We have chosen classic books as reading books in our homeschool for a reason. Classic books are books that were written by gifted writers who knew their way around a sentence. The vocabulary is rich and the sentence structure is varied. On the contrary, many modern books written for kids are dumbed down with sentences written in a basic manner.
Here is a good example. I am going to quote a paragraph from Captain Underpants and the Attack of the Talking Toilet and Farmer Boy. Captain Underspants is rated at 4.1 grade level and Farmer Boy is rated at a 4.3 grade level.
Here is a 3 sentence paragraph from Captain Underpants and the Attack of the Talking Toilets :
The school secretary, Miss Anthrope, stood up to help remove Mr. Krupp’s chair from his pants. Her chair stood up with her, too. Everyone in the gymnasium laughed harder.
Here is a 3 sentence paragraph from Farmer Boy:
It stood lonely in the frozen woods, at the foot of Hardscrabble Hill. Smoke was rising from the chimney, and the teacher had shoveled a path through the snowdrifts to the door. Five big boys were scuffling in the deep snow by the path.
Without looking at this scientifically, it appears obvious that the books that are supposed to be around the same grade level are quite different in the level of vocabulary used and the difficulty of the sentence structure. If a child spends a lot of time reading “dumbed down” modern books then the classic books will be more difficult to read. Classic books not only build vocabulary, but your child is constantly seeing models of good writing.
As a result, the only modern books read in our homeschool are science, geography, and history books. I even avoid recent literature crazes that haven’t stood the test of time. Meanwhile, there is no shortage of great classic books to read.