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RedDeerGuy1's avatar

Do we have an app that adjusts the reading comprehension level in a book?

Asked by RedDeerGuy1 (18403points) 1 month ago

From grade school to graduate studies level? That would be helpful.

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17 Answers

janbb's avatar

There is something called the Fry Readability Level that can tell you what reading level a book is on but nothing I know of that would change the vocabulary of a book already written. That doesn’t really make sense. The Fry score is usually used with children’s books and might show up in a review of the book.

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

@janbb Shakespeare to grade school and Cat in the Hat to gradate studies. Sounds like fun and making more writing accessible to everyone.

janbb's avatar

@RedDeerGuy1 There are some published easy readers of classics, most of them geared to English as a second language students.

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

@janbb If no one has done it then it is a novel idea. Would add another level, or dimension, to reading. Instead of buying for dummies or easy reading books one can just toggle a switch and adjust to one’s reading level.

janbb's avatar

Here’s another idea. Read with a dictionary and look up words you don’t know. Most writers write in the style they want their books to be read in.

Jeruba's avatar

Do you mean a program that changes all the author’s words in a book to make it easier to read? Let’s see what that might be like, if translation to another language could be thought of as a parallel.

Do you mean a program that changes all the author’s words in a book to make it easier to read?

Adakah anda bermaksud program yang mengubah semua kata-kata pengarang dalam buku agar lebih mudah dibaca?

Bir kitabdakı bütün müəllif sözlərini oxumağı asanlaşdırmaq üçün dəyişdirən bir proqram nəzərdə tutursunuz?

Ertu að meina forrit sem breytir öllum orðum höfundar í bók til að auðvelda lesturinn?

U bedoel soos soutvleis en soorte, nè?

Ты имеешь в виду солончаков и им подобных, а?

Voleu dir maresmes salades i similars, eh?

Back to English:
You mean salty marshes and the like, eh?

(Credit: Google Translate)

Readers should try to rise to the level of the book and not expect the book to adapt to them. We don’t learn by having everything made to fit within what we already (think we) know.

Darth_Algar's avatar

Basically a program that re-writes the book on the fly. You’d seriously want that? I’d prefer to read the author’s words as they are. If there’s a word or phrase I don’t understand I’ll look it up or ask someone who might know. That’s how I learn, that’s how I largely taught myself to read.

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

@Darth_Algar Just another tool in the toolbox. I would like to have a material to have different levels of reading comprehension.

We have the basics in place. From Cat in the Hat to the divine comedy and for dummies book. We do that now just manually and one at a time.

It would be like pictures vs video. It would add an other dimension .
I would use it to expose my self to new words. I would toogle
back from easy to medium and highest level for fun.

Darth_Algar's avatar

I don’t even see how you’d lower something like The Divine Comedy down to the level of The Cat in the Hat or, likewise, elevate The Cat in the Hat to the level of -The Divine Comedy_. I mean, I suppose somebody could do it, but not without destroying everything that makes those books what they are.

Jeruba's avatar

It actually takes an engaged mind with a comprehensive vocabulary and a strong command of context-sensitive language to write well. It’s not yet a job for a computer. A writer’s art is not mindless mechanical routine.

There’s also a reason why books for eight-year-olds are not written by eight-year-olds. Putting things in simple, clear language with a limited vocabulary is not easy. How, for example, would you explain Dante’s vision of eternal punishment for the sin of carnal lust to a third-grader?

gorillapaws's avatar

I’m pretty sure natural language processing A.I. is a long ways off from being able to do this.

RocketGuy's avatar

The software would have to adjust the content on the fly as the person reads. It would be much easier to have several versions of the same book.

LostInParadise's avatar

It might be worthwhile having an electronic book in math or engineering that allows you to adjust the level of the material. For those who are having trouble, there could be a supplemental explanation and additional examples.

Are there any interactive books? I could imagine a novel with different endings depending on decisions made by the reader.

Jeruba's avatar

Does anyone think that a math book for third graders reads the same as one for tenth-graders, college math majors, and graduate students? Informative books and other materials are already pitched to a range of student levels.

And there are series of “retold” classic novels for junior readers. I read a retold version of A Tale of Two Cities just to see how they handled it. It was pretty hard to take the dumbing down of Dickens’s language, which isn’t that hard to begin with. The worst part was the utterly flat ending, with no attempt to reproduce Sydney Carton’s stirring final speech. The old Classics Comics edition was far, far better.

In any case, simpler versions of things already exist. They were written by people, though. People are still the best sources of natural language, you know?

RocketGuy's avatar

@LostInParadise – it’s easier with math problems because the equations don’t have to sequentially flow to tell the same story. That’s how online math courses work – if kids have trouble in one lesson, the next lesson will be from an easier set.

Darth_Algar's avatar

Great answer @Jeruba.

Another example I can think of, say, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, by William Blake.
“Without contraries is no progression
Attraction and repulsion, reason and energy, love and hate are necessary to human existence
From these contraries spring what the religious call good and evil
Good is the passive that obeys reason
Evil is the active springing from energy”

As a third grader I certainly could have read every word in that passage, but there’s no way I could have even began to understand what Blake meant here. And I don’t think there’s any lower level of language, any Simple English Wiki esque version, that could truly convey his meaning.

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