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Is it OK for kids to read books outside their reading levels?

Whether your kid is a naturally precocious reader or just happened to pick out an interesting-looking (but challenging) book, she'll need some guidance to avoid age-inappropriate content and frustration and improve her understanding of the material.

Here are some ideas:

Get an assessment. Many schools offer reading assessments to determine a child's reading level. A teacher or librarian can help pick out books that will challenge her but that don't contain material that's not appropriate or too difficult to understand.

If your school uses the Lexile Measure, you can find books that match her reading ability on Amazon. Here's an example of where the Lexile Measure may appear on Amazon product pages:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Use supporting materials. If she's chosen a complex book, supplement it with some lower-level reading to help her build her comprehension of the subject matter.

Write down unknown words. Ask your kid to keep a list of all the new words she encounters so she can look them up later.

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Comments

Kid, 11 years old

I am in 6th grade and read at an 11th grade level. Since I'm in 11, that's pretty high. But honestly, you have to find out about these topics eventually, so why bother trying to keep your child away from what they have to know? It's ridiculous, if you ask me. Also, I enjoy a challenging book, and it's pretty hard to find one without something in it at my level. Kids are much smarter then we are given credit for, and can handle most topics. So, just don't worry. If your kid wants to read something, just let them. It's better for them, because it challenges their reading, and better for you, because they'll love you for it.
Adult written by Damned

One can read above their technical level but what one cannot do is to read inappropriate content of which lingers outside of their level of maturity.
Adult written by Damned

Push your level. Vary your reading gernes. Don't regret it. It'll be beneficial, trust me on this. When I was in fourth grade, I read the adult newspaper - same as my dad When I was in fifth grade, I read Michael Grant, Susanne Collins and James Dashner When I was in sixth grade, I read Jane Austin
Kid, 11 years old

I am on a college reading level, and would like to say some things: We find out, and understand, much of the "content" that you are so worried about much earlier than you think. And don't roll your eyes and think "Yes, we know you learn about segregation in school, and hear about the shootings, you only know the small, tiny simlified stories of all these horrible things in society that adults have given to you. You don't know how to get around the internet and avoid suspicous sites, you don't know all the terms for things that...happen...as a teen...and as an adult...(um, I'm trying to aviod being reported for "unwanted sexual content" and I appologize if this comment is going to far) We know. We hear your news station that you think we aren't listening to, because guess what? There are words that will catch our attention. I am saying this because there are some adults that have said (I quote directly from a common sense reiwew of some book, I can't remember) "DO NOT LET YOUR KIDS READ THIS IF YOU DON'T WANT THEM TO HAVE A DIRTY MIND" Excuse me, but I have read much worse then the kissing that this person got so mad about. -Wolfsbane
Kid, 11 years old

I totally agree with you. Also, my reading is much above the average level for my age, and my parents use to worry about me reading inappropriate content. But honestly, once I've read one inappropriate book or movie, you can't change the past. So yeah. Just saying.
Teen, 13 years old written by Katriny

I am in 7th grade (going into 8th) and I read at a 12th grade level. I am on track to have a 2000 lexile (the highest possible lexile/ the lexile of a post-college adult by the end of middle school/ first year high school. It is extremely hard to find books that are my lexile that I am actually interested in because I don't really like non-fiction. Because of this I have read tons of Classics because they are a high reading level, appropriate,and historical fiction which is one of my favorite genres. I read the abridged little women in 3rd, (8) Treasure Island in 3rd,(8) Tom sawyer in 4th grade (9), the first 1/2 of little women in 4th,(10) and the complete Little Women in the summer before 6th.(11) I am looking at this from a reverse perspective in that it is okay to allow kids to read book that are too easy ( I just finished all the Big Nate books) because you want them to like what the are reading and enjoy reading. I love reading and wilI read anything but I recently discovered Graphic Novels and am hooked.
Teen, 13 years old written by David12345

I am 13, an have read Anna karenina, war and peace, crime and punishment, all Of Charles dickens books, and all of Jules vernes books. I think that you should always push yourself to read more books you enjoy
Kid, 11 years old

I don't think reading level is all that important. Parents should make sure their kids aren't reading books with sexiness and swearing, but challenging words are fine. Kids and parents can use dictionaries and thesauruses to figure out unknown words. Then again, I'm speaking from the perspective of someone with a high reading level for her age. A kid with a lower reading level than the majority of their age/grade level might feel frustrated if they don't understand a lot of the words they're reading.
Teen, 15 years old written by kiwikiwi05

I agree. I also read at a higher level then I should and if I didn't read outside of my level I wouldn't have ever gotten into Harry Potter and Percy Jackson.
Teen, 13 years old written by Kirito-kun

i think "reading level" isn't important. kids can read anything that are appropriate and they can understand.
Adult written by Damned

That's the whole point of having a "reading level"; so kids read books that are appropriate and can understand
Kid, 11 years old

I think you should be encouraging people to read outside their level, you need to teach them how to be outside their comfort zone, I started reading at a young age and it helps a lot in the next few years. I've read many long books that are'nt usually read at my age. It dos'ent bother me or my parents! Comic Books/ Animes; That's a whole other story...
Kid, 11 years old

I think it's okay. I usually pick up random books that look interesting at the library, some outside my reading level, and from that I learned about Percy Jackson, Harry Potter, Hunger Games, and many others.
Kid, 9 years old

I love books so much, and I'm almost 10. I literally ALWAYS pick up interesting books from my library down the road. Once I picked one book up from the library, and read it, now, it is one of my favourite books! But it contains the swear word 'c--p'. Other companies rated it a 14+, but I understood it perfectly well!
Teen, 13 years old written by hungergamesmaniac

I think it is okay. I am 12 and I have read Gone With The Wind (Margret Mitchell) and Story of a Soul(St. Therese) and Sense and Sensibility (Jane Austen) in the last 5 years and it is wonderful.
Teen, 16 years old written by Kitsnow

Personally, if a child is able to read, understand, and relate to the book, let them read it. Even though specified "reading levels" are good indicators of how well a child reads, it shouldn't limit their horizons as to what books they should read. This only inhibits growth. People don't learn and grow from doing things they can already do, they learn things by trying things they CAN'T do yet. Obviously, if the book is extremely outside of their range, or contains content that the child cannot understand or relate to (like a preschooler/young school-aged child reading The Shining), feel free to keep it up on the shelf for a while, until they CAN understand and relate to it.
Teen, 13 years old written by SmartyOwl

When I was in 3 grade I tested and got marked at a reading level of 12.9. This caused me to go through books quickly. Therefor, I think it is best practice to let them read whatever books they find. With, however, the understanding that if a book has inappropriate content to abandon it. Also, they should have a clear knowledge that there re some words and content you should not say. Honesty though, you would be surprised what kids know/ overhear, even if they wish not to.
Teen, 16 years old written by tolkien

I completely agree, the main thing is content- I'm an avid reader. With a college-level reading level in 6th grade, there were few books that challenged me or held my interest. And there were even fewer books which contained content suitable for little, innocent 12-year-old me. The key is just trying to find books that are above the reading level and are equally interesting and appropriate. Definitely browse for a book with the kid prior to checking the book out or purchasing it. Some really good higher-level books for kids could be some series like The Lord of the Rings, which some kids might find a bit wordy, but I love them. The Hobbit is my personal favorite and is great for kids. In fact, Tolkien wrote it for children in the first place. The Percy Jackson series is a really good series that allows the reader to grow with the books. In the last couple of series, parents should beware of some content issues, but nothing too major, and it's not the focal point of the plotline. The Anne of Green Gables series, the other books are fantastic and L.M. Mongomery had some really great other books as well. So do not be discouraged by the lack of appropriate books for your young reader, there are some out there. Stick to the classics, and be grateful for the gems of Y/A books and series that are out there.
Teen, 13 years old written by Leila3

It is okay for kids to read books outside of their reading level, but it would be best if a parent checks the books first for mature content. I was 11 when I read the Court of Thorns and Roses series, but the book had content that was not suitable for children my age. To make sure that kids don't read mature content before they are ready, they should check with an adult before picking a book in the YA section.
Adult written by h9032

Kids should be encouraged to read good books outside of their reading level if they want to. It's the content, not the reading level, that matters. To give an example, Fifty Shades of Grey is around a sixth-grade reading level, but the content is absolutely not appropriate for an 11-year-old child. Reading at a higher level helps kids become better readers; reading mature content should be appropriate for the child's age.
Teen, 13 years old written by The po-po are c...

I personally think that it's perfectly fine for kids to read outside their reading level (for this comment, I'm assuming that it is higher, when kids are reading below their expected reading level, they should be helped). I personally read books like the odyssey in fourth grade, and when taking an AR reading quiz (still in fourth grade), got the highest score possible (12.9, which means that I read at the skill of a high school senior or a college freshman and above). This is why I am so vehement that kids be allowed to read at their own pace, and honestly, if what they're reading is going to give them nightmares, then they'll stop, but if it's got "mature" content, who cares? The kids going to learn about it eventually. If there are words or underlying themes in the book the child doesn't understand, you can tell them the definitions or explain the plot. When I was in third grade, my parents didn't want me reading Harry Potter books because they might be too "scary." Side note, if you want a great series that uses long words, has riddles, and helps improve cognitive functions, check out the Mysterious Benedict Society, at around the sixth grade level (I'd say more third grade, but whatever).
Kid, 12 years old

Honestly, it's ok. I have a really high reading age so I always read quite mature books and classic books.
Teen, 14 years old written by Glader A5

First of all, it depends on the maturity of a child. I think it's fine for someone to read books outside their age level. I've read books outside my age and was totally fine. It depends on the book, if you're fine with violence and a book is only rated high for violence then, yeah, read it. Since I'm a teen, I read books from the YA section a lot, so if I find an interesting book, I research the book, check to see the reccomended age, and if it's not that bad, I read it. So, before reading a book above your age, maybe ask others about it, and do a bit of research. If the book is extremely outside your age range, you probably shouldn't read it. Also, if you're reading a book and don't understand what's going on and it's just too much, stop and wait until your older. Then, think about the genre of the book, if it's romance and you don't like romance stuff, don't read a romance book outside your age, if it's horror or suspense and you can't handle being scared don't read one above your age, and if is a genre known for being violent and you don't like violence and death, stay away from that genre. So, read books in genres you enjoy and are familiar with the content. Also, consider what you've read before, if you were fine with stuff in books you've read before, and that new book has similar things or even material a tiny bit advanced, and you're confident you will be fine, go ahead and read. But you should also check with your parents and if they say no, ask them why, and if they don't tell you, then definitely no, but if they say because of something you are sure you'll be fine with, tell them and mention a few books that are advanced that you have read before and maybe they will change their minds. I hope this helps. My sister wanted to write something: Reading outside their AGE level is OKAY. reading outside of their READING level is NOT as Okay. I have expirience with this stuff. KIDs ARE WISE AND KNOW WHAT THEY CAN HANDLE more than anyone else. I was reading a book and they had TRASHY role models, so i stopped reading the book and wasn't scarred for life. Bye-Bye.
Teen, 15 years old written by Raelin33

When kids get to a certain age, say 13 or 14, there is a very fine line between Teen and YA literature. There's no words too complicated, and most book stores don't have separate sections, just one 'YA' section. I would advise parents that, if you think that your child can handle more mature content, and can understand and judge it for themselves, then go for it. If you feel your child isn't able to judge these for themselves, but wants a challenge DON'T LET THEM NEAR THESE!! Give them a copy of Dickens, or Little Women, if they feel up for a challenge. Classics like these, where the content is not 'mature' or 'inappropriate' are ideal. Quite often, Teen or YA books don't have language too different from tween books. Or tell them to read(or reread) Harry Potter. That works too.
Kid, 10 years old

I'm reading the wheel of time series right now. There are parts of it I don't understand and it's supposed to be above my reading level. The thing is I can't seem to find interesting books that don't have too much adult stuff in them. You should try reading the books I get assigned at school. I read them in under an hour and there just isn't any challenge whatsoever. The books at my reading level have these things in them that I'm just not mature enough to understand so those themes just go around me and I suspect I don't even recognize them. So there is just no harm. The teen books and the children's novels are just so simple, all day I get told simple things I already know over and over. I just want something interesting in my life.
Teen, 13 years old written by Valkyrie512b

It depends on how mature you're child is. Lately I've been reading a lot of YA (young adult). Once you get to levels MG+ and UG+ the books get to becoming more mature. Sometimes though it depends on what genre the book is. (My opinion) read what you like, use the right judgement. If the book gets confusing, you lose interest, or you can't handle reading it then STOP. The things you read get implanted into your head whether you like it or not. Last summer I finished reading the Throne of Glass series, if your child/or you are reading something ask these four questions: Can I handle reading this? Will the affect me somehow? Good? Or Bad?
Teen, 15 years old written by Human-

Honestly it all depends i had a lexile of 1750 at age 10. But usually the higher a lexile goes mostly in the (1000-1400) range books can get a little more mature. So just watch out.
Teen, 13 years old written by Sierra Akbari

I think that it is okay to read books outside a person's reading level, but it's also not. If the book is good for the person to read, then go ahead! If the book includes bad content that the person should not yet read yet, than don't let the person read that book. If the you are uncertain, you can have your parent read the book first to make sure it is appropriate.
Teen, 13 years old written by dragongirl_06

I think reading what you think you like is the best option. Of Course, parents are always there to keep an eye on you, but from the age of 12 or 13, I think kids will know whether any stuff is inappropriate (considering the fact that this is the main concern). Sometimes parent probably PROHIBIT reading certain books, with its content and all, but all I would like to say is don't be too over protective.
Kid, 10 years old

Why shouldn't you break the rules a bit? I passed Z2 (yes, this exists) at 7, and currently I'm reading adult books that aren't boring, but I also read middle-grade and YA books as well (they're pretty good). Why conform to your reading level? Harder books can be just as fun. I also recommend The Gift Of Fear by Gavin DeBecker.
Kid, 12 years old

Well, I think it's perfectly fine! Why not? I mean, I'm starting mid-school but I read at a college reading level! My Lexile has been tested to be more than 1800 and I passed level Z at 3rd or 4th grade. But all books at my Lexile are not suitable for my age level or just too plain boring to read, so I read easier books that normal mid-schoolers read! I see no problem. I read the magic tree house series at 3 years old... so I don't see anything wrong. After all, reading is for pleasure! :p
Kid, 9 years old

Kids SHOULD TOTALLY BE ALLOWED to read books out of their reading level! I do this all the time! Kids should read books that they want to read: ( expect if it has violence, sex, drugs, or swearing )! I read the Harry Potter series when I was in second grade.
Teen, 13 years old written by The po-po are c...

