DRA, AR, Lexile, Guided Reading, OH MY!

Depending on your child’s teacher, school, or school district, he might be using DRA (Developmental Reading Assessment), AR (Accelerated Reader), Lexile, Guided Reading, etc…there are a number of ways to level books which can make labeling books and creating lists somewhat tricky. If you recall from this post last week, it is hard for a public library to label its books with so many different leveled reading programs.

One of our favorite resources to use at the Stark County District Library is the NoveList Plus database. (Click the link, and then scroll to the N section for NoveList Plus.)

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You can use this database to search for read alike books to popular children’s and teens’ titles. You can also search by Grade level, Lexile, and/or Accelerated Reading level.

Here are some other ways you can find books that fit the needs of students.

It’s important to keep this fact in mind as you search: Just because your child is in a specific grade level, does not mean he/she reads at that grade level. These reading systems are intended to help students find books within their reading levels.

It’s also important to remember children need to be able to find books that interest them. They are more likely to read the book and retain the information if it is something they have chosen and want to read. It is also important to note that reading with a friend, parent, or caregiver is also VERY beneficial!

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Finding the Right Book

You may have noticed every school district or classroom uses some sort of leveled reading system to help students choose the “right” book based on fluency and comprehension. It is hard for a public library serving so many different school districts to provide this same support for readers–mostly because the books would have so many numbers or letters on them, it would be hard to find the title or author. Instead, we can use a slightly different system to help young readers find just the right book–and parents, you can use this, too!

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  • Find out what your child has enjoyed reading in the last year.
    • What are his two or three favorite books?
    • What does he know a lot about?
    • What are his favorite stories? authors? series?
    • What does he want to know more about?
  • It is important to get an idea of your child’s reading level and fluency rate. Choose one of the books he has read and enjoyed, ask him to tell you what it is about, and read a page from the book. Talking about the book gives you an idea on comprehension and reading aloud gives you an idea on how well he can read without making mistakes for this book. This gives you the opportunity to find something similar in vocabulary and reading level.
  • Once you have an idea about reading level and interests, you can begin searching for a book he might enjoy. It is important to find two or three choices. Browse the books together and talk about them. Get to know what he is thinking about as a reader through casual conversation. Talk about the pictures, the story, the characters, and point out interesting things in the book.
  • The storyline is the most important part during this casual conversation. Don’t get bogged down with vocabulary, yet.
  • Now that he has chosen a book or two, use the Five Finger Rule to determine if it would be a good independent read. Ask him to read aloud the first page, holding up one finger every time he gets to a word he doesn’t know. It’s okay to help him. But if he reaches five words before the end of the page, it’s probably going to be a harder book for him to read on his own. (Don’t put it away, though, as it might be a great choice for you to read aloud to him. Reading independently does not have to be the end goal! Reading together is very beneficial.)
  • Take the book home and read it over and over! Ask your child questions about it. Relate the book to his own life or interests. He is more likely to remember it.

Stay tuned for another blog post next week on how the library can help you find books using Accelerated Reader (AR), Lexile, DRA, and grade level.