Which Books to Read and How to Determine Your Children’s Reading Levels
Do you want to know how to get your kids to like reading? It all starts with selecting books that are appropriate for their grade level. Here’s all you need to know about determining reading levels in children.
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How to Determine a Child’s Reading Level and the Best Books for Each Reading Level
Do you need someone to explain reading levels to you in plain English?
For example, how do you determine your child’s reading level and what they mean in school?
Some systems assign grades based on numbers, while others provide grades based on letters and scores. It’s no surprise that it’s perplexing.
This was a problem for me as well. I intended to buy easy-to-read books for my kids, but I didn’t know what the levels represented or how to pick a book based on them. I’ve finally broken the code after a lot of research and trial and error (s).
I’m here to answer any of your questions so you may feel secure in your knowledge of your child’s reading ability and continue to assist them in becoming better readers.
By the time you’ve finished reading this, you’ll know:
- What is levelled reading and why is it useful?
- The four most common reading level schemes
- How to determine your children’s reading abilities
- Based on their age and grade, what level should your child be at?
- And how can you assist them in selecting an appropriate levelled book that will foster their love of reading?
Let’s debunk these myths and provide you with the tools you need to assist your child to improve their reading abilities.
What Exactly Is Levelled Reading
Reading is a talent that takes time to master. Your child will require decodable reading material as they begin to read in order to build confidence in their reading abilities.
This is where a programme like tiered reading may help. Levelled reading distinguishes between how tough a book is and where a child’s reading aptitude lies. They will get books and customized reading lessons in this manner, assisting them in becoming better readers.
While reading levels can help a teacher determine if a kid is below, on, or above grade level, the most essential role these levels play is in assisting a teacher in developing a strong approach and plan to enhance a child’s reading abilities.
The most important conclusion, in my opinion, is that your child’s reading level has no bearing on their intellect or academic achievement. Reading levels, on the other hand, assist instructors and homeschooling parents in determining the best techniques for helping your child achieve.
Identify Your Children’s Reading Levels
Most school-aged children meet with their teacher one-on-one many times a year so that the instructor can determine your child’s reading level. The instructor assigns the kid to read books with progressively higher reading levels.
The instructor considers the kid’s reading fluency and accuracy, as well as their understanding level, while the child is reading.
To put it another way, if you want to be more formal, you may say:
Fluency refers to a child’s ability to read a text without making many mistakes and in a fluid manner.
Comprehension refers to how well a youngster comprehends what they are reading.
Even if a kid reads a book smoothly and without errors, he or she may not fully get what the book is about.
That lack of understanding indicates that the book has ideas, sentence structure, or terminology that they are unable to comprehend. At a lower reading level, they would do better and enjoy reading more.
Some websites urge parents to keep a regular record of their child’s reading level at home. At home, though, I don’t believe a running record is required. It’s just too difficult to merely get a sense of your child’s reading abilities.
Making a duplicate of the page your child is going to read and marking down any mistakes your child makes is what a running record is. This might be used by a teacher to identify specific reading difficulties in order to get a more full view of the child’s reading ability.
Instead, I recommend that they select a number of books that are at or around their reading level. Choose novels that are somewhat below your estimation of your child’s reading ability. Also, choose novels that are on their reading level as well as one or two steps above it. This manner, students have both easy-to-master stuff and novels that will push them.
I came across this fantastic list at Scholastic that details books based on Guided Reading Levels.
- A-C – Bob Beginner Books 1 (you can’t beat them),
- D-F – David Board Books (Level D), Go, Dog, Go (Level E and a classic we all may remember from our own childhood), Pete the Cat: Too Cool for School (Level F)
- G-I – Biscuit book series (Level G), Big Shark, Little Shark (Level I), Elephant & Piggie series by Mo Willems
- J-M – Fly Guy series (level J), Pinkalicious Series (level K), The Book with No Pictures (level L), The Day the Crayons Quit (level M)
- N-P – Stellaluna (level N), Nancy Clancy series (level O), Horton Hears a Who! (Level P)
- R-S – Shiloh (Level R), Matilda (Level S)
- T-V – How to Train your Dragon (Level T), Bud, Not Buddy (Level U), Holes (Level V)
- W-Y – Walk Two Moons (Level W), The Little Prince (Guided Level X), Echo (Level Y)
Your child should read a couple of the Bob Books since they grow more difficult as the series progresses. Your youngster can read the full book or a few pages in other early reader small books.
One page of a larger book is typically enough to see if your youngster has mastered fluency and understanding.
Keep a basic score of mistakes while they read to determine fluency, and see whether they can read with intonation and passion. I keep track of my errors by placing a clipboard under the table on my lap and marking a little dot for each one. I make it a point to do this fully hidden from my child’s eyes. The explanation is simple: I don’t want them to stop reading or lose interest in it because they see me correcting faults.
Remember, the objective is to instil a love of reading in your child.
Pre-read the selection you’re giving your kid to assess their understanding, and come up with a few questions you may ask them once they’ve finished reading it.
You’ve discovered their approximate reading level when they reach to a stage where they’re challenged but still understanding with decent fluency.
They should be able to read books that are one or two levels below their reading level at home. This boosts the confidence of aspiring readers.
The Four Major Reading Levels
There isn’t just one reading level system, as if this entire reading level thing wasn’t complicated enough. In reality, various school districts utilize one of four primary reading level systems.
The guided reading level, accelerated reader, developmental reading assessment, and Lexile measurement levels are the four primary reading level systems.
Let’s break down these several methods so you can figure out which one your child’s school uses or which one you might wish to utilize to track your child’s growth.
