HI-LO…YES OR NO?
High interest/low vocabulary books tend to get a bad rap sometimes. That’s because all too often they’re neither very interesting nor very easy to read.
When looking for good hi-lo reading for struggling readers, the two most important considerations are content and appearance. Both novels and nonfiction should be about themes of interest to students of the appropriate age. Just because a twelve year old reads at Grade 2 level doesn’t mean that he/she wants to read the things that seven-year-olds read. And we want to find books that don’t look different from the books that other students are reading. In terms of book length, the Goldilocks Principle applies: the book has to be long enough to look like a “regular” novel or chapter book, but not so long as to intimidate striving readers. At HIP Books, we use different tricks for padding out an otherwise short novel: occasional illustrations, starting each chapter halfway down the page, slightly enlarged spaces between lines. However, be careful to avoid oversized print and unusual fonts: large print might appeal to those of us needing reading glasses, but it might as well flash “SPECIAL” in neon lights in the eyes of adolescents. Some other considerations in choosing quality hi-lo books include
- consistent level of difficulty throughout the book
- more action than description
- age-appropriate illustrations that provide visual support for understanding the text
- authentic characters that are older than the readers
- a limited number of challenging words or figurative language, with contextual support for difficult words
- few literary devices, such as flashback, foreshadowing, or allusion
At High Interest Publishing, we do our best to create exciting stories written in a readable style with many supports for struggling readers. Our constant goal at HIP Books is to produce books that kids not only can read, but want to read.