One of the most frequent questions that we get asked as a team is, “What’s my child’s reading level?” Or: “What books is she supposed to read at her age?” Or: “Is that book challenging enough?”
The short answer to those questions is that love of reading thrives on pleasure. We, as adults, know it very well. We are a lot more likely to work out if we find what works well for our bodies. We are quite likely to stick with the company of people we enjoy having around. We are most likely to make a career out of a profession we love.
Same goes for reading. Your child is going to love reading about things they enjoy. There are lots of educated and well-accomplished adults who won’t shun a great picture book. We won’t assume that their reading level lies at a grade one level. We know that the messages in some books are so profound that they find their audience around many ages.
There is no right level for your child when it comes to their interest. When helping them choose their next great book, keep in mind that there are two key approaches. Some kids have low reading ability, but good comprehension and maturity level. Those kids will benefit from great read alouds, audio books and shared reading experiences. Some kids can read hard texts, but their level of comprehension and maturity are lower. Those readers would benefit from shared discussions and check-ins for understanding. Be ready to have meaningful dialogues, exchange opinions and ask questions.
Comprehension is closely related to memory and ability to orally retell. If your child keeps turning the pages of a book but can’t properly tell you what the book is about, there is always a chance that they might still understand the plot. Usually children who really struggle with comprehension won’t sustain reading for a long time. After all, it’s pretty boring to sit still for prolonged periods of time if the black and white script does not come alive.
If you decide to look up the ‘levels’ of the books, please keep in mind that Lexile measures a decoding ability, or in simple words, an ability to read most words in a book. While an easy reading level, a book might explore more sophisticated topics and have content that a child is not be ready for.
Modern children receive information from multiple information sources. Reading needs to be encouraged and promoted to pique their interest. Just like a weekly movie night, families might want to incorporate weekly reading nights with snacks, blankets and sharing some highlights of the books they are reading. It’s a calming, grounding activity, proven to create new neuropaths in our brains. Once practised regularly, it turns into a habit. Happy reading, everyone!