I am often asked, to recommend books to children, based on their age.
This is a hard question to answer, not only from unknown interest level, but also age. Age is not a guide to reading ability or comprehension levels.
Reading develops through stages not ages.
Your child’s chronological age is not necessarily the same as their reading age. Finding your child’s reading age, will help find books which are at their level to read.
When a child is given a book to read, it will either be, easy, instructional or hard.
Easy/Independent – Books which help develop a child’s fluency. expression and comprehension skills.
Instructional – Books which help children learn new decoding skills, comprehension skills or vocabulary.
Hard – Books which cause frustration and loss of reading confidence in children.
Reading Age and Reading Comprehension Age are often different in children. Your child may be reading at age 11, yet their comprehension age may only be 8. (This will be discussed further in a later post) Your child’s school may be focussing either on your child’s comprehension skills or decoding (reading) skills.
There are a few ways to find your child’s reading age.
Ask your child’s teacher.
I firmly believe education is a partnership between home and school. Open communication from both home and school will help your child reach their full potential.
Your child should have been assessed by the school, to find their reading level. Most schools use standardised texts and a running record which are produced by companies specifically for finding a child’s reading levels.
Schools may sort their books into any of the following categories, or a mixture of categories:
- Reading Age
- Fountas and Pinnell Levels A-Z
- PM Benchmark Levels 1-30 and Colours
- Reading Recovery Levels 1-40
- DRA Levels 1-70
- Lexile Levels Below Level – 1140
Be clear when you are speaking to the school about the reasons for knowing your child’s reading level. What will you be doing with the information? Schools may be reluctant to give out this information if they think it will be used to ‘push’ the child beyond their limits, to compare the child to others or if they feel it will be detrimental at all to the child’s emotional, physical, mental or social well being.
Buying Standardised Tests
If you are a home-schooler or a parent who would like an opinion from an outside source, there are some companies which your child can sit tests (often online) and they will give a reading age and reading comprehension age. Please do your own research. I have not tested any companies, so I am hesitant to recommend any here. Once I research more, I can share my thoughts on some different tests available.
Home Reading Test
BURT is a well-researched reading test, which is used regularly in schools around Australia.
Instructions and the test can be downloaded via the following link.
This test when completed will give a reading age, not a comprehension age.
Once you have your child’s raw score, you can find their Lexile level.
Once you have your child’s Lexile level you can find books which should be in the instructional range for your child.
Books with Lexile Levels can be found at the following link.
Confirm Reading Age
As we know, not all tests are accurate for all children. To confirm your child’s reading age, look for the following information.
When your child is reading a Lexile levelled book in their reading age range note the amount of errors:
- 0-1 error when reading 100 words – this means the book is easy for your child. These books, as mentioned above are great for reading independently, comprehension and fluency.
- 2-4 errors when reading 100 words – this means the book is at an instructional level for your child. These books when read with an adult, will improve a child’s decoding skills, comprehension skills and extend their vocabulary.
- 5 or more errors when reading 100 words – this means the book is frustrating for your child to read, they will have limited comprehension skills and decoding new words will be hard. You may like to read these books during a shared reading time.
Remember to give your child a chance to read purely for enjoyment. Let them read books of interest and not always ‘Instructional’ texts. Make reading a past time rather than a chore.
The above information only looks at the reading age of your child. Comprehension is a crucial part of reading. Ask your child questions about the books they read to ensure they are understanding what they are reading. (More on this next post)
There is a fun iPad app, which gives a very rough reading comprehension age. It costs $2.99 and gives a list of cloze exercises, where a child has to read for meaning to choose the right word. It is called Nessy’s What’s My Reading Age?
And most importantly, do not compare your child to their siblings, other children or other family members. Each child is individual and needs to progress through each stage of reading development.