Most of the time my ten-year-old son is reading and re-reading Diary of a Wimpy Kid. But lately he's reading The Hunger Games. We were wondering if it's appropriate for kids his age to read, deaths and all.

I found this site called Library Thing. It tells you the reading level of books. Including Mocking Jay, the third book in the Hunger Games trilogy, which is fifth-grade reading.

The site breaks books down by reading level in a lexicographical way, rather than in a content-focused way. So the first thing I noticed is that just because Hunger Games is at a fifth-grade reading level doesn't mean he should be reading it. But still, it makes me happy to know that whether or not his soul is being destroyed by reading about the slow, pointless deaths of fictional children, he is at grade level.

Another thing I noticed about the lexicographical map is that I have very verbal IQ, but I have poor reading comprehension. Something is wrong. I'm not sure what. But I honestly cannot stand reading difficult texts. Is this true for everyone? I looked at the list of high-school level reading and found that it's all the stuff I can't get through: War and Peace, The Pickwick Papers. Yet I read twenty Agatha Christie mysteries when I was in eighth grade. (I started with this one.) I always thought I was reading above my grade level, dipping into my mom's bookshelf. But it turns out that Agatha Christie is an example of my poor reading skills. Reading level: fifth grade.

No wonder I like reading tabloids so much and the Atlantic languishes by my nightstand. I just don't like difficult reading. But I'm not sure that matters, since I basically get paid to report on everything I read, so on some level I must have overcome my reading deficiencies. Which makes me think that it doesn't really matter at what grade level you read. It matters that you can find something to do that interests you and you are able to read the material you need to read to get to where you want to go.

Still in doubt? When I was in graduate school for english, I got by reading twentieth-century novels, and Victorian poetry. Reading level of Lady Chatterly's LoverSeventh grade.