Guided Reading Level G
best children's books

Got a Guided Reading Level G / DRA Level 12 reader on your hands (or a classroom full of them?) We've scoured the bookshelves and come up with the best leveled readers and picture books for kids currently reading on this level.  [It's the same level. Some schools use the DRA Leveling system while other schools use the Guided Reading (Fountas & Pinnell system).]

Below are books that are perfect for kids reading on Guided Reading Level G / DRA Level 12.  If you are a parent and are unsure what your child's current level is, ask the teacher.

How to help a child reading on this level

It can be hard to know exactly what skills to focus on or what abilities your reader should already possess. Hopefully the following information will be helpful to you as you read with your Level G / DRA 12 reader and support his/her growing literacy.

(If you are a parent and are unsure what your child's current level is, ask his or her teacher. Or, if your child brings home leveled readers for at-home reading, see if the level is noted anywhere on the book.)

What to focus on when helping a child learn to read at level G/12:

At this level, children should continue to practice the reading skills of earlier levels (here and here) and can also start working on the following:

  • using chunks of words to solve unknown, multi-syllable words 
    This is a strategy that kids have been using for awhile, but at earlier reading levels the words were easier, one syllable words like cat (so a child would reason "I know a + t makes at, so I can just add the beginning sound of c to make 'cat" and likewise for sat, mat, hat...) Now the books have a much greater prevalence of bigger, multi-syllable words but the same strategy can be helpful when coming across an unknown word.

    If your child is struggling with a word and you see a small chunk inside the word that he/she already knows, ask "Do you see a chunk inside that you know?" or "Is there a smaller word that you already know inside the big word?"  You could even cover up part of the word to reveal the chunk, then help him/her to put it all together. For example, children often get stumped by the multi syllable word 'little'. To help them decode it, cover up letters so they see the -it sound. When they recognize it and can say it, then uncover the l and have them put together that first syllable [a smaller word within the bigger word]. Once they have read 'lit', ask them to try and add the other sounds they see. At this point they can usually get the word, although they might have questions about that pesky silent e.

  • reading compound words
    You can help your child learn to read compound words by encouraging him/her to see the smaller words inside the big word, then piece the words together. In our experience, kids get really excited about compound words because they are long and impressive (they make kids feel like advanced readers!) but they are fairly easy for kids to read because at this level, they are pretty good at the smaller words that make up compounds.

    Your child's teacher will explain in class how the meaning of compound words doesn't always relate to the smaller words inside (ie: butterfly has nothing to do with butter), but if your child is reading ahead of the class, you may need to explain this as you come across unfamiliar compound words.

  • apply a range of word‐solving strategies with less prompting
    At this point, your child has learned a bunch of different decoding strategies (aka word attack strategies or word-solving strategies). They include sounding it out, making connections between words, using smaller parts you know, getting the word started then looking for picture cues, etc.  Ideally, at this level a child will try those strategies on his/her own sometimes when coming across an unfamiliar word.

    Of course, you will still want to prompt a strategy here and there if they are struggling, but this is a great level to really encourage children to do their own thinking! As adults help a child learn to read, it's easy to fall into the habit of doing their thinking for them. Kids get in the habit of constantly looking up to the adult when they come across an unknown word...because they've learned through experience that the adult will often simply provide the word for them and then they don't have to struggle through it. All they have to do is look up. :)  Or, some kids have learned that if they don't know a word, they can throw out a guess, and the adult will quickly correct it for them, thus providing the actual word. They didn't need to think it through at all!  This happens all the time because reading with an early reader takes a looooooooooooooooooooong time and a lot of patience. If this is you, know that you are in good company :) and then resolve to start letting them think it through a little on their own.  It's all part of helping a child learn to read independently.

  • look to the text first for explanations/clues about unfamiliar words
    At this level, books will start to introduce some unfamiliar vocabulary words that are specific to the content of the book (called "content specific words"). Instead of stopping and asking you what an unfamiliar word means, kids at this level should be encouraged to read on a bit to see if that unfamiliar word starts to make sense, either through the context in which it is used or through a direct explanation (via words and/or illustrations).

  • continue to practice appropriate rate, phrasing, and intonation
    For more on this, read what we said about this on the Level F page.  And please know that this ability takes a lot of time to develop.

  • more high frequency sight words words
    That's something we are going to say with each new level because those "high frequency" sight words are just as their name says...."high frequency".  In early readers, authors are careful not to pick too many of these rule breaking sight words (words that can't be decoded), but as the levels go up and the text becomes longer, the words creep in. How could they not? They are the most common words. In fact, did you know that only 13 words make up 25% of what we read, and only 100 words make up 50% of the words we read!) Many of these words don't follow the phonics rules, so they can be challenging for kids who don't practice them and know them by sight. But considering that 100 words make up 50% of what we read, can you imagine how much better off an early reader will be if he/she knows those 100 most common words. And, of course, the list continues [200, 300, 400 most common.] That's why teachers are always saying that one of the best ways to help a child learn to read is by practicing those high frequency sight words!

(These level-specific skills to work on are based on Fountas & Pinnell recommendations).

What's different about Level G / Level 12 books:

  • there's a continued widening of genres at this level, with more substantive/interesting informational texts at this level, plus continuation of the ever popular simple animal fantasies and realistic fiction.
  • more unique, unfamiliar settings and storylines are often used (as opposed to very early readers, which often focus on very familiar settings like school, home, a store, the park...)
  • compound, more complex sentences are the norm
  • words with irregular vowel teams or unusual letter-sound relationships appear (you know...those frustrating words that don't follow any rules!)
  • illustrations are more complex, making it more challenging to use picture cues as a decoding strategy since the pictures aren't always directly related or a lot is going on (which is okay because this decoding strategy becomes less relied on at this level)
  • as books get longer, the print size gets slightly smaller and there are a few more lines of print per page (usually 3-8 lines)
  • informational texts will introduce a few harder vocabulary words related to the topic of the book (what teachers call "content specific words"). These new words are almost always both explained clearly and illustrated in the text. [ie: in a text about the butterfly life cycle, the words metamorphosis and chrysalis will most likely be used. These are big, unfamiliar words, but the book will more likely take the time to highlight the word, clearly explain what it is, and include a (labeled) diagram or illustration.]

How important are leveled books?

A child's reading level will continue to grow in small increments over their primary education years (or sometimes even in big leaps and bounds!) It's exciting to see...and it's exactly what we all want for the kids. But, it can also be like trying to keep their growing bodies clothed. Like their clothing size, their reading level keeps growing and changing. Is it worth the effort of trying to keep up with each new level? If you are trying to help your child learn to read, you may be wondering...Does it really matter if they read books on their exact current ability level? 

As teachers, we can promise you...yes!  Definitely yes! Here's some reasons why it's worth the extra effort:

  • if you have more than one child, books on each level will be hand-me-downs that will definitely get used when helping each subsequent child learn to read!
  • libraries have many of the books we've listed above (in the new books category) so you can get the books for free if you'd prefer
  • kids LOVE to witness their reading progress in action and books at their exact current level do just that. Kids are remarkably adept at telling when books are a little harder, and my goodness are they proud of themselves when they can do it!  (Conversely, when a book is too hard, they can get unduly down on themselves.  That's a bummer to see. "Just right books" (books at their level) solve this problem.

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