I’m in book club with a group of friends. When the book club began, everyone was eager to read again. “I haven’t read an actual book in so long!” many of the members confessed. So we got together and had rich discussions about wonderful books… for a few months. Then we started discussing TED Talks. Now we mostly just get together and chat. I’ve done a little investigating and have come to realize that this trajectory is strikingly common among book clubs. Why don’t we read books anymore?

Those who developed the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) report on a similar phenomenon with students. These days, they assert, it’s too easy for students to turn to text-free or text-light sources of information—podcasts, videos, tweets, etc. Yet “these sources, while not without value, cannot capture the nuance, subtlety, depth, or breadth of ideas developed through complex text” (Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts: Appendix A). Furthermore, while K–12 texts have become less demanding over the past 50 years, the reading requirements of college, workforce training, and global citizenship have become more demanding.

Due to these findings, the CCSS Initiative places a strong emphasis on increasing text complexity as a key requirement in reading. Educators are tasked with cultivating the ability to read texts that grow in complexity as students get older. How do Read Naturally passages support this need?

Students who progress through Read Naturally programs master increasingly difficult text as they move toward proficiency at the appropriate reading level. They begin at their ability level and advance quickly to where they need to be—ready to tackle the texts demanded by school, the CCSS, and the world.*

This year, let’s poise our students to master the complicated texts that make the world go round. Let’s turn them into book club members who actually read books! We at Read Naturally are eager to support you in any way we can. Please get in touch by visiting our website or contacting us at info@readnaturally.com.

More information on the Common Core State Standards for text complexity can be found here. Do you have thoughts on this topic? We’d love to hear from you! Please leave a comment below.

* Read Naturally offers high-interest, nonfiction passages of text at all levels, from emerging reader through adult. The passages are carefully leveled according to quantitative measures of readability (e.g., difficult words, sentence length), as well as qualitative factors (e.g., the sophistication of the subject matter). We take great care to ensure that all passages in a level are similar in difficulty, and text complexity increases gradually from one level to the next. While our lowest-level passages contain simple sentences with several high-frequency words repeated, our highest-level passages explore challenging subjects using rich language and complicated sentence structures.