Warrior’s Don’t Cry (abridged version by Melba Pattillo Beals) gives students a personal view of the struggle to end segregation through a powerful memoir. The reading level of Warriors Don’t Cry makes it appropriate for both middle and upper grades.
Warriors Don’t Cry reading level by the numbers:
Lexile level: 1000L (5th grade)
Grade level equivalent: 5
ATOT book level: 6.5
Accelerated Reader interest level: upper grades
Accelerated Reader book level: 6.5
Guided reading level: Z
Page count: 240
Recommendation: Grade 7-8
What grade to teach Warriors Don’t Cry
Is Warriors Don’t Cry appropriate for 5th grade? Probably not.
The numerical values regarding sentence complexity and vocabulary (Lexile and ATOS values) do not tell the whole story. Younger students may be ill-prepared to navigate the subject matter, especially in regards to violence and sexual assault.
I have success assigning this book as summer reading for my incoming 8th graders. They were happy to identify with a high school student and had a growing understanding of the historical context. Furthermore, I knew that students reading below the grade level could access the content.
In short, it is an ideal low-high book (low reading level – high interest level). The low reading level of Warriors Don’t Cry enables its use as extra credit reading, a summer reading book, or as a literature circles option.
Warriors Don’t Cry reading level and high school
The length and subject matter of Warriors Don’t Cry make it an ideal memoir for developing readers in high school. The book is a respectable 240 pages and follows Melba as a high school student. Students who are self-conscious about their reading levels will not object.
Outbound link: Warriors Don’t Cry Discussion Guide from Learning Heroes
Warriors Don’t Cry Anticipation Guide (PDF for pre-reading)
Warriors Don’t Cry Reading Quizzes (5 readings)
Featured image by Steve Snodgrass