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Reading Levels Explained: A Guide for Parents and Teachers

What they mean, why we use them, and more.

What are Reading Levels? #buzzwordsexplained

As a child starts school and begins learning to read, parents are likely to hear the term “reading level.” A teacher might share that a student is reading at, above, or below level. They may also provide specific numbers, like 440L or GR J. Parents can find all this confusing, so we’ve put together this simple guide for teachers to share as they discuss what reading levels mean for their students.

What are reading levels?

Book cover for David Goes to School, with product details including reading levels

Source: Scholastic

Reading levels are a way of determining the reading skills a student already has. They measure a child’s reading comprehension and fluency, using a variety of factors like phoneme awareness, decoding, vocabulary, and more. Teachers use reading levels to understand what a student knows and what they need to work on. They might also be used to assemble kids into small reading groups.

Many children’s book publishers indicate reading levels on their books, so parents and kids can quickly find options to suit their needs. Choosing the right reading level can be key for many children. If the book they try to read is too difficult for them, they may give up. On the other hand, reading books that are too easy won’t challenge them to build their skills.

Suggestions, Not Rules

It’s extremely important to remember a few things about these levels. First of all, in some cases, the score evaluates the ease of reading of a book, but not the content. For instance, a book like Alice Walker’s The Color Purple earns a 4.0 score on the AR/ATOS scale, indicating it’s written at a fourth grade level. However, most people would agree that the content of this book isn’t right for fourth graders. In fact, this type of book is what’s known as “high-low,” meaning the content and interest level is meant for higher-grade students, while the readability score is low enough that less-skilled readers will find it within their range. ( Learn more about high-low books here. )

So while level numbers can be helpful, they aren’t the only indicator you should use when choosing a book. In fact, many teachers caution against using levels to limit kids’ reading choices . If a child is willing to tackle a more difficult book because the subject matter interests them, go ahead and let them! On the other hand, if they want to reread old favorites just for fun, that’s great too. The most important thing is to get students reading, whenever and however possible.

How To Determine Reading Levels

Typical Lexile measurements by grade

Source: The Groovy Teacher on Twitter

Schools give reading assessments one or more times each year. These assessments measure a student’s reading level based on one of several available systems. Each system has its own formula for determining a score, and your child might even be given a score in several different reading level systems.

Below are some of the most common systems you’ll find in schools, districts, and libraries. Every leveled book has a different score in each system, and you can find equivalency charts online to help you compare the various scores. Note that there are many systems out there, with different companies and publishers often designing their own. These basic four will cover most schools and students, though.

Lexile® Reading Levels

Lexile® is one of the most common reading level systems. These levels are indicated by a number followed by the capital letter L. They range from 10L for brand-new readers to 2000L and above for advanced readers. The first digit of the score roughly corresponds with grade level, so a book rated 370 would be appropriate for most third graders. When looking for “just right books” for Lexile levels, aim for those that are rated 100L below to 50L above your child’s current score.

Example Lexile measures include:

  • David Goes to School: 210L
  • Judy Moody and the Bad Luck Charm: 470L
  • The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson): 680L
  • The Hobbit: 1000L

Guided Reading Levels (Fountas and Pinnell)

The GRL reading level system was developed by two Ohio State University professors, Irene Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell. You might hear it referred to by either of these names or by the abbreviation GRL. In recent years, this system has faced controversy as one of its core theories has been disproved by cognitive scientists. ( Learn more about this dispute here. ) Still, many schools and publishers continue to use the system, which grades books with letters from A (early readers) to Z+ (advanced). Choose books at the same letter level or one above to match kids with the best choices for their abilities.

Example GRL scores include:

  • David Goes to School: GR Level G
  • Judy Moody and the Bad Luck Charm: GR Level M
  • The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson): GR Level W
  • The Hobbit: GR Level Z

ATOS/AR Reading Levels

The Accelerated Reader level is also called the ATOS score. This system analyzes the average sentence and word length, the vocabulary grade level, and the number of words in a book. Books are scored using an X.X format, where the first number indicates the grade level (0 = kindergarten), and the second indicates the approximate month of that level. For instance, a score of 5.4 would indicate the book should readable for a student in the fourth month of fifth grade.

