Engage in critical thinking across a writer’s body of work on the same content and discuss findings or produce a literary essay
Sample Titles at this Level
Anne of Green Gables Series (Montgomery)
Call It Courage (Sperry)
Harry Potter: Goblet of Fire; H/B Prince; Phoenix(Rowling)
Jacob Have I Loved (Paterson)
Jacob's Rescue: A Holocaust Story (Drucker)
Just Ella (Haddix)
Maniac Magee (Spinelli)
Missing May (Rylant)
My Brother Sam is Dead (Collier)
On Wings of a Dragon (Taylor)
One Bird (Mori)
One Fat Summer (Lipsyte)
Only Earth and Sky Last Forever (Benchley)
Ordinary Miracles (Tolan)
Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry (Taylor)
The House on Mango Street (Cisneros)
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (Lewis)
Z and up
DRA Level Equivalent: 70+
Text Characteristics at this Level
Unusual text organization (e.g. flashback, flash-forward, shifts in time, embedded diverse stories
Complex plots, many multiple story lines and subplots
Many texts requiring knowledge of history
Wide range of challenging themes that build social awareness and reveal insights into the human condition
Specific descriptions of setting that provide important information for understanding plot
Wide range of declarative, imperative, and interrogative sentences
Many texts with very small font
Characteristics of the Reader
Derive the meaning of words that reflect regional or historical dialects as well as words from languages other than English
Continue to monitor accuracy and understanding, self-correcting when errors detract from meaning
Construct summaries that are concise and reflect the important and overarching ideas and information in texts
Use characteristics of genre as a source of information to make predictions before and during reading
Express changes in ideas or perspective across the reading (as events unfold) after reading a text
Sample Titles at this Level
A Day No Pigs Would Die (Peck)
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Twain)
After the Rain (Mazer)
From the Notebooks of Melanim Sun (Woodson)
Glow Stone (Dreyer)
Glow Stone (Ellen)
Golden Compass (Pullman, Philip
Good Night, Mr. Tom (Magorian)
Jade Green (Naylor)
Make Lemonade (Wolff)
Tears of a Tiger (Draper)
The Class Café (Paulsen)
Understanding Book Characteristics Leveling is a complex process involving the examination of text features and the unique blend of these features in any one book. All features are important at all levels.
Genre: The "genre" is the type of text and refers to a system by which fiction and nonfiction texts are classified. Each genre has characteristic features.
Text Structure: The "structure" is the way the text is organized and presented. It may be narrative, as in most fiction and biographical texts. Factual texts are organized categorically or topically and may have sections with headings. Writers of factual texts use several underlying structural patterns to provide information to readers: enumeration, chronological sequence, compare/contrast, cause/effect, and problem/solution. The presence of these structures, especially in combination, can increase the challenge for readers.
Content: The "content" refers to the subject matter of the text—the concepts that are important to understand. In fiction, content may be related to the setting or to the kinds of problems characters have. In factual texts, content refers to the topic of focus. Content is considered in relation to the prior experience of readers.
Themes and Ideas: The "themes and ideas" are the big ideas that are communicated by the text. A text may have multiple themes or a main theme and several supporting themes or ideas.
Sentence Complexity: Written language is qualitatively different from spoken language. Fiction writers use dialogue, figurative language, and other kinds of literary structures. Factual writers use description and technical language. In hybrid texts you may find a wide range of literary language.
Vocabulary: "Vocabulary" refers to the meaning of the words and is part of our oral language. The more the words are accessible to readers in terms of meaning, the easier a text will be. The individuals, reading and writing vocabularies refer to words that they understand and can also read or write.
Words: "Words" refer to recognizing and solving the printed words in the text. The challenge in a text partly depends on the number and the difficulty of the words that the reader must solve by recognizing them or decoding them. Having a great many of the same high frequency words makes a text more accessible to readers.
Illustrations: The "illustrations" include drawings, paintings, or photographs that accompany the text and add meaning and enjoyment. In factual texts, illustrations also include graphics that provide a great deal of information that readers must integrate with the text. Illustrations are an integral part of a high quality text. Increasingly, fiction texts are including a range of graphics.
Book and Print Features: The "book and print features" are the physical aspects of the text—what readers cope with in terms of length, size, and layout. Book and print features also include tools like the table of contents, glossary, pronunciation guides, indices, and sidebars.
Reference: I.C. Fountas and G.S. Pinnell. 2005. Leveled Books, K-8: Matching Texts to Readers for Effective Teaching. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.