“Books where stuff happens…but easy to read. Not a book for kids.” This is a common readers’ advisory question for reluctant or struggling teen readers (and their adults). Such readers often feel keenly the gap between the books they are able to read, and the topics they *want* to read. Must they read from the children’s section, with its juvenile topics and the same titles they would have picked in grade school? Not at all. This is a gap that hi/lo books aim to fill.
The term “hi/lo,” or “high/low,” refers to books that have a high interest level and a low vocabulary or readability level. These books won’t intimidate those reading below their grade level, but will not bore them to death, either. Michael Sullivan’s 2012 School Library Journal article is a great primer for this topic, touching on both the subjective (what makes a book really interesting?) and the scientific (what are the readability formulas used by hi/lo publishers?).