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Three Reading Levels to Know When Selecting Books for Your Child

by Esmy Lozano

Question: Is it helpful to know your child’s reading grade level when selecting books?

Answer: Simply knowing your child’s reading grade level is not enough information to make book selections, especially if your child is struggling with reading.

Question: Should you select books that are difficult for your child to read on their own?

Answer: Yes and no. Read on to learn when and how to better expose your child to books that are difficult for them. As a tutor, I use the QRI6 reading assessment tool. The results of this reading assessment, which is an assessment I administer for free by signing up at can provide valuable information. Below, I list the three reading levels you need to know as a parent, and I detail what each reading level reveals about your child’s reading skills.

The independent reading level is the reading level at which your child can read without assistance from you or a tutor. At this level, your child can read independently and can attain good reading comprehension. It is also an enjoyable read for your child, and their confidence is sky-high when reading at this independent reading level.

At the instructional reading level, your child can read the book but will require some instruction from you or a tutor.

This means that there might be some phonic patterns that your child has not yet mastered, but they can master them with some guided instruction as they read. The comprehension is good and reading books at your child’s instructional reading level will help them move on to the next reading grade level.

The frustration reading level is the level at which your child stumbles over every word. There is no reading enjoyment for your child or for you as a parent when you hear them struggle.

As a result of your child’s limited decoding skills, the comprehension is little to none. Do not frustrate or push your child to read a book that is at their frustrating reading level; otherwise, your child will develop a distaste for reading.

Question: How can know your child’s different reading levels influence your book selections?

Answer: Often when your child is reading below grade level, you might tend to expose them only to simple decodable books for reading.

This is not recommended.

These decodable books have their role, mainly to provide independent practise for beginning readers. Move your child beyond decodable books.

It is vital that you provide independent level books for your child to read, but you also need to help build a bridge to books that challenge your child’s reading skills. With some instruction from you or a tutor, your child will be able to decode and comprehend what they read. Hence, moving up in reading grade level quicker.


Reading books above your child’s reading level will frustrate your child if they try to read them on their own. In fact, even guided reading at the frustration reading level will not help your child at this point of their reading development.

If you do force your child to read these books, you will find yourself teaching every other word, if not every word. Let’s stay away from books that frustrate your child for now; instead, I recommend that you or a tutor read aloud to your child.


What you might not realize is that while your child may not be able to read at their grade level, they can still listen to stories written above their grade level.

When you have a struggling reader, you need to be proactive and expose them to books of all genres and reading levels. This can be accomplished through reading aloud to your child. Reading books aloud opens a new world for your struggling reader.

Reading aloud to your child gives them the opportunity to hear the books that their peers are reading and helps them to continue to be part of the bigger conversation.

How will reading books beyond my child’s reading level help my child?

Your child has a higher level of listening comprehension than reading fluency. This means that your child will be frustrated if they read books at their frustration level but will benefit from hearing these books read aloud to them. Listed below are skills your child will gain from being read to:

  • Your child will be exposed to vocabulary at their grade level while they catch up on their reading grade level. (This is especially helpful if your child is reading below grade level.)

  • Your child will be able to understand how different types of books are organized and structured.

Your child will get to hear great stories just for sheer joy.

How do you get your child to listen to a read-aloud above their grade level?

  • Read aloud to your child.

  • Use apps such as Audible that will read stories to your child.

  • Follow YouTubers who read aloud to children. How will book selections help my child read at grade level or above?

If you know your child’s independent, instructional, and frustrating reading level, you and/or a tutor will be able to guide them in book selections.

Not only will knowing your child’s reading levels help them make better book selections, but you will also be able to raise your child’s current reading level to the desired reading level in a more strategic manner. If you are seeking help in improving your child’s reading quickly, I am here to help! Click here to sign up for a Free Online Reading Assessment and discover your child's three reading levels: or contact Esmy Lozano at

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