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Teaching Materials Center

This guide is starting point for anyone seeking to learn about the resources available in the Teaching Materials Center. This includes: what general resources are available, how to find specific resources, and how to access materials.

Finding Leveled Books

A leveled book is merely a book that has been assigned a gradient for readability to communicate to educators how difficult a book is to read. The gradient may be a letter, number, grade equivalency, or something else. Leveled books may be written specifically for a publisher and part of their larger leveled book program or a well-known title that has been ranked for readability. Common leveling systems include:

  • Fountas and Pinnell (Guided Reading)
  • Lexile Measure
  • Accelerated Reader (AR)

There are three main measures for finding books based on level or text complexity.

  1. Leveled Book Bins in the TMC: best for beginning readers 
  2. Researching online using tools such as NoveList Plus: best for readers who are moving towards more reading independence
  3. Using the Book Leveler App: best for when you already have books identified and are interested in quickly determining the text complexity

The Reading Level Conversion Chart will help you translate an identified measure of complexity in one leveling method to another. Keep in mind that this is an estimate. 

1. Leveled Reader Station - TMC

The Leveled Reader Station at the TMC has bins of leveled books which are sorted into bins based on their Fountas and Pinnell designation. The station is located near the textbooks. 

There are bins for titles from A-Z. HOWEVER, the Leveled Reader Station is significantly more helpful for books in the A-I range. More complex books generally are in other sections of the library. If you need a book which is more complex, the second method below will likely be more helpful to you. 

2. Researching Level Online - NoveList Plus

In NoveList Plus you can use Advanced Search to locate titles based on level or text complexity. You can also find the text complexity of already known book titles. This is a searchable database that can tell you the Lexile measure or Accelerated Reader designation assigned to certain books. These numbers, while different, both communicate the text complexity of a book calculated by formulas which weigh factors such as unique vocabulary, word frequency, total words, number of sentences, length of sentences, patterns, and complexity to decode. A high number means the book is more complex to read and a low number means it is more accessible. 

To locate titles with an approximate text complexity using NoveList Plus:

  • Click "Advanced Search" under the default search to open the more detailed search options.
  • Enter in the search boxes any keywords for topics or themes. You can also enter "picture book" if you need one of those!
  • Then scroll down the advanced search options to use either the Lexile Range or Lexile Score options in the right column to search for books by Text Complexity.

 Lexile Range and Lexile Score filters

  • Use the Reading Level Conversion Chart to interpret another metric of text complexity (such as Guided Reading Level) to Lexile Measure if needed. (This is explained in more depth below)
  • If you type a  given score into the Lexile Score, your results will be approximately that score, give or take 50 either way. 
  • Click search to see results.
  • Use additional filters if desired to further narrow your search.
  • Make sure to double-check the Lexile Measures of a result work for you.
  • Click "Check Library Catalog" to see if Milner Library has a book available. 

To determine the text complexity of an already identified book using NoveList Plus:

First, identify a book. As a reminder, this is for more standard books and generally not for those which are written as parts of a publisher series of pre-leveled books. Then, 

  1. Identify the text complexity (Lexile Measure, Fountas & Pinnell Level, etc.)
  2. Interpret the text complexity

To get started, use the search bar in NoveList Plus to lookup the title of your book. Look through your results. One of three things will happen, identify from the below list what happens for your book title. To see details on how to interpret the text complexity given what you found on your book, expand the accordion in the relevant section.

  1. Your book has an identified Lexile Measure

Example Search Result

For some books with a Lexile measure, there is a letter code that comes before the Lexile number. These communicate key information about the book and are explained below:

  • AD: Adult Directed: Better when read aloud to a student rather than having the student read independently.
  • NC: Non-Conforming: Good for high-ability readers who still need age-appropriate content.
  • HL: High-Low: Content to engage older students who need materials that are less complex and at a lower reading level.
  • IG: Illustrated Guide: Nonfiction materials often used for reference.
  • GN: Graphic Novel: Graphic novels or comic books.
  • BR: Beginning Reader: Appropriate for emerging readers with a Lexile reader measure below 0L.
  • NP: Non-Prose: Poems, plays, songs, recipes and text with non-standard or absent punctuation.

To interpret what the number itself means use the Reading Comparison Chart linked below to convert the Lexile number to a grade level and/or Fountas & Pinnell level. Please note that there may be some discrepancies. 

For example, Alma and How She Got Her Name shows that it has a Lexile Measure of 490L. This tells me that the book is generally good for independent reading for 2nd-4th graders and is a level M book according to Fountas & Pinnell. 

  1. Your book does not have an identified Lexile measure, but it does have an Accelerated Reader designation.

Search Results for Saturday

If your book has an Accelerated Reader designation, It is broken into three parts: interest level (IL), Book Level (BL), and Accelerated Reader Points (AR Pts). You only need to pay attention to the first two.

1. Interest level communicates what grades will likely engage with the content. It is sorted into clusters represented as LG, MG, MG+, or UG.

  • Lower Grades (LG) (K-3)
  • Middle Grades (MG) (4-6)
  • Middle Grades Plus (MG+)(6 and up)
  • Upper Grades (UG) (9-12)

2. Book level communicates the text complexity and is assigned a number. To interpret what the number itself means use the Reading Comparison Chart linked below to convert the Accelerated Reader designation (called ATOS Book Level in the column) to a grade level and/or Fountas & Pinnell level. Please note that there may be some discrepancies. 

For example, Saturday shows that it has an Accelerated Reader designation of IL: LG, BL: 2.4, AR Pts: 0.5. This tells me that the book is generally interesting to student in the lower grades (K-3) and that the text complexity is good for independent reading for 2nd graders and is a level J book according to Fountas & Pinnell. 

  1. Your book is not in NoveList Plus OR it does not have either a Lexile Measure or an Accelerated Reader designation.

Amah Faraway Search Result

It takes time for books to be assigned a Lexile measure and some titles never have one identified. 

If you searched a book and it was not found or it does not have an identified Lexile Measure/Accelerated Reader designation, you have two main options:

  1. You can identify another book entirely to use as your independent reading text.
  2. You can use a work-around strategy to decide if the book could be independently read by your student. 

In the second case, it is best to identify another book of the correct level. Then, compare your selected book with the book of the correct level to decide if they are around the same complexity, or if one is more or less complicated than the other. Pay attention and estimate if the book you are interested in compared to the already identified text has similar vocabulary difficulty, number of words, unique words, number of sentences, sentence length, etc. They can have differences, but should be somewhat similar. 

3. Using the Book Leveler App

Another option to quickly verify the text complexity of an already identified book is to use the Book Leveler App. This is a free application available on smartphones through the app store. 

With this app, you can scan the ISBN code of a book or type the ISBN code into the app. If there is text complexity information available,  it will share the Lexile Measure, Guided Reading Level based on Fountas and Pinnell, Grade Level, and more. An example result is shown below:

Example Book Leveler App Result

Please note that the free version does cap the number of books which can be scanned.