Example AR scores include:

  • David Goes to School: ATOS/AR 0.9
  • Judy Moody and the Bad Luck Charm: ATOS/AR 3.1
  • The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson): ATOS/AR 4.7
  • The Hobbit: ATOS/AR 6.6

DRA Reading Levels

The Developmental Reading Assessment (DRA) tests various reading skills like phonemic awareness, phonics, and fluency. Student scores can range from A1 (for beginners) to 80 (advanced). Choose books at or slightly above a child’s DRA level to challenge them just enough, but not too much to frustrate them.

Example DRA scores include:

  • David Goes to School: DRA 12
  • Judy Moody and the Bad Luck Charm: DRA 24
  • The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson): DRA 60
  • The Hobbit: DRA 70

Still have more questions about reading levels? Drop by the WeAreTeachers HELPLINE group on Facebook to chat and ask for advice.

Plus, check out what is the science of reading.

Wondering what your child's reading levels indicate? Find out about the different types of reading levels and how they measure progress.

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class trip reading level

Key Takeaways

  • A classroom library with a wide selection of titles across varying reading levels motivates all students to read.
  • When looking for books to add to your library, focus on three to five genres for each reading level.
  • Reading lists from Scholastic are a great resource to meet all your classroom's guided reading level needs.

Setting up a classroom library that caters to many levels of readers is a great way to motivate your students to read. With this helpful  guided reading leveling chart , it's easy to choose titles by guided reading, DRA, and Lexile® levels. The chart can also be used as a general leveling guide when building or expanding your classroom library.

Also, when working to level your classroom library and meet the needs of all your young readers, keep these tips and strategies in mind:

  • The reading level of your classroom library expands to cover two to three years above and below grade level. ( Here’s a handy link to book lists for every guided reading level .)
  • Multiple copies of popular titles and text sets appear in your classroom library so multiple students can read these at the same time.
  • A rich variety of genres is included in your classroom library so children are exposed to realistic fiction,  historical fiction , fantasy and science fiction,  biography and autobiography , stories,  classics , myths and legends, picture books,  reference , poetry,  comic books and graphic novels , and more

Wondering which titles are most popular among young readers and teachers in grades 3–5? Check out these 10 must-have books from reading levels J-W.

