Literacy Library Resourcesguided Reading 101

Reading Levels are currently very popular in elementary and middle school classrooms. Reading Levels are system that ranks books in a way that can show how challenging a text may be. While many teachers, schools and districts rely heavily on reading levels to make instructional decisions, there are still some major considerations for when and how to use reading levels.

The lessons plans below are the lesson plans that I use for my guided reading groups and my daily five activities. The guided reading group plans are also based on the plans included in The Next Step in Guided Reading.I have simply placed them in form version Microsoft Word so that I could fill them in quickly and easily. With primary English resources for guided reading from Tes, you have a huge range of teaching ideas and activities for use in primary English lessons, including: - Guided reading activities - Games, flashcards, worksheets and challenges And that's just the beginning! In grades one through three – the primary grades – children learn about language and literacy through exploration. Within this age group, children's reading and writing skills vary greatly. A few children will enter first grade able to read with considerable fluency. Literacy development support. Alphabet Books Families' Literacy.

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Reading levels can be used in fantastic ways and, like any tool, they can be used in unhelpful ways. As a guiding tool, I find them extremely helpful. I have watched how some expert teachers know the reading levels so well that they can expertly guide a child through understanding a challenging book and know where that child might need help.

For parents, I think reading levels can help you understand what your child is able to do and what might be challenging for them in the books they are currently reading. Knowing reading levels can also help you know

* what kinds of books will be most supportive for your child,

* what kinds of challenges they might have, and

* how you can best support your child as they read.

Literacy library resourcesguided reading 101 lesson

Irene Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell (source), noted literacy experts, outline what reading levels are and what they are not:

They state very clearly that reading levels ARE:

* A tool for teachers to use when analyzing texts

* A tool for recording progress over time in reading

* A reference for teachers in planning lessons and teaching

* A support for teachers in helping readers make good choices for their independent reading (when necessary)

* A guide to determine whether readers are meeting grade level expectations

They state very clearly that a reading level text gradient is NOT:

* A label that students attach to themselves as readers

* An incentive for students to practice reading

* A way for students to compare themselves with others

Reading levels can be a beneficial tool for supporting readers as they are able to read more difficult texts. Reading levels can also help us know how to support readers and what kinds of things to look and listen for as they are becoming better readers over time.

However, I have also seen reading levels hold kids back or limit the books they can read. I have even had a very adamant six-year-old tell me that she would not read her homework book (a book on her reading level) because it was boring and in the next sentence tell me she was so excited to read Not Quite Narwal (which is well above her independent reading level (K)). This is not an isolated incident and illustrates how a child can read a challenging text when they are really interested in the topic.

Reading levels are being used in many classrooms across the country and can now even be found on Scholastic order forms and in bookstores. Since reading levels are so prevalent and they can be a helpful tool, let’s talk a little about what makes a reading level, some considerations, and what it means for reading at home.

There are numerous reading leveling systems, however, reading levels represented by letters A-Z developed by Irene Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell seem to be the most popular. When I was a Literacy Specialist for a large urban school district, we chose to use the A-Z levels because there was more teacher support available for the A-Z leveling system and more publishers using the A-Z leveling system for their materials and books for kids. Additionally, there were several major assessments capitalizing on the A-Z leveling system.

To create the reading levels, Fountas and Pinnell (source) consider these 10 characteristics:

* Genre

* Text Structure

* Content

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* Themes and Ideas

* Language and Literacy Features

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* Sentence Complexity

* Vocabulary

* Words

* Illustrations

* Book and Print Features

Choose non-fiction texts with interesting topics, images, and descriptions that will appeal to your child.

Choose texts that have great examples of high-quality writing.

For younger readers, look at the illustrations to make sure that nonfiction texts include simple graphics that will help your child learn how to blend the information from the graphics and the text.

For readers who are reading more difficult texts, look at the illustrations to make sure that nonfiction texts include complex graphics that will help your child learn how to combine information from the graphics and the words in the text.

Make sure that fiction texts have high quality illustrations (if applicable) that add to the meaning of the text and communicate the mood.

Select texts that have deeper messages (like honesty, friendship, empathy, or kindness) so your child can think deeply about a text.

Click on the button underneath the boxes below to learn about the kinds of books at each level, what readers typically need to be able to do at each level, and book recommendations at each level.

Want to learn more from Fountas and Pinnell, visit their site:

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Erin is a parent and educator who is passionate about helping kids become the best readers, writers, and critical thinkers they can be.
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Is It a Scholarly Journal or Not?

