Understanding the Age Levels for Children’s Books

Understanding age levels for Children’s Books doesn’t need to be difficult. The most important key to getting children to read is also the most obvious: Find books they love. To do that, it would help to know all the varying types of books out there, so I thought it best to provide you with a simple, easy to digest list.

NOTE: The age range is a marker for the ages these books would typically appeal to, but isn’t set in stone. Heck, I’m in my thirties and still read Where the Wild Things Are

BOARD BOOKS: Newborn to age 3

These books are intended for infants, babies, and toddlers, so that means there’s a very likely chance they’ll be chewed on and tossed about. Thus, why they’re printed on thick paperboard.

POPULAR EXAMPLE:

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

Book cover with drawing of hungry caterpillar. Click to purchase from Amazon

PICTURE BOOKS: Age 3-8

Picture books are as simple as they sound. They’re books with mostly pictures. In fact, the illustrations are oftentimes as important as (if not more than) the actual words in the story. If done right, the pictures can tell the story!

POPULAR EXAMPLE:

The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt

Click to purchase on Amazon

COLORING AND ACTIVITY BOOKS: Age 3-10

These books are filled with pages to color, along with various activities like crosswords and search and finds. They come in various types, too. Sudoku books would be an activity book, and lately, adult coloring books have become a more prominent thing than in years past.

POPULAR EXAMPLE:

The Imaginaut: Coloring & Activity Book by A. R. Curry

Book Cover with a drawing of an astronaut floating by a puppy dog constellation.Click to purchase on Amazon or here on ARCurry.com

NOVELTY BOOKS: Age 3 and up

Unlike the previous types of books, these aren’t as self-explanatory. Touch and Feel, Pop-up, Scratch and Sniff, and books that have flaps that fold out to reveal hidden items are the most popular. In fact, the above mentioned book, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, is also categorized as a novelty book because of the way it’s pages appear to be slowly “eaten” away.

POPULAR EXAMPLE:

Pat the Bunny by Dorothy Kunhardt

Click to purchase on Amazon

EARLY, LEVELED READER BOOKS: Ages 5-9

Leveled reading books are collections of books organized by their difficulty level. They typically begin just as a child starts reading. At first, they have short, simple words, with equally short and simple sentences. But then they grow in difficulty at each level.

POPULAR EXAMPLE:

National Geographic Kids by Anne Screiber

Click to purchase on Amazon

FIRST CHAPTER BOOKS: Age 6-10

Chapter books are intended for intermediate readers. Unlike picture books and leveled readers, chapter books tend to be told through prose (words) and involve a bit more reading. Still not much, but more. There are definitely some fun chapter books out there.

POPULAR EXAMPLE:

Magic Treehouse by Mary Pope Osborn

Click to purchase on Amazon

MIDDLE-GRADE BOOKS: Age 8-12

This is where the books all but veer away from illustrations and focus almost 100% on prose. Middle-Grade and Young Adult are oftentimes interchangeable when it comes to the reading difficulty, but it’s the length and content that sets them apart. Middle Grade books tend to be between 20 and 50 thousand words and are about relevant, age-appropriate topics. Think, books focusing on family and friends and the dynamics.

POPULAR EXAMPLE:

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

Click to purchase on Amazon

YOUNG ADULT BOOKS: Ages 12 and up (Though 14 and up is becoming more popular)

Again, reading difficulty is in line with Middle Grade books, but here the content veers towards the more mature. Sure, there are books like Harry Potter that span the gap (the first book could have been classified as Middle Grade, whereas the last book is Young Adult), but then there are books like Cut by Patricia McCormic about a kid who, put simply, cuts herself. This, along with books about puberty, sex, sex trafficking and violence can all fall under the Young Adult umbrella, provided its told from that age-range perspective.

POPULAR EXAMPLE:

Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Click to purchase on Amazon

So you see, understanding age levels for Children’s Books doesn’t need to be difficult. There’s plenty of options to choose from, depending on the age-range you’re looking for. The chances of you confusing a board book and a young adult book are slim to none, but I hope this better distinguishes some of the others from one another, while also providing you a reading age-range for added help. If nothing else, there’s some good book recommendations above. Check them out and let me know what you think.

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