Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Leveled Readers and Chapter Books

Week of August 5, 2012—Odds and Ends
Wednesday, August 8—Leveled Readers and Chapter Books

Back in January, Bonnie Bader, Editor-in-Chief of Grosset and Dunlap and Price Stern Sloan, two imprints of the Penguin Young Readers Group, spoke at our Florida SCBWI Winter Meeting. One of Bonnie’s topics was Leveled Readers, Beginning Readers, and Early Chapter Books. Because we picture book writers have a heart for the younger set and those learning to read, these genres hold great promise for us. Some writers who are struggling to get published in picture books think that leveled readers and chapter books might be better a fit. They may be. But don’t think for a minute that these genres are easier to write.

Let me share some of my notes with you, followed by some additional resources.

Leveled Readers
Leveled Readers are actually used to help children learn to read. Every school has sets of books with numbers, letters, or other codes on that back that indicate the levels of the books. Most Leveled Readers fall into four groups.

Level 1—Emergent Readers
-24-32 pages
-20-100 words
-Controlled vocabulary
-Very simple vocabulary, repeated words, picture clues, predictable patterns

Level 2—Progressing Reader
-32 pages
-100-300 words
-Controlled vocabulary
-Introduces longer sentences, simple dialogue
-Picture and context clues
-More in-depth plot development
-Nonfiction and fiction

Level 3—Transitional Reader
-32-48 pages
-300-500 words
-Controlled vocabulary
-Multi-syllable and compound words
-More dialogue
-Different POVs
-More characters and more complex story lines
-Great range of genres

Level 4—Fluent Reader
-48 pages
-500-900 words
-Controlled vocabulary
-More advanced vocabulary
-Detailed and descriptive text
-Complex sentence structure
-In-depth plot and character development
-Full range of genres
-Table of contents

Controlled vocabulary usually refers to words on the Dolch Sight Word List. See

Beginning Readers (come after Level 4)
Early Chapter Books (come before chapter books)
-48-80 pages (usually 60-64)
-Illustrations throughout (but not to the level of leveled readers or picture books)
-No controlled vocabulary—but must remember to consider the level of the reader
-Usually broken into short stories or chapters
-Often contain a Table of Contents

You may also want to check out these links to learn more about these genres:

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