We’re barrelling towards summer vacation, which means summer reading! I want to say something for any parent/caregiver whose child is reading leveled readers (aka easy readers). PUBLISHER READING LEVELS (e.g., Level 1, Level 2, Level 3) ARE INCONSISTENT! A book labeled a “Level 1” from one publisher can vastly differ from a “Level 1” book from another.
Reading levels are not an exact science and can vary depending on the specific book, publisher, or reading assessment tool used. While I value publishers’ efforts in creating leveled readers, the criteria for what makes a book a level 1, 2, or 3 should be clarified. That’s not happening anytime soon.
YET, kids look at the levels. So what is an adult to do? Here are four things that have worked in our household as I’ve battled with Ari about the way he’s thought about publisher levels while attempting to select books for the past few weeks:
1) Get your child’s Guided Reading or Fountas & Pinnell Level (i.e., A-Z) from their teacher. Many leveled readers also have these levels listed on the back of the book. These are more precise.
2) Open a page and have your child read the text. If it’s too hard, look for another book. (This is similar to the “five-finger test” many kids learn in school.)
3) Find a wise person to talk to your child about reading levels and book selection. Ari could care less that I’m a certified literacy specialist. But he listened to Lynne Dorfman when we had lunch with her this past weekend. This chat with Lynne helped Ari make better book choices when he selected books at the library yesterday.
4) Enlist the help of an older sibling, cousin, or family friend who is an avid reader. Isabelle raided the boxes of leveled readers in our basement and handed Ari books she thought Ari would be interested in and could read. She also told him, “You’re not ready for Henry and Mudge YET, but you will be soon.”
Finally, let reading levels be ONE thing that guides your child. Ari found some Paddington books with a level that’s beyond his F&P instructional reading level. However, we’ve read many Paddington picture books, so he is intensely interested in reading these leveled readers. Plus, he’s familiar with some trickier words from having us read the Paddington picture books aloud so that he can stretch himself as a reader.