Dear Miss Snark,
Do you use the Flesch Reading stuff in Word? Should we? I've looked through the archives and can't find anything on this subject. Thanks.

Nope. I trust my beady four eyes.
On the other hand, I don't work much with early reader and middle grade reader books where vocabulary levels are a real concern.

And I also think vocabulary isn't always the best measure of the complexity of a work. For that I offer this:

The Red Wheelbarrow by William Carlos Williams

so much depends
a red wheel

glazed with rain

beside the white


Anonymous said...

Or this:

This Is Just to Say by William Carlos Williams

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

Cynthia Bronco said...

so much depends
a red stil-

snarked with George

beside the slush

Therese said...

so much depends
a well-written

told in clear

and with a good

Lauri at Nomad said...

As an editor of kids' books, I DO use the Flesch Reading scale, and not necessarily for the vocabulary (most--but not all--of our writers understand the age group we're targeting). Rather, it helps us figure out where sentences need to be cut from one to two; where a more concise explanation would be better than a longer one, etc. It's actually a really useful guideline. If I read through a chapter of a manuscript for 9-12 year olds and the Flesch score is for 15+, I know I have some serious work ahead of me.

jerm said...

I read those poems in a college poetry workshop, and just stared at them saying "How... how... HOW?" I still hope that someday I can write with such simplicity and power.

This Is Just To Say

I have drank
the gin
that was in
the pail

and which
you were probably
for Miss Snark

Forgive me
it was delicious
so dry
and so cold

Robert Billing said...

Read John Sladek's "A Game of Jump". He gets in a couple of murders, a child molesting and more. But he only uses the words in a "First Dictionary" for children.

Zany Mom said...

I think this is a perfect example of why I don't write poetry...

Anonymous said...

We read To Kill a Mockingbird in 7th grade so I don't put a whole lot of stock into reading level being an accurate indication of the depth, power, and brilliance of a novel.

Anonymous said...



aardvark.novelista@gmail.com said...

Poems like this
are often

by the eager eye.

And poetry

They are pretentious

*snaps his fingers as a way of clapping*

The Great Gherkin said...

That is the most perfect poem in the English language.