Do you remember what your favorite book was as a child? Go ahead; take a second to reminisce about those large books with the bright pictures and the memorable characters. When I was thinking about my favorite children’s books, a few came to mind such as Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day and The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Thinking back on those two books, I realized that I had been lumping them together as children’s books when in fact they were targeted for specific aged children. I remember reading, The Very Hungry Caterpillar when I was in preschool and Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day when I was in elementary school. Because of the different ages that I remember reading these books, I remembered that some books are divided into levels to help teachers, parents and children decided which books are right for their kids. However, when I went to research these levels, I realizeed how confusing it was.
Many books found in the children’s section of your local or school library tend to have seemingly random numbers or letters, usually on the spine. These numbers or letters correspond with a reading level. For children with a lower reading level, their books tend to have repetitive words and sentence structures to help them understand the meaning of the words (very similar to the Dick and Jane books that were popular in the 1950’s). Books for children with higher reading levels tend to have more complicated sentence structures and plots. One website I read (http://www.busykidshappymom.org/book-level-guide-for-parents/ ) mentioned that parents needed to ask their child’s teacher what their child’s reading level was if they intended to use the reading level system. Having to ask what reading level a child was in put up a red flag for me. Wasn’t there a simpler way such as saying 4-5 year olds tend to read these books? But I rationalized this red flag by thinking that some students, especially younger students, tend to read at very diverse levels so the parents may want to check with the teacher before they give their child a book that was too difficult or too easy to read.
When I began to look at specific books that corresponded with different reading levels, I realized that there was no uniform system identifying which children’s books went with each reading level. Many companies have different systems of labeling their books. For example, the Scholastic Guided Reading Program Levels are divided by letters such as F-N while the Common Core State Standards Lexile divides reading levels by numbers such as 450-620. Both of these examples of the reading levels are targeted for children in the second grade. Although these two groups are just examples, there are many other labeling systems for reading levels that correspond with different companies.
When looking at charts, like the one found here, (http://teacher.scholastic.com/products/classroombooks/browse_level.asp?eml=SSO/aff/20140501/VigLink/banner/CJ/affiliate/////11837433/&cj_linkd=11837433&cj_webid=6157437&cj_sid=i6n4b9oojc00xkod015j8&cj_affid=2470763&cj_affname=VigLink ) that describe the numbering or lettering system for reading levels, I was struck by how complicated it all was. And, I really do not think it needs to be this complicated. I believe that there should be a standard categorizing system for children’s books by reading levels to make it easier for teachers, parents and children to select an appropriate book for the appropriate reading level. Perhaps this notion is farfetched, but I believe it would be beneficial. Please let me know what you think. Thanks!