Books Promoted by a Hillsborough County Public Library

Are these books, pictured below, the best recommendations to promote on a children’s bookshelf in a Hillsborough County Public Library?


Let’s consider the Timmy Failure series by Stephan Pastis.  The first book in this series, Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made has a Lexile Score of 520 and is recommended for ages 8-10.

A Lexile Score is a measurement that should represent the complexity of the material, the higher the number the more complex the material.

The third book in the series is titled Timmy Failure: Sanitized for Your Protection, picturing a cover graphic of a young child in a toilet.  The title of chapter three is “Let’s Do the Timmy Warp Again”, is that intended to be a reference to Rocky Horror?  Its Lexile Measure is lower, 500L, and for ages 8-12.

By the time a child reaches third grade, typically 8-years-old, a 520 Lexile is already at the very bottom of the recommended Lexile Range (520-820L) for College and Career Readiness.  A 12-year-old is typically in grades 6-7, with a recommended Lexile Range spanning 925-1120L.  Part of that range is double this book’s Lexile.  So does that mean once a child is mature enough for the content, the material is way too easy?

I am beginning to wonder if authors are writing graphic novels with little prose or depth so that readers will fly through the books.  That strategy could increase sales.

There are so many better books out there to recommend.  Sideways Stories from Wayside School would be one better option for children that need or want easier books.

Lexile Measures should not be relied on too heavily for a number of reasons.  However, for the purposes of this post it gives you the gist of one problem with these books — the complexity is not impressive, especially for its suggested reading age.  And that doesn’t even address the quality of the material in general. 

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