I’ve often said I’m not about reading levels for kids. I think too much stress is put on reading levels in public schools, and it spills over into other types of schooling. I’ve seen it it kill any love for books kids might develop. Reading is such a personal act, and learning it should be as organic as it can be.
When my boys were little, we could often be found curled up with a stack of picture books on the floor, reading through them one at a time and exclaiming over the pictures, studying the letters, discussing the sentence structure. But at bedtime, even when they were toddlers, I snuggled up with them and read them a chapter from a chapter book. Harry Potter. The Key to Rondo. The Narnia series. The Guardians of Ga’Hoole. A Series of Unfortunate Events.
Why? Because stories expand our minds, and I wanted my boys to learn early how to let that happen without pictures. Even I was surprised by how quietly they settled down and focused on the chapter each night, closing their eyes and letting my voice lull them. I wasn’t at all surprised by the vocabulary they picked up, the way their imaginations swelled to include new knowledge, or their high-level ability to understand complex situations at an early age. That’s what reading above your ‘reading level’ does for you.