Matching Books and Readers When is a child ready to move from one tc group to another? A guide Sheet for Teachers



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Matching Books and Readers


When is a child ready to move from one TC group to another?

A Guide Sheet for Teachers
It’s important for teachers to assess the skills and strategies a child uses as she reads to determine whether or not a child is ready to move on to the next level of “just right” texts. This chart is designed to be a tool for helping teachers make this determination. The left side column contains a description of the text characteristics in each of the levels, and the right side column lists skills and strategies that you want to see your students using consistently when reading books within that level. When a child does demonstrate mastery of and consistency with the skills and strategies within a level, the child is most likely ready to move on to the next level. The child may need support as she moves to a new level of difficulty, and one of the best ways to offer support is to provide a book introduction. These can be incorporated into guided reading sessions or given when the child takes new books at the new level for independent reading workshop time.



Reading Level

Behaviors/Skills/Strategies

(Level A)

Books at this level are designed to assist children in looking at print and matching the words that they read with the words on the page. That is, the child learns to say one word as she points to one word. Often the child knows what the page says because the text is patterned. Also, the words are supported by the picture, so the reader’s job is one-to-one match, not decoding text. The books are highly predictable, and children benefit from knowing the title and using this plus the cover of the book to get the “big idea” of what the book will be about. In most cases the pattern on the first page will be repeated throughout the book. This provides enough support so that the child can do the job of matching the sentence of text to the picture and the spoken words to the written ones. The text is most often comprised of one-syllable words to avoid added difficulty with one-to-one matching. If there is a multisyllabic word, it’s usually at the end of a sentence of text.



Children reading Level A books need to learn and consistently use the following strategies, skills, and behaviors:


  • Uses the cover (title, illustrations, a look at some of the pictures in the book, etc.) to get ready to read. Students form a general idea of what the book is about using this information.

  • Matches spoken words to printed words.

If the text says, “I see a plant,” and the child reads, “I see a flower,” matching words correctly, she has met the criteria at this level. We will deal with the mismatch of letter-sound in the next group of books.

  • Moves from left to right when reading.

  • Use the illustration and the story as a source of information.

  • Locates known word(s) in text.

  • Reads with fluency? Reading with fluency is not an issue at early levels. We expect quick, crisp pointing and quick recognition of high frequency words with repeated reading of the same books.


When children read books in Level A and consistently demonstrate these behaviors and strategies, move them to Level B books.

A child reads Can I Have A Pet, which has the pattern, “Can I have a ****?” On page 4, he reads, “Can I have a lion!” (The sentence in the book says, “Can I have a tiger?”)

Has this child mastered the characteristics of Level A and should he move on to group 2? The answer is, “Yes!” He has mastered all the above behaviors. He substituted a furry animal for another furry animal, and may not have seen a lion. However, he did insert something that made sense with the illustration. He’s ready to go on to Level B where he can learn to deal with two lines of print on a page and multiple syllable words in a sentence.




Reading Level

Behaviors/Skills/Strategies

(Level B)
Books at this level continue to assist children in refining their skills of looking at print and matching the words that they read with the words on the page. That is, the child learns to say one word as she points to one word. The repeated pattern in the text continues to support the reader as well as the fact that the unknown content words are supported by the picture. The reader’s job continues to be one-to-one matching, recognizing known words, using the story and illustrations for meaning. The student still is not required to decode text using letter sound relationships. The books continue to be highly predictable, and children should be encouraged to continue using the title plus the cover of the book to get the “big idea” of what the book will be about. In most cases the pattern on the first page will be repeated throughout the book, but there is often a slight pattern change at the end of Level B books. Most often the sentence structure for this change in pattern begins with known high frequency words. Two big changes occur in Level B books. Often there are two (sometimes three) lines of text, requiring the student to make a return sweep to the beginning of the line. In addition, multiple syllable words often occur in the middle of a sentence requiring the student to hold her finger on the word until she says the whole word. If not, one-to-one matching is often incorrect. It is more critical than ever to make sure the student is pointing under the words and noticing the words she knows in Level B books.

