A Guide to Accelerated Reader

Accelerated Reader logo

Whether you are considering Accelerated Reader™ for your school and want to find out more, have a specific question, or are just interested in what it’s all about, this guide provides answers to popular FAQs and helps you find the information you need quickly and easily.

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What is Accelerated Reader™?

Accelerated Reader™ (AR) is a whole class management and monitoring programme that aims to foster independent reading in primary and secondary school pupils. This well-regarded reading practice software is popular in schools across the UK and around the world. Developed by Renaissance Learning, it allows teachers to monitor the reading development and practices of their pupils and provides tools to quickly ascertain their reading level, reading age and comprehension level.

Pupils read a book, take an online quiz and get immediate feedback. They are aided in their selection of the next book by the monitoring software which will guide the level of difficulty for their choice. The programme encourages pupils to read independently and more importantly at their own pace and level. Ensuring pupils are choosing books within their reading level range, or Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD), will help achieve the greatest possible reading growth. According to research carried out by Renaissance Learning, children who read for at least 25 minutes a day with a 90% comprehension rate on AR quizzes see the greatest gains.

Schools will need a range of books at each level, to support pupils’ choices, and the service is offered to schools on a subscription basis by Renaissance Learning. Teacher training is also offered as part of the programme.  

Renaissance Learning assesses and assigns an AR Book level and book points to each of thousands of newly published books each year.  Schools, pupils and parents can look up the Accelerated Reader™ Level of individual books using the AR Bookfinder.


What are AR Levels and Book Points?

Book levels are assigned to titles using the ATOS readability formula. ATOS book levels are consistent and reliable when measuring text complexity. The formula uses the most important factors that determine the complexity of the text and uses the largest data sample of its kind in the world to achieve its results. As an alternative to the ATOS formula, Lexile® measures are also available for books with AR quizzes. The Lexile® Framework for Reading assesses both the complexity level of the text being read and the reader’s level. When these two measures align, a targeted reading match is found. Both measures are extremely useful for teachers, librarians, parents and guardians, when guiding students to appropriate books.

Every title that has an AR Reading Practice Quiz is given a point value. AR points are worked out using the difficulty of the book (ATOS readability level) and the length of the book (number of words). Readers earn points depending on how well they do on the quiz. For example, a reader who takes a 5-question quiz on a book worth 1 point will earn 1 point for 5 correct answers (100%). A reader who reads a book worth 5 points and takes a 10-question quiz will earn 5 points for 10 correct answers (100%). As points are earned on a pro rata basis, they will earn 4.5 points for 9 correct answers (90%) and so on. On a quiz with up to 10 questions a reader needs to score 60% or more to earn points and 70% or more on a quiz with 20 questions.


What is the initial assessment process?

The online Star Reading Assessment gives pupils their Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD). This supports pupils and their teachers to find appropriate reading materials for them. The test itself uses multiple-choice questions and takes approximately 10 minutes. The computer-adaptive technology it uses continually adjusts questions in response to the child’s answers. If a child answers a question correctly it increases the difficulty and if the child cannot answer or answers incorrectly it reduces the difficulty level, until their ZPD is found.

Star Assessments provide data showing the progress made by each student and if they are on track to meet expected standards in the learning pathway. Star Assessments also provide a personalised learning plan for each student, helping to inform the next teaching steps.


Do Accelerated Reader™ Levels map directly to Book Band levels?

No. Children take online quizzes once they have read a book and progress through the AR levels in response to their quiz scores. For information on Book Band Levels please see: A Guide to Book Bands.


Can I use Accelerated Reader™ as an intervention?

Yes. There are numