Question About Reading Levels & Reading Above Grade Level

Updated on September 10, 2012
♥.O. asks from Parcel Return Service, DC
17 answers

My 1st grader is reading above grade level. She is bored with the little chapter books they send home as part of her homework. She's also supposed to be reading additional books and then recording them on her reading log. We've been reading various books from her book collection (we have about 80-100 books) and they all seem too easy for her. I'm not sure if it's because she's already familiar with the stories. I would like to find some books for her to read to me and vice versa. I overheard a tutor, I guess it was, at a restaurant the other day meeting with a family. He said that you take their reading level and then match it with books from the library with that same reading level # on them. I'm not sure what he was talking about. Does anyone know? How do I find out her reading level?

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answers from Portland on

Many books have a reading level listed on the back cover. You can get them at the library or buy them from a bookstore or a thrift store. You can look at some labeled books and get an idea on what to look for in unlabeled books.

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answers from San Francisco on

First of all, talk to her teacher.
When I worked in first grade I remember questioning this practice. But it turned out children who seemed to be "bored" with what they were reading were often not quite ready to move to the next level. That's because they are expected to read with a certain fluency before moving on. Most of what I did was read one on one with kids and helped them build their reading boxes. Kids who claimed to be bored were usually just anxious to move to the next level, and there's nothing wrong with that, but moving too fast hinders their comprehension.
Like I said, talk to her teacher first. She will give you a full explanation, and yes, she CAN tell you her reading level and you can get a list from the teacher and the library as well. Happy Reading :)

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answers from Jacksonville on

Ask her teacher from school. If they read AR books, then they will have an AR reading level (AR is "Accedlerated Reading" program) and any librarian can give you a list of books within the range your child reads in.

There is another reading level called a Lexile score. That is given after your child takes a CRCT or SAT standardized test. Not sure what your school does in the way of standardized testing, but after they do the testing and receive the scores, there is typically a Lexile score given based off the reading portion of the test. You can use that number/range the same way. Ask at your library, or the school library, or google for a list of books that fall in that lexile range.

In the meantime, since you may not have any of these scores to go by, take her to the library. Ask your local librarian what other kids her age are typically reading and start there. If they are too easy, ask the librarian to suggest some books at the next level of difficulty, and move on to those.

Or, just take her to a book store, and browse. You should be able to tell rather quickly if it is just that she knows the stories you have at home, or if the actual material is not challenging enough for her.
FWIW, my daughter was reading Geronimo Stilton books around that age. And she was still reading below her ability, but she loved the stories. She'd read one in about 3 hours, cover to cover. Your daughter may or may not be reading at the same level my daughter was at that time, but it will give you something to look at if you go into a book store.

ETA: Here's a jumping off point:

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answers from Seattle on

Certain books have 'reading level numbers' on them. (Like EZ Reader 1, 2, 3, etc.).

In general, though, books tend to not have those, but still be in quasi homogenous levels.


Magic Treehouse
Encyclopedia Brown / Cam Jansen
Geronimo Stilton
Diary of a Wimpy Kid
Choose Your Own Adventure

Hardy Boys / Nancy Drew
Harry Potter
Percy Jackson
39 Clues
George's Secret Key to the Universe
Black Stallion
Tom Sawyer / Huck Fin / most of Mark Twain
Little House

Hunger Games
Swiss Family Robinson
Robinson Caruso
Sherlock Holmes
Pern Dragon Riders
Belgariad & Mallorean
Lord of the Rings
Hitchhikers guide to the Galaxy

Count of Monte Cristo
Earth's Children (Auel)
Pride & Prejudice (and other Austen)
Shakespeare's Plays

Now... I might change the order around depending on the kid, and also on the themes involved. Book level guides are often as much about THEME as they are about vocabulary and structure and length. There are ALSO "bridging" books. Like Harry Potter starts out as a LONG but fairly easy chapterbook in the beginning of the series... but progresses onward to the next "level" by the last books (mostly, it's that Rowling's writing gets better). Similarly... Shakespeare can be DEVOURED by readers several levels "down", when it's presented one way (and be unreadable when presented another way). Ditto Little House, Swiss Fam Robinson, etc. are often read TO children, instead of having them read them. Reading them ups their levels quite quickly, as their minds start listening to/for and incorporating somewhat 'archaic' language and structure, and after a book or two outloud, and reading them on their own.,, but they'd never get past the first few pages on their own without the rhythms and patterns gotten from listening to them.

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answers from Austin on

Ask her school librarian if she can check out some books from the school library..

The librarian and her teacher should be able to tell you what level and what group of books would be good for her.

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answers from Washington DC on

If you look at the information page of the book, there were be a set of numbers under the copyright. the first number is the lowest reading level.
3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 - means that it is a level 3.0 book

Here are some links to help you

Also, if your child gets the Scholastic book order forms, the descriptions now mention the reading levels, Lexile and AR levels of most books featured.

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answers from Washington DC on

your teacher or librarian should be able to help you with this.
'reading levels' are necessary, i suppose, but i find them completely useless. reading should never be boring. if she's bored, she should be able to read books that interest her. the library is packed full of them.
i'm a voracious reader, and some of my favorite titles are children's classics and YA books. that doesn't mean i have a 'low' reading level, it means i have a varied one. i was reading full-length novels to my kids in elementary school, and the wind in the willows when they were in high school. relegating certain books to certain grades just seems incredibly regimented to me.
it definitely sounds as if your daughter is beyond ready for something new. go to the library and turn her loose. i'll bet she doesn't need a librarian to suggest anything to her in that house of wonder, but if she does, the librarians will be thrilled to help.

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answers from San Diego on

My daughter brings books from home for reading time. We've had this issue and now its a matter of us choosing the books are that are at her level. There is, I believe, an a-z chart for early readers but when they are beyond that, like your daughter may be, you're then in the position to become more familiar with children's novels. I love it. I LOVE that she's an early reader (because its all about me: ) and we/she gets to read all my childhood favorites. I spend a lot of time on Amazon (not shopping) checking out reviews, reading the first page or two, and then picking them up from the library.

Its early in the year, but I'm wondering if you can mention this to the teacher? My daughter's teacher knew her from last year as she was sent to this teacher for reading groups. I'm hoping you have a good experience as some (rare) teachers will resist the differentiation if she is not yet specifically assigned to GATE.

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answers from Davenport on

Go to your local library and ask the librarian about the reading levels of books in the children's area. Ask your Daughter's teacher what her reading level is, if they have done any of the actual evaluations yet, and if not, ask her ot evaluate your daughter's reading level. She is a teacher and should be happy to help you advance your daughter's skills, not just keep her stagnant.

DOn't be afraid to talk.ask these people for help, it is their job and they chose that profession becasue they loved to do it and to help others!

My daughter is in Kindergarten this year and she is reading at at least a 2nd grade level, according to my MIL who is a retired teacher. She reads all kinds of books herself, up to the Easy Reader level 3 books, but together we have read The Wizard of Oz, and we are now reading the Magic Treehouse series. Find things she likes ( subject wise) and read them with her - you do one paragraph and she does one, or alternate pages or sentences. Have fun with it, and don't forget to ask her what she is interested in.


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answers from San Francisco on

The children's section of our local library is generally arranged by reading level. We always pick things that I know are at his level and then a book or two that are a stretch for him. I've been slowly moving him up that way.

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answers from Peoria on

Our school uses an alphabetic code to define their reading level. Then I use the scholastic website to find books and then I just get them at the library (can't fill up the house with so many books!).

Speak to your daughter's teacher too. I'm sure he/she will be happy to assist you in ways to challenge your daughter.

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answers from Fargo on

My daughter is the same way, we go to the library and check our additional books. The ones from three class are way too easy for her as well. She loves to read chapter books like Nancy drew, boxcar kids, Junie b Jones.

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answers from Honolulu on

Have you spoken to your child's Teacher????

Many kids may be reading above grade level.
So, per books you have for your child... simply ask your child, why she is bored reading them? Has SHE said it is too easy? Or does she just find the books boring?

And, per books in a store or library... the covers do NOT come, with the reading level imprinted onto the cover. AND there are also... different reading levels but it is per various methods of book level reading ranges... and therefore, the reading level number on the book or in the book, may correspond to different types of levels of reading.
So also, you need to KNOW what method of reading level the reading level is derived from, and which one your daughter's School, uses.

ie: there is for example: "grade level equivalent," or guided reading, or "DRA", or Lexile Measure, or AR type of reading levels. Of which, the reading level ranges... are typically a numbered range. And each method has a criteria.

If your child's school has "AR" reading... then, via the computer, the parent can log on and do a book title search, to see what the reading level is, on any particular book. For example.

Per my kids' school, IF a child is indeed reading above grade level (and my daughter is too), and at the beginning of the year, all the kids are given reading assessments SO THAT the Teacher, knows, what reading level a child is at... and based on that, then the child IS given books that ARE in that child's reading range. It is a range.... of book levels that are within, your child's reading level. So, say if your child is reading at a 1.8-2.5 reading level. Then therefore, per the "AR" books, your child can read anything within that range.

The bottom line is: you NEED to speak to your daughter's Teacher.
Because, many Teachers, do have kids that are reading above grade level, and therefore, it is not unusual. And therefore, they have a RANGE of books for their kids to read. AND in the school's library... the librarian can help your daughter find a book. OR... your daughter can... find her own books too. I am sure, if she flips open a book and scans it with her eyes, SHE can tell, if a book is too easy or too hard for herself.
My son can do that and he is in 1st grade. He knows himself.

But also, you NEED to ask your daughter, WHY is she bored, reading?

AND, the Teacher/school, SHOULD know, what your daughter's reading level is. Because, each school has assessments they do, per reading, per the kids. But you won't know what type of assessment they do, so don't guess.
ASK your child's Teacher.

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answers from Minneapolis on

I look at the scholastic website for ideas. You can search book (as long as they're scholastic). It will tell you the Lexile number (reading level) as well as the age group and what the book is about. My son is in 3rd grade and reads way above his reading level and I'm having a hard time finding books at his reading level that are appropriate content and about younger kids. Most in his reading level are about younger teens and it's hard for him to relate.

They told me my son's Lexile number from testing they do at school. Not sure how else you can find out.

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answers from St. Louis on

talk to the teacher. She will be able to guide you based on which process your school uses.

Our school used the AR (accelerated reading) program. The kids were tested thru the Star program at the beginning/end of each semester. This gave the teacher a benchmark to place their individualized reading level. The school library books were labeled to this system & the kids were taught how to make reading choices.

For example, both of my sons read above grade level. We had to be very careful as to content when selecting books. By the time they both hit 6th grade, they both were reading 12th grade & beyond. This made content selection extremely difficult! Personally, I think the AR program sucks. Consistently kids hit those upper levels. To me, this says the system is flawed. The only positive I have for the AR that it did force :) the kids to read. To that end, both of my sons (age 16 & 25) are avid readers. :)

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answers from San Francisco on

If she's in first grade, she's at beginner reader level. Start with those books. I think you will find that she reads her own books better than others because she is so familiar with the story and it's been read by/to her many times. So start with the beginner level and if she needs something more challenging, go for it! I'm sure the librarian can help you.

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