Reading levels for 1st grade

First-Grade Reading Level Defined, According To A First-Grade Educator

Good To Know

Not all learning-to-read journeys are the same, but these tips can help.

by Candace Nagy


Originally Published: 

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Got a little one making the transition from kindergarten to first grade this fall? It's a big step that will come with new learning milestones — reading independently being one of them. While they may not be ready to dive into the Harry Potter series just yet, this is the age where you might see them reading to themselves... or you! And you might also be wondering what level of reading a first grader should be at. This insider look at how a first-grade reading level is assessed in the classroom and what you can do at home to support your child's reading goals will help take the guesswork out of early literacy.

According to first-grade educator Minnie Phai, "For many districts, [...] a child's reading level is determined by doing a ‘running record.’ This is when a teacher reads a book with a student and records how they read, what their strengths are as readers, what strategies they use to decode unknown words, and their comprehension skills. A child's independent reading level is then narrowed down and matched to a corresponding grade level. The most commonly used running record system is Fountas & Pinnell."

First Grade Reading Levels

Many publishers also categorize books into "Levels" that correspond to the average reading abilities of children, including some of the "Big Five" like Random House and Harper Collins, making it easier for parents to choose books appropriate for their child's grade and age. And first-grade reading levels typically correspond with Levels 1 and 2.

"Once [children] are reading these Level 1 and Level 2 books independently (with little to no help from adults, with very high or perfect accuracy), what you're hearing is children decoding all the words with greater ease and confidence. For some children, this is when they're left to read on their own or tasked with reading to their grown-up or a sibling," says Phai.

First-Grade Reading Level Examples

Curious exactly what Level 1 and Level 2 books look like? The following are classic examples:

  • Go, Dog, Go! by P.D. Eastman (Level 1)
  • Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! by Mo Willems
  • Ten Apples Up On Top by Dr. Seuss (Level 1)
  • Garden Day! by Candice Ransom (Level 1)
  • A Pig, A Fox, And Stinky Socks by Jonathan Fenske (Level 2)
  • The Bookstore Ghost by Barbara Maitland (Level 2)
  • Richard Scarry’s Be Careful, Mr. Frumble! by Richard Scarry (Level 2)

Encouraging a First-Grade Reader

If your child is showing signs of independent reading at Levels 1 and 2, congratulations! You're off the hook for storytime, and your child will now also be responsible for teaching any younger kids in your home or in your neighborhood to read! OK, so maybe that's a stretch. But it is a great opportunity to celebrate your child's achievements and also a reminder to check in often with their reading comprehension, fluency, and stamina — encouraging and supporting their learning to read journey.

Phai says, "This may be as simple as taking note of it, such as noticing how long their child can read for before they become fatigued, or how they are able to read in a phrased and expressive way. It can also be as involved as helping [them] differentiate character voices from narrator voices, or making inferences together like guessing what the character is feeling or thinking and why they might be feeling that way." If this sounds a little advanced for first grade, Phai points out that these less obvious skills are absolutely necessary for progressing to reading more complex texts.

Of course, every parent knows that getting their kids to do something they don't want to do can feel like pulling teeth. Your best bet is to find ways to make reading feel as comfortable and engaging as possible for your reluctant reader. A few ideas might include:

  • Create a cozy reading nook.
  • Take a trip to the library and let your kids pick out their favorite books.
  • Encourage your kids to act out a play based on the books they are reading.
  • Make connections between the characters in the books and real life.
  • Be a reading role model and show your kids how excited you are about reading.
  • Let your kid read aloud to you.

Now that you know what you might expect from your first-grader in terms of reading and how to support them, keep in mind that not every child is going to be excited about reading (ahem, remember that book that sat untouched on your nightstand for three months?). But making reading fun with these tips will definitely go a long way toward encouraging your first grader's love of reading!