Children reading Level B books need to learn and consistently use the following strategies, skills, and behaviors:


  • Uses the cover (title, illustrations, a look at some of the pictures in the book, etc.) to get ready to read. Students form a general idea of what the book is about using this information. After reading the entire book, a student should be able to retell the events in the book, and talk about the general idea of what the book was about.

  • Matches spoken words to printed words.

In Best Friends the text says, “We like to slide,” and the child reads, “We like to hug,” matching words correctly, she has met the criteria at this level—the boys in the illustration are hugging. We will deal with the mismatch of letter-sound in the next group of books.

  • Moves from left to right when reading. Mastering this behavior often requires a student to make a return sweep to the beginning of the next line in Level B book, because they may have two or more lines of print.

  • Use the illustration and the story as a source of information. In the example above (We like to hug.), the student did use the illustration to read something meaningful for the word “slide” in the book.

  • Locates known word(s) in text.

  • Reads with fluency? Reading with fluency is not an issue at early levels. We expect quick, crisp pointing and quick recognition of high frequency words with repeated reading of the same books.

When children read books in Level B and consistently demonstrate these behaviors and strategies, move them to Level C books. A wise teacher will take some of the books which the students were reading words that did not match the text (i.e. We like to hug, instead of We like to slide), and show them how to use first letter to predict a word that fits the illustration and the letter sound match. Remember this kind of teaching is not done until the student is ready to exit this level, and it sets them up for the expectation of using sound/letter match in Level C books.



A child reads Can I Have A Pet, which has the pattern, “Can I have a ****?” On page 4, he reads, “Can I have a lion!” (The sentence in the book says, “Can I have a tiger?”) Has this child mastered the characteristics of Level A and should he move on to group 2? The answer is, “Yes!” He has mastered all the above behaviors. He substituted a furry animal for another furry animal, and may not have seen a lion or tiger. However, he did insert something that made sense with the illustration. He’s ready to go on to Level B where he can learn to deal with two lines of print on a page and multiple syllable words in a sentence.

(Level C)

Books in Level A and B have already enabled the children to learn to look at print and match what they are reading to the words on the page. Books in Level C are designed to require children to begin using graphophonic (letter/sound) sources of information along with the attention to meaning that was fostered by the teaching in Level A-B books and the other components of the balanced literacy program. The reason children need to rely on letters to help them discern what a word says is because the pictures are less supportive, the stories and sentences become more complex, and the text is formatted in different places on the page. It is very important to make sure the students’ pointing under words shifts to pointing under the word and under the beginning letter to assure that they will attend to graphophonic/visual features in the word. Eventually, the students’ will slide their finger under the word to check the beginning and ending letters while attending to the story, illustrations and what they know about the topic they are reading. This orchestration of behaviors leads them to integrate sources of information. These books also demand that children have a small set of known words that assist them in reading across a longer sentence.



Children reading Level C need to learn and consistently use the following strategies, skills, and behaviors:


  • Use the some of the letters in a word (moving toward using the final letter) along with meaning and word order sources of information. The child first attends to beginning letter and then progresses to using final letter.

In the book Laundry Day, a slight pattern change occurs on page 5 when the children begin to take clothes out of the dryer—Out come the socks. Previously the student read, In go the *** over three pages. If a student reads page 5 as, “Out go the socks,” when the text says, “Out come the socks.” The student would be prompted to use the first letter in “come” to predict a word other than “go.”

  • Make return sweep on more than one line of print.

  • Read known words in text automatically.

  • Uses the pattern of the text as a source of information to assist in reading the book.

  • Begin to integrate sources of information: making sure it makes sense, sounds right and looks right.

The beginning sound of the word that the child reads matches the first letter in the word; later the beginning and ending sounds of words the child reads must match the first and last letter of the word. When the text on page 6 of Mom Is A Painter says, “She paints a blue balloon,” and the child instead reads, “She paints a blue ball,” he was using the first letter and so it looked right. When he went back and read, “She paints a blue balloon,” he made sure his reading made sense, sounded right, and looked right by checking the final letter “n.”


