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Find books at your child's reading level

boy in library with book

June 5, 2012

Finding books at the right level is key to reading enjoyment and enrichment. Here are a few tips:
Use the five-finger rule.
Have your child open the book to any page and start reading. Hold up one finger for every word your child does not know or has trouble pronouncing.  When you have finished the page, look at the number of fingers you have up. Zero to one finger means that the book may be too easy for your child. Two to three fingers means that the book is at your child’s level. Four fingers means the book may be challenging for your child. Five fingers mean that the book may be too frustrating for your child at this time.

If you would like a list of books at your child’s individual level, we recommend using our online resource: Novelist K-8.This resource is available through MCPL’s website from anywhere you have internet access at
Novelist K-8 uses Lexile ratings to measure the difficulty of a book based on word frequency and sentence length. (For more information about Lexiles, click here.) Please note, that lexile level does not take into account the appropriateness of the subject matter or content of a book, only the difficulty of the text.
Most schools in the area use the guided reading method and corresponding letters to measure a student’s reading level. If you know your child’s guided reading level, you can use this chart from Scholastic to convert the guided reading level to a Lexile number. If you do not know your child’s guided reading level, you can search Novelist K-8 for a book your child has already read and use that book’s Lexile to determine an appropriate Lexile range for your child.
Once you know your child’s Lexile range, use the Advanced Search in Novelist K-8 to generate a list of books. Here’s how:

  • Go to Novelist K-8:
  • Click on “Advanced Search” below the search bar.
  • On the Advanced Search page, you can either choose from the “Lexile Range” drop down menu on the left.
  • Click on search in the bottom left corner of your screen.

If the list is too large, use the menus in the left column of the page to narrow your search by genre, storyline, pace, tone, and subject. You may also see titles that are not age appropriate for your child. Use the menu in the right column to limit your search to items in the correct age range.
MCPL staff are happy to help you find books for your child and learn more about Novelist K-8. All you need to do is ask!

Children Reading Recommendations

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