Once students reach level C, they are introduced to a number of new features. This includes dialogue, which introduces students to quotation marks, commas, and the word “said.” Level C texts may contain other punctuation as well, such as question marks, exclamation marks, and ellipses. Books at this level may also contain bold words, which provide educators with another excellent teaching point during their guided reading sessions.
By level D, students are reading books that contain longer sentences, some of which may have more than six words. Sentences may be split over multiple lines, and there are about two to six lines per page. Level D texts are not highly patterned, making the language less predictable from one page to the next. This is of benefit to students who may have become too reliant on patterns and now have to use more strategies to read the text.
Both word length and sentence length increase in level E texts. Readers may have three-syllable words to solve. They may also discover varying words for “said,” such as “cried” and “shouted.” As readers continue to progress through the levels, the storylines also become more complex and have the addition of multiple characters. These features continue in level F texts, along with more detailed illustrations, more complex letter-sound relationships, and more content-specific vocabulary.
As storylines become more complex into level G, students are introduced to less common settings, beyond what they may be familiar with in their home, school, and neighborhood. The print may also become smaller in these books, as the number of lines per page increase.
Level H books may be part of a series, where characters continue their adventures in various settings. Readers may also be introduced to italics. Level I collections may contain non-fiction selections that contain a table of contents and a glossary. These are text features that educators may wish to focus on during guided reading sessions.
Level J collections may include beginning chapter books. Spelling patterns and letter-sound relationships continue to become more complex and the number of lines per page increases.
These features continue throughout level K, along with multisyllabic words that require students to use more advanced decoding strategies. Level K texts also contain more pages that are not supported by pictures.
By level L, books are describing more complex storylines and also introduce students to more vocabulary they may be unfamiliar with. As readers advance to level M, they will discover more print and fewer pictures, along with more abstract themes and characters. These books provide educators with the opportunity to go more deeply into inferencing and character analysis. Students who are reading at level M have become fluent readers and solve words more automatically.
Level N texts continue to expose students to complex plots and multiple, well-developed characters.
The non-fiction books in level O collections may contain topics that students need prior knowledge of in order to support their comprehension. In fiction texts, there is an increase in descriptive and figurative language. There continues to be multiple characters that become more complex and change over time. As students progress to level P, themes become more challenging and require students to assume different perspectives. Students are introduced to topics they may have limited experience with.
Students may reach level P around the third grade and be reading fluently. They have a wide range of texts they can read independently, including chapter books, informational books, and short stories. Word-solving has become automatic and students continue to increase their vocabulary as they read more complex stories and non-fiction selections.