1.    Young Cam Jansen and the Lost Tooth

2.    Peppa Pig: Peppa Goes Swimming

3.     Summer Days and Nights

4.    Splat the Cat Sings Flat

5.     Twinkle, Twinkle, I Love You

6.     Henry and Mudge and the Forever Sea

7.    100 Snowmen

8.    Mac and Cheese

9.     The Berenstain Bears' Class Trip

10.    Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons

1.    Goldilocks and Just One Bear

2.     The Dungy Family: The Missing Cupcake Mystery

3.    There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed Some Leaves!

4.    There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Turkey!

5.     Pete the Cat: Rocking in My School Shoes

6.    The Best Teacher in the Second Grade

7.     Pony Scouts: Pony Crazy!

8.     I Love You, ZooBorns!

9.     Santa Duck

10.    LEGO City: Police Pursuit

1.    Kindergarten, Here I Come!

2.    Cam Jansen and the Secret Service Mystery

3.     The Night Before Preschool

4.     National Geographic Kids Readers: Dolphins

5.    Fancy Nancy and the Too-Loose Tooth

6.     Hot Rod Hamster and the Wacky Whatever Race

7.    I Knew You Could!

8.    Room on the Broom

9.    My Weird School Daze: Mrs. Roopy is Loopy!

10.    Shark Detective!

1.    National Geographic Kids Reader: Spiders

2.    Stuart Goes to School

3.     Junie B., First Grader: Boss of Lunch

4.    Junie B. Jones Has a Monster Under Her Bed

5.    The Biggest Ever: The Biggest Apple Ever

6.    The Night Before Kindergarten

7.    The Adventures of the Bailey School Kids: Ghosts Don't Eat Potato Chips

8.    Junie B. Jones and the Yucky Blucky Fruitcake

9.    The Adventure of the Bailey School Kids: Sea Monsters Don't Ride Motorcycles

10.    Peppa Pig: Ballet Lesson

1.    Wildlife Conservation Society—I Can Read: Amazing Tigers!

2.    The Real Slam Dunk

3.    Amber Brown is Not a Crayon

4.    The Puppy Place: Goldie

5.    Black Lagoon Adventures: The Field Day From the Black Lagoon

6.    Sharks

7.     The Puppy Place: Buddy

8.     The Puppy Place: Rascal

9.     LEGO NEXO Knights Reader: Movie Magic

10.    Black Lagoon Adventures: Friday the 13th From the Black Lagoon

1.    Henry Huggins

2.    The Kid in the Red Jacket

3.    The Story of Snow: The Science of Winter's Wonder

4.    My Weirder School: Mr. Burke is Berserk

5.    Magic Bone: Don't Mess With the Ninja Puppy

6.    Horrible Harry and the Stolen Cookie

7.    Class President

8.    Nancy Drew and the Clue Crew: The Case of the Missing Snowman

9.    Black Lagoon Adventures: The Class Picture Day From the Black Lagoon

10.    Black Lagoon Adventures: Valentine's Day From the Black Lagoon

1.    F lat Stanley: Stanley in Space

2.    Diary of a Minecraft Zombie: When Nature Calls

3.     My Weirdest School: Mr. Nick is a Lunatic

4.    My Weirdest School: Ms. Cuddy is Nutty

5.    My Weird School Special: Back to School, Weird Kids Rule!

6.    Ziggy and the Black Dinosaurs

7.    The Time Warp Trio: Knights of the Kitchen Table

8.     Battle for the Z-Ring

9.     Shark School: Deep-Sea Disaster

10.    The Hundred Dresses

1.    Punished!

2.     The Homework Machine

3.    The Magic School Bus Chapter Book: Amazing Magnetism

4.    Smart Words Beginning Readers: Caves

6.     DC Comics Secret Hero Society: Study Hall of Justice

7.    Ghastly Golems and Ghoulish Ghasts: Sidesplitting Jokes for Minecrafters

8.    DC Comics Backstories: Supergirl: Daughter of Krypton

9.    Mr. Popper's Penguins

10.  I Survived Hurricane Katrina, 2005

1.    Looking Like Me

2.    Ice Island

3.    Charlotte's Web

4.    Because of Winn-Dixie

5.    Dear Mr. Henshaw: Strider

6.    Hatchet

7.    Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

8.    Frindle

9.    Sarah, Plain and Tall

10.    How to Eat Fried Worms

1.    Magic Tree House Fact Tracker: Heroes for All Times

2.    The One and Only Ivan

3.    Goosebumps: Monster Blood

4.    Esio Trot

5.    Save Me A Seat

6.    Whatever After: Cold as Ice

7.    Bluish

8.    Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark

9.    The Mouse With the Question Mark Tail

10.    Confessions of a Gym-Class Dropout

1.    Tracker

2.    Love That Dog

3.    The Tiger Rising

4.    I Survived the American Revolution, 1776

5.    Bridge to Terabithia

6.    George Washington's Socks

7.    World's Dumbest Crooks and Other True Tales of Bloopers, Botches, and Blunders

8.    Where the Mountain Meets the Moon

9.    The Dog Who Saved Christmas

10.    Upside Down in the Middle of Nowhere

1.    Number the Stars

2.    The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963

3.    Bud, Not Buddy

4.    The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane

5.    The BFG

6.    Inside Out & Back Again

7.    A Shiloh Christmas

8.    Bad Pets Save Christmas! True Holiday Tales

9.    My Side of the Mountain

10.  Hidden Figures Young Reader's Edition

1.    Wonder

2.    Holes

3.     Esperanza Rising

4.    Lawn Boy Returns

5.    My Side of the Mountain: On the Far Side of the Mountain

6.    LEGO Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith

7.    Scholastic Reference: Scholastic Children's Dictionary

8.    The Secret Agent and Other Kid Spies

9.    The Cay

10.  The Westing Game

1.    A Wrinkle in Time

2.    Blood on the River: James Town 1607

3.    Prisoner B-3087: Based on the True Story by Ruth and Jack Gruener

4.     Books of Ember: The City of Ember

5.    The Lightning Thief

6.     Hoot

7.    Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry

8.    Walk Two Moons

9.    Home of the Brave

10.    In 1492, Columbus Sailed the Ocean Blue: More Cool Ways to Remember Stuff


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In this hilarious novel, written in the voice of eighth-grader Wyatt Palmer, Dave Barry takes us on a class trip to Washington, DC. Wyatt, his best friend, Matt, and a few kids from Culver Middle School find themselves in a heap of trouble-not just with their teachers, who have long lost patience with them-but from several mysterious men they first meet on their flight to the nation’s capital. In a fast-paced adventure with the monuments as a backdrop, the kids try to stay out of danger and out of the doghouse while trying to save the president from attack-or maybe not.

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Dave Barry is a Pulitzer Prize-winning author of more than two dozen books including the just-released You Can Date When You’re 40. Along with Ridley Pearson, he is the co-author of the Peter and the Starcatchers series and Science Fair.. Dave, his wife Michelle and their family live in Miami, Florida.

What Has Dave Barry Said About This Book

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Leveled Books • Guided Reading Books • Books for Kids

Leveled Books • Guided Reading Books • Books for Kids

Check out our leveled book sets selected according to various leveled reading programs. Purchase from LeveledReader.com to enhance your child's reading program and Grow Independent Readers®.

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We believe that every child learns to read at their own pace and that there are many sound, successful methods for facilitating reading. Our focus at LeveledReader.com is two-fold: We're here to help you address your child's guided reading needs. As parents and educators ourselves, we know that the reading level reports from school each year can be a mystery. Now when those test scores arrive home, simply log-on to LeveledReader.com to get a better idea of the level of book your child needs.

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  • Destiny 2 guide

Destiny 2 power level guide, all caps and Powerful and Pinnacle gear sources explained

Here’s what’s changing with The Final Shape

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Guardians take on some Tormentors in Destiny 2: The Final Shape

Leveling your gear and increasing your Power level is an important part of Destiny 2 , but it’s also very confusing.

This page breaks down everything you should know about increasing your Power level, from how gear drops work, the various Soft, Powerful, and Pinnacle sources, and their respective max Power level caps.

How Power level and gear drops work in Destiny 2

Power level in Destiny 2 is a numerical value that determines how much damage you take and deal to your foes — the higher the level, the more damage you deal and the less you receive. Outside of dictating how much damage you deal, know that activities in the game will have a set Power level and you’ll be more effective when you’re close to or exceeding that level.

Players and enemies each have a Power level and they get compared together. Your overall Power level comes from averaging the Power level of your gear , plus any additional levels from your seasonal artifact.

When it comes to gear, Destiny 2 staggers your progress with different Power level caps: the soft cap , the Powerful cap , and the Pinnacle cap . Each of those caps represents a point at which certain types of drops will no longer increase your Power level, and so you have to shift your priorities each week in order to continue increasing your level.

A Guardian shows off their fancy armor and high power level in Destiny 2

Additionally, a seasonal artifact level is added on top of your gear's average Power level. This is how you are able to get to a higher level than the Pinnacle or Max cap. You gain artifact levels by playing throughout a season and gaining XP. However, unlike your gear level, your artifact level resets at the end of season. (If you’re looking to gain XP fast, it’s best to farm bounties or Seasonal Challenges, as they provide some of the quickest and easiest XP in the game.)

A change from The Final Shape onwards is the Adjusted Power feature when playing in a Fireteam. When in a party, players will automatically have their power increased to five Power below the player with the highest level — allowing them to join in on endgame activities (such as the raid) without grinding to the required activity level themselves. But even if your Power is adjusted under the Power Leader feature, you’ll still earn drops according to your normal Power level.

