The term ‘reading levels’ in a broad sense means a degree of reading accuracy, fluency, comprehension on a text with specific guidelines within a given reading system. Organizations, such as school boards, use a combination of systems to measure reading levels. Click here to for the various reading systems explained!
Why schools use leveled readers:
Leveled readers are used so that teachers can match children with books that are ‘just right’ for the reading skills they have. If a book is too easy, there will be no opportunity for teaching children the problem solving necessary to challenge them to continue to grow as readers.
If a book is too hard, a child spends so much time and effort struggling through difficult words or passages that all meaning and enjoyment is lost. Leveling depends on a number of factors, and each level gradually gives the reader more of a challenge in a developmentally appropriate sequence.
A word of caution:
Kids who struggle with reading, or simply have a slower start, know it. The more people discuss reading levels, the more children fixate on the numbers. I’ve known many children who read well above grade level, but wanted to be in a particular child’s level, or at a certain number. Levels can be a great source of anxiety and detract from actual reading!
Imagine walking around with the size label on the outside of your jeans, and hearing your friends’ parents discussing it at the bus stop. Attention to book levels does not serve children well because it always ends up feeling like a competition to someone. Children only pay attention to the levels on the books or realize their significance if others deem them important.
Here’s what helps:
Sending the message that people read for real purposes (instructions to learn how to do something, stories for enjoyment or research for needed information) is easy, just by reading in front of the kids!
Ignoring or casually shifting reading level talk rather than firmly shutting down a conversation tends to draw less attention. Questions or concerns can then be brought up with the teacher privately.
While there are many great leveled books out there, enjoying print means playing some reading games or listening to a great book that’s above the child’s own reading level, too. Part of teaching children about reading is teaching them to look at the benefits of it over a lifetime and creating great memories, now.
Does your child talk about reading levels? (Levels are not marked on the readers below!)