Reading Levels

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Find the books that are just right for you.

Here are two good ways to figure out the reading level of a book and find the best books for your age and reading ability. 

The "Goldilocks Method"
for K-3rd grade
The "Five Finger Method"
for 4th through 6th grades

The Goldilocks Method is for determining if a book is "Just Right" for children going into Kindergarten through 3rd grade.

Do you remember Goldilocks' quest to find the porridge, chair and bed that were "just right"? Selecting a book can sometimes feel the same way. Just as Goldilocks found that some porridges were too hot or too cold and others were just right, we often have difficulty finding books that are "just right" and not too hard or too easy.

When you are reading a book you can try asking yourself these questions to help you find a book that is "just right" for you.


  1. Have you read this book many times before?
  2. Do you know and understand almost every word?
  3. Can you read it smoothly and fluently without much practice or effort?


  1. Is this book new to you?
  2. Are there a few words per page that you don't recognize or know the meaning of instantly?
  3. Can someone help you if you reach a tough spot?


  1. Are there more than a few words on a page that you don't recognize or know the meaning of?
  2. When you read, are you struggling and does it sound choppy?
  3. Is everyone busy and unable to help you if you hit a tough spot?


The Five Finger Method for determining if a book is right for you.

The Five Finger Method is one way to test a book before you spend too much time with it and get frustrated.

  1. First choose the book you think you would like to read.
  2. Find a page of text somewhere in the middle of the book. Find a page with lots of text (words) and few or no pictures.
  3. Begin to read the page. It is best to read the page aloud or in a whisper if possible while doing the test so you can hear the places where you have difficulty.
  4. Each time you come to a word you don't know, hold one finger up.
  5. If you have all five fingers up before you get to the end of the page, wave the book "good-bye". It is probably too difficult for you right now. If you need help finding a book, ask your librarian.
  6. If you have no fingers up when you finish the page, then the book may be an easy read for you.
  7. If you have less than five fingers but more than one or two fingers up when you finish reading the page, the book may be just what you need to grow as a reader.

© 2011 Thomas Crane Public Library

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