A lobby screen showing the Adjusted Power feature in action.

Finally, for players with multiple characters, another change starting with The Final Shape is Power drop values are now account wide, meaning if you switch to a lower Power character, any new loot will match that of your most powerful character . As a result, Power Boosts (designed to help lower Power characters skip through the grind) are not longer available.

Max level caps in Destiny 2

There are three level caps in Destiny 2 : the soft cap, the Powerful cap, and the Pinnacle cap. For The Final Shape , those caps are:

  • Starting power : 1900
  • Soft cap: 1940
  • Powerful cap: 1990
  • Pinnacle cap: 2000

We’ll break down each cap below.

How to reach the soft cap in Destiny 2

The soft cap for Destiny 2 is 1940. What does “soft cap” mean? It means that up until you reach 1940 Power level, pretty much anything and everything can give you a Power level increase . This can be blue drops from the ground or activity rewards; anything that drops for you will be a few Power above your current Power level. Once you reach the soft cap, you’ll no longer get blue drops.

The best way to reach the soft cap is to simply play the game, as regardless of activity, you’ll receive gear up to that Power level regularly.

Purple, gold and green Engrams in Destiny 2

If you want to get past the soft cap quickly, and you are just starting The Final Shape , then it’s worth considering playing the Legendary campaign , which will give you fixed gear at 20 Power above the soft cap upon completion (1960). This is a challenge, however, especially for new players — so consider playing other activities instead while you familiarize yourself with the game.

How to reach the Powerful gear cap in Destiny 2

The Powerful cap for Destiny 2 is 1990, meaning that between 1940 and 1990, the only way to increase your Power level is to get a reward from activities that grant Powerful or Pinnacle gear.

Starting with The Final Shape , the range of Powerful gear sources has expanded to most activities in the game — with the aim to “help players gradually reach the Powerful Cap no matter what activities they choose to play”, even if they are not tied to the weekly reset , according to Bungie.

Examples of activities and sources with Powerful gear drops include:

  • Completing eight vendor bounties for Banshee-44
  • Weekly Nightfall challenge
  • Complete three Strikes
  • Three Crucible matches
  • Three Crucible Labs matches
  • Three Gambit matches
  • Gambit, Vanguard, Crucible, and Banshee rank rewards
  • Give out five Commendations
  • Three Dares of Eternity runs
  • Prime and Exotic Engrams, which drop at random

If you are trying to be as optimal as possible, you’ll want to save all of your powerful rewards until after you get to 1990. Though Powerful loot drops are no longer as limited per week as they once were, you don’t want to waste Powerful or Pinnacle drops when you can still get levels from unrestricted rewards.

How to reach the Pinnacle / Max Power cap in Destiny 2

Raid emblem for Destiny 2

The Pinnacle cap for Destiny 2 is 2000 , meaning that between 1900 and 2000, the only way to increase your Power level is to get Pinnacle rewards. Similar to Powerful rewards, if you are trying to maximize the effectiveness of the Pinnacle rewards, you won’t want to collect them until after you have reached Power 1990, as these loot drops are limited per week.

Activities with Pinnacle gear drops include:

  • Complete eight bounties for activity vendors: Lord Shaxx, Commander Zavala, and Drifter
  • 200,000 Nightfall score across the week
  • Complete the Exotic rotator mission twice
  • Salvation’s Edge, the latest raid (from release on Friday, June 7)
  • Warlord’s Ruin , the latest dungeon
  • 250,000 score on Dares of Eternity
  • Iron Banner Challenges (when the event is active)
  • Final encounter of the raid and dungeon highlighted in the weekly rotation

It’s worth mentioning that there’s no point in saving Pinnacles if you’re not going to reach 1990 on that character by the end of the week. We recommend just doing all Powerful rewards on a character first, and then tackling Pinnacle activities.

When is the best time to open Engrams in Destiny 2?

