The start of the school year brings some new reading terms for parents of children in the early grades. Many teachers use Guided Reading to teach reading. The days of everyone reading together out of one book has been replaced by small-group instruction. The small groups are composed of children that have similar Guided Reading Levels (GRLs). The level is assessed on a child’s word-knowledge, comprehension and fluency. These levels are also used to determine a child’s independent reading level.
Fountas and Pinnell, (F & P) is one of the most popular assessment tools. The levels range alphabetically from A to Z, with level A representing the lowest level and level Z the highest. This allows the teacher to work closely with each student to help them become better readers by introducing them to increasingly challenging books and instructional focus.
How Are Book Levels Determined?
Books are assigned Guided Reading Levels based on several general expectations and capabilities of a reader. As the levels progress, the books become more difficult. Each level is based upon the increasing complexity of ten benchmark common book characteristics that readers encounter at all stages of the reading process from when your child picks up his or her first book through the time when he or she becomes a fluent reader. These guided reading categories are:
- Themes and Ideas: Big ideas communicated by the author
- Genre: Type of book
- Text Structure: How the book is organized
- Content: Subject matter of a book
- Sentence Complexity: Difficulty of the sentence
- Language and Literacy: The writing techniques used by the writer.
- Vocabulary: The frequency of new words introduced in the book.
- Words: How easy the words in the book can be figured out (decoded) by a reader
- Illustrations: The correlation and consistency of images and pictures in the books to the words printed on the page
- Book and Print Features: How the printed words are on the page.
How Can I Find Books at My Child’s Guided Reading Level?
Ask your child’s teacher for the appropriate Guided Reading Level (GRL) to practice reading at home. In the classroom, books are often labeled so kids can easily grab a book at their reading level. Your school or local librarian can be helpful to find books at your child’s level. Many book publishers also include a Guided Reading Level on their books.