A few months ago, we had a huge conversation (that I largely sat out of due to real life things) about parents obsessed with reading level, and making their kids read above level. It slightly resurfaced with the Twilight discussion and how we feel about kids wanting to read above what we think their content level is.
I just wanted to mention it again, because this morning I had to make a very impassioned plea on behalf of a patron to her mom so she could read some Goosebumps books. I am not a fan of the Goosebumps books, but this girl wanted to read them. Her mother's only objection was that they weren't at the 7th grade reading level.
I'm sharing my winning argument as a reminder to those who push for higher reading levels, and just to share with those who argue for letting people read below level in case you can use it in your daily battles, too. (There is a content argument to be made as well-- just because something has a low lexile score doesn't mean it doesn't contain some rather big ideas, but that's not an argument I can convincingly make about Goosebumps.)
Everyone should always be reading something below level, something above level, and something at level. This mixture is what lets us grow as readers. If we're always challenging ourselves, then reading is always hard and becomes a chore. We need reading that is "too easy" to remind us that reading is fun and enjoyable. Reading above level lets us grow as readers, but reading below level reminds us why we want to.
Adults-- that goes for us, too.