  • Retells the story, keeping story events in order, making inferences about story happenings when possible.

In Laundry Day, infers that the people are going home because their clothes are washed, dried and folded.
When children read books in Group 2 with at least 96% accuracy and understanding, and they demonstrate these behaviors and strategies, move them to Level D books.


A child is reading Pass the Present. The text says, “Pig takes off the green paper” but the child reads, “Pig took off the green paper.” She made the return sweep on two lines of text correctly. She was able to locate known words “cat” and “the.” She used meaning from the story and the picture to get the message that animals were taking paper “off” the present. She used a verb (took) for the verb (takes). The beginning sound of “took” matches the beginning sound in “takes.” Is she ready to move on to Level D books? The answer is, “NO!” This child is searching and using multiple sources of information, but she needs more work in checking the ending letter(s) in words before you would move her to Level D books.



(Level D)

Books in A-B have already enabled the children to look at print and match what they are reading to the words on the page. Books in Level are designed to require children to begin using graphophonic (letter/sound) sources of information at the beginning and endings of words. The books in Level D continue to have a pattern with more changes possibly after the first page and on the last page with the internal part of the book having the same pattern. Words with consonant blends and digraphs are added to the processing required of the student.

Therefore, the teacher needs to assess whether her students knows the sounds for consonant blends (i.e. br, cl, etc.) and diagraphs (sh, ch, etc.). Inflectional endings are common. Students may have been reading –s at the end of words in earlier books, but these types of endings become very common in Level E and onward. Then she can hold them accountable for checking the beginning and ending of words in Level D books.


Children reading Level D books need to learn and consistently use the following strategies, skills, and behaviors:


  • Use the some of the letter(s) of a word (including some of the final letters) along with meaning and word order sources of information. The child first attends to beginning letter(s) and then progresses to using final letter(s)

If a child reads, “I slam a goal,” in the book I Play Soccer instead of “I score a goal,” his reading would be acceptable because you are teaching for matching first letter(s) and the student is not noticing the “sc” blend. Later, you would not accept this reading and teach him also to check the final letter(s), too. Students are held accountable for inflectional endings on words (-s, -ed, -ing).

  • Make return sweep on more than one line of print.

  • Read known words in text automatically.

  • Begin to integrate sources of information: making sure it makes sense, sounds right and looks right.

On page five of My Cat Muffin (Scholastic), the text reads, “My cat Muffin is smart.” The student read, “My cat Muffin is smiling.” The student’s prediction of the word smiling makes sense with the picture—the cat’s mouth is formed into a smile. He is using structure/syntax, because the word “smiling” fits into the order of words in the sentence. But, the word does not “look right” because it does not match the graphophonic/visual information at the end of the word. A teacher could prompt two ways: the word “art” is at the end of “smart.” Art is a word that is in vocabulary of most primary students. She could also ask the student to blend the “rt” letters into an ending sound, getting the student to notice that the cat is reading a book. A cat that can read is “smart.”

  • Analyzes story to comment on events or characters and make inferences.


In I Play Soccer, the student comments that the red team is happy because they won the game, but the blue team is not happy because they lost.

When children read books in Level D with at least 96% accuracy and understanding, and they demonstrate these behaviors and strategies, move them to Level E books.


A child is reading The New Baby (Rigby PM). When the mother, father, and grandmother are in the hospital waiting for the new baby to arrive, Tom must stay home with the Grandfather. When Tom comes home from school, the Grandfather tells him, “I am staying home with you.” The student reading the book blocks on the word “staying.” She made the return sweep on the lines of text correctly. She was able to read known words “is, at, the, said, with, here and you” quickly and confidently. She used meaning from the story and the picture to get the message that no one was home to greet him but Grandfather. But she does not use this meaning to help her predict the word “staying,” and she doesn’t even voice the “st” at the beginning of the word. Is she ready to move to Level E. The answer is “No.” This student must do a better job saying beginning blends and linking a known word “day” to assist her in saying the next part of “staying.” She also needs to notice inflectional endings (-s, -ed, and –ing) on words.



