Related: How can I detect the CEFR level of an English resource?

Suppose, I have an English text (poem book, storybook, novel, article, etc.) or an audio or a video in my hand. I want to use it in my lesson plan.

How can I detect the appropriate age group of the English resource which I am planning to use?

How do I know if the resource is fit for a 5-y/o or 9-y/o or 40-y/o?

  • 2
    This question would be better asked at languagelearning.stackexchage.com
    – James K
    Aug 22, 2020 at 11:27
  • @JamesK, this quetion was asked 3 months ago. No answer yet.
    – user102023
    Aug 22, 2020 at 11:34
  • Imagine if you were 5 years old, or ask a small child who has only just begun learning English to read the text and see if they understand it. If they are like the average 5 year-old they will not have even learnt how to read. There's a world's difference between what a 9-year-old can comprehend and what a middle-aged (40-50) person understands. You wouldn't talk about "crime and punishment" or "unemployment benefits" with a 9 year-old. But a topic about nature would be suitable for all ages.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Aug 22, 2020 at 15:47
  • A teacher or a tutor should know when a text is too easy or too challenging for their student(s) to understand. It goes with the job. If you cannot tell the difference between level A2 (elementary) and C2 (proficiency), you're in big trouble.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Aug 22, 2020 at 15:51

3 Answers 3


It all depends on several factors. In the case of a written text or books, generally the volume (or the length) and the diction (style of language) should be taken into account.

At the elementary level, texts should not be too long, rather pictorial story-books are undoubtedly the best. Poems should desirably have regular rhyme patterns and rhythm.However, some poems are suitable for all ages. For example, The Daffodils by William Wordsworth, may be taught at elementary as well as university level.

For story books, the length and diction surely counts. However, the content need to be considered as well. Fairy tales, folk tales,funny stories, fables and the likes are generally accepted suitable for pre-teen ages (say, 5-12 years). But teenagers should be encouraged to read tales of adventure, humour, mystery, sci-fi, detective stories, as well as writings on scientific discoveries and inventions, nature, environment, real life dramas, (auto)biographies, etc. However, The same genres of books may be well-suited for adult readers if the style or diction is characterized by critical rhetoric or figures of speech. Philosophical and literary writings are prescribed for adult learners. For that reason, novels and articles may be classified as suitable for either teenagers or adults.

The same criteria are applicable for audio and video resources. Above all, it is the approach to the resource as well as the mode of presentation that determines the appropriateness of a resource for any particular age group.

Besides, a teacher might like to edit/ censor, at his/her discretion, certain words or expressions of a text/audio-visual resource to suit the target age-group.

For relevant resources on this topic, you may like to read more.


Look at the amount of pictures compared to text. Books for five-year-olds will be picture based. Books for under-fives are intended to be read by adults to children

Look at the length of the text. Books for older children are longer. There is a transition stage at which there are books to be read to children (longer, more complex) alongside "easy readers" for children to read themselves (very simple words)

Look at the font size. Books for children often have 14pt text, teenagers often have 12pt text, adult books normally have the smallest print (except for books specially printed for adults with poor eyesight)

Look at the characters. Childrens books normally feature children, books for teenagers normally have teens as the main characters. Adult books normally have adult characters.

Look at the "blurb" and the reviews, often they will state who the book is aimed at. "Young adult" or "YA" is code for "teenagers"

Look at the publisher. Some publishers specialise in books for children, so if you have a book published by "Scholastic" it is probably for children, or "young adults".

Note that there are different reasons why a book might be suitable for a certain age group. One is the English level: books for young children tend to use simpler English. The other is content: Books for adults may feature sex or violence. Books for teenagers can be extremely violent, but often in a fantasy context. Adult books may include swearing. Many adults also enjoy reading books written originally for children, such as Harry Potter or The Hobbit. Unlike in countries that use Chinese characters, once children are able to read, the choice of book is more dependent on the child's interest and concentration rather than the English level of the book. I've known children as young as 6 or 7 read Harry Potter, although it was written for 11 year-olds.

You can search booksellers like Amazon for "books for five-year-olds"

  • I was reading Charles Dickens at the age of 8, which worried my mother. I think she thought I might wear my brain out, or over-strain it, or something. Aug 22, 2020 at 19:22
  • @user366312 - please explain what you mean by an 'authoritative reference'. Aug 22, 2020 at 19:23
  • 1
    What do you mean by "need"?
    – James K
    Aug 22, 2020 at 20:15
  • Also, at 8, I read, or tried to read, Tom Swift and His Rocket Ship, and was greatly puzzled by a transition from one page to the next that didn't make any sense. I discovered that the sections of the book had been bound in the wrong order, and my next page was actually 64 pages further on. This affected me oddly, because up to that time I had been taught to regard books as infallible and nearly sacred. Aug 22, 2020 at 21:07

Here are the criteria I would use

  • Vocabulary difficulty. This can be determined using Duolingo's text analyzer. C level words are often literary or academic. They are more difficult to understand especially when they are academic. The more C level vocabulary, the more likely it will be that the child will have difficulty understanding the story. That isn't always the case as children often do pick up difficult words when given enough support.
  • Context and reference. Children don't have the same concept of the world as adults, so the story should either refer to the world of the child or explain new concepts based on what a child would know.
  • Pictures are an excellent way for a child to connect textual ideas with visual knowledge and understanding.
  • Emotions are frequently experienced by children but are not often well understood, so understanding emotions are an excellent reference.
  • Consider attention span. The story should not take too long to arrive at its point or the child will lose interest.

Good luck

  • You actually answered this question which was my another question.
    – user102023
    Apr 3, 2021 at 19:28

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