Reading Levels Explained

Have you ever been shown your child’s reading level and wondered exactly what it means? This guide will help you to understand what guidelines define each reading level. You’ll also find links to our free leveled reading worksheets which can be used to both assess reading levels and provide reading practice.

When looking at a child’s reading level, keep in mind that there is a difference between instructional vs. independent reading level. The instructional reading level will be a little higher than the independent reading level. The instructional reading level is what a student reads while receiving help from a teacher, tutor, or parent. You can help with with blending, vocabulary, and new sight words. The independent reading level is what a child can read all alone (independently) while reading and comprehending the majority of the text.

Our free leveled reading texts are best suited for instructional reading levels. Once you know a child’s independent reading level, you can grab appropriate books from you local library or bookstore for your child to practice reading on their own. Also, when we refer to levels, we are usually refering to Fountas & Pinnell (F&P) levels, but there are corresponding Lexile and DRA levels as well. You can find charts that show all three levels with a simple online search.

Read on to see what you should look for when finding a leveled textbook?

What is a Level A reading level?

Fountas & Pinnell (F&P) Level A corresponds to the earliest stage of a child’s reading development, typically in kindergarten or pre-kindergarten. At this level, children are just starting to understand that written text carries a message. The texts are extremely simple, with one basic idea per book. They generally consist of one word or a simple sentence on a page, supported by clear and engaging pictures.

Key features of F&P Level A sentences are:

  1. They are typically very simple and short.
  2. They often use repetitive syntax (sentence structures) for easier comprehension.
  3. They use high-frequency, easy-to-understand words that are common in the English language.
  4. They are usually predictable, allowing the child to use the pictures to help predict the text.
  5. They are written in a conversational style, similar to the language children hear around them.

Download our free grades K and 1 fluency passages to print and use with your child.

What is the Level B reading level?

Fountas & Pinnell (F&P) Level B is a slightly more advanced reading level compared to Level A. In Level B, children are beginning to develop a deeper understanding of print concepts and are starting to read simple, predictable texts.

Key features of F&P Level B sentences are:

  1. Sentences might be a bit longer and more complex than in Level A.
  2. The texts often use repetitive, predictable sentence patterns, but with more variety than in Level A.
  3. There’s typically a direct correlation between the text and the pictures to support comprehension.
  4. The books may introduce new vocabulary or concepts, but they are illustrated to make understanding easier.
  5. There may be simple storylines or main ideas that the children can understand.

Download our free grades K and 1 fluency passages to print and read with your child.