Periodicals, including journals, magazines, and newspapers, are important sources for up-to-date information in all disciplines. With a periodical collection as large and diverse as the Salmon Library's, it is often difficult to distinguish between the various levels of scholarship found in the print and electronic collection. In this guide we have divided the criteria for periodical literature into four categories:

1. Scholarly
2. Substantive News / General Interest
3. Popular
4. Sensational
Reference Resources


Scholarly journals are concerned with academic study, especially research. They always cite their sources in the form of footnotes or bibliographies. Scholarly journals focus on reports of original research or experimentation in a specific academic discipline. Written by scholars in the field, scholarly journals assume the reader's familiarity with the language, terms, and methods in that subject. The journals are serious in appearance with little or no advertising. While the articles may contain graphs, maps, or charts, they rarely contain illustrations or photographs.

Sources used in the article always offer the research citations used, either in footnotes or bibliographies. Most articles are reviewed by other scholars in that field before publication. Often they are published by scholarly or professional organizations.

Examples of Scholarly Journals:

Reading Literacy Skills

• American Economic Review
• Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis
• JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association
• Journal of Marriage and the Family
• Modern Fiction Studies
• Sex Roles: A Journal of Research

Most online databases allow a researcher to limit searches to academic or scholarly journal articles. The phrasing for this limit varies according to the database used. The terms found most often in the databases are: peer-reviewed, scholarly, or refereed.

Refereed materials have been extensively reviewed by scholars in that field of study prior to publication, and are also referred to as peer-reviewed. Although all refereed journal articles are almost always considered scholarly, the term scholarly is not exclusive to refereed/peer-reviewed materials. Non-refereed materials can still be considered scholarly even if they have not been subjected to the rigorous process of peer-review. Use caution when selecting this checkbox in a database, as the meaning of it may differ depending upon the database being used. If in doubt, you can often verify if a journal is refereed by reviewing the authors document on the publication’s website.

Ulrich’s Periodical Directory can also be used to verify whether or not a journal is scholarly. After locating a periodical title in this database, view the Complete Record and scroll down to the Document Type field. If the journal is scholarly, it will indicate:
Journal; Academic-Scholarly-Publication.

Substantive News / General Interest

These periodicals or magazines provide information to a broad audience interested in a particular field or subject. They may be quite attractive in appearance, although some are in newspaper format. Articles are often heavily illustrated, generally with photographs. News and general interest periodicals sometimes cite sources, although usually they do not. A member of the editorial staff, a scholar or a free lance writer may write the articles.

Because the purpose of these publications is to provide information to a broad, but educated audience, the language is less scholarly than the scholarly journals. Commercial enterprises or individuals generally publish these periodicals, but a professional or trade organization may also sponsor their publication.

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Sources of the research used may be mentioned in the text, but the articles may not necessarily include footnotes or bibliographies. These periodicals often include advertising.

Examples of Substantive News / General Interest Periodicals:

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• Christian Science Monitor
• Economist
• National Geographic
• New York Times
• Scientific American
• Vital Speeches of the Day


Most academic libraries do not carry many of these magazines. Popular periodicals are published to entertain and to meet the interests of a general audience. The cover and pages of these magazines are usually glossy and attractive. The articles are short and written for a minimal educational level. The articles are not cited and the information in them may be second or third hand. Lots of color illustrations and photographs are used. Advertising is heavy, because they are commercially published. As a result of the commercial marketing, they may promote the owners' or advertisers' viewpoint or agenda.

Examples of Popular Periodicals:

• Ebony
• Parents
• People Weekly
• Readers Digest
• Sports Illustrated
• Time
• Vogue


Sensational periodicals come in a variety of styles. Written at an elementary level, they assume a certain gullibility in their audience. Flashy headlines and sensational photographs are used to arouse readers' interest. They are designed to appeal to popular curiosity, fear, and superstition. Neither academic nor public libraries carry these periodicals.

Examples of Sensational Periodicals:

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• Globe
• National Examiner
• Star
• Weekly World News

Reference Resources

The Salmon Library has several reference books and online resources that describe and evaluate periodicals. One good source is the Standard Periodical Directory (AP2.45 .S78 2010). Our newest copy is held in Reference, but another copy is on the 2nd floor and is available for checkout.

Ulrich's Periodical Directory is available under Online Databases on the library's homepage. It offers brief descriptions of periodical titles.

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