Sight Words for First Graders

  1. after
  2. all
  3. and
  4. as
  5. at
  6. be
  7. big
  8. but
  9. can’t
  10. car
  11. come
  12. could
  13. day
  14. did
  15. do
  16. for
  17. form
  18. from
  19. fun
  20. give
  21. had
  22. have
  23. her
  24. his
  25. how
  26. if
  27. like
  28. look
  29. make
  30. many
  31. my
  32. new
  33. not
  34. now
  35. number
  36. numerals
  37. of
  38. on
  39. or
  40. our
  41. out
  42. play
  43. run
  44. saw
  45. should
  46. that
  47. their
  48. these
  49. this
  50. this
  51. us
  52. want
  53. was
  54. we
  55. went
  56. what
  57. when
  58. which
  59. would
  60. your

This article was originally published on

📚 Making Sense of Reading Levels plus booklists for every Grade

Books to Read • Mom Stuff

August 30, 2021

by Beth Gorden

Anyone else completely confused by reading levels? There are guided reading levels, Lexile numbers, and Book Levels like the library uses. I found this especially confusing when my kindergarten and grade 1 students were beginning to read. I assumed you just get a beginner reader, but guess what – it’s NOT that easy! Many beginner readers are actually for 3rd graders! YIKES! Don’t worry, I can explain reading levels, give you book recommendations by grade, and take all the work out of finding your child the best books to read by reading level!

Making Sense of Reading Levels

What Level Books should my Child be reading by Grade!

I think one needs a masters degree in nonsense to make sense of reading levels! Seriously there are 3 different systems used: Lexile, Book Level (like most libraries) and Guided Reading (Scholastic) that parents must try to understand. And if you google it, there isn’t much useful information out there either.

I even talked with my local librarian who gave me a lot of misinformation, ugh! So I did deeper research so I could pick out readers for my kids.

Reading levels by grade

I don’t claim to be an expert on reading levels by any means, but for all you confused parents here is some help from a mom that was just as confused as you are!

Note: All kids read at their own pace and this is just an average generalization. Please work on reading books at your child’s reading level. For kids who are great readers, they may be reading at books above their reading level.

Don’t miss our hugely popular family Monthly Stories for Kids

Kindergarten Reading Level

Kindergartners are just beginning to read using some basic sight words and decoding simple words. In the library look for books labeled 0.1 – 1.3.  For those using the Scholastic Guided Reading level, look for A, B, or C. (That is 25-75 in Lexile). Remember they need 30 minutes of daily reading; practice makes perfect!

  • 50 Books for Kindergartners to Read by Themselves
  • 45 Must Read Books for Kindergartners (Read Aloud)


First Grade Reading Level

1st Grade students are decoding more words, learning rule breaker rules, and adding more and more sight words. Through the course of the year they can be anywhere from a 1.0 – 1.9 for readers at the library. For those using Scholastic Guided Reading that is B-I or Lexile 50-275. Remember they need 30 minutes of daily reading; practice makes perfect!

  • 100 Books for 1st Graders to Read Themselves 
  • Favorite 1st Grade Read Aloud Picture Books
  • 17+ 1st Grade Read Aloud Chapter Books you won’t want to miss!
  • Top 25 Chapter Book Series for 1st-3rd Grade

2nd Grade Reading Level

2nd Graders are reading well independently. Although they may start their year in advanced readers, most are ready for simple chapter books by the end of the year. Just like Kindergarten and 1st graders, they need lots of practice to continue advancing. Even though 2nd graders are reading well on their own, they still need time reading aloud to an adult who can help them correct pronunciation, flow, and check reading comprehension to ensure no issues creep up. At the library look for books labeled 1.6-2.9. Using a Guided Reading system look for H-M or 225-450 in Lexile.

  • Best 2nd Grade Reading List
  • 2nd Grade Read Aloud Chapter Books
  • Top 25 Chapter Book Series for 1st-3rd Grade

3rd Grade Reading Level

3rd Graders are comfortable reading simple chapter books on their own. They continue to need lots of practice and time reading aloud as well. At the library look for books 2.2 – 3.9, Guided Reading level L-P, and Lexile 400-650.

  • 3rd Grade Reading List
  • Top 25 Chapter Book Series for 1st-3rd Grade

4th-8th Grade Reading Level

Although at this point most kids are reading chapter books that are no longer labeled with a reading level, I wanted to give you some tools in case you feel the need to further assess what your child is reading.

