At Chinaberry, we carefully read every book we offer and classify them by reading level.
We believe that most methods for classifying children's literature into appropriate age levels are confusing and neglect to take into account the uniqueness of each child. Children's books in this catalog are categorized by the following guidelines, ones which most parents will find enable them to select books which are appropriate for their child, regardless of age. For those of you who prefer to know simply what age child might typically enjoy the book, we have included an appropriate age range too.
Level 1 Baby/Toddler (Age 0-3): Simplicity and Familiarity
Ultra-brief text or even wordless; familiar words; familiar objects in illustrations; frequently no plot, which offers simplicity and open-endedness that is perfect for "customizing" the book to your child.
Children's books for the very young. These include wordless or near-wordless board books and even books with text, providing you take the cue from your child and disregard the text, if necessary, and simply point to and talk about illustrations of familiar objects.
Board Books: Board books have come a long way. Some started out as the wonderfully sturdy books they are. Others began as popular hardcover books and are now scaled down so that little hands can turn the pages, carry them around and love them without anyone having to worry about them falling apart. Now even children's books that were originally published for older kids have been put in board book form because they are so adorable. They fare well in a diaper bag, misplaced under a sofa cushion, or on the floor of the car's backseat. You can't go wrong having a few of these in your family's life.
Level 2 Preschool (Age 2-5): Stories that expand beyond the everyday
Full-fledged story lines with simple plots to follow; details in illustrations invite more relaxed page-turning in order to savor the subtleties your child can now catch; feel free to continue to customize a book for your child by distilling the text in your own words, speeding up page-turning etc. Many toddlers can find much in this level to enjoy, while 6+ year-olds, who can usually sit through "thick" children's books, still adore picture books.
Picture books illustrated in such a manner that the action in the pictures corresponds to the action in the text which you will read in your own words, if necessary. As the child hears the story in words that are familiar to him, he can see the story unfolding in pictures. This classification includes most of the children's books labeled for all ages, books that truly offer something for everyone young and old.
Level 3 Early Education (Age 4-9): Horizon-broadening and often thought-provoking
Stories with complexities, feelings, characters, and challenges for the child who can appreciate meatier subject matter than Level 2 books offer; heftier text length - most with illustrations and a few occasional illustrations taking a definite backseat to the story; plot frequently offers the maturing child something to think about after the story ends; a few carefully-chosen folk tale books for the child who is now mature enough to grasp what such stories have to offer.
Books which can be read to a child capable of sitting though a story without needing an abundance of illustrations to hold interest.
Beginning Chapter Books: If you have children ready for beginning chapter books, you'll want them to have books that pique their interest and entertain them, leaving them excited and wanting more. Positive reading experiences at this turning point often help ensure that a child will be on the way to enjoying reading for life. And if the books are part of a series, all the better! Once they're hooked on the first book, they'll be eager for more. Our ''Ready for Chapter'' children's books are just the thing to engage your new reader.
Level 4 (Age 8 & up):
More complex subject matter most appreciated by a child emerging into maturity, new responsibilities, and his/her own self.
Longer children's books which can be read to an older, interested child and read by an intermediate or advanced reader. Feel perfectly justified tailoring the text to the child, especially when it comes to concepts or situations which may be too heavy or complicated for a young child.
Parents -- Please Read:
The older our children grow, the more complicated their lives become. Because level four covers such a wide range of children's ages, we feel it is necessary to warn you that some of these books may have mature themes in them - themes that may involves sex, violence, and indiscreet language. And while we feel it is crucially important to offer our children books with mature themes, it becomes more difficult to for us to choose books that fit the general reader since we all have such varying ideas of morality. It is our intention to choose books that offer our children visions of higher models of resolution to problems than the resolutions that are commonly exhibited in our culture today. We are looking for books that lead children to develop expansive levels of compassion, empathy, and skill when dealing with the inevitable difficulties of life. This type of book often has a disturbing amount of conflict; but we feel this conflict finds resolution in a way that models behavior that we would like our children to embody.
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