Handy Reading Level Lists

by Ivory Soap on 01/22/2011

Thank you for visiting Little House in the Suburbs. If you like what you see, please SUBSCRIBE.

I don’t know how many states use the Accelerated Reader program for their schools, but I have generated some lists of AR books in order of reading difficulty.

Even though I homeschool, I like using these lists to know what order to hand new books to my kids.

For example, the first Amelia Bedelia is the second hardest in the whole series. So, since I have my list, I know what order to give them to my kids to keep them from getting frustrated.

I have included:

There have been plenty of criticisms of the AR rating system, most notably that their books are rated too low.  A child who is halfway through second grade *should* be reading at a 2.5, but may find that 2.1 is challenging enough.  I especially find this true of picture books.

I don’t know what the reading level formula is with AR, but it doesn’t seem to take into account that picture books are written to be read by adults. There’s LOTS of unusual words, phonetic exceptions, and funny fonts that would never show up in an easy reader or early chapter book.  So, I have to knock my kids’ reading level back a bit in picture books so they don’t get frustrated.  And I still sit with them the first time they read it to give them the weird words.

For example, Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus is supposed to be something a kindergarten kid can read (.9)?  It’s got contractions and the word PIGEON on the cover!  And the type is not standard at all.  My daughter, a first grade reader,  would go nuts trying to read it.  And my oldest, who reads at a second grade level, could only read it after I helped him with it the first time through.

Regardless, I find that the system does seem to rate equally difficult books together within a category (middle grade, easy readers, picture books).  I may not agree with the number they chose, but I generally agree that all the books they put at that difficulty level are the same.  That helps me chose “the next” book for my kids, and that’s all I’m really interested in.


{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Granola Girl January 22, 2011 at 7:58 pm

Do you use the AR tests which accompany the books? After working in an AR elementary school and now homeschooling my son, I’m wholly unimpressed. They seem to only be direct regurgitation and only surface level comprehension. There are few to any questions that really require inferential thinking or higher level analysis of the actual story. I was curious if you used these, what was your take? If you don’t, is there another type of assessment that you prefer?

Ivory Soap January 23, 2011 at 1:01 pm

I don’t use any assessments. We’re homeschooled. I just use the rating system as a way to find books of similar difficulty.

Stephanie January 23, 2011 at 3:13 pm

another good resource that we use in the school… http://www.arbookfind.com/ will tell you the approximate grade level that a book is written on, as well as the interest level which will give you an age grouping.

You can also use the advanced search to find age level appropriate books written at a high level for those younger readers that are high achievers.

Jennifer January 23, 2011 at 10:49 pm

I was completely amazed at the grade levels assigned to many of the books on the mid grade list, especially when it rated the LOTR trilogy at a 6th grade level and rated the Hobbit as more difficult than LOTR. As a mom who has read both to her kiddos I can tell you that LOTR is a much more difficult read than the Hobbit, and defintely not at the level of most 6th graders. Both were a delight to read aloud especially the Hobbit which I think was just made to be read aloud….a feast for the mouth!

Sara January 26, 2011 at 11:06 am

Thank you so much! I have been looking for a grade level list of classic books. We homeschool, and it’s hard to know what level is appropriate for each of my readers, and then to find books within that level!


Faith January 27, 2011 at 10:27 am

I remember that you wrote a book last year…I had trouble find the post about it. This is something I am in the process of…illustrators? How did you go about finding one
for your book?


Donna Kay February 4, 2011 at 12:37 am

So, I’m freaking out!! I stumbled upon your fabulous site a couple months ago and it’s one of the VERY few things I manage to make time for these days. I recently started homeschooling and virtually all my expendable activities have been abandoned for that reason, BUT the tiny time I’ve had for myself has been spent gleening all I can from your inspired wisdom & wit. And NOW I find that you homeschool too?! As if everything else wasn’t addictive enough! And what’s this I read about you writing a book? Please bless me with the title; I wish I had more time to dig for it. I swear this site was completely designed to guide me through all my newest endeavers (chickens, goats, self-sufficiency, natural alternatives, homeschool!) and I can’t thank you enough! I really just leaped into all this (with no clue WHAT I’m doing, only WHY) and was so nervous, but you make things so simple! So, yes. Totally blown away and way excited! Girl, you give me hope!!

donna daniel April 6, 2011 at 11:39 am

lookig for 2nd grade ar books

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: