What Reading Levels do you write for?

question

#1

I’ve read some fantastic stories here and met some brilliant writers on Wattpad.

What level of readers do you write for? I finished another exceptionally well written story here. I wrote my stories aimed at my children and grandchildren. I know the reading and vocabulary of many of them. I didn’t write down to them but with the intention they would understand what’s happening in my stories.

That wonderful story I read, would be beyond many of them. Many will not tolerate flowery prose, larger words (Is education failing more each generation?) or reading between the lines to understand a sophisticated theme.

I found several troubling quotes similar to 50 percent of U.S. adults can’t read a book written at an eighth-grade level. This a reader/writing site and most likely has a higher than average reading level.

What are your thoughts, target ranges and ideas?


#2

My target group falls within higher end of YA and on to NA. So 16/17-25. That kind of age bracket. I try to make my writing as understandable as possible. I’d like it to be available and approachable for everyone - even people who don’t have English as a first language, so the vocabulary is rather simple. The writing is easy to read, on the technical basis.

I think it’s both a choice and something I can’t exactly help. English is my third language, so it will just be simple. I don’t have the biggest vocabulary and I don’t enjoy scouring through a thesaurus or a dictionary just to find more unique words to throw into a WIP. (Except for the times when I forget a word in English, lol)

Also, what age are you when you’re in the 8’th grade in the US? And correct me if I’m wrong, but doesn’t the US also have an issue with actual illiteracy? (Not trying to be cheeky or rude here, genuinely interested because I think I remember I read that somewhere) And what exactly does “8’th grade level” mean? (Like which other books are 8’th level that I maybe could compare to?)

(Sorry there were a lot of questions there)


#3

Being from Canada, I found eighth grade now is different from when I was in 8th grade. Even with our ten provinces, Ontario had 13 grades to Manitoba’s 12.

It may only be me, but the books in grade 8 now are not at a level I expected in English (or the writing levels.) Added to that are Manitoba’s tiered education. Programs for High School only or university entrance.

Have cell phones’ texting changed the language and reading levels? (LOL ROFL in stead of great answer or good comeback)


#4

Sorry I still don’t know what 8’th grade means - like both in terms of age but also which books are written on an 8’th grade level?

I’m reading up on how well my own country is doing (Denmark) and we’re above average. Only two countries in Europe are doing better in terms of literacy than we are (countries are not mentioned in the article)

So I don’t think it’s a generational thing - I think it’s a country specific thing. And as far as I’ve heard, the US educational system is extremely bad.


#5

Schools here start at 6 years old. 8th grade is about 14 to 15 years old. I agree it’s country specific. Educational systems.


#6

I think it’s most helpful to think in terms of children’s, Middle Grade, or YA. There are both content and writing differences, and a million levels within each band, but from a writer’s standpoint, I think it’s easier to use the splits that publishing uses to market books.


#7

Where would I find that information and how accurate are they?

Many of the popular paperbacks are far below my reading levels in use of vocabulary. Newspapers have become what was once called tabloids. Media news sites are astonishing in some cases, as to the writing levels (very low by my standard). Yes I’m an older Wattpader, but I didn’t graduate with a high school diploma. Even then they couldn’t challenge me enough.

My father had a grade six education, but spent 20+ years as a radio announcer, writing copy. My vocabulary is nothing compared to his.


#8

For my current story I started it in mind of targeting an audience that was the same age as me (I was 15-16 at the time I think). The current draft has changed to target older teens and young adults (probably because I’ve aged as well lol).

I really enjoyed writing in symbolism, hidden meanings, just stuff to make readers read between the lines. Since posting it to Wattpad, I noticed that only my friends (who were also my IB HL English classmates) noticed and liked the little things I wrote. And after hanging around in the forum discussions, I feel like most people either don’t care or actively dislike those things (maybe I’m wrong). Then again, either they’re probably not my target audience or I’m just not doing it right. I get that it’s good to not be overly convoluted in your writing (I admit my older drafts confuse me at times), but I find myself cutting out a lot of stuff I used to enjoy adding for the sake of being simpler to read.


#9

I would use blogs from lit agents and writers who are writing in those categories. Publisher’s Weekly also might be a good resource to start looking for what the industry uses to separate MG from YA, YA from NA, etc. A lot of it is likely to be content related, however.

There are more specific resources about different reading levels, but the ones I’ve seen are geared toward teachers, and are more about teaching reading to readers who are at different levels. I don’t think a writer needs to be worried about that, unless they’re aiming to write for students who are older but significantly behind in reading skill development.


#10

I work hard to write on a 3rd grade level.


#11

After going around the forums I actually started to get worried about the vocabulary I use. I’m surprised at the amount of people who don’t like large vocabulary. I understand you shouldn’t pull out a thesaurus for every other word or make it seem like it, but that’s another thing.

I recently dove into a book series that had a fair amount of words I either didn’t know (half the time I could guess what they meant) or didn’t think about that often (like “tottered”). I wrote down all of the unfamiliar terms and learned them in order to broaden my vocabulary for my own story.

Personally, I find learning new words to be fun. Can’t hurt. But from what I’ve read, it seems like there’s a sizeable audience that’s just against it…? Now I have this tiny voice in the corner of my mind that says “Don’t do it, they don’t like it.”


#12

Well my older son is in the 8th Grade - he is currently 13, turns 14 later this year. We live in Brooklyn, NY and he attends public school.

So far this year for novels, his class has read - Their Eyes Were Watching God, 1984, Of Mice and Men

I read challenging stuff in school, and for pleasure, from the time I was 11.

So I don’t feel the need to write down.


#13

I write for people around YA age. I assumed most of my readers were under 18 but it turns out the majority of my readers are between 18-25 so that’s what I aim for usually. My stories aren’t too bad, just mainly violence. They’re PG-13 at most.


#14

I doubt its the acronyms. It appears students aren’t being asked to read literature that requires deeper thought. I’m in the U.S., (edited to add: I’m in a southern state, which really matters) and my teens are in middle school and early high school (age ranges 13-15 years old.) They are great at finding information, but they are not as great at reading a text and coming up with complex analyses of it.

I wonder if the plethora of entertainment options may have more to do with the decline. There’s anecdotal evidence our “Cool photo” quick response on sites like Facebook and Instagram cause our brains to be as near-sighted (less introspective) as a person who spends too much time looking at objects up close and not stretching their vision to the horizon.

Classic literature also appears to no longer be a thing. My teens have never heard of O’Henry and only know Orwell from memes. When I voice how depressing that is, I’m told it’s old fashioned of me to think that way. Life is all about the visual now–videos and pictures, baby–get with the program. :slight_smile:


#15

True. I think that this part of what the Common Core in the U.S. tried to address, however. Common Core standards are pretty rigorous, but too many U.S. students miss them by a mile.

I think students are still being exposed to great literature, but it may not be the traditional English canon. Plus, I think the classics are more likely to be read in high school and college rather than 8th grade or lower.


#16

I guess it really depends so much on where you live.

My kid is reading classics and great literature - he read Siddartha last year in Grade 7 (I read that in Grade 9 when I was a kid).

What type of novels or stories do your kids read in school?


#17

Oh fellow Violet - please don’t cut out foreshadowing and symbolism!

I :heart: that stuff!


#18

*gasp A Violet! And that makes me so happy to hear :blush:


#19

I also enjoy increasing my lexicon. Don’t shy away from a piquant word or two :blush:


#20

*scribbles down “piquant”