Learning A-Z defines reading level Z2 as reading at or above the level a nine y/o or a fifth grader reads at. Amazing! You read two years ahead. On the other hand, the National Children's Book and Literacy Alliance states that only 35% of children read at or above their grade level. So congrats, you're probably among the top 20%.
Teen, 16 years old written by hannahsmithh

I think kids should read whatever they want. I read the After series when I was 12 YEARS OLD. It was way out of my reading level because it was very inappropriate but I have read other books that are not in my reading level or that kids my age wouldn't read. Like when I was 11 I read Paper Towns. In 2nd grade, I read the first Percy Jackson book.
Kid, 11 years old

I think kids can read any book outside of their reading level. I read the Harry Potter series in 3rd Grade!
Kid, 11 years old

I think that kids are generally mature enough to put a book down if it it is to inappropriate. Also if kids can't understand a word they either guess based on the context of the sentence leave it alone or ask someone. I read a wrinkle in time at age six!!!!!!!!!!!
Kid, 10 years old

I read a lot of books for young adults and honestly, although some people may think they are too difficult or inappropriate, I think a reader who reads challenging books and is mature should be abale to handle almost anything on the YA shelves. Plus, YA has some of the best books there are. We don't want to limit the books that we read.
Kid, 11 years old

If I was reading only books that were geared towards my age range at this point in my life, I would be bored out of my mind and completely uninterested in reading. As long as the book isn't totally inappropriate, LET THE KID READ WHAT THE KID WANTS TO READ. How is this even a question? And if it's too complex, then the kid will have learned that they need to read books geared towards younger age ranges (for example, if the kid doesn't understand YA literature, then they might be better suited for middle grade.) The whole "promote their understanding of the material" is ridiculous in my opinion. It's not a school, they can read their own books on their own time, learn by themselves, make their own connections, without parents constantly explaining everything to them. Sometimes I read stuff that I don't understand. This has been happening since I started reading, because duh. I either ask my parents about what it means, or I don't care enough to, and the world does not end. And also, the constant use of she/her pronouns throughout the article was weird.
Kid, 9 years old

i like what you are explaining! Just saying, sometimes kids (like me!) read books outside their reading level because they are ready for those books! I have been reading books for 7th graders for a long time, and i'm only in third! But this seems helpful for kids who need help with the book!
Kid, 11 years old

I have been reading books for young adults since I was 7 and adult novels since I was 8. let a kid self-police themselves, they generally will do a good job.
Teen, 14 years old written by skyeak

You can definitely read above your reading level! Just be aware that higher reading levels include books that may have mature and/or inappropriate themes and more complex vocabulary. Additionally, some books include deeper meanings and concepts that may be hard for a young reader to understand. Try discussing the book with an adult or older reader to help understand confusing concepts.
Teen, 13 years old written by Frogface_

I am currently reading Johnny got his gun, and even though my mom can't stand books about war, I find them rather enjoyable. I think kids should be allowed to read books above their reading level. Also, someone should review Johnny got his gun by Dalton Trumbo.
Adult written by David L.

I agree I was surprised Johnny got his gun doesn’t have a review here! How was it? Was it traumatizing? Do you think it would be okay for a 10 year old?
Teen, 13 years old written by Frogface_

It was very powerful. I didn't find it traumatizing, but it changed how I look at certain things. I think you should wait till you are 11 to read it, but if said ten year old is ready to handle gruesome descriptions of rotting dead humans, then sure, they could read it. Every kid is different though, so if that ten year old's parents think they are ready to read it, go ahead.
Teen, 17 years old written by Jaspony

Not to be picky but I thought it was kind of sexist how it said "her" all the time. I'm one of the best readers In my class and I'm a Male. We don't just sit around and couch potatoes playing Fortnite. I know it's hard to believe but true.
Parent of a 12-year-old written by WolfLover101

Yes, honestly even though I'm a girl I 100% agree. I have some guy friends how are pretty advocate readers.
Adult written by CarynFisher

