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Book Leveling in Schools: Measuring Readability

Book leveling is a way to organize books to match readers. It is most often used in primary classrooms.

Learning to Read

Teachers and tutors use many strategies to help non-readers become proficient readers.

Using a leveled book collection to help students select material that matches their reading ability is one strategy. When classroom collections are leveled, the books are arranged by reading levels instead of by author or genre or subject, as used in bookstores and libraries.

There are many systems for assigning a reading level:  Lexile, Accelerated Reader (ATOS), Guided Reading (A-Z), DRA (Developmental Reading Assessment), and many others. This LibGuide explains and illustrates some of the issues about leveled books.

Measuring Readability

There are many systems and formulas for measuring the reading level of a book. Not all books have a known reading level. Some commonly used readability measures are:

  • Lexile Readability Framework      100L - 1600L
  • Accelerated Reading (ATOS)       0.2 - 12.0
  • Guided Reading                            A - Z
  • DRA                                              1 - 80   
  • Reading Recovery                        1 - 22       

Text Leveling Correlation Guide - Click for a chart that compares five readability measures for grades K-6. (Permabound)

Find a Book's Reading Level

Sometimes a book cover includes a note (usually the back cover) about reading level, and Amazon.com often includes a Lexile level, but where else can you find the reading level for a specific book?

Several online resources give reading levels for children's books. You can also create a list of books for a specific reading level or a range of levels. OSU students and faculty can use the two specialized databases; anyone can go to the three public websites.

Terms to Know

Book leveling (also known as text leveling) is assigning a difficulty level to a selected book or to a collection of books.

Reading level is a measure of individual reading achievement or proficiency. Students of the same age or grade level often have wide variances in their reading levels. A single student might read alone at one level, with guidance at a slightly higher level, and with partial comprehension at an even higher level.

Readability is the level of difficulty of a text or passage (see also reading level). Many educators also note that readability is affected by size and spacing of print, visual clues from illustrations, length of the book, familiarity of the subject content, and other factors.

Readability formulas often use characteristics that can be measured objectively, such as word counts, syllable counts, sentence length, and word repetition. The well-known Flesch readability formula uses the number of syllables per 100 words and the average number of words per sentence.

Leveled classroom libraryThis classroom library appears to be leveled by the Guided Reading system (A-Z)

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