching and Talking about the Civil Rights Movement With Books for Children & Teens [Scholastic]

The Black Lives Matter Reading List: Books to Change the World [MPR News]

Black Lives Matter: A Reading List [Left Bank Books] *

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Women in Horror Month: Horror Titles To Check Out!

Women in Horror Month is celebrated every February. However, it doesn’t stop there - we work toward our mission all year long.
~from the website

Are you a fan of the horror genre? Did you know this month is Women in Horror Month (WiHM)? The goal of WiHM is "female genre artists in gaining opportunities, exposure, and education through altruistic events, printed material, articles, interviews, and online support." There are events: blog series; performances; podcasts, and more. There is a blog, Ax Wound, where you can "[r]ead about the horror filmmakers/artists you love and discover new talent all year round."

With this in the works, we thought this would be a good time to celebrate women horror authors! Here's some titles from the library catalog you might not know. Some of them are horror fiction by women, and some are story collections featuring pieces by recommended horror authors. Would you like to recommend any authors or titles?  Let us know in the comments!

Dread in the Beast by Charlee Jacob

Come Closer by Sara Gran

The Mysteries by Lisa Tuttle

Mistification by Kaaron Warren

The Vampire Tapestry by Suzy McKee Charnas [local author]

Blood Colony by Tananarive Due

The Forgotten by Tamara Thorne [eBook]

The Restorer by Amanda Stevens [eBook]

A House Divided by Deborah LeBlanc

We Will All Go Down Together: Stories of the Five-Family Coven by Gemma Files

Blood Oranges by CaitlĂ­n R. Kiernan writing as Kathleen Tierney

Bellweather Rhapsody by Kate Racculia 

White Space by Ilsa J. Blick [YA] 

Don't You Forget About Me by Kate Karyus Quinn [YA] 

Lovecraft's Monsters edited by Ellen Datlow   

Vampires: The Recent Undead edited by Paula Guran

Teeth: Vampire Tales edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling [YA] [eBook]

Searchers After Horror: New Tales of the Weird and Fantastic edited by S.T. Joshi


Horror Roundtable: Sexism in Horror [Horror Writers Association]

Top 25 Women Horror Writers You Probably Haven't Heard Of (But Should Know) [Hellnotes]

Women in Horror Month: Get Involved!

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Pet peeves in young adult fiction

I recently read a post on the Teen Librarian Toolbox blog about pet peeves in young adult fiction, and I felt inspired to talk about my own, especially since I share some of the things mentioned in the post. Here are my (and two of my coworkers') top ten pet peeves in young adult books, in no particular order.

1. The phrase "I let out a breath I didn't know I was holding." I see this phrase all the time now, and the last time I saw it, I thought, "This isn't new and intriguing anymore! It's very quickly become a cliche, so writers should stop using it!" And then I wondered if it's possible to call it plagiarism, since so many authors have used it (for the record, I don't think it is; it's just a cliche, like so many other things). Every time I see it, it makes me cringe.

2. Alternating points of view. I'm actually okay with this depending on how it's used. I recently read I'll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios, which uses alternate perspectives, but the voices of the two characters are distinctly different, and the sections told from the male character are sparse and short, which helps with the flow of the story. I've read other novels that have three or more alternating perspectives, and that's where things get tricky. If there are too many narrators, it becomes hard for me to connect with or care about any of them, and it makes it that much harder to differentiate among the narrators.

3. Books that are all the same. This one needs a little explaining. I've noticed a trend in young adult fiction that when one book takes off, a ton of other books in the same genre will be published, and they may or may not be good. One example, of course, is Twilight: vampires were a huge trend after the Twilight books came out. This isn't limited to paranormal books, or science fiction, or mysteries. It's just a general trend with young adult books. Other trends I've noticed: characters who were in/knew someone in Afghanistan, Iraq, etc., fighting in the war; Jack the Ripper (not even just serial killers, but books specifically about Jack the Ripper); and characters living in poor towns/trailer parks/low income places. I'm not saying these trends are bad as a whole (I've loved some of the books that fall into these trends), but I would love to see more books that don't rely on trends. I understand why this happens, I just wish that it didn't.

4. Series. Okay, I get it. A series is going to make more money than a book that stands alone. But that doesn't mean I have to like them, and while there are many series that I adore, I really just wish this trend would stop. One of my biggest pet peeves is when I read a book and love it, and then find out that it just so happens to be the first book of a series. Sometimes, I just want to read a book that stands on its own!

