Franki from A Year of Reading generously offered some advice in response to my post on my frustration searching for appropriate early reader books based on the level system. Franki is one cool lady.
This leveling system is so frustrating. I feel like a bad mom if I venture outside my child's level and help her read a book that's a bit advanced for her. It's also frustrating because there is no standard, at least not that I'm aware of, in the publishing industry on rating the books. I'm told by the school I need to find a book rated one way, and it is difficult finding that same rating in the libraries and bookstores. After cybertalking with Franki, I was inspired and started Googling.
Guess how many reading level standards there are around the United States? Find out the answer here: Reading Levels of Children's Books: How Can You Tell? Can you believe this?
I found a couple of school systems that have easy to use databases to find an appropriate book based on reading level. Unfortunately, I don't live in one of those states. But, I can use the Beaverton, MI public school system's leveled books database, since it is based on the DRA testing score my child's school uses. This database allows the user to search for books needed in the target reading levels. There is also a chart for benchmark target reading levels based on grade leveled by the DRA and Lexile standard testing scores. The California Department of Education also has a reading list database available for residents to find books. If you're not lucky enough to live in Beaverton, Michigan or the state of California, check out your town and state website. Maybe you'll find an easier system of finding the appropriate level book for your child.
Here is another database for books based on the Fountas and Pinnell system. If your child is tested on the Lexile standard, here is their database to locate books.
Scholastic, Inc. has an article on understanding leveled reading and a reading level chart based on the Guided Reading Level, DRA and Lexile testing system. Their reading chart is similar to the Beaverton, MI public school benchmark target reading levels chart, but if you put them side to side, you'll notice Scholastic shows more leniency in reading level in the earlier grades.
After you do all this research, or before if you have a cowboy mindset, go and read Franki's article over at The Edge of the Forest to decide just how much you want to be pulling out your hair over leveled reading.