  • 4th Grade Book List  – 3.3-5.5 Book Level, O-T Guided Reading, 600-850 Lexile
  • 5th Grade Reading List –  5.0-7.4 Book Level, S-W Guided Reading, 800-1000 Lexile
  • 6th Grade 6.7-8.6 Book Level, V-Y Guided Reading, 950-1050 Lexile
  • 7th &8th Grade 8.0-9.0 Book Level, X-Z Guided Reading, 1035-1100 Lexile


Find out any Books Reading Level

You can find out any books reading level (Lexile, library Book Level, and Scholastic Guided Reading) by checking AR Book Finder.


Free Printable Reading Logs

  • Monthly Reading Log – this free printable has ‘traditional’ monthly themes
  • Bookshelf Free Printable Reading Logs – super cute and fun for kids of all ages!
  • Pencil Free Printable Reading Logs -print reading worksheet and color a pencil for each book you read
  • Frozen Free Printable Reading Logs – kids will have fun tracking their reading and the books they’ve read with this motivating free printable for kids of all ages
  • Princess Free Printable Reading Logs – students will have fun tracking their reading with these free printable reading logs
  • Super Hero Free Printable Reading Logs – using a favorite theme of kids will encourage kids to read
  • Cars Free Printable Book Logs – children will have fun tracking the books they’ve read with these clever free reading log
  • Summer Free Printable Reading Logs – students will be motivated to read this summer with these ideas
  • Reading Comprehension Bookmarks – this is a great tool for making sure kids are understanding what they are reading
  • Reading Levels by Grade – how to pick the right books for every reading level and tons of printable book lists too


Book Report Idea

Looking for other ways to help kids work on reading comprehension and summarizing a book they read? Try these free resources:

  • Handy Reading Comprehension Bookmarks (any book: fiction or non fiction)
  • Book Report Template
  • Book Report for Kids
  • Pizza Book Report Idea
  • Sandwich Book Report Idea
  • 26 more clever Book Report Ideas
  • Library Scavenger Hunt – help kids learn to navigate a library, the Dewey decimal system, book genres, and so much more with this pack of free printable scavenger hunts for kids!
  • Bookshelf Reading Log – to help encourage kids to read!

Plus, here are some great ideas for Creating a Reading Nook where kids will want to curl up and read a book!

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About the author

Beth Gorden

Beth Gorden is the creative multi-tasking creator of 123 Homeschool 4 Me. As a busy homeschooling mother of six, she strives to create hands-on learning activities and worksheets that kids will love to make learning FUN! She has created over 1 million pages of printables to help teach kids ABCs, science, English grammar, history, math, and so much more! Beth is also the creator of 2 additional sites with even more educational activities and FREE printables - and

How many words per minute a child in 1st grade should read

Reading is an important skill , that children begin to master literally from the first days of schooling. Reading speed is directly related to academic performance. Therefore, in each grade of elementary school, teachers periodically check the reading technique of children. Let's find out how many words per minute a child should read in grade 1 and how to increase reading speed.

First grade reading technique

In Russian schools, the reading technique of primary school students is tested twice during the school year - in the first half of the year and in the second. Some teachers do this every quarter. Such a check is needed to evaluate the following indicators:

  • Way of reading. The teacher watches how the child reads: he reads the words in full or syllable by syllable or even by letter, pronounces them smoothly or abruptly, slows down on complex and long words.
  • Reading speed. nine0004 This is the speed with which a first grader is able to read an unfamiliar text (how many words per minute he reads).
  • Correct. The teacher pays attention not only to the number of words read per minute, but also to the correctness of their pronunciation. The nature of these errors is also taken into account (incorrect pronunciation, omission of some words, incorrect emphasis).
  • Awareness. The student must not only read the text, but also grasp its essence, understand what it is about. nine0016

The main indicator that the teacher focuses on is the number of words that the student reads in one minute. According to the norms, by the end of the first semester, a first-grader should read 25-30 words, and by the end of the second - 30-40 words.

Games with which the child will love to read and write

How to improve the reading technique of a first grader?

If your child does not reach the specified norm, do not be discouraged. Reading technique can be improved and it's not that hard. To do this, you need to start reading regularly at home. But don't force your child to do it by force. Reading should give him pleasure. And this is possible only if it causes interest. nine0007

Try to instill in your son or daughter a love of reading. To do this, select the literature that is interesting to him. It can be fairy tales, stories and stories about animals, fantastic stories or something else. Many children like children's detective stories. The twisted plot involuntarily attracts the attention of the child, prompting him to read on.

