Finding the right book to match with a child is a lot like buying a pair of shoes. For independent reading time you want a good-fit. In my classroom, I spend a great deal of time getting to know each child and assessing their reading comprehension to figure out what their “size” is.
According to researcher Richard Allington (2005) a good-fit book is a child’s independent reading level. An independent level book is one that the child can read with 99 percent accuracy. That may seem high, but when children are reading by themselves, they need to be successful. Children who have difficulty reading words accurately are more likely to be off-task (Gambrell, Wilson, and Gantt, 1981).
Once you know their independent reading level, it is helpful to know which titles correspond to a particular level. One of the most popular is Fountas and Pinnell’s Gradient Text Levels. Using the letters of the alphabet, the researchers have examined thousands of children’s books and coded them according to ten characteristics: (1) genre/form; (2) text structure; (3) content; (4) themes and ideas; (5) language and literary features; (6) sentence complexity; (7) vocabulary; (8) word difficulty; (9) illustrations/graphics; and (10) book and print features. Another popular place to find leveled stories is a site called Reading A-Z.com. It is important to note that although Reading A-Z also uses an alphabetical system, they do not correspond exactly to Fountas and Pinnell’s.
To solve this problem, I created a chart to correlate the two systems with an approximate grade level equivalency. CLICK HERE to download your own printable copy!
Also, I’ve compiled lists of book titles and their genre according to their reading level. These lists are great to take to the library, or selecting e-books for your child’s device. Parents love these lists for summer reading suggestions.
Teachers also find the helpful for guided reading group suggestions. CLICK HERE to learn more about this resource.