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? Writing to Age Level

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I am dutiful doing my research in preparation for submitting to magazines. I'm noticing a discrepancy between the age level a magazine says it's targeting and the reading level of articles in the same magazine.
For example, Highlights says it is in need of NF articles for beginning readers (ages 4-8) but the Lexile and Flesh Kincaid (sorry if I misspelled that) levels for their easier articles is actually quite a bit higher than that.
The same is true of articles in Ask magazine, which says their target audience is "newly independent readers" in grades 2-5.
Can anyone shed some light on this for me? Thanks!
#1 - May 30, 2013, 08:07 AM

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Hi, Christy,

I'm guessing that the mags are describing their target audience in terms of  'interest level' rather than readability level.  The two are often closely aligned but not always.  (Think hi-low stories for teens with a 3rd grade reading level for instance.)

So a story for the very young can be somewhat more difficult (the kids may have adult help reading, as in the case with picture books) but the subject matter must be appropriate for the age group (like-aged MC or subject that appeals to that age group.)

#2 - May 30, 2013, 01:12 PM

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Hi Christy,
It's also true for NF that the FK jumps because of required vocabulary. If you are writing about butterflies for kindergarteners, the word butterfly has three syllables, (and caterpillar has four). So even though those are both important words and even though the story that is appropriate for the grade level, the computer system isn't smart enough to do anything but count the syllables and the number of words in the sentence.  You can check your own writing to see if you are doing okay by replacing butterfly with the word red, and caterpillar with the word green -- both are kindergarten words and shouldn't add to your score. (Just remember to change them back before you submit :)

good luck.
#3 - June 02, 2013, 06:37 AM
How Things Work (Publications International, 2006)
Bugs & Bugsicles: Insects in the Winter (Boyds Mill Press, 2010)
Touch the Earth (NASA, 2009)


Thanks for the help. As I study the magazines further, I've also noticed that Highlights wants articles for younger readers to appeal to older kids and vice versa. Makes you realize how much work they do to put their issues together! :)
#4 - June 17, 2013, 02:08 PM

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Christy, if you don't already have it, I'd recommend getting a copy of Alijandra Moliger's Word Book. I find it very useful when I'm writing leveled readers. The first draft is always story ... then I tweak vocab, sentence length and structure to get the lexile down to the level required. And as Mara pointed out, a big word can throw off FK.

#5 - June 17, 2013, 07:31 PM
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Thanks Vijaya,
I do have a copy of the Word Book, which I love. I also draft the article/mss first and then go back and try to bring it to a particular grade level. Do you find that publishers use any particular reading level measure more than another (F/K, Lexile, etc.)?
#6 - June 28, 2013, 12:04 PM


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