Lists, Lists and More Lists - How Do You Find the Appropriate Reading Level for a Book?


There is no question of the value of summer reading.  But parents and children may not be mindful of schools’ required summer reading lists – despite students being given these reading lists and assignments on the last day of the school year (with indication of instructional reading level on their report card). Complicating this, parents may be unsure of what a child’s reported reading level truly means, and how they should embark on choosing books from such lists that will be fun or challenging. Below I have included advice and info that may give you and your child confidence in using this summer’s school reading lists.

Most assigned summer reading lists have a requirement of one to three MUST read titles.  Since summer is a time for fun, playing, and sleeping-in, there will still be plenty of down time to read additional books.  Let’s encourage kids to keep reading by giving children books that they will enjoy reading!

Conveniently, the Mercer County Library System has made available numerous local school lists to explore. These appear on the MCL library catalog page under Summer Reading Lists.  Try having your child read titles from another school’s summer reading list!

The Mercer County Library System subscribes to a database called Novelist, K-8.  You can search by grade level and find a corresponding Lexile Number; this indicates a book’s word frequency and sentence length.  These charts were developed by a company called MetaMetrics and will direct you through determining a book’s reading level.

There are other companies that list numerous books with instructional levels.  AR Bookfinder from a company called Renaissance Learning has a guide and table and offers quizzes on their website. In addition, Scholastic Book Wiz offers a list called The Developmental Reading Assessment (DRA).

Matching books that contain just the right amount of text to meet the developmental needs of many young readers will eliminate frustration and give them confidence to proceed with a love of reading.  Whatever lists you select, please be aware of your child’s interest - that will really engage them as a reader!

-Susan Seidenberg

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