Each level of the 100 Book Challenge is unique.
To learn more about each level:
These readers must learn to LOVE books. They need to learn how books work and why people enjoy reading them. They learn to enjoy sitting by themselves and pointing to the words in picture books as they “pretend read” the books to themselves. Yellow readers need to experience thousands of books shared in enjoyable settings in preparation for learning to read. There is no shortcut to the vocabulary, background knowledge, language experience, reading identity, attention span, genre exposure, and phonemic awareness that come through being read to, one-on-one, for the 2,000 hours that is typical of the successful readiness reader.
A Yellow reader:
- enjoys being read to in school and at home. Is attentive during read-aloud time
- uses language to explore, negotiate, and express ideas, opinions, and feelings
- makes up a story using the book and “pretend” reading; demonstrates an obvious understanding of the materials (e.g., laughs at funny parts, comments on the material)
- when “reading” alone, points to the words and pretends to read them; knows the printed words are what people read
- holds the book correctly – the cover is toward the front and right side up; turns pages from right to left
- has enough background knowledge to name and talk about pictures common to beginning books
- finishes the sentence in a predictable book
2 Yellow Readers:
These students do not actually read any words. They remember the repeated sentence stem, like training wheels, to learn to integrate the three cueing systems: phonics, syntax, and meaning. They learn to read 2Y books proficiently and fluently, sustaining concentration, monitoring comprehension, and when useful, rereading, before actually having to read any individual words.
2 Yellow readers:
Stage 1 -
- remember a repeated sentence stem, read the main idea of the picture, and say a word that matches the picture.
Stage 2 –
- point to each word while saying one word for each word on the page
Stage 3 –
- when trying to figure out an unfamiliar word, get mouth into the ready position for (or says the sound of) the initial consonant, and then figure out what would make sense given the context clues
- are able to do this with 14 consonants
- back up and try again if the word supplied doesn’t make sense given the picture (meaning), the initial consonant (phonics), and the sentence pattern (syntax)
- after someone reads the first page or two to the student, read 2Y books with purpose and understanding, proficiently, fluently, sustaining concentration, monitoring comprehension, and when useful, rereading
Stage 4 –
- recognize at least 25 very high-frequency words by sight
1 Green Readers:
These readers will know and use 25 - 75 very high frequency sight words as a reliable and familiar support framework when reading. They will be able to read these words in books they have never seen before and out of context (lists, flash cards, etc.) at flash speed. Although there are other skills involved with success at 1 Green, the acquisition of a bank of sight words is fundamental.
1 Green readers –
- read regularly and independently, or with a partner, sustaining engagement when reading 1 Green level books for at least 30 minutes every day (15-minute per session)
- recognize and name all upper- and lower-case letters of the alphabet
- recognize that spoken words are represented in written language by specific sequences of letters
- recognize and produce rhyming words (orally only)
- use initial consonant sounds when reading
- can say a word that matches both the picture and the initial consonant sound without reminders or other help; rereads to correct when necessary
2 Green Readers:
These readers know and use 125 very high-frequency words as a reliable and familiar support framework when reading. They self-prompt for initial consonants, blends, and diagraphs. They are able to decode most one-syllable words. 2 Green readers are able to create meaning during reading and self-monitor for comprehension.
2 Green readers –
- have automatic recall of 75 very high-frequency words and can read them in context
- use picture clues to figure out unfamiliar words
- self-prompts a new word by using the first two letter sounds
- stop when something doesn’t make sense or sound right
- go back and try again if reading doesn’t make sense or sound right
- tell what the book is about: main idea and key facts
1 Blue Readers:
These readers take a huge jump forward in reading. Not only do they have a sight word bank of 200 – 300 high frequency words, they are now able to use these known words, and knowledge of regular vowel patterns, to figure out unknown words. 1 Blue readers have their fingers out, covering parts of unfamiliar words to find something they know inside them, if it works out to be a sensible word. If it doesn’t work out they have to start all over again. These readers self-monitor aware that meaning must be maintained.
1 Blue readers –
- stop and try again when reading doesn’t make sense or sound right
- use the first few letters of a word to self-prompt
- use blends at the ends of words
- use pictures and other meaning clues to figure out new words
- use syntax/sentence structure to figure out words
- tell the main topic and key facts
- make predictions based on the cover, title, illustrations, and text
- know and use various text features (headings, tables of contents, and glossaries) to locate key facts or information in a book
2 Blue Readers:
These readers know to look for the known inside the unknown. They have their fingers on the text, covering up beginnings and endings of unfamiliar words, looking for chunks, vowel patterns, endings, little words inside bigger words, as they successfully figure out the 2-syllable words common to 2 Blue books. 2 Blue books begin to include narratives with some characterization and simple plots. These readers become fully engaged with the message of 2 Blue books. Catch them laughing at the stories, not just figuring out what the words say.
2 Blue readers –
- use finger to look for familiar parts of words inside unfamiliar words.
