Have you ever worried about whether your child is reading well enough for their age group? It’s possible that they are not. It is also possible that they are reading much better than their peers. The difference in reading skills can be attributed to reasons ranging from the varying degrees of access to education and books to difficulties your child might face on a more individual level. Hence, it is unfair to compare all children by the same yardstick. A five-year-old living in a small town and a five-year-old living in a big city will not have the same level of exposure to the English language. Hence, a difference in reading abilities is to be expected.
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Using reading levels, rather than reading skills defined by age groups, is a better framework to assist children. This guide will help you understand which level to choose to cater to the specific needs of your child.
Level 1 books, as you will guess, are meant for emergent readers who are just starting their reading journey. These books rely heavily on pictures. Words can range from 0 to 250. Some of these books will only have around 50 words. Short sentences, simple words, big fonts, rhyming words, and rhythm define these books. All of this helps a child in reading with ease and rhyme and rhythm contribute to imprinting language and words in a child’s mind. We still remember a lot of nursery rhymes because they were crafted with a rhythm. This is precisely what Level 1 books try to achieve. Imprinting language in children’s minds will help them be comfortable with it.
Level 2 stories cater to children who are learning to read. These stories have linear plots that are engaging. Rhythm and rhyme continue to be important, but the plot is just as important, if not more important, in Level 2 storybooks. These books put forward simple concepts and can range anywhere between 250-600 words.
If your child has started reading independently, with little assistance, then it’s time to give them a Level 3 storybook. These books can be split into genres like mystery, adventure, fantasy, and the like. They will range from 600 to 1500 words. Another unique feature is that characters will be well sketched out in a Level 3 storybook. Characters are as important as the plot of the story. This is the stage when you can expect your child to start developing a fondness for specific characters.
Can your child read proficiently? Have they stopped facing difficulties with reading long sentences? Can they read sentences fluently without taking pauses? Then your child is ready to start reading Level 4 books. These books feature long stories with complex, nuanced plots. Language play in the form of metaphors and similes can also be found. If your child understands them it means that they have started comprehending language on a more conceptual level, helping them to interlink ideas with each other. These books will cover a wide range of words and vocabulary and will be above 1500 words.