Software database reveals what kids are reading

Children have welcomed the Harry Potter books in recent years like free ice cream in the cafeteria, reports the Washington Post, but the largest survey ever of youthful reading in the United States has revealed that none of J.K. Rowling’s phenomenally popular books has been able to dislodge the works of longtime favorites Dr. Seuss, E.B. White, Judy Blume, S.E. Hinton, and Harper Lee as the most read. Books by the five well-known U.S. authors, plus lesser-known Laura Numeroff, Katherine Paterson, and Gary Paulsen, drew the most readers at every grade level in a study of 78.5 million books read by more than 3 million children who logged on to the Renaissance Learning web site to take quizzes on books they read last year. "I find it reassuring … that students are still reading the classics I read as a child," said Roy Truby, a senior vice president for Wisconsin-based Renaissance Learning. But Truby said he would have preferred to see more meaty and varied fare, such as "historical novels and biographical works so integral to understanding our past and contemporary books that help us understand our world." Renaissance Learning’s Accelerated Reader software for monitoring reading progress online was the source of the survey. Students read books, some assigned but many chosen on their own, and then take computer quizzes, either online or with company software, to see whether they understood what they read. Students compile points based on the average sentence length, average word length, word difficulty level, and total words in each book, and they sometimes get prizes from their schools…

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