More thoughts on the graded reader boycott

protest march

I really enjoyed reading all the replies to yesterday’s proposal. A few people thought that calling for a boycott was a bit harsh, but it was very interesting that so far not one person has offered a reason for publishers not to print word counts on graded readers.

My personal take is that some editors are not aware that word counts are a useful and, for some teachers and programs, essential tool.

I am going to proceed with the boycott. To assist in that effort and to help connect with publishers who are not yet aware of the issue, I am going to create a website listing various graded reader series in three categories:

  • A Greenlist of series that clearly print accurate running word counts on books
  • A Greylist of series that do not print word counts on books, but do make full and up-to-date word count information available on the Extensive Reading Foundation website
  • A Blacklist of series that do not print word counts on books, and also do not make word count information available on the ERF website

I hope this will become a useful resource for teachers and institutions when they are choosing materials for their classes and programs. The site will be maintained and updated if conditions change (ie a publisher starts printing word counts on books, or makes the information available on the ERF site).

Yeah, I don’t disagree. I have used Thom Robb’s moodle reader and it’s not only a good system of ER accounting, it’s highly motivational, as students like to collect book covers and push up that bar of words counted. I even had a student’s friend, NOT at my university asked to be included so she too could do this! The only bad point is all the students who read books in HS wheel those in and artificially push up their reading counts for that term.

I agree with you on what the publishers should do. We’ve told Helbling much the same. And the future will be with all leveling info clearly on the covers, head words, length, CEFR level, etc, and audio available for download on their websites . . . may the future come soon!

Hi Alastair
That sounds great -looking forward to seeing the next editions 🙂
We actually don’t use MReader -the students record their own word counts, which is why it’s important to have the word count actually written on/in each book -for books with no word counts, I have to physically write them into each copy (and our library currently has 5 sets of each reader, probably going up to 8 next year…). Not much fun for me!

I’ve been giving this some more thought. I also don’t understand why a running word count is something publishers wouldn’t provide at least for the asking. My guess is that some simply don’t have that information readily available, and the number of people asking is too small for them to actually assign someone to do it (so perhaps a green list/black list idea isn’t a bad one after all…).

I wonder if a good compromise solution might not be for publishers to simply prepare stickers that could be downloadable and ready to stick on their books by teachers like Ben who want them. In fact, perhaps if the ERF and other interested parties were willing to come together to agree on some general readability standards beyond just headword counts, then that information could be included on the stickers too.

**Plug alert!** I’ll be speaking on general readability standards at Pan SIG this weekend. 😉

I must say that I quite like the ‘stats box’ at the top of the back cover on the Page Turners series. Other series have similar schemes as well. I’m imagining something like that as a sticker, but with a few more items. Most importantly, this information could then be standardized across all publishers. Maybe even throw in color coding while we’re at it!

Marcos that is fantastic and I would be willing to put any publisher that provided such downloadable stickers into the greenlist 🙂

What a fantastic idea. I wonder if the ERF could promote this idea?

I have mixed results from using Moodle Reader as far as determining any sort of student motivation. They just do the work, it seems, to get their score. As for an alternative to a boycott, Ben, there is always the lists you propose to post, but for greater impact, has anyone suggested a write-in campaign to each publisher?

Hi Glenski
I think that’s a great idea. We can do it alongside the boycott 😉
I’ll put some sample letters/emails on the FB page.


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