Skip to main content

How do I know the reading level of the books we have at home?

As parents, we learn about our child's reading level but at home, our books don't have colored dots or DRA levels on them. You may find going to this website can be a huge help. Here, you can enter a book title and see the DRA level or the lexile score. Not every book is listed here, but it will give you a head start.  click on- Leveling Books to try it out. 

Project Lesson in Action

Teacher's College @ Columbia University in New York has been innovating and sharing best practices in the teaching of reading and writing for more than two decades. To gain a better understanding of our literacy instruction at Montair, we suggest you peruse a few of these videos to see teachers in action. Click here to view or in the Literacy Toolbox. 


Literacy at Montair

Units of Study: What Reading and Writing Programs do We Use at Montair?

At Montair, all K-5 classrooms use the Writing Project "Units of Study" as the framework for our writing programs. In Writing, students focus on Narrative, Opinion/Argument, and Information writing, with the expectations for each writing type gradually increasing with each new grade level. (See the attached learning progressions for each writing type to see how the complexity deepens over time- click Opinion  Information  Narrative).  


In Reading, we learn about different genres and also we learn strategies to best decode and understand the material we are reading. We focus on teaching strategies so children can practice and then independently apply these strategies to their own reading lives. One key component of a strategy based reading program is ongoing assessment of students individually and in small groups to check in on their ability to use a variety of strategies to help them access the information in the books they are reading. Our teachers talk to students about what they are reading, listen in, ask questions. They offer the students a compliment by naming some strategy they are demonstrating and then push them by offering a strategy to try out or continue practicing. (See the attached learning continuum for reading literature by clicking Reading). 

What do the Reading Levels Mean?

As parents, we hear that our kids are reading at a level M or that they may pick from the Double Yellow books in their classroom libraries. These labels correspond to the assessed independent reading level of the children. (Click on conversion chart to download.  At Montair, our teachers formally and informally assess students' reading level, noting accuracy, fluency, and comprehension to determine which level a student can independently read and comprehend. It is not unusual for a student to be fluent at a higher level than she/he can comprehend. This fluency is great and should be celebrated, but pausing to understand not only the text on the page but also to think about the story beyond the page is the key to truly growing as a reader. It is important for us to reinforce that reading IS thinking


How can you help your child grow in his/her reading level? Read with them!! You will not only enjoy this time together, but by pausing to talk about what is happening, why they think characters are behaving in a certain way, or to discuss new vocabulary words, you will be helping develop your child's literacy. 


Questions for your child to ask him or herself:


Before Reading:

  • I wonder what this book is going to be about.
  • I wonder if it is going to be ____________ (sad, funny, scary, tricky, the same as the last book I read by the author...etc).
  • Why am I reading this book? (entertainment, for information)

During Reading:

For Younger Readers:

  • I wonder if __________________ is going to happen.
  • I wonder what the word ____________ means. Could it mean ______________? Is it important to the story?
  • Could this story be a true story? Why or why not?
  • Do you think____________________?
  • How is _______________ going to ______________?

For Older Readers:

  • What does the main character want?
  • Will he/she get it? If so, how?
  • Why do you think the author chose this particular setting?
  • Why do you think the author chose to tell the story from the point of view of the daughter? 

After Reading:

  • I wonder why he never ___________________________________.
  • How could ___________________(character's name) have done _____________________? That tells me that he must have been ______________(characteristic). 
  • I wonder what will happen now that ___________________.
  • What would happen if _____________________?

For more Questions to Ask Students to Increase Comprehension- click here

Literacy Toolbox