What is Leveled Literacy?
by Scot Dexter, HPS Reading Specialist
Leveled Literacy is a systematic approach to reading and writing created by educational researchers Irene Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell. In it, texts are examined for levels of complexity and the demand placed on readers. Criteria for determining complexity include genre, text structure, content, themes and ideas, language and literary features, sentence complexity, vocabulary, and book and print features. Based on the complexity of features in these domains, books are placed on a gradient from A-Z.
This lens on texts allows educators to first, observe how children interact with texts to determine a child’s individual baseline. Next, we provide targeted scaffolding and instruction to support children’s successful encounters with increasingly demanding texts. It is important to recognize that a child’s background knowledge and level of motivation regarding a subject or topic will impact her or his success with a text. Because of this, we recognize that children can successfully navigate texts within a band in the gradient. In other words, a child may be able to read a level E text that is about a familiar subject, but better access a level D text about an unfamiliar subject.
It follows then, that texts have levels. Students do not. As educators and parents we use text levels to gauge our work with students, to help us select books for children, and to guide them in choosing appropriate books for themselves.
The writing and word study work that children do mirrors what they are seeing in the texts they read. In this way, one supports the other, and children connect their experiences with print, making for a richer, higher impact learning experience.
Your child's teacher can inform you of the level of text your child is currently being instructed in, as well as levels of text s/he can access independently. Then, please visit our Book Finder page for titles written at levels your child can access independently.