I have issues with age recommendations for books. As a reader, some of favorite books are the ones I read as a kid, but if I went strictly by the age listed on the cover of the book, I could never reread something like Winnie-the-Pooh. Fortunately, rereading a favorite book is one the benefits of a reading life. But there is often an assumption (reinforced by popular culture) that if we do read a children’s book (either as a teacher or especially as a parent), we’re not supposed to enjoy it.

Furthermore, as a child, I often read books that were far above my supposed “reading level.” On a good day, parents, teachers, and librarians would smile encouragingly and let me get about my business. On a bad day (and there were many of those), the book was yanked out of my hand, I was told that said book was too “advanced” for me (what does that mean to a nine-year-old?), and handed something I had either already read or had no interest in reading whatsoever.

So I’m reluctant to give age recommendations. To encourage kids to read, they should be allowed to read what interests them, regardless of the reading level. They may struggle with the book, but they will get far more out of the experience that by reading a book at their reading level which they have no interest in.

I have added categories that roughly cover common age recommendations that publishers use. They are:

Early Literature: roughly equivalent to US preschool to early elementary, approximate ages 4-8. May include picture books and chapter books.

Intermediate Literature: roughly equlivalent to US upper elementary and middle school, approximate ages 9-12.

YA (Young Adult) Literature: roughly equivalent to US middle school and high school, approximate ages 13-18.

Books without an age recommendation are those that their publishers market toward an “adult” audience.

Updated 21 January 2015.

Published on: 17 November 2009

Lasted edited on: 24 January 2015

Except for material released under a Creative Commons license, all material is ©2022 Kenneth John Odle, All Rights ReservedPermalink for this article: