Which age group is the book for? This question is common, but for Easy to Read literature there is no simple answer. Some books are more child- or youth-oriented, but in principle all books can be read by all age groups.
Language and knowledge levels and interests, more than the reader’s age, define which book is suitable.
A book on climate change, for instance, can be read alone or aloud for almost all age groups. Today climate issues are on the agenda and even young children have heard about them. Unfamiliar words or concepts can be discussed and explained when needed. Reading becomes much more interesting, when it is a joint experience.
Language levels indicate how easy the language in an Easy book is. In Easy to Read literature there are several systems of language levels. Often every publisher uses their own marks and classifications (often 3–5 levels). In some languages no levels are used.
The topic of an Easy language book can be anything, just like in any other book. The aim of the language levels is to guide the reader to choose a book, which corresponds to the language needs and individual capability. Some readers prefer to stay on the level they believe or know that they can manage. Others choose a level that challenges their language skills.
The easiest level has short lines and chapters and very few difficult or long words. The length of lines and chapters, and also the vocabulary, increase on the easier and easy levels.
In Easy to Read books the language is the one we use every day. Also in books about the environment and pollution, artificial intelligence or other more complicated themes, words and concepts generally known from media and schoolbooks are used.
Learners of a new language can benefit from Easy books, independently of age or other factors. Words and expressions are easy to read and pronounce. They are generally used in everyday life and by other people and can immediately become useful.
Every language has its own specific way of creating Easy language texts. Word length and expressions vary. That is why no global dictionary or word list or level criteria exist for Easy to Read literature, only recommendations.
How a person perceives and understands a text is influenced by more factors than language alone. Interest, motivation, earlier knowledge and experiences also play an important role.
During reading various thinking processes and emotional reactions occur. If the reader can identify with persons in the story or relate the events to everyday life, a positive emotional response can be formed. Often this response brings new insights, higher motivation to read more and a broader understanding.
Author, researcher and trainer Sabira Stahlberg has written over twenty Easy to Read books, researches multilingualism and Easy language literature and works internationally in several languages to increasethe availability of Easy to Read literature for all age groups.
Pedagogical Easy to Read books: Villa Bokpil
Materials and tasks: Edu Bokpil
The project LäsLätt (‘ReadEasy’) 2020 for increasing and distributing information about Easy to Read is realised by Bokpil and Colorit ry.rf. and supported by The Swedish Cultural Foundation in Finland.