People writing articles chose male or female and go with it. In the past males were dominantly represented in books and literature in general. It is okay for this article to be about "she/her", just as other articles that discuss positive attributes can be about "he/him" or even "they/them". Some authors chose to switch back and forth throughout the article or book, and that is also acceptable. This article is not sexist in any way. It is referring to "she" and does not mean the "he" can't also be an advanced reader. When choosing to make bold statements it is important for us to educate ourselves on the issue at hand. Reading some books about sexism might help you be more able to identify it.
Teen, 13 years old written by theshadowsleuth

I’m female, but I did also find it odd. Boys can be great readers, and I know plenty of girls who aren’t great at reading.
Teen, 14 years old written by Bubbsart

It is fine as long as the content is suitable for the tween’s age and reading level. Ladder option applies to kids that have above-average reading levels, (for example one of my friends in elementary school could read up to a seventh grade level and couldn’t read books below the 4th/5th grade level.
Kid, 12 years old

I think it is appropriate. I started reading at the age of three, and since I looked up to my older brother, I would always want to read what he read. I read the first diary of a wimpy kid book when I was six, and read the I funny series at the age of eight. Right now, I am trying to convince my parents to let me read johnny got his gun by dalton trumbo. It is pretty violent, but I think I should be allowed to read it. It just depends on the kid's maturity and what they have been exposed to. If they read scary books, you should make sure they know that it's not real. If it is based on real events, I suggest you have a talk about it. I'm not a parent yet, so I don't know really.
Parent of a 14-year-old written by Zacha76

As a child, I read absolutely everything. My mom's raunchy books included. If you are willing to answer questions, let them read all they want. I can't expect my kid will always be reading Diary of a Wimpy kid and not want to move on to V.C. Andrews. It gives so much insight and my mom and dad never bothered to look through the books I was reading. If you raise them to come to you with questions and a big dictionary. I have to say that if an 11 year old wants to grab War and Peace, I'm not going to stop them because it might be above their reading level.
Kid, 10 years old

I'm very sure that it's okay for kids to read things outside their reading level. Sometimes, it's just FUN reading a goofy lower-level book, and other times, it's EXCITING to try challenging books. They can get help from a parent or teacher when they're confused about a word. There's a difference between reading at different reading levels and reading more mature content.
Teen, 14 years old written by LilDragon2

As soon as I could talk, I started reading. Taking an assessment about five or six years ago told me that I was at a grade 12 level and I thought nothing of it until I realized what it meant. I finish books with hundreds of pages in an hour or so. I've always been portrayed as a nerdy type and most people would agree with me when I say I'm not really complete without a book in hand. Since I was six years old, I've been sneaking peeks at my dad's books and started reading in the teen section when I was about seven. When I turned nine, my dad and I started sharing books and recommending them to one another, though he wasn't hesitant to keep me from reading inappropriate content. When I was ten and summarized a book I was reading, my parents freaked out. After long, heated discussions, we decided that I was to "self-police" myself and talk about any themes that made me feel uncomfortable. I think that allowing your child to self-police as I did makes them feel independent and more in charge of their own hobby. It's never good to squash down a child's passion for reading, especially because it is so rare nowadays. Most kids are exposed to violent, bloody video games at a very young age, so if violence is your concern, you don't have much to worry about. If you think your child will be disturbed by inappropriate language, chances are that they've heard it from the "big kids" on the back of their bus already. If a book includes sexual references, your child is likely to put it down and not pick up another one like it for a while. The moral of the story is to just set your kid free and ask them casual questions about what they're reading. If they're scared and won't admit it, make them stop. However, it's more probable that your child will self-police him or herself adequately until he or she is old enough.
Teen, 14 years old written by Lucential

I’m a ‘nerd.’ Like a lot of other people on here, I have been a precocious reader since a very young age. That, coupled with the fact that my siblings are 8 and 12 years older than I am, lead to the fact that I started running out of interesting age-appropriate books. Personally, I believe that the best way to avoid your thirteen-year-old reading porn is to casually monitor their reading. Dropping questions in conversation such as “what are you reading?” or “have you read any good books recently” can give you a picture of what your child is reading, and as a result may help yo steer your kid away from books that are too mature. As a side note, know your kid. Some kids, (myself included), are afraid of almost nothing and can read violence like there’s no tomorrow. Others, however, might end up reading things (horror novels at age 8, for example) that frighten them or disturb them. If a teenager does end up reading something that makes them uncomfortable, the odds are that they won’t pick up any similar books for a while. As a syggestion, don’t put too much limit on what your child is reading. Books are a great way to expand the imagination, and a lot of the time, sword and knife fighting is what your child wants to read. And, if you’re all out of ideas, help your child write a book. In conclusion, (and if you don’t want to ready my long paragraph), don’t limit your kid too much. Almost no one is damaged by reading books above their reading level, and kids can usually decide for themselves when to stop.
Teen, 15 years old written by MissBookaHolic

