Quantitative: This text is listed as an exemplar text (in Appendix B of the Common Core) placed in the 10th grade band. The text has a lexile level of 730 – A Flesch Kincaid level of 4.51-7.73 – ATOS level of 4.97-7.03. These scores place the text at the fifth grade reading level.
Qualitative: Although the text is placed at the fifth grade reading level, the text is challenging and provides students with the opportunity to examine multiple themes, author’s style and syntax, as well as complex literary devices such as mood and tone, as well as figurative language. Furthermore, the text contains challenging vocabulary and symbolism, which requires readers to make inferences.
Reader and Task: Despite having a lower reading level, this text may prove challenging for struggling readers in part due to the length of the text - 550 pages. For these students, teachers may consider providing students with an audio version of the text, or a reading partner who can help him/her read. Teachers might also consider showing parts of the play (it was recently adapated as a play) which are available on You Tube as well as the following site: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/25/books/the-book-thief-as-theater-at-steppenwolf-in-chicago.html?_r=1&adxnnl=1&hpw=&adxnnlx=1351126898-XAvcgh8/7Q2xECK8cyt/Lw&
Struggling readers may also need assistance in understanding personification i.e. the personification of death, the narrator of the text. Teachers should review this concept prior to reading. For advanced readers, the text could be paired with one of the more difficult companion pieces listed below – teachers should also stress DOK level 4 questions in order to promote higher level thinking.