Study different literature with your child and find out what he likes. Remember what you yourself loved to read as a child, find these books and offer them to your son or daughter. nine0003 Good for first graders:

  • Russian folk tales and tales of the peoples of the world;
  • fairy tales by G. H. Andersen, A. Pushkin, the Brothers Grimm, C. Perrault;
  • stories by N. Nosov, V. Dragunsky, E. Uspensky, M. Zoshchenko.

Having selected the most interesting works, proceed to the reading technique training. Choose a convenient time when you are not in a hurry. If the book is electronic, download it to your phone or tablet and set the font that is comfortable for the student. nine0007

Convenient holders for tablets, whiteboards and books

Sit with your child and have them read aloud to you. Don't rush him. The main thing is not the speed of reading, but the correct pronunciation of words. The speed will develop by itself with regular practice. Correct the student if he reads incorrectly, explain the meaning of unfamiliar words. The child should not just read, but understand what the text is about. Be sure to discuss what you read and ask questions. nine0007

Read 20 minutes a day. This is quite enough, it is only necessary that classes be regular. If the child is carried away by the work and wants to read further - please. The main thing is that he does not do it through force, otherwise the classes will begin to disgust him.

Some strict parents force the child to read for hours, thereby literally instilling in him a dislike for this occupation. Growing up, such children do not touch books for a very long time. So don't overdo reading. Don't forget to take breaks for games :)

Tips for improving the reading technique of a first-grader

To read not only quickly, but also expressively, it is useful to pronounce tongue twisters. Find tongue twisters to practice different letters and sounds and have your son or daughter memorize them. Let him repeat them at any convenient time - on the way to school, during the game, etc. Patter is excellent for training the speed and clarity of speech.

Notice how the child breathes while reading aloud. nine0004 If he stops in mid-sentence to take a breath, then he is not breathing properly. You need to pronounce the phrase on the exhale, and take in air in the pause between sentences. Let the child practice taking in more air into the lungs and reading the entire sentence. Proper breathing will make speech smoother and speed up the pace of reading.

Reading by syllables significantly slows down the pace. If the student reads syllable by syllable, teach him to read the whole word. To do this, place the stresses in the words and invite your son or daughter to read them. If the child pays attention to stresses, it will be very difficult for him to read in syllables and he will be forced to pronounce the words in full. nine0007

Using these simple practices, your first-grader will quickly master the reading technique and during the next test in the class will be able to meet the standards, and maybe even show an even better result.

standards for grades and quarters

Reading is a key skill that opens the gate to the land of knowledge for a child. Thanks to this skill, children learn about the phenomena and events of the world around them, get acquainted with the characters and actions of people, meet new problems and ideas. This skill helps them to broaden their horizons and ideas about the world, develops critical thinking and trains cognitive abilities - attention, imagination, memory. Reading is the foundation for further successful learning. nine0007

To understand how well a child develops this skill, it helps to check the reading technique. Reading technique is a multifactorial test that characterizes the development of a skill from different angles. In the technique of reading are evaluated:

  • reading speed,
  • reading method,
  • reading awareness,
  • correct reading,
  • expressiveness of reading.

A difficult reading skill consists of both a technical and a semantic component and is aimed at achieving the main goal - understanding and assimilation of the information read. nine0007

Reading technique parameters

Let's consider all the components of reading technique in more detail.

  1. Reading speed - the number of words read in a certain period of time. Often, parents focus on the formation of fluent reading, while the child makes many mistakes, does not understand and does not remember what he read. It is not necessary to force only speed, slower conscious reading and a gradual increase in tempo are better than fast mechanical reading with errors and inaccuracies. nine0016
  2. Way of reading — syllabic reading or reading the whole word, smoothly. With the development of the skill, the child has a gradual transition from syllabic reading to smooth reading in whole words.
  3. Correct reading is characterized by the absence of errors and hesitation. Inattention, problems of diction lead to inaccurate reading, indistinct articulation and, as a result, to a distortion of meaning. Pay attention to the correct reading - this will be the key to competent writing. nine0016
  4. Reading awareness involves reading comprehension, awareness of the idea and meaning of the text, and in the future - this is the ability to catch the subtext, humor, irony, the author's attitude. Interfering with reading comprehension can be low reading speed, distorted reproduction - guessing words, changing the shape of words, not reading endings.
  5. Reading expressiveness - the use of pauses, finding the right intonation, the correct placement of stresses. The expressiveness of reading is inextricably linked with awareness. When understanding what is read, it is easier for the child to observe the necessary pauses, select the correct intonation and place logical stresses. nine0016