Guided Level Reading
This is the method I used to compile the list of books you’ll need to complete your home reading exam.
It’s also one of the most widely used school-based systems. It’s only natural to go over it first.
Irene Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell created Guided Level Reading. It divides books into suitable levels using an alphabet scheme. The easiest books are on Level A, and they grow more difficult as you advance through the levels until you reach Level Z, which contains the most difficult novels.
There are various reading levels for each grade level, so your kid may advance to more demanding books as they develop.
Reading a benchmark book allows children to be assessed on their level. That means you may test their fluency and understanding by giving them a book they have never read before. The books in the list above would serve as examples of benchmark books.
This approach is popular because it provides a clear picture of where a kid’s reading skills are at, but it is less evident to the child whether they are ahead of, behind, or on track with their classmates. As a result, it can boost a child’s confidence while also reducing bullying and comparison.
The system I recall from my youth is called Accelerated Reader. Books are categorized by grade level using a decimal system that assigns a scale of ten to each grade. So, how does that appear?
A book might be rated at 1.8, indicating that it is a first-grade level novel with a second-grade level of difficulty. The most significant distinction between the Accelerated Reader method and the others is that it includes a computer program that questions students on the books they read.
For youngsters who are having difficulty reading, this might be an issue. Even in young children, quizzes can induce anxiety and a negative connection with reading.
As a result, I am not a huge supporter of this specific method.
Developmental Reading Assessment
This approach likewise begins with a kid being tested by reading a benchmark book. A benchmark book is one that lets you assess your child’s fluency and understanding.
Pearson’s Developmental Reading Assessment (commonly known as DRA) is a system of tiered books and examinations (one of the most popular textbook and educational tools in the US).
This method, in my opinion, is a little more perplexing because it begins with a reading level designated level A and then quickly shifts to numbers. So, for very beginning readers, level A is used, followed by levels 1-80, with 80 being the most challenging.
This is a common choice among school districts, so you may have seen it before.
This approach assigns a readability rating to books and reading materials depending on how difficult they are to read.
Lexile Measurement Levels
The Lexile Measures method is used if your child’s reading levels resemble something like “200L.”
This method begins with a standardized exam rather than a benchmark book. This approach assigns a readability rating to books and reading materials depending on how difficult they are to read.
The Lexile Measuring system’s levels begin with BR for beginning readers and progress to a number like 700L for advanced readers. Let’s face it, this adds a layer of complexity to the system for us parents.
This is a less common choice for schools, but it is used by a handful. So, in case you’re part of this group, I’d want to talk about it.
What Levels Should Your Child be Reading Based on Grade?
Overall, reading levels are meant to aid in the formation of small reading groups and, if necessary, interventions. They also assist a teacher in developing customized teaching based on each student’s reading level.
What is the best way to tell if your child is reading on grade level depending on their reading level?
I’ll go through each grade level and all four reading level systems: guided reading level (GRL), an accelerated reader (AR), developmental reading assessment (DRA), and Lexile measuring levels (Lexile).
Then you may compare your child’s reading level to the reading levels for their grade to have a better idea of where they are in their reading development.
You’ll also notice that, with the exception of rapid reader, reading levels overlap across grades in all of the reading level systems. GRL reading level S, for example, might be for fourth or fifth grade.
Remember that these are simply guidelines, and your child may act outside of them.
Kindergarten Reading Levels
- GRL: A-C
- AR: 0.1-0.9
- DRA: A-4
- Lexile: BR40l-230L
First Grade Reading Levels
- GRL: C-I
- AR: 1.0-1.9
- DRA: 4-16
- Lexile: BR
Second Grade Reading Levels
- GRL: I-M
- AR: 2.0-2.9
- DRA: 16-24
- Lexile: 107L-1080L
Third Grade Reading Levels
- GRL: M-P
- AR: 3.0-3.9
- DRA: 24-38
- Lexile: 415L-760L
Fourth Grade Reading Levels
- GRL: P-S
- AR: 4.0-4.9
- DRA: 38-40
- Lexile: 635L-950L
Fifth Grade Reading Levels
- GRL: S-V
- AR: 5.0-5.9
- DRA: 40-50
- Lexile: 770L-1080L
Sixth Grade Reading Levels
- GRL: V-Y
- AR: 6.0-6.9
- DRA: 50-60
- Lexile: 855L-1165L
What Should You Do If Your Child Isn’t Reading at Grade Level?
It might be devastating to learn that your child is reading below grade level. So, what should you do if your child is struggling to read at grade level?
First and foremost, do not be alarmed. Children acquire their reading abilities at various times; some children are early readers, while others need a bit longer. Some children walk early and some children walk late, just as other children walk early and some children walk late.
Then, at home, continue to encourage reading by reading books with your family and discussing what you’re reading. You may also continue to supply them with reading items that they will like reading.
Encouragement and positivity, as well as shared reading time, will go a long way!
How to Assist Your Child in Selecting a Book to Read
So, now that you know your child’s reading level and what it entails, how can you assist him or her in selecting a book to read?
The most important element in assisting your child in selecting a book is to find something that they are interested in, regardless of whether it is above or below their reading level.
You want to encourage a love of reading since it is a pleasurable activity. The talents will come with time and practise! If you are genuinely concerned, speaking with your child’s teacher to develop a game plan may also be beneficial.
Reading Is Important For Kids
I hope you now have a better grasp of the various reading level systems and how they may be utilized to assist your kid to become a better reader.
Remember that your kid’s score is not an indication of how successful they will be, and that reading abilities develop at various ages for each child.
Simply continue to foster your child’s love of reading by giving them books that they enjoy and spending time reading to and with them. You can do it!
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