Until you hit the Powerful cap, you should turn in Prime Engrams immediately after you pick them up. These are considered +1 Powerful rewards from when they drop, meaning their Power does not increase as your Power level does. If you continue to level up without turning the Prime Engram in, you’ll essentially waste it. If you’re struggling in the raid and you get a Prime Engram, it’s always worth taking a quick Tower break to decrypt it.

A stock image of Destiny 2’s purple legendary engrams

Destiny 2 also uses a slot leveling system, meaning that gear drops per slot and is based on your current average Power level. A sticking point of this system is that some of your gear slots may fall behind. For example, your overall level could be 1725 while your Hunter’s Cloak could be stuck at 1720 and your helmet is at 1728.

To make the most of your Powerful and Pinnacle drops, try to keep your items within a few Power levels of each other, which can be done by collecting items that drop ‘at Power’. ‘At Power’ means the gear drops at your current average Power level, which can help bring up some pieces that fall behind (bringing your Cloak up to 1725 and raising your overall average without using a weekly Powerful or Pinnacle reward drop). This can increase your overall Power level and make those Powerful and Pinnacles more impactful.

If you don’t even out your armor, a Pinnacle or Powerful might drop a +2 power helmet, which would be a waste since it’s already your best slot. Many playlist activities — Strikes, Gambit, Crucible — will drop items “at Power,” so keep an eye out for any gear that’s lagging behind.

How to reach the Pinnacle cap quickly in Destiny 2

For those looking to level as fast as possible — for a raid or other end-game activities — the process is much simpler in The Final Shape.

First, run the Legendary campaign and complete any and all activities to hit 1960 as quickly as possible. Then, collect powerful rewards from activities of your choosing until you reach 1965. At that point, you’ll be at the maximum level for the Contest Mode of the Salvation’s Edge raid and your grind is finished.

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  • How to enhance weapons

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The Class Trip from the Black Lagoon (Black Lagoon Adventures, No. 1)

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Mike Thaler

The Class Trip from the Black Lagoon (Black Lagoon Adventures, No. 1) Paperback – July 1, 2004

Purchase options and add-ons.

  • Book 1 of 27 Black Lagoon Adventures series
  • Print length 64 pages
  • Language English
  • Grade level 2 - 5
  • Lexile measure 660L
  • Dimensions 5.5 x 0.25 x 7.5 inches
  • Publisher Scholastic
  • Publication date July 1, 2004
  • ISBN-10 0439429277
  • ISBN-13 978-0439429276
  • See all details

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  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Scholastic; Black Lagoon Adventures, No. 1 edition (July 1, 2004)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 64 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0439429277
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0439429276
  • Reading age ‏ : ‎ 7 - 8 years, from customers
  • Lexile measure ‏ : ‎ 660L
  • Grade level ‏ : ‎ 2 - 5
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 2.4 ounces
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 5.5 x 0.25 x 7.5 inches
  • #271 in Children's Chapter Books (Books)
  • #405 in Children's School Issues
  • #834 in Children's Humor

About the authors

Mike thaler.

Known as America’s Riddle King, Mike Thaler is the author of the popular Black Lagoon books and the Heaven and Mirth series. He lives in Portland, Oregon, and travels nationally, speaking in schools, libraries, and churches.

Jared D. Lee

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  1. First Grade Friends: The Class Trip

    Illustrator: Gail de Marcken. Age Level: 6-9. Genre: Poetry, Fairytales, Folk Tales, and Tall Tales. Top. Sam has quite a scare when he becomes separated from his class on their field trip to the zoo, but learns an important lesson. The rhyming text and lighthearted illustrations will engage and inform readers.

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  5. Reading Levels Explained: A Guide for Parents and Teachers

    Source: Scholastic. Reading levels are a way of determining the reading skills a student already has. They measure a child's reading comprehension and fluency, using a variety of factors like phoneme awareness, decoding, vocabulary, and more. Teachers use reading levels to understand what a student knows and what they need to work on.

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  18. Reading to Kids Books: The Worst Class Trip Ever

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