Saturday, 17 November 2012
Fifty Shades of Grey for Grade 5 and Other Updates
So a long time ago in a galaxy of shitty university times, I was studying science education and pretty much had resigned myself to become a math or science teacher (if not an archaeologist). But no longer! Anyway, in my editing course we’ve been looking at the Flesch-Kincaid readability scoring system for passages/books. I used to use this on every freaking thing I could lay my eyes on. It was brilliant. It’s not the most accurate equation for adult fiction, especially if the work has run-on sentences or falls under the genre of “chick-lit”. In any case, I decided I wanted to use it for the rest of my book reviews from this point on—allons-y!
Here is the formula:
0.39*(number of words/number of sentences) + 11.8*(number of syllables/number of words) — 15.59 = readability score, as a grade level
number of words/number of sentences is the Average Sentence Length (ASL): I usually choose about three to five sentences and do a word count for those. I do this three or four times before I’m satisfied by a mode number. I do not average out the numbers.
number of syllables/number of words is the Average Syllables per Word (ASW): I choose about two sentences for this, especially if they are excessively lengthy. I like keep it around 20-35 words. Keep in mind, you could even just use two and a half sentences or something. You’re counting words here, not sentences. I also take three or four of these calculations before I find an appropriate mode I can use.
Also, before trying this at home, please remember your BEDMAS/PEMDAS rules. Brackets/Parentheses, Exponents, Division, Multiplication, Addition, Subtraction.
As an example, here are my calculations for Fifty Shades of Grey, based on various passages throughout the book.
0.39*14 + 11.8*1.3 = 5.21
So what does this mean? Simply put, the reading score for Fifty Shades of Grey is at a grade five reading level. This puts it on par with books such as The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan or Coraline by Neil Gaiman. It is important to note that the F-K score does not account for content and stylistic details of a book. While E.L. James’s masterpiece may be of a simplistic reading level, it is certainly not suitable for those of that level.
I have many calculations for middle school books that are actually at a level much higher than FSoG, but let’s not get into that…today.
Instead, please waste your time on this extensive review of FSoG.
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