Can you guess which of these books are more 'difficult' according to Common Core (a teaching initiative adopted by 45 states)?
"True Believer" by Nicholas Sparks"Beloved" by Toni Morrison
Nicholas Sparks: 880L. Morrison: 870L. Both are of "fifth grade" difficulty.
"The Sun Also Rises" by Ernest Hemingway"The Da Vinci Code" by Dan Brown
Brown: 850L (5th grade). Hemingway: 610L (3rd grade).
"Diary of a Young Girl" by Anne Frank"Eyewitness Books: HORSE"
"Cat's Cradle" by Kurt Vonnegut"The Hunger Games" by Suzanne Collins
Hunger Games: 810. Cat's Cradle: 790. Both are of 5th grade difficulty.
"Twilight: The Complete Movie Illustrated Companion""The Crying of Lot 49" by Thomas Pynchon
"The Prince" by Machiavelli"Guiness World Records 2011"
Finally, a sane answer. But Lexile puts both of these books as more difficult than any other book we've surveyed so far. Guiness is ranked at 1380L for complexity (college senior difficulty).
"The Birth of the Clinic" by Michel Foucault"The Scarlet Letter" by Nathaniel Hawthorne
Hawthorne: 1400L. Foucault: 1350L.
"Twilight" More Difficult Than Hemingway, According To Teacher's Guide
Arguing that teachers aren't assigning grade-appropriate reading, Common Core recommends that students get matched up with books with the right "Lexile" score. The thing is, Lexiles measure a book's complexity by a painfully literal algorithm of sentence length, word choice, and syntax.
To be fair, it's only meant to be a rough guideline rather than some iron-clad dictum or curriculum. And any teacher knows that a work can have a low Lexile difficulty while being thematically unsuitable for younger readers. But still.