Knowing Text Difficulty and Child Reading Level
As a teacher knowing the level of difficulty of each book in my room was a must. Then knowing at what level my students were reading at, was required. Putting the two together allowed me to make sure that each kid was reading books at just the right level.
Finding out these two areas took some time and the correct tools. Here is how I did it…
I use a website called The Lexile Framework for Reading – https://lexile.com/. When you first go to this website you will want to register for a free account.
After you create a free account, take time to look at this box. It lets you know what levels your child should be at. Then I bought round sticker labels of different colors, so that I could color code each one of my books.
For example, all books that receive a lexile level of 100-200 gets a green sticker. Books that receive a lexile level of 201-350 gets a blue sticker. I continue this process for all of the books up to level 800 right now, because that is the level that my oldest daughter struggles with. This way, I can tell right away if my child is reading a book at their level or not.
To figure out which color sticker each book receives, I type in the title of the book in the lexile quick book search. The lexile reading level site then comes up with a number for the book. Then I can know right away what color sticker it needs. For example, if I type in the book “Charlotte’s Web,” it comes up with the number 680. I would then give it the sticker that matched that number.
I can also use the quick book search at the library, so I know that the books they are reading are not too easy and not too hard for them to read on their own. If they really want to get a book at the library and its’ lexile reading level is too hard for them to read on their own, tell them that you can read the book together.
Finding Your Child’s Reading Level
Then you will want to find out what each child’s lexile level is. So here is what I do. I have my son/daughter read from three different books at three different levels. So my oldest daughter is in third grade. I look at the lexil table (at the top of this post). For third grade she should be reading around 500-820 lexile level. So I will get one book around the 500 mark, another book around the 650 mark and then the last book will be around 800. I copy one page out of each book, making two copies of each page. Then I label each page with its’ lexile reading level. Then I put the lowest level page in front of her and see how many words she can read in one minute correctly. As she reads, I follow along on my paper. If she misses a word, I cross it off and do not count it. When the minute is up I write how many words she read correctly at the top of the page.
Then look at the fluency table at https://www.readinga-z.com/fluency/fluency-standards-table/. Look only at the last two columns that read early rate and end rate. The early rate is where your child should be at the beginning of the year. The end rate is where they should be at the end of the year.
So for my daughter at the beginning of third grade, she should be able to read 100 words per minute. Now, I can look back at the printed page that she just read and see how many words she read correctly. If she read more than 100 words per minute, then I would put the next printed page in front of her that is a little bit harder. Start the timer over again and have her read for one minute. If she reads close to 100 words per minute with this story, then I know that she is closer to a 650 level. If she reads more than 100 words again then I continue on with the next harder paper. If she can read through these three stories, then I find a page out of another book, whose lexile reading level is higher.
This is how you figure out at what level your child is reading at.
Why Doing All of This Helps
Having your child read books that are below their own reading capability, is okay sometimes. If all they do is read books way below their reading level, then their growth in vocabulary will be slower. Also, they will have a harder time learning reading concepts at their grade level, if the books that they are reading do not have enough meat to learn different ideas from. To help with reading comprehension http://www.homeschoolingwomenofgod.com/third-grade-reading-task-cards/.
If your child tries to read books that are too hard, than their comprehension ability will falter. Also, most kids tend to keep reading even if they do not understand what they are reading. They will also skip words they do not know, which leads to holes in their comprehension. It is okay if you read a harder book with them and then stop every so once in awhile to make sure that they understand what you are reading.
Reading books that are just right for them, helps their confidence grow, their ability to comprehend gets better and their reading skills grow at just the right pace.
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