Reading speed standards for elementary school

GEF standards determine the desired reading speed for a child by a certain point in learning, help to understand whether the development of a skill is successful or whether additional attention is required to it. Standards - indicative values; it is important to take into account the individual psychophysiological characteristics of each child and evaluate the growth of his personal indicators.

Grade 1 reading speed standards

Reading speed standards in grade 2

Reading speed standards in grade 3

Reading rate in grade


Reading speed, for which the lead schools, is reading at the speed of conversational speech, 110-120 words per minute. The human articulatory apparatus has adapted to this speed over time. And most importantly, the reading should be conscious, correct, expressive. nine0007

Other parameters of reading technique

Grade 1

At the end of the first half of the year. Reading is smooth syllabic, conscious and correct, with a clear pronunciation of syllables and words.

At the end of the second half of the year. Conscious, correct reading, simple words are read as a word. Words with a complex syllabic structure can be read syllable by syllable.

Grade 2

At the end of the first half of the year. Reading consciously, correctly, in whole words. Compliance with logical stresses. Compound words can be read syllable by syllable. nine0007

At the end of the second half of the year. Reading meaningful, correct, in whole words. With observance of logical stresses, pauses and intonations. Syllabic reading is undesirable.

Grade 3

At the end of the first half of the year. Reading consciously, correctly, in whole words. With observance of pauses and intonations, with the help of which the child expresses an understanding of the meaning of what is being read.

At the end of the second half of the year. Reading consciously, correctly, in whole words. With observance of pauses and intonations, through which the child expresses understanding of the meaning of what is being read. nine0007

4th grade

At the end of the first half of the year. Reading consciously, correctly, in whole words. With the help of observed pauses and intonations, the child not only expresses an understanding of the meaning of what is being read, but is able to express his attitude to what he has read.

At the end of the second half of the year. Reading consciously, correctly, in whole words. With observance of pauses and intonations, through which the child expresses an understanding of the meaning of what is read, and his attitude to the content of what is read. nine0007

How can I test my child's reading skills on my own?

Have your child see how well they read already. Children usually love to know how many centimeters they have grown, and they may also be interested in knowing their progress in reading. Warn about the upcoming test and ask the child to read quickly.

The control of reading technique in sensitive children who, due to their temperament, can hardly tolerate various tests, can be carried out imperceptibly or in the form of a game. Do not create unnecessary excitement around the upcoming test, do not arrange a test in the form of an exam. If the child is worried, stutters, transfer control to another time. nine0007

Verification process:

  1. Prepare a clock with a second hand or use the stopwatch on your phone, and choose the appropriate text.
  2. Ask the child to take a seat.
  3. Show him the text and ask him to read it aloud.
  4. Track the time from the moment your child starts reading. Not all children are able to immediately start reading on command, which leads to inaccurate results.
  5. Usually, one minute is noted for checking, but some experts recommend taking 2 minutes for monitoring, since not all children are equally quickly included in the work. Divide the result obtained in 2 minutes in half. nine0016
  6. When reading, do not correct or interrupt. It is better to discuss the mistakes made after the child has finished reading.
  7. Assess the speed, correctness, awareness and expressiveness of reading.
  8. Retest and compare results. Reading technique may differ depending on the child's fatigue, health status and mood.

Which text is suitable for verification?

Both fiction and non-fiction texts appropriate for the child's age are suitable for this purpose. The text should be unfamiliar, but understandable to the child, have educational and educational value. The texts of V. Bianchi, L. Tolstoy, N. Nosov, B. Zhitkov, K. Ushinsky, V. Dragunsky are suitable. The text for verification can be found in special manuals or in a textbook on the Russian language and literature. nine0007

You should find the text that is located on the spread of the book so that the child does not have to waste time turning pages. Choose text without an abundance of punctuation marks and distracting illustrations. It is not desirable that the passage contains common complex sentences and dialogues. The font must be large enough and legible. The text should not have a technical focus and contain terms incomprehensible to the child.

