Lexile? AR? F&P? What's the Story With Reading Levels?

Two boys sitting back-to-back while reading

Looking for books that match your child’s reading level? Confused by all the options and leveling systems? Never fear, you’re not alone! We’re here to help demystify the leveling landscape.

With the exception of our beginning readers, the Denver Public Library organizes books by subject (nonfiction via the Dewey 
Decimal System) or author (fiction) rather than reading level. Beginning readers, also sometimes called “early” or “easy” 
readers, usually consist of sight words and words that are easy to decode using phonics. In addition, the font is large, 
clear and readable. Denver Public Library organizes our beginning readers into four areas, each progressing in complexity:

jR - green spine label
jR1 - yellow spine label
jR2 - blue spine label
jR3 - red spine label

Every publisher assigns a different leveling system to their beginning readers. One publisher’s “Level C” may be another 
publisher’s “Level 1”. While we do our best to group similar reading levels together, it isn’t a perfect science. And once 
your child moves on from beginning readers to short chapter books, there’s a whole new set of challenges.

Here are some additional tools to help you find just the right book for your child:

Five Finger Rule
Open the book to any page and have your child read aloud. For every word they don’t know, hold up a finger. 
0-1 fingers = easy
2 fingers = still okay, might be a bit challenging at times
3 fingers = a challenge, might need some help reading
4-5 fingers = too difficult, might want to read aloud to your child

NoveList K-8 Plus
NoveList K-8 Plus is a database where you can search for books for kids (and teens!) by title, author, series, genre or reading level. It also has great “read-alike” lists. NoveList K-8 Plus uses the Lexile scale to determine reading level. 

Leveling Systems Used by Schools
Currently, Denver Public Schools uses a variety of leveling systems, the most common being Lexile and Accelerated Reader
There are comparison charts available, such as Perma Bound’s Text Leveling Correlation Guide, to see how different leveling 
systems relate to one and other.

There’s an App for That
You can also purchase apps, such as A Reader’s Tool Kit and Literacy Leveler (available for both Apple & Android devices), 
to help you determine the reading level of a particular book.

Your Friendly Neighborhood Librarian
Consult your local librarian! We’re always happy to recommend great books for independent reading, family read alouds or 
school projects.

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