I am 15 and have been reading "adult" literature since I was seven. I believe that most recently written works are peppered with content much too dark and sensual for children to comprehend and properly process. While children should be encouraged (as I was) at an early age to read good literature like Lord of the Rings or books on philosophy and logic, most books nowadays labeled as "teen" or "YA" should be monitored. Quite frankly I believe a lot of books written recently and labeled as such are not worth reading whatsoever. If a young child is eager to read beyond their "reading level", let them read good stuff. If they are advanced at eight, give them Charles Dickens, Jane Austin, Lousia May Alcott, C.S. Lewis, Tolkien, or Jack London. But for heaven's sake don't think "wow he's so advanced I think my eight year old should be reading Twilight or the Hunger Games". Books like these are unhealthy for a child to read and will only develop unhealthy behavior. Please use common sense when giving a child "adult" literature.
Kid, 11 years old

Why? All of my friends have and they all say it is great. I'm curious to know why because I was going to read it. Violence, language, violence, Inapropriate content?
Kid, 10 years old

In its reviews, many people say that it's very anti-feminist. I agree. Why do people love this book about a teen in a bad relationship with a vampire who's 87 years older than her? Stephanie Meyer, the author of the book portrays stalking, as cute and romantic when Edward does that to keep Bella from choosing the less abusive relationship, and of course, at the end, it works and Bella chooses the man who could be her great-grandfather (he's 104!!!!!) and doesn't get a restraining order against him, (like most reasonable women would do) and choose Jacob. I prefer My Sister, The Vampire, because the relationships are healthy for children at that age, and it's actually pretty funny.
Teen, 14 years old written by Lucential

In what way? If you need a reading level for a lower school student, usually their teacher or librarian has that information. Otherwise, you have to just go through their books.
Teen, 13 years old written by Suited Casually

I am at the reading level of a graduated senior I have been ever since 2nd grade, Or at least that's what it says because the curriculum doesn't go any higher. The problem with that was how boring the books around me were for a while. Especially with this thing called RIF where we could take a book to keep and they only showed us certain books at our presumed level! That of which drove me to wanting a challenge sadly any book I have read has been easy which is why I am always looking for tougher books. These books with sexual content I have understood since 1st grade at the latest. So I would seek out these books because they were the best thing I could find for a while. So I would personally say you have to really critique and measure what kids are taking in and what they can handle. For me I could have read some books that are really "hard". One I'm going for currently is War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy (The book not the movie). So I would say it honestly just depends on the person.
Teen, 14 years old written by theladyawesome

Um...yes?????????? When I was 12 years old, I had pretty much read everything worth reading in YA: ~Harry Potter ~Percy Jackson ~Mortal Instruments ~Hunger Games ~Maze Runner ~Throne of Glass ~Divergent There are sexual references in many of the books I listed above and some mild language (hell, damn, ass). There is also explicit sex in CITY OF HEAVENLY FIRE and TOWER OF DAWN. And you know what? 12 year old me didn't like that, but she skipped over those sections and read those books as nothing had ever happened. And it did not scar me for life, big shocker. If my mom or dad had intervened and told me to not read those books, however, I don't know where I would be. Teens/Tweens: If a book catches your eye, most of the time, definitely check it out. Parents: Please, let your kids read the things that they love.
Teen, 13 years old written by Moviegirl700

Totally let them! Of course, an advanced 7 year old should not read Twilight, and an advanced 12 year old should not read graphic murder mysteries. All kids should be encouraged to read! Advanced 5-7 year olds should start Harry Potter, Jane Austen books, and classic books like Tom Sawyer, the Little Princess, etc. 8-11 should start things like Harry Potter, Jane Austen, and teen books like Divergent, and the Hunger Games (HG should be the 9+ crowd-prepare kids for the near rape scene in Divergent). 12+ can start adultish books, but watch for sexual content and serious violence. Tough words? Explain!!
Kid, 12 years old

The hilarious thing? I'm 12 and I LOVE Agatha Christie books! Although they are super scary (such as And Then There Were None), I enjoy them. Long live Hercule Poirot! I read HG at age 7. It's no big deal, we have to embrace life. Sometimes life isn't as it seems, HG provides a very pessimistic view, but it's a different POV! I SUPPORT. Tough words? Search. That's what Google's for.
Kid, 12 years old

I enjoy reading, and am above my friends' reading levels except two of them. I recently read Breathless and it is 14 and up. I really enjoyed and understood it. It isn't on common sense media but it should be.
Kid, 10 years old

I am outside my English reading level but it's a bit hard to find books in the school library because a lot of them are easy for me
Kid, 12 years old

If the book they are reading is appropriate for their age group (like no sexy stuff) they should be fine. I read books that are to young for my reading level because most books in my reading level are boring to me. If you kid likes reading books about fairies but they are in a 9th grade reading level, it’s gonna be hard to find books about fairies in their reading level. Let them express themselves by reading below or above their reading level and just let them read what they want (if it’s appropriate).
Kid, 8 years old