(Level E)

Books at this level are designed to require children to orchestrate their strategies using all the sources of information, graphophonic, meaning, and syntax (word order). The challenges of Level E books are that the illustrations are less supportive, the sentences are more complex, and book (literary) language is more prevalent, such as dialogue statements, unusual language structures, and shifts from the predictable patterns that were so common at the earlier levels. Often these pattern shifts and story endings communicate a subtle meaning that must be interpreted from the story. Word work at Level E requires students to be skilled at checking beginnings and endings of words and they should be beginning to look at internal parts of words. A good way to teach for this shift is to teach students to check the consonant letter(s) plus the next two letters. When blocked on the word “loose,” a student would check the (l+oo). The /oo/ sound from the word “too” or “boo” plus the /l/ would get the student saying /loo/. If they add this to the meaning from the story, that character has a loose tooth, they can problem solve the word by monitoring for all sources of information.


Children reading Level E books need to learn and consistently use the following strategies, skills, and behaviors:

  • Notice errors and cross-checks with unused source of information.

In the book In the Mountains, if a student reads page 9 as “I saw a lizard slide by fast,”and the text reads “I saw a lizard slither by fast.” The student should have learned in Level D to check the ending and notice that slide matches the beginning letters, but not the ending letters in slither. (Notice how the student should monitor and correct below the next bullet point.

  • Monitor for all sources of information: checking to make sure what has been read makes sense, sounds right, and looks right

Notice that the student in the example above is using structure/syntax in that he replaces a verb with a verb. He is also using meaning, because he substitutes a word that tells how a lizard moves (i.e. slides). But, his substitution does not “look right” since it does not match the letters at the end. This student should use the consonant(s) plus the next two strategy (sl+ith). Notice that the student includes “three” letters because /th/ is a consonant digraph. He could take the “ith” he knows from “with” and blend it with the “sl” to say /slith/ then add the /er/ to say slither. Notice how teaching for this kind of reading work would allow students to use their sense of meaning along with graphophonic/visual information to learn new vocabulary words.
  • Use internal parts of words—with beginnings and endings.


Notice how the example above illustrates the use of the beginning consonants plus the next two letters. If letters within the next two are vowel digraphs or diphthongs (e.g. ai, ea, oi) or consonant digraphs or blends (e.g. th, sh, br, cl), two letters count as one of the next two, asking the student to look at the next three letters.

  • Track print with eyes, and uses finger only at points of difficulty.

  • Retells and summarizes, making inferences, and commenting on story events.

In the book In the Mountains, the student states that even though they saw a lot of interesting animals, they decide to leave the forest when they see a bear. The other animals were not dangerous, but a bear is dangerous.

  • Begins to read with fluency and phrasing on repeated readings of the same text.

See the chart on evaluating fluency that follows on page 8. Children reading Level E books should be at Level 2 of Oral Reading Fluency.

When children read books in Level E with at least 90% accuracy and understanding, and they demonstrate these behaviors and strategies, move them to Level F.

A child reads a book in which a snake has a sore head, and the other animals do things to help him feel better. She reads, “And he funned Snake with his tail.” She is not using her finger to track print, but she uses her fingers to mark off the first 3 letters in “fanned.” She says, “an…fan” (restructuring the word as f+an+ned) then self-corrects, saying, “He fanned snake with his tail.” You ask why she changed “funned” to “fanned,” and she says, “I saw the ‘an’ after the ‘f.’ I knew it didn’t sound right to say ‘he funned,’ and snake had a sore head, so Peacock was fanning him to make him feel better.” Is this child ready to move on to Level F books? “YES! She cross-checked her error with several sources of information. She is no longer tracking with her finger, except to help in analysis, and she is able to verbalize her use of all sources of information. If this processing is consistent, move her on to Level F.



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