Choosing the right graded readers for your young learners takes a little thought. There are thousands upon thousands of stories out there. Not only do they need to find the right level, but they also need to find a number of books that will keep them engaging in learning to read.

In this quick guide, I’ll help you choose the right Disney Kids Readers for your students so they can take guided and independent reading lessons in class and at home.

Let’s dive in.

First, what is the difference between guided and independent reading?

Guided reading

In class, students usually read aloud in a small group with a teacher. The teacher assists the children in deciphering the words, navigating elements of the pronunciation and understanding the meaning. At home, a child reads aloud to a parent or caregiver. This is a great way to involve parents in a child’s journey to becoming fluent.

Independent reading

When reading independently, on the other hand, the students read to themselves silently. These students already read with some confidence. You can decipher common words and have a good command of visual words. Your reading speed is fluent enough to focus on the meaning of the text.

Check out my previous article, Learning English by Storytelling with Disney Kids Readers, to learn more about how storytelling can keep your time telling you.

Rated readers can help with leveling

So how do you know which reader to choose for your students? Well, graded readers are already ranked by level. They also often provide metrics to help teachers make informed decisions about what reading level a child is at.

Let’s look at Disney Kids Readers as an example:

Age and level appropriate stories

Disney Kids Readers has six levels. The number of words per page and the number of pages per story are the same in each level.

For example, level 3 stories have up to 40 words per page and 20 pages per story. As a child progresses through the reading levels, the books become longer and more complex.

From Level 3 Disney Tangled, p. 7

Word lists

To write the stories, the authors use lists of common, common words. For example, level 1 has a word list of 200 words. Level 6 has a word list of 1,200 words. These are called “keywords”.

In this way, the vocabulary load for the learners is manageable. Even better, the learners come into contact with the same words over and over again, which builds up their vocabulary.

Of course, it’s difficult to write an engaging story for children with just keywords. Therefore, the readers also contain a few low-frequency, highly interesting words such as “lantern” or “tower”. These words are then placed in a picture dictionary or glossary at the end of the book to aid students’ understanding.

Flash cards
From Level 3 Disney Tangled, Picture Dictionary p. 23

Grammar curriculum

The authors write with a grammar curriculum for each level. For example, the regular past tense is introduced in Level 3 readers around the same time that students are learning this verb form in their general English class. As the children read, see examples of the regular simple past tense in the stories.

Teachers Can Use the Disney Kids Readers’ Scope & process to see which language structures are covered at each level.

Lexile® custom

A Lexile® measure is assigned to each Disney Kids Reader. This is a global standard for measuring text complexity. In general, longer sentences and less frequent words in a text result in a higher Lexile® score. This gives teachers and parents a chance to compare these readers to any other book with a Lexile® measure.

It also means you can rank graded readers from lowest to highest score. You can be sure that as your young learners become more literate, the readers you choose will become more complex.

Global English scale

The Global English scale (GSE) is a standardized, granular scale from 10 to 90 that measures English proficiency. It is based on the Common European Framework of Reference (GER).

Each level of Disney Kids Readers sits in a band on the GSE. For example, the range for level 1 is 16-27 while level 6 is 36-48. Knowing the GSE or GER level of your students’ general English course book will allow you to assign the graded readers to the same level.

Each reader has a handy table on the back.

GSE leveling table
From Level 3 Disney Tangled, back side

C stands for “comfortable”

Independent reading: Reading the text should be easy – with almost every word the student is familiar with. That way, they can focus on enjoying and understanding what they have read. Paul Nation, a leading expert on vocabulary teaching and learning, suggests two new words for every 100 words are the right choice for comfortable, independent reading.

Guided Reading: Reading the text should help the student practice the reading skills they are learning, such as:

Tips for working out the comfort level:

  • Estimate a child’s reading level based on what you already know about their skills and use the tools available to you in the graded reader. Then start on the level below. It is safer to start low and move up than the other way around.
  • Have the child read you a passage from a book at this level. Try to read about 100 words. As you read, write down the number of mistakes they make so you can get a rough idea of ​​whether or not they will achieve a goal with an accuracy of about 90%.

E stands for “enjoyable”

We want reading to be fun for our young learners. When they get books they understand and find interesting, there is a much greater chance that they will develop a love of reading.

Tips for more reading pleasure reading:

  • Never call reading books “home”job
  • Once they know their reading level, let children choose books that interest them.
  • Include a range of fiction and non-fiction books in the library
  • Encourage the children to read all kinds of materials: poems, graphic novels, articles, plays, profiles, in addition to stories

Whether you are a seasoned school owner, teacher, or parent, these tips can help your children read with confidence and develop a lifelong love of reading. What could be better than that?

Visit the Disney Kids Readers website for more information on the 36 readers.


Extensive reading and vocabulary learning, Paul Nation, Victoria University of Wellington, YouTube, 2020


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