I think it's okay as long as it does not have anything too inappropriate. It's great to stretch your reading level a bit in fact the more the better. It will encourage kids to read more plus the early readers can be a bit boring.
Kid, 10 years old

As long as it is appropriate, it is OK! It is completely pointless to try to limit kids like myself to their reading level!
Adult written by The Parent of two

When I was 3 I learned to read. By 4 I was reading chapter books made for 5th graders. At 5 I read every classic I could get my hands on, Dickens, The Secret Garden, and The Wind In The Willows. My Mom told me I would grow out of it. She told me that everyone would catch up to me in reading level, but it never happened. In 5th grade I was reading wuthering heights and my love for stories and books has only grown.
Teen, 17 years old written by Rcarroll4515

Most definitely. In 2nd grade I was on.y about 4-5 months ahead of the reading level. I decided to read Jurassic park, and through context and google learned unknown words and finished. This encouraged me to read more advanced books. By 5th grade I had read, an adult version of treasure island, moby dick, farenheit 451, 1984, huckleberry Finn, Tom Sawyer, les miserables, the complete collection of Robinson Crusoe, 3 Sherlock Holmes stories, the trial, all the hunger games and divergent books, 1 James Bond book, 6 other Michael chrichton books, and had bought the Martian and the great gats y to read. I had reached a college reading level by 6th grade. I finished most of these books in a week because I genuinely enjoyed them. I think if you stick with what you know and don’t challenge your self you never learn. Choose books that you will enjoy and you will ha e finished before you know.
Teen, 13 years old written by Helloobooks

Of couse it is ok. I read Dickens at the age of 10 and Le morte d Arthur, unabridged, in old english when I was twelve. It hasn't damaged me. I undersrood them perfectly
Teen, 13 years old written by plox

I love to read. Most of the reason I have a huge vocabulary and good writing technique is because I've never stayed at my reading level. I was reading the Harry Potters in first grade, and I never had problems with advanced words because I used context clues. My parents were very supportive, and that's why I'm the kid I am today. I agree with the others, though. Parents should check for inappropriate content.
Teen, 17 years old written by Line2023

Reading books outside one's reading level can give a kid a good challenge, and as long as it's not inappropriate it's fine.
Kid, 9 years old

Yes, I did find this article helpful. I have read a ton of mature YA books that are above my age group reading level (The Librarian Of Auschwitz, John Green) but I always make sure to okay them with my parents first.
Kid, 11 years old

Yes. If they are young kids, they might not even understand some of the inappropriate stuff in a book so you don't have to worry. Also, some kids (like me) don't like the type of books on their reading level.
Kid, 11 years old

also, when you think about it, there may be kids who dont like reading not because they cant, but cause they dont like the material on their level. mind you, I am on a high school level.
Kid, 12 years old

Same. I love reading books my 16 year old brother reads. I also think it improves your spelling and grammar when you read a lot.
Kid, 8 years old

Yes, I've read all the Harry Potter books with no help. (I can read 7th grade reading level I'm gifted)
Adult written by bigskycamper

Yes! Reading levels(lexiles, guided reading levels etc.) are not a 1 to 1 match to a child's abilities on a given day or overall. Interest and background knowledge of a subject can greatly effect a child's ability to read a book as well. Due to specialized vocabulary, nonfiction books often get leveled fairly high, even if lower level readers can read them to to familiarity with the language or with picture clues. (With a young boy I find this especially frustrating as he is often told at school he "can't" choose books he's very capable of reading). Also, if kids never try and reach for harder books, they'll never know when they are ready for the next level. Kids should be encouraged to self-evaluate books as being too hard or just right instead of relying on outside metrics. Some good strategies are to have kids start reading and hold up a finger every time they get to a word they don't know. If it's more than 5 in the first few pages (or a page for a chapter book) maybe wait on the book or have an adult read it but if they are determined and highly-interested, why stop them? Reading levels were designed to mitigate kids who are frustrated by too hard books but if your child isn't frustrated, let 'em learn! A good rule of thumb on the flip-side, there is absolutely nothing wrong with reading below level or books that are "too easy" unless it's a time when kids should be specifically working on reading skills. Reading is like training for a marathon. While you will need to run some fast miles and do some speedwork, 90% of your training is about laying a solid base, which includes lots and lots of easy miles.
Parent written by [email protected]

