Earlier this week I read, a document called What Kids Are Reading; The Book-Reading Habits of Students in American Schools, 2012 edition (80 page PDF). The document focuses on reading levels of the most popular young adult books out today. The list compares Suzanne Collin's The Hunger Games (reading level 5.3) and Meyer's Twilight (4.9) with classics such as Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men (4.5) and Elie Wiesel's Night (4.8).
What this makes clear is that a book's reading level does not take into account more than how long sentences are and the level of vocabulary. Wiesel's Night is far from an easy read, focusing on his experience as a teenager in concentration camp, while addressing the personal and psychological implications of the Holocaust. Reading is about the experience, whether fending of vampires or reliving the Great Depression through the eyes of another. Kids need the freedom to choose the books they want to read. As a teacher-librarian, I want to make sure students enjoy reading and read for pleasure. For many reluctant readers, The Hunger Games is serving as a bridge to other novels and rekindling an interest in books that they have lost over the years.
Picture from Doug Johnson's Blue Skunk Blog http://bit.ly/JezZ64