As a librarian and during my days as an independent bookseller, I have always loved to match the right book to the right young reader. To perform that magic I try to ask children what two books they've read or heard that they really loved. I use that as my guide to what sort of reader they are. The sense of the child drives my book choices for that child much more than the "letter" or "lexile" they are slotted into by a system. Where a defined level may empower the youngest of readers by being appropriate for their skills, for me as the kids grow, the levels can start to give folks tunnel vision. To encourage a love of reading and to allow kids to read below, on and ahead of their given level, I have given my reading levels very broad definitions. My goal is to find a book your child WANTS to read. That's where the world opens up and the child connects and all the good stuff starts to happen!
Babies love to be read to. The books included at this level will have lots of pictures of babies, lots of concepts, will be board books or interactive lift the flap books. Show them the pictures and tell them the names of things so they can begin to build vocabulary.
These are books for 1s and 2s who may not be able to sit for a long picture book but would love something with a few words, some interesting pictures and maybe information about the world they live in. This category will also include interactive books with flaps to lift or cheerios to insert or something hidden on the page.
Picture books are primarily geared to 3s, 4s, 5s, 6s. But, some are actually written for an older audience because of the subject matter or the length of the narrative.
These books are for children are learning to read. Usually 4, 5 or 6 years old. You may want to use the keyword "beginning reader" if you have a child who is just starting to figure out this "reading" thing.
These children can read on their own and enjoy an easy chapter book and something 60 pages or less. Usually 6, 7 or 8 years old.
These children are ready for something up to 100-200 pages and are usually 8-10 years old. Subject matter will not be too intense or frightening.
These readers are ready for any length of book and can handle some serious issues. Usually 10-13.
These readers can handle any length of book and any topic whether it be difficult issues such as sexual abuse, suicide, excessive violence, gangs, abortion, hazing. Usually 14 and up.