Yes. There are 3 basic benefits to allowing this. 1. The obvious ones about increased literacy and the simple fact that each child learns at their own pace. Example: my son is not a great reader, but his appreciation of narrative is way advanced. So I read a lot of higher level fic to him at bedtime. 2. The not so obvious such as the 'rights of the reader' (Daniel Pannac) to choose what to read when they feel like it. As already pointed out adults choose to read up or down depending on their present mood, so why do we tell kids that a book is below or above them. Example: I may read Alain de Botton when I'm having a smart day, but often I read Wired magazine because I'm tired. 3. And finally, for the love. As a school librarian I often see 5yr olds with a Harry Potter under their arm. I know they won't read more than a few pages and so do they, but they want the Kudos of carrying it around. Love of books is a culture value that we all want to encourage, not just of the written word but the actual book as a culturally important artifact. This love of the book is chosen, and like all love, it cannot be forced.
Adult written by D-Rae

From special educator standpoint I have a lot of kids that want to read what their peers are reading. My students come back from the library with books that are so high above their grade level they would never be able to read, let alone comprehend them without reading with someone . When that happens I encourage them to take the book home and read with their parents but also borrow books that are at their level to read when reading by themselves . This allows them to save face in front of their peers . Remember though there are many high interest low-level books available .
Adult written by D-Rae

Absolutely!! Whether kids are reading above or below their level they are still reading! When kids are being graded on their comprehension level that is a little bit different story. In that respect they are being graded according to the reading level that they tested at throughout the year. If a high level reader wants to read a low level picture book, let them. It's enjoyable for adults to go down a slide or run through a sprinkler, isn't it? When kids read above their level and challenge themselves that's a great thing too. My daughters both read way above their grade level. This is only a concern to me when the content that they are reading could be too advanced socially and emotionally for them. For a long time I would go to parent review sites for books before I would allow them to read books that possibly contained inappropriate material. That's the main reason I signed up for Common Sense Media. This site along with a few others that I have found really help me decide if a book is something I want my child to read . Many of their friends read books that I won't allow them to read and it makes for some heated arguments but parents should always have the final say in what their child consumes, either by reading or by watching. You will find many parents that are way more liberal than you and you will find more parents that are more conservative than you. It's your child. As a side note, both boys and girls read high-level books books that are above their reading level. Common Sense Media, I am disappointed as well that you referred that girls are the ones reading above their levels.
written by Letsbeweirdtogether

I've been reading outside of my reading level since I learned how to read. This year I read Anna Karenina and The Portrait of a Lady. Maybe not too much when they're young so that the kid isn't exposed to content that could be considered inappropriate (so 1st-4th) but after that they need to start developing a good, solid vocabulary and sometimes -especially classic novels -it can teach a child a valuable lesson about life. To Kill a Mockingbird, for example, has been my favorite book since third grade and the first time I read it I learned not to judge people by what i hear or by how they look -because I didn't understand the significance of the court case assigned to Atticus and so I put more thought into Boo's story line and drew a good lesson form it for my age. Kids will ask questions if they want to know something and if they aren't interested enough they will take from each book what they need to.
Adult written by Bookwmn1

From my thirty plus years of experience in working in libraries with children and books, my answer is a resounding YES. Most often I encounter parents who do not want their child to read a book that is below their grade level. There is little harm in this unless the child is reading books for a competition or reward of some kind such as a class pizza party or reading club prizes. In those cases children are expected to be reading material on their own reading level. Adults enjoy easy leisure reading and children should have the opportunity too. If the material is too difficult for the child to read on their own they may tire of it and put it aside until later. Parents and teachers can greatly help in the ways already mentioned like keeping a word list and looking for additional less difficult materials. In learning language we can understand words when we hear them even though we may not be able to read or write them. This would be a great opportunity to read the material together and/or supplement it with the book on audio. This allows the child can hear and read the words at the same time. Additional media materials such as DVDs and games may also be available. Or course, as a parent I'd opt for the warm cuddly experience of reading aloud together.
Teen, 13 years old written by werewolf10100

I don't think it would be good for kids to read outside of their reading levels because kids tend to learn at a slow pace so forcing themselves to do something higher than expected could confuse them and they won't be able to understand whats going on.
Kid, 11 years old

WHAT?! WE CAN UNDERSTAND PERFECTLY WELL! I AM OUTRAGED AT THIS COMMENT. IT DEPENDS ENTIRLEY ON THE KID! I WAS READING HARRY POTTER IN KINDERGARDEN AND I GOT SO MUCH OUT OF IT. Please, can someone tell me they also disagree with this person. Of course, my opinion probably doesn't count because I "learn at a slow pace" IN FACT, I DON'T EVEN UNDERSTAND WHAT THE HECK I'M WRITING. BETTER HAVE AN ADULT COME AND TEACH ME, AT MY SLOW PACE! DUHHH....I'M SO CONFUSED BY THE WORD "STIPULATE" Ughh. Some people just think children are brainless when it comes to books.
Kid, 11 years old

Couldn't agree more, mate. My parents are like this and don't understand what's going on inside my head, and they think because I'm a child I'm an idiot. I read at and 11th grade level. So, not that stupid.