- stop and try again when reading doesn’t make sense or sound right
- have control of the sight words used at this level
- have most of the words in the book in his or her speaking vocabulary
- use knowledge of endings, blends, vowel patterns, compound words, and rhyming to figure out unfamiliar 2-syllable words
- retell stories including key details and demonstrate understanding of their central message or lesson
- know the difference between books that give information and those that tell stories
- use illustrations and details in a story to describe its characters, setting, or events
1 Red Readers:
These readers are able to sit for 30 minutes and enjoy one long picture book. Their focus is not on decoding, but on the content of the book. They are enjoying traditional tales, silly stories, poetry, and informational text. They enjoy books that come in a series, picture books with the same characters and similar plot elements.
1 Red readers –
- self-monitor for comprehension
- decode most 3-syllable words
- decode words with 3-letter blends and common suffixes
- read with expression, using punctuation
- have most of the words in books in his or her speaking vocabulary
- use 2-letter vowel combinations to figure out new words
- acknowledge differences in the points of view of characters
- identify the main purpose of a text, including what the author wants to answer, explain, or describe
- compare and contrast the most important points presented by two texts on the same topic
2 Red Readers:
These readers begin to enjoy reading chapter books. They develop the habit of silent reading, the ability to sustain interest across sittings, and finally, the chapter book reading habit, where they must engage and understand without the aid of illustrations. 2 Red readers develop the stamina, experience, and fluency to complete at least one 2 Red chapter book per week.
2 Red readers -
- demonstrate adequate background knowledge to name and talk about the content common to 2 Red books
- make personal connections to the text
- describe how characters in a story respond to major events and challenges
- describe the overall structure of a story, including how the beginning introduces the story and the ending concludes the action
- know and use various text features including bold print and captions to locate key facts or information in a text efficiently
These readers continue to develop silent reading fluency, the ability to sustain interest across sittings, and the chapter book reading habit. They can successfully read and finish at least one White chapter book a week. They understand the “literary” vocabulary, language not normally used in everyday speech (e.g, exclaimed, cautiously). At the White level, the major focus is on noticing these literary words and learning them through immersion in reading.
White readers –
- successfully read four genres: stories (adventure, contemporary/realistic fiction, horror), traditional tales (fables, folktales, myths), drama, and poetry
- read silently faster than oral reading
- read actively: activate prior knowledge, survey, make predictions and connections, visualize, reread, and ask clarifying questions
- stop when comprehension breaks down; identify specific words or passages causing comprehension difficulty and reworks for clarification
Black level readers really get hooked on reading. This is when the silent reading takes off and readers will sit and read for long periods of time, reluctant to stop because they want to find out what happens next. This is the level where students begin to get into series books (Goosebumps, Babysitters Club…), which should be encouraged because it builds fluency, speed, endurance, and the habit of reading. Black level readers should make sure they read both fiction and nonfiction, but other than that, they should follow their interests. Broadening their interests into new genres will happen at Orange. In Black text, the vocabulary demands are increasing, with 3-5 words on a typical page not familiar from everyday speech. Readers should be able to define those words from past reading experiences or use of context clues.
Black readers -
*Read at least 30 minutes a school day, or 100 hours per year, without fatigue.
*Read at least 30 minutes each night.
*Black level readers should finish a Black chapter book, or its equivalent, each week.
*Finish books in at least four genres. Examples include biography, traditional tales, tall tales, folklore, realistic fiction, poetry, plays, informational, journals, humor, or animal stories.
*Read aloud comfortably and with expression, demonstrating an understanding of both content and punctuation.
*Can decode just about any word.
*Read silently rapidly and efficiently. They can read silently faster than out loud.
*Read with 98-100% word accuracy and self-corrects all errors that interfere with meaning.
*Have a literary vocabulary of 1,500-3,000 words.
*Can infer meaning from prefixes and suffixes.
*Have acquired the background knowledge of a fourth grader.
*Can find information using table of contents, headings, captions bold print, italics, glossaries, indices, key/guide words, topic sentences, concluding sentences.
*Have mastered narrative form: characters (major/minor), settings, dialogue, narrator/point of view, plot (conflict and resolution), and theme, in both reading and writing.
*Can use charts, maps, illustrations, diagrams, time lines, tables…
*Can explain the author’s primary goal and whether or not he/she accomplished it, using examples from the text
Orange readers should demonstrate proficiency in at least five different kinds of text. In Orange text, the vocabulary demands are increasing, with 5-10 words on a typical chapter book page not familiar from everyday speech. Orange level readers already know most of these literary words from their extensive reading at earlier levels. Students who have not read widely will not know most of the words and will have comprehension difficulty because of the literary vocabulary load. We simply don’t encounter these words in our everyday speech. If students cannot define these words, they may develop the habit of reading without comprehension.
Orange readers can do everything a Black level reader can AND…
*Orange readers should finish an Orange chapter book, or its equivalent, each week.
*Can sustain reading for long periods of time: 30-45 minutes.
*Regularly finish books in at least five genres, including biography, traditional tales, fables, myths, realistic fiction, poetry, plays, informational, journals, humor, animal stories, autobiography, mysteries, science fiction, adventures, or historical fiction.
*Silent reading is rapid and efficient and preferred by students at Orange.
*Identify and explain the meaning of figurative language, including personification, similes, metaphors, and idioms.
