Free Spirit Publishing 1.800.735.7323

Book Level Information

Free Spirit publishes books for all age levels, from infant to adult. When choosing books for children, tweens, and teens, it may be difficult to select those that best fit an individual’s reading and interest levels. To help you, we’ve identified four different levels for our books intended for young children through high school. With our commitment to quality, you can trust the levels specified on our books are provided by experts in education and publishing.

Interest Level 

This is the age range of kids and teens that will find the book’s content and art appealing, whether they are reading the book or having the book read to them. Use this age span to select books with topics of interest for a particular child or group.

GRL (Guided Reading Level)

Used in many schools today, our guided reading levels are determined by the Fountas & Pinnell Benchmark Assessment System. Linked to classroom instruction, the system matches students’ instructional and independent reading abilities to an A to Z text gradient. Book features considered are vocabulary, length, layout patterns, controlled text, sentence structure, punctuation, illustration support for text, complexity of content, and more. The end result is an organized approach to reading instruction and assessment to help teachers guide students in reading appropriate materials. There are nuances in every level from A to Z, but you can use the basic structure of the Fountas & Pinnell scale to assess a student’s reading level.

  • Emergent readers, levels A–B, are beginning to make sense of print and picture cues.
  • Early readers, levels C–G, are reading picture books and have a basic sight word vocabulary.
  • Transitional readers, levels H–M, are children who can silently and fluently read early chapter books and longer picture books without relying on picture cues.
  • Self-extending readers, levels N–R, apply reading strategies as they encounter different kinds of text and a variety of new words, making excellent attempts at reading multisyllabic words.
  • Advanced readers, levels S–Z, are students who have passed the learning-to-read phase and can sustain their interest and understanding of longer texts over extended periods of time.

Reading Level 

A book’s reading difficulty level is determined by a readability test and expressed as a specific grade level. This means average readers at that grade level should be able to comfortably read most of the words in the book. A few unfamiliar words can create a fun reading challenge and a learning opportunity. To test for a comfortable yet challenging reading level, have the child read a book aloud while you observe the difficulty level. You can then adjust up or down with future books. Standardized testing results can also indicate a child’s reading level and can be used to select appropriate books.

Lexile Measurement

A Lexile measure is a valuable piece of information about the difficulty of a text. A book gets a Lexile text measure when it’s analyzed by MetaMetrics. The Lexile measure is shown as a number with an “L” after it. Lexile text measures are rounded to the nearest 10. Text measures at or below 0 are reported as BR for Beginning Reader. A Lexile text measure is based on two strong predictors of how difficult a text is to comprehend: word frequency and sentence length. Many other factors affect the relationship between a reader and a book, including its content, the age and interests of the reader, and the design of the actual book. The Lexile text measure is a good starting point in the book-selection process, with these other factors then being considered.

LEXILE®, LEXILE® FRAMEWORK, LEXILE® ANALYZER, and the LEXILE® logo are trademarks of MetaMetrics, Inc., and are registered in the United States and abroad. The trademarks and names of other companies and products mentioned herein are the property of their respective owners. Copyright © 2012. Metametrics, Inc. All rights reserved.


Free Spirit’s monthly e-newsletter, Upbeat News, is full of practical tips, free downloads, and special offers. Sign up today!