River Forest Public Library River Forest Public Library

September Family Literacy Tip

Don’t Worry About Reading Level

One of the most frequent questions we get from grownups here at the library relates to reading levels. Whether that is “Where are the books for 3rd graders?” or “I only want my child to read books which are Level M.” Thus, this month’s family literacy tip looks a little bit different. 

When coming to the library, let reading just be for fun. Teachers will take care of reading levels and such in the classroom. While selecting books at the public library, simply choose books that sound interesting. Pick formats your children enjoy. Graphic novels are still reading and, at the end of the day, will help your budding reader build more confidence which will help them advance in the classroom. 

We shelve our books by format, not by reading level. Everybody learns differently and every reader likes different books! Instead of worrying about which titles are which levels, find topics your child is interested in. Let your 4th grader pick out a mountain of picture books. Let your 2nd grader try to read Rick Riordan. By letting your child pick their own books, you keep reading as a fun activity. 

That 4th grader reading picture books will absorb more stories that way and will have the confidence of having finished several books rather than getting through a single title. Your comic fiend can read graphic novel adaptations of classic stories and better engage in the material by having taken in the story in a format that they enjoy. Even (and perhaps most particularly) audiobooks will help keep reading fun. 

All this to say, don’t worry about levels and difficulty when coming to the public library. As long as your children are interested in the books they select, everything else will come with time. Instead of asking for Level P books, come in asking for books about your child’s favorite sport. If your child has a particular special interest in a period of history or a certain animal, we are happy to find books like that for them. Reading, like any other skill, comes with practice. And the practice needs to be enjoyable for the skill to develop. Save the reading levels for the classroom.