*Have acquired the background knowledge of a fifth grader.
*Understands literary terms more specifically: setting (time of day or year, historical era, place, and situation), point of view (1st and 3rd person).
*Can identify organizational structures, like compare/contrast, pro/con, cause/effect, and chronological and logical order.
*Can identify the theme and support this interpretation with evidence from the text.
*Can explain how any of the literary elements affect the theme and tone of the story, using examples.
*Can explain literary devices, like figurative language (personification, simile, metaphor, idioms) and sound techniques (rhythm, meter, onomatopoeia, alliteration).
Purple readers should demonstrate proficiency in at least six very different kinds of text. In Purple text, the vocabulary demands are increasing, with 11-15 words on a typical chapter book page not familiar from everyday speech. Purple readers already know most of these literary words from their extensive reading at the earlier levels. Students who have not read widely up to this point will not know most of the words and will have comprehension difficulty because of the literary vocabulary load. If students are experiencing trouble supplying reasonable synonyms, they need to go back a level. If not, they may develop the habit of reading without comprehension.
Purple readers can do everything a Black level reader can, and everything an Orange reader can, AND…
*Purple readers should finish a Purple chapter book, or its equivalent, every two weeks.
*Finish books regularly in at least six genres.
*Read regularly without prompting, and without fatigue.
*Can use dictionary skills to aid in the pronunciation of unfamiliar words.
*Have acquired the ba
ckground knowledge of a sixth grader.
*Understand literary terms even more: motivations of major and minor characters, the shape of a story (rising action, climax, falling action…), and omniscient point of view.
*Are familiar with types of poetry (haiku, limerick, free verse) and structural elements (stanza, verse, rhyme scheme, line breaks, rhythm, alliteration).
*Can discuss underlying, recurring themes across various texts.
*Can identify author’s use of various structures, like compare/contrast, pro/con, chronological sequence, and cause and effect.
*Can recognize persuasive strategies and propaganda techniques.
Bronze level readers see the author as a writer - as a human being with his/her own biases, motivations, and blind spots. They have developed a critical eye toward writing and can discuss an author’s use of literary techniques. They can locate a particular book in its genre and make comparisons across texts on a wide variety of themes or writing techniques. They read actively, talking back to the author, questioning and probing the ideas presented. Comfort with the 16-20 literary words per typical chapter book page requires extensive experience as a reader. There simply are no short cuts to get to Bronze. Sentences are complex, figurative language is common, and most adults cannot handle materials written at this level of complexity. (The typical newspaper is Purple.) It is important to note that just because a reader can read a Bronze text fluently, it does not mean he/she is a Bronze level reader. In other words, Purple readers can sound like they’re ready to move on, but when you dig deeper into the reader’s knowledge of vocabulary, understanding of the ideas, and ability to critique the writing…the comprehension might not be there. Bronze readers need to be able to show what they know in discussions and writing.
Bronze readers can do everything a Black level reader can, and everything an Orange level reader can, and everything a Purple level reader can, AND…
*Read regularly and independently in the Bronze zone in at least six different genres. *Can read for 45 minutes to 2 hours, which is required for state exams.
*Finish Bronze books about every two weeks, depending on the length. Some are hundreds of pages long.
*Have mastered 6,000-10,000 literary vocabulary words.
*Can infer meaning from roots, prefixes, and suffixes.
*Can explain connotation vs. denotation, antonyms/synonyms, analogies, and words with multiple meanings.
*Have acquired the background knowledge of a seventh or eighth grader.
*Can create graphic organizers to compare, contrast, and categorize ideas and information presented.
*Identify complex literary elements, including subplots and parallel episodes.
*Can identify many types of poetry, including epics, lyrics, sonnets, ballads, elegies, etc., and their structural elements.
*Can differentiate between primary and secondary source materials.
*Understands literary devices, including symbolism.
*Can discuss author’s perspectives and biases, cultural background and historical context, and how these might influence the text.
Silver readers are accomplished analyzers. “What is this book about?” is no longer answered with a plot summary, but is answered with an analysis of the text’s theme and purpose. Again, vocabulary is often a blockade. Comfort with the 21-25 literary words per typical page requires extensive experience as a reader at earlier levels. There have been very, very few students at SCSC who have been designated Silver much before graduation. Even if the vocabulary is sound and the comprehension follows, Silver books are often filled with very mature content that simply is over the heads (or inappropriate) for most middle schoolers.
In addition to all of the above, here is a sampling of what Silver readers can do…
* Silver readers can sustain reading for the long periods of time required by college entrance exams (2-4 hours).
*They understand allusion and imagery.
*They use knowledge of word origins to determine the meanings of specialized vocabulary.
*They have the background knowledge of a 9th or 10th grader.
*They can use footnotes, endnotes, and bibliographic references.
*They understand foreshadowing, satire, and flashbacks, as well as a host of other literary elements that aid interpretation.
*They can identify poetic forms, such as iambic pentameter, ode, saga, and epic, etc.
*They can identify how an author’s choice of words and imagery sets the tone and contributes to the theme, as well as evaluate.