5. Insufficient recovery time from an injury. This one actually a pet peeve of one of my colleagues. Here's what she said about it: "In books, the character is pain free too quickly, whatever the injury." I'm not sure if I've noticed this myself, but I think it's a good point. Injuries don't go away overnight, so if a character is injured, the book should accurately reflect recovery time for that injury, even if it's just a paper cut.

6. Extreme drug abuse by a parent. This is another one that my colleague brought up, and I think it's another good point. I just read two books where the mom is a single parent and has a substance abuse issue. While I know that this does accurately reflect some realities, it can border on being a cliche. With the two books I read, both narrators lived in trailer parks and were not financially stable. In these cases, writers should be very careful about how they portray the characters, especially if they give a character a substance abuse problem.

7. Giving characters a "problem" for the sake of the plot. This is something that really irks me. I read The Last Forever by Deb Caletti last year, and--spoiler alert--in the book we find out that a character is gay, not because it's who the character is and the character is represented that way throughout the book, but because its only function was to serve the plot. Any time a character is gay, or has a mental illness, or has some other characteristic and it's only for the plot, the author is doing it wrong. Characters should never have certain characteristics just to create conflict and push the plot along.

8. Characters who wear glasses because they're smart. One of my colleagues mentioned this one to me, too. Her point, which is a good one, is that not all intelligent people wear glasses, so for that to be a defining trait for an intelligent character in a young adult novel is not okay. I have to add to this and say that similarly, not all geeky or nerdy people wear glasses, and not all people who wear glasses are geeky or nerdy. These cliches in young adult novels need to stop.

9. Girls who like boys who have no appeal. Both of my colleagues and I agree with this. Frankly, we just don't get it. If there's a boy who isn't appealing (usually because he's not a good person), why do all the female characters love him? I'd also like to argue that the opposite can happen, though I don't think it's talked about nearly as much--boys can like girls who aren't appealing. I don't think I can say much about this except it baffles us.

10. When the romance aspect of a book takes over the novel. I just finished reading Miranda Kenneally's new book, Jesse's Girl, which is scheduled to come out this July, and I was so disappointed by it. I enjoyed the story to an extent, but where I had problems was with the romance. It overwhelmed the book, and became the main focus of the story, when I felt that the real story was about the narrator's journey toward becoming a professional musician. This book could have been amazing, but it went from being about the narrator as a musician to the narrator as the love interest of a super-famous country singer. Not all books need to be about the romance.

That's it for my list. What are your pet peeves in young adult books? Let me know in the comments!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Reading for Creative Writers

Reading has always been inextricably tied to writing for me.  I know I'm not the only one out there who feels this way, because I've spoken to plenty of library-going book-lovers who are also writers of some kind.  As we read, we feed off of the creativity an author has put into their work and use it as fuel for our own writing.  We are inspired by character development and complex plot lines, by delicate prose and intense description.  We are readers who love to write, and even if we are not reading explicitly to improve our writing, we read like writers - hungrily, and with an open mind to the possibilities contained in a good book.

Even though I have loved writing since I learned how to do it, I scarcely consider myself a fledgling author.  I have only ever taken one creative writing class, and that was back in college.  To be honest, I have been resistant to begin writing for fun again, and even more resistant to self-educating about it.  I had adopted the attitude that if I were a good writer, I would naturally produce good work with practice; there wasn't much I could learn to help me improve, and the way my writing started out would be the way it would always be.  But I've had to change my mind about that.  I've discovered that, like anything, there are definite steps I can take and methods I can use to better my writing. 

There are so many great works to learn from by example, and fantastic books of instruction we can turn to as well.  The library has a nice variety of the latter, several of which I'm eager to share with you.

Let's begin where the joy of writing first takes root.  Most of us with a penchant for writing have loved it since we knew how to form wobbly letters with tiny hands.  Do you remember the feeling?  For little ones, there are not many books about the exhilaration of writing a story, which is why I adore this twist on Little Red Riding Hood for 5 to 8 year olds.  It is full of super cute illustrative details, and because the story instructs in such a fun-filled way, it hardly feels like it is packed with tips for great story making.

(As a truly exciting side note, I'd like to mention that we've partnered with PBS to bring you a kid's writing contest for children in K through Third grades.  The deadline for entry to the contest is March 31st, so if you know any inspired kiddos, don't wait to get them started!  You can find entries at any of our branches, and we have planned some workshops to help participants along.  Check these and others out and register here.)

For older children (about 8 years and up), there are two books by a favorite childhood author of mine - Gail Carson Levine.  Her most recent on the subject of writing came out in December: Writer to Writer: From Think to Ink.  I know it's a children's book, but I can't wait to read it.  Before Writer to Writer, she wrote Writing Magic: Creating Stories That Fly.  Appropriately, many titles for teens and "tweens" deal  - in a fun and engaging way, of course - with the building blocks of good writing.  Here are a few: 

Grammar Girl by Mignon Fogarty

So, You Want to Be a Writer?: How to Write, Get Published, and Maybe Even Make it Big! by Vicki Hambleton and Cathleen Greenwood

My Weird Writing Tips by Dan Gutman

If you search in our catalog for books about writing, you will find everything under the sun, from grant writing to writers' thoughts on writing, from "the best of," to literacy issues. Here are some that stand out specifically for creative writers:

For the Young at Heart

Writing Books for Kids and Teens by Marion Crook

Writing New Adult Fiction by Deborah Halverson
Check out our recent post New & Novel: Romantic Fiction for New Adults, specifically about NA, a category dedicated to people ages 18-26.

Let That Crazy Child Write by Clive Matson

Specific Types of Creative Writing

On Writing Romance: How to Craft a Novel That Sells by Leigh Michaels.

The Art & Craft of Writing Christian Fiction: The Complete Guide to Finding Your Story, Honing Your Skills, & Glorifying God in Your Novel by Jeff Gerke

Writing Science Fiction and Fantasy by the editors of Analog and Isaac Asimov's science fiction magazine

General Writing Guides

Wired for Story: The Writer's Guide to Using Brain Science to Hook Readers from the Very First Sentence by Lisa Cron

Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott
This one I have never forgotten from my creative writing class in college.

Reading Like a Writer: A Guide for People Who Love Books and for Those Who Want to Write Them by Francine Prose

Fast Fiction:  A Guide to Outlining and Writing a First-Draft Novel in Thirty Days by Denise Jaden
Have you heard of NaNoWriMo?  This book would be a great place to start preparing.

The Artist's Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity by Julia Cameron
I know a published author who loves this book and has adopted some daily practices from it that help keep her writing juices flowing.

The Making of a Story: A Norton Guide to Creative Writing by Alice LaPlante

Writing With Emotion, Tension and Conflict by Cheryl St John 

If you also consider yourself a writer, what do you like to write?  Have you read any great books that have helped you on your way?  Please comment!  

Sunday, February 8, 2015

New & Novel: Romantic Fiction for New Adults

Readers have been looking for contemporary novels about the college years, with more mature themes than are usually found in Young Adult books. New Adult fiction is "written about the experiences of 18- to 25-year-olds as they enter the adult world. These 'new' adults are becoming more independent, taking on more responsibilities, and facing life’s challenges for the first time on their own."* The genre began with self-published books and the books are generally more popular in digital formats. There has been debate whether to classify the books as romance or fiction, and complaints about lack of diversity in New Adult offerings. Regardless, the genre is growing, and the expectation is that nostalgic adults will seek out these books the way adults have embraced Young Adult titles.

What will you get when you pick up a New Adult book? Expect a contemporary setting (food trucks, roommates, musicians, protests, dating sites), a first-person narrative, a fast-paced, steamy tone, and often a witty, sassy writing style.

Best Kind of Broken by Chelsea Fine

Breathe Into Me by Sara Fawkes [eBook]

Second Thoughts by Cara Bertrand [eBook]

Maybe Someday by Colleen Hoover  [eBook]

Virgin by Radhika Sanghani

Falling Into You by Jasinda Wilder [eBook]

Ten Tiny Breaths by K.A. Tucker [eBook]

The Secret of Ella and Micha by Jessica Sorensen [eBook]

Thoughtless by S.C. Stephens

My Favorite Mistake by Chelsea Cameron [eBook]

On Dublin Street by Samantha Young [eBook]

Real by Katy Evans [eBook]

Foreplay by Sophie Jordan

Lick by Kylie Scott


A World of Firsts/Genre Spotlight: New Adult [Library Journal]*

Friday, February 6, 2015

Using Lexiles

Sometimes the Lexile is on the back of the book.
Lexile measures offer information about a book’s text complexity. A Lexile text measure is based on the semantic and syntactic characteristics of a text. Readers can use Lexile measures to select titles that best match their unique ability level and reading goals. Recognized as the global standard for matching readers with texts, tens of millions of students worldwide receive Lexile measures that help them find targeted readings from the more than 100 million articles, books and websites that have been measured. Lexile measures range from below 200L for early reader text to above 2000L for more advanced text.
~"Publishers Adopt Lexile Reading Metric to Level Children's Content", DBW

You may have seen "levels" on children's books before - Easy Readers in particular often have classifications such as "Level 2, Green Light Readers: Start the engine!  Reading with help (short sentences, creative stories, simple dialogue)".  ABC Library also offers grade level-reading lists.  But now, librarians keep hearing more and more questions about Lexiles.

In the past, many children were encouraged to read at their grade equivalent - "scores based on the performance of students in the test's norming group"*.  Lexiles "represent a student's level on a developmental scale of reading ability... Struggling students are not stigmatized with a grade equivalent that labels them as 'below grade.' Rather, students have an independent Lexile measure and can select appropriately difficult books within their Lexile range."*

MetaMetrics, a North Carolina based company, developed the Lexile Framework. These ratings have been created after 20 years of research funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, measuring reading ability and text complexity in tandem, rather than just text complexity. It has been adopted by departments of education in nearly half the states and school districts in all 50 states. The Common Core State Standards provide Lexile reading bands for reading comprehension development.

If you don't know your child's Lexile measurement, there are sites that will help you find out what it is! The Lexile Framework for Reading's Find a Book just asks you to submit your child's grade and whether they find the books they are reading for school difficult, easy, or just right. Then you choose a category that represents your child's interests, and you are presented with the Lexile and some recommended books.  On the same site, if you are a registered user, you can use the Lexile Analyzer - type or scan a text to find its Lexile measure.

Sometimes the Lexile is with the copyright information.
Many publishers will provide Lexile measurements, including Scholastic, HarperCollins Publishers, Penguin Young Readers, Random House Children’s Books, Simon & Schuster, Macmillan Publishers, and Chronicle Books.


The Lexile Framework for Reading*

MetaMetrics: The Lexile Framework for Reading 

New Mexico Public Education Department: The Lexile Framework for Reading

NoveList K-8 Plus: Lexiles [an eResource, available free with your valid library card]

Lexile Levels Made Easy [Scholastic]

Barnes & Noble's Lexile Reading Level Wizard

TOEFL Lexile Measures

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Featured Author: Lindsey Davis

Lindsey Davis is a British historical novelist. She is most famous for her Marcus Didius Falco series, set in First Century Rome, which she started in 1989. Research for an earlier novel about the romance of Emperor Vespasian and his mistress Antonia Caeni piqued her interest in that era. She has been writing about a book a year since she began, and in addition to the Falco series has written a couple of novels set during the English Civil War and her new series featuring Falco's daughter, Flavia Albia. Her website features a list of Civil War Curiosities - "The nursery rhyme ‘Humpty Dumpty’ may refer to a Royalist cannon at the top of a tower at Colchester which was eventually shot down by parliamentary forces" - and her "rants" about piracy, historical errors, book collecting, and more.  Her books are available in several languages and as BBC radio drama productions. Lindsey Davis owns the film rights to all her books, and a film called The Age of Treason was made some years ago ("ostensibly of The Silver Pigs, though who would know?", Davis says on her website). There may be a TV series in the making.

Marcus Didius Falco mystery series  

Marcus Didius Falco is a Roman 'informer', criminal investigator, and reluctant Imperial agent in the age of Emperor Vespasian. There are 20 books in the series, featuring traitors, treason, investigations into intended brides, Druid priestesses, the world of olive oil production, and more. The author says "Each novel is written so it can be read individually, but many people like to read the whole series in order to follow the background plot", so we have started out list below in chronological order.

For a full list of books in the series, visit our NoveList eResource.

Flavia Albia mystery series

Flavia is Falco's adopted daughter, a troubled teen turned plucky widow. The series begins in 89 A.D. - Emperor Vespasian, a jovial figure, has died and his his son Domitian is on the throne, an altogether darker character.

The Ides of April [eAudiobook only in our catalog]

English Civil War 

During the terrible struggle of the English Civil War, two people--Gideon Jukes and Juliana Lovell, who are on opposites sides of the conflict--meet during one of the era's most crucial events, their mutual attraction brings the comfort and companionship for which they both have yearned. But shadows from the past soon threaten their hard-won peace.


A tale inspired by the life of first-century Roman emperor Domitian unites reluctant Praetorian Guard Gaius Vinius and imperial court stylist Flavia Lucilla in the wake of a devastating fire and the emperor's descent into mental illness and brutality.

Ancient Rome's most turbulent period is recreated in this story of the Emperor Vespasian and his mistress, Caenis, a freed slave. As their forbidden romance blossoms, she is embroiled in political intrigue, while he embarks on a glorious career.

*book descriptions are courtesy of NoveList