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Reading Levels for Children: Vocabulary and Types of Kids’ Books

When writing for kids or young adults, it is important that you always have a specific age group in mind and that you know the vocabulary to describe your type of children’s book. Below you will find details about the word usage, content, and length of children’s books and young adult novels.

Definitions Of Children’s Book Types By Age Group

Primary Age Books: Children ages 6 to 8, or 1st through 3rd grades. These children read picture books, easy-to-read books, and picture storybooks. Easy-reader books are meant for children to read alone, and sentences should average 5 to 6 words, with the maximum number of words being 10.

Elementary Level: Children ages 8 to 12, or 4th through 6th grades. These children read sentences of approximately 10 words, with the maximum number of words being 20. Most books written at this level range between 20,000 and 40,000 words.

High School Level: Children ages 13 to 17, or 7th through 12th grades. Very often younger children and 6th graders read books at this level. This level uses adult structure and vocabulary. Most books written at this level range between 25,000 and 55,000 words, but longer lengths are found.

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List Of Types Of Children’s Books

Check the text of your children’s manuscript to be certain that the words used are age appropriate. Using words that children do not understand is a common mistake among inexperienced writers looking to place their children’s books. For example, if you are submitting a young-reader book, choose words that children ages six to nine will understand. The information below will help you to choose your words (and topics) wisely.

Picture Books Definition
These books run from 50 to 1,500 words. Many children have a short attention span, so this length is appropriate. There are three categories of picture books:

1) Books for babies to three-year-olds. These books have very little text.

2) Books for toddlers to five-year-olds. These books are designed to be read aloud and at one sitting. They should have a happy ending. Length of sentences is about five to six words. These books should take no longer than 15 minutes to read.

3) Books for five- to eight-year-olds. These books contain a story. They should have a beginning, a middle, and an end. The plot should be simple. These books may also be read aloud.

Picture Story Books Definition
These books are filled with illustrations but have a more complicated plot than picture books. The text drives the story. These books are written for five- to eight-year-olds. Picture stories have lots of action. These books are read to children, so the words used must be understandable to them.

Young Reader Books or Easy-To-Read Books Definition
These books run from 500 to 2,000 words, but 1,500 words is preferred. The children reading these books are six- to nine-year-olds. About 50 pages in length with only 40 or so pages of text. Sentences should contain approximately five words, with a few up to eight words. These books are created for children to read on their own.

Young Adult Novels Definition
These books are created for readers 12 to 18 years old. The protagonist should be a teenager and the plot significant to this age group.

Hi-Lo Books Definition
These books run from 400 to 1,200 words. They are considered high interest, low reading level. These books are created for slow readers. They contain a lot of action. Sentence length is about 11 words. The ratio of all children’s books published is about 60% fiction and 40% nonfiction.

5 Responses to Reading Levels for Children: Vocabulary and Types of Kids’ Books

  1. I looked at a dozen or more websites that still left me with questions. Thanks for the concise, to the point, information!

  2. This is just what I was looking for
    I am interested in doing non- fiction
    4-8 yr group
    I have taken about 3000 pictures for a
    series.
    Thank you

  3. This is great exactly what I need. I plan to do a “real’ book of. Knowing how many words is crucial.
    Thank you

  4. I think the information is great!!!!! I have great ideas for children bookS but just need some support in putting my best foot forward

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