Leveling Books

teacher with students

Elementary teachers often need to know the systems for leveling books used in their school district. This way, they can help parents choose the best storybook for their child.

Systems for Leveling Books

Knowing the reading level of books allows teachers, and parents who understand the system, choose appropriate titles to encourage a child's reading ability. A leveled book is one that has been classified into a particular system that describes different stages of reading ability. Rather than searching for a list of children's books for ages 4-8, or by grade level, teachers can instead recommend books for their students based upon their reading level alone.

Various publishing companies and teaching/reading experts have created systems for classification of books. Different systems are used in schools and libraries across the country. Knowing just a few of the systems can help teachers understand which books are appropriate for the particular student.

  • Fountas and Pinnell is a system set by the alphabet. A is for the easiest levels and the system becomes more difficult as the alphabet progresses.
  • The Lexile Measure is another system of classifying books. This system matches a student's reading ability with books that are near his or her range. Various programs, tests and assessments can offer teachers and parents a Lexile score for a student, and then match it to the appropriately scored book.
  • Rigby has a systems of levels set up in their PM Resources that are categorized by colors. Each color corresponds to a particular grade level and numbered level (up to fifth grade and level 30).

Because no two systems are alike, and there are many more systems than the few listed above, it is important to understand how the various systems match up to one another. Plenty of websites have this information available for comparison in handy charts. Find a few of them online at:

For a quick overview of some of the more widely used programs for leveling books, visit Hoagies' Gifted Education Page. It contains tidbits of information and helpful links on programs from Accelerated Reader to Flesch-Kincaid Index.

Online Leveling Resources

Once familiarized with the reading levels of books, parents and teachers can now seek out books that fall into the leveling system they understand. However, analyzing and categorizing books is a tedious task. Online tools help make leveling books easier.


BooksFirst! is a non-profit dedicated to promoting reading by helping classrooms with their book needs. In addition to having an Internet database searchable by title, author, series or level, BooksFirst! offers up information on finding a book level that isn't in the database and tips for leveling books.

A to Z Teacher Stuff

A to Z Teacher Stuff has two databases for searching titles. One searches for books in the Guided Reading and Reading Recovery programs, while the other finds titles available in the Accelerated Reader system. Search by title, author, keyword or level to find suitable books.


The Scholastic Teacher Book Wizard Leveled Search is a great tool for finding books that are suitable for any child's needs using one of four systems. Additionally, teachers can narrow down results by setting preferences for book types, subjects or genre.

Book Suggestions

If you do not have the time to figure out your child's reading level or become an expert on the numerous systems out there, you can still find some books for your child using their age and grade level as a guiding point. These LoveToKnow Children's Books articles may offer some good suggestions for your child's library:

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Leveling Books