Learning to Read
There are two different kinds of reading levels - one for the child and one for the book.
Let's start with the child first. As children learn to read, they have four different reading levels:
1. Independent - A child can read on his own. (See how to find books for this level.)
2. Instructional - A child can read with help.
3. Frustration - A child misses 5% of the words. (When you're learning to read, knowing 95% of the words doesn't give you an A. That missing 5% means frustration! Use the five finger test to avoid this level.)
4. Listening - A child understands what you read. (Children who cannot read understand the spoken word. This is why picture books have sophisticated language and beginning readers do not.)
Books also have reading levels.
There are many different systems for categorizing reading levels. (This is one of my tasks as an educational consultant.)
No matter which leveling system is adopted, books have 4 basic reading levels. These 4 levels roughly correspond with the first 4 levels of elementary school.
- Emergent = Kindergarten
- Early = First Grade
- Transitional = Second Grade
- Fluent = Third Grade
Beginning reader books are for children in the first three reading levels. When children reach the fourth level, fluency, they no longer need the simplified language and picture clues found in the beginning reader to help them read the story.