Maybe your child started reading early, or started with her peers and then zoomed ahead. Maybe a teacher told you he was an advanced reader, or showed you some Reading Level numbers to prove it. Many schools test for reading level to help guide students as they learn to read.
Either way, if you’re interested in this blog, you likely have a child or student who reads above her grade level. And eventually, you will find it difficult to find appropriate books, because while they may read at the 9th grade level, you don’t want them reading about teenage angst when they’re only 8 (or 10).
I’m not a teacher, or a reading specialist, but I am on my local school board, and I know more about academic testing than your average bear. There are several ways to measure reading level—both for a book and for a child. When your eight year old takes a test that says they are reading at the 9th grade reading level, this means one of the following:
1. your child scored as well on the test as a 9th grader would
2. your child can decode typical 9th grade vocabulary
3. your child is savvy enough to intuit the meaning of words they don’t understand from context
4. your child is smart enough to out-wit the test (which is not a bad thing)
There is a big difference between being able to read something with complex vocabulary and sentence structure, and being able to understand what you are reading. Many advanced readers can tell you what a book says, but have no idea what it means. This is because they are still little kids and the material is probably beyond their experience level and understanding in life. This. Is. Okay.
The biggest danger for advanced readers comes from 1) falling out of love with reading, which can happen if they don’t have a steady supply of books they enjoy, or 2) not advancing their reading comprehension skills, which are also likely above grade level, just not quite as far as the tests may show.
Ink Skills will try to help with both of these issues.
Falling out of love with reading—How can my adorable child not want to read, when they are so good at it, and have loved it for so long? This can happen, and not just to kids who are advanced readers. Many, many kids drop reading as a pasttime when they reach Middle Grade levels. When asked, the kids say it is because they don’t have books they love. At these ages (8-12) they still depend on parents and teachers to help them find books. This is one of the main purposes of this blog, so look for more to come on that.
The right book for your child is the one they want to read (caveat: unless it has objectionable, to you, material in it).
Not advancing reading comprehension skills—How can my talented child be challenged unless they’re reading books at their “reading level”? A varied diet of all kinds of books, magazines, newspapers, cereal boxes and anything else with the printed word is fine. Nay, necessary, for your child to continue to enjoy reading and improve their comprehension of information from a wide variety of sources. But keeping at least some fraction of that literary diet filled with challenging material—whether it’s challenging in vocabulary or comprehension—is also important. This is the other main purpose of this blog, so more to come on that as well.
The reading level of this blog is 8.1 (because Word is just that cool).
Ink Spells will mostly focus on fiction, but I will throw out occasional pitches for non-fiction material as well. To wit . . . read the newspaper!
Newspapers are a great source of non-fiction reading at higher reading levels, but you need to be selective—not just to avoid war and murder stories, but about reading level as well. In my random survey of articles, USA Today has a RL between 7th and 10th grade, whereas the Wall Street Journal has reading levels between 8th grade and 13th grade (yes, that’s college level!). Comprehension is much more demanding in the Wall Street Journal than your average daily paper (we have both in our house), as well as having longer, more in-depth articles.
My 10 year-old munchkin is an avid reader of both the comics (in the daily paper) and the front page of the WSJ, mostly because it is always sitting on the table at breakfast time.
One year of the WSJ print edition: $155
Your ten year old asking about the housing price graph in the Personal Finance section: Priceless