Test score

Speed ​​score

Count how many words the child read in one minute. When counting words, pay attention:

  • prepositions, conjunctions, particles of 1-2 letters are counted as one word;
  • when wrapping, a word counts as 2 words;
  • if the word is written with a hyphen, look at how many letters are on both sides of the hyphen: if there are more than three, we count it as 2 words, for example, “long-long”, if less than three, for example, “somehow”, - as one .

Compare your score with the recommended range and your child's previous performance. nine0007

Comprehension score

Determine how well the child understood what they read. If the student reads slowly and has read only a couple of sentences, let him read the passage to the end. Ask your child a few questions about the text. Ask what or who he read about. Ask the child to identify the main idea of ​​what they read and retell the text.

For a deeper check of the meaning of the reading and learning, use special teaching and methodological kits. nine0007

Correctness assessment

Pay attention to whether the child reads what is written correctly, whether he pronounces words clearly, whether there are hesitations and corrections, whether he alters words, whether he changes endings, whether he places stresses correctly. Discuss the mistakes with the student.

Evaluation of expressiveness

To assess the expressiveness of reading, the child is offered a familiar text. Listen to whether the child observes pauses and other punctuation marks, whether he changes intonation, whether he highlights the main idea. nine0007

Improving reading technique

Poor results in reading technique are not a reason to be upset, but only a signal that additional efforts need to be made to improve the skill. You can work with the child on your own or contact a specialist who will analyze the weak points and select the appropriate exercises. Conduct additional activities with the child in the mode of "sparing reading" without pressure. It is more important to observe the regularity and frequency of classes: 10-20 minutes daily. nine0007

How can you motivate your child to read:

  1. Reward for diligence with stickers, stars.
  2. Mark progress visually - create a success board so your child can visually see their progress
  3. Conduct activities in the form of a game, such as "going to the library" or "reading to your favorite toys."
  4. Choose books and texts that are interesting for your child.
  5. Let the child read to the pets, they are grateful and accepting listeners. Reading to them, the child is not afraid to make a mistake, he relaxes and overcomes the fear of failure. nine0016
  6. Have a reading competition between peers and siblings.

To improve the speed of reading will help:

  1. Reading by syllabic tables.
  2. Multiple reading. Read the same text several times, increasing the pace. From the second time the child will be able to read faster.
  3. "Tug". An adult leads a finger along the line, setting the pace. The child tries to read at a given pace.
  4. Tops and roots. The child reads the words, covering the upper or lower half of the letters with a ruler. nine0016
  5. Reading in a book turned upside down.
  6. Lightning. Alternating reading at a comfortable pace with reading at the highest possible speed for 20 seconds on the command "Lightning!".
  7. "Sprint". Reading speed competition between classmates.
  8. Work on expanding the field of view according to Schulte tables.
  9. Reading with a window to eliminate "regression" - recurrent eye movements that lead to repeated reading.

For correct reading:

  1. Work on clear diction, do articulatory gymnastics.
  2. Read tongue twisters and tongue twisters.
  3. Invite the child to correct the deformed sentences: "The weather is good on the street. "
  4. "Imaginary word". When reading, the wrong word is pronounced, the child must correct it.

Reading comprehension

  1. “Reading in a wave”. First, the child reads aloud, then retells what he read.
  2. nine0013 Drawing up a plan for reading.
  3. The student reads to himself at a comfortable pace, tells what he understood and felt, what he thought about
  4. Discuss unfamiliar words and expressions.
  5. Invite the child to draw a picture of the passage they read.
  6. Ask them to tell you what they liked about the text, what they remember.

For expressive reading

  1. Role-playing, staging.
  2. Put on a "radio show". nine0016
  3. Expressive recitation of poems.
  4. Voice flexibility training. The ability to speak quieter-louder, higher-lower.
  5. Conducting reading indicating the tone or strength of the voice.
  6. Live Picture. One reads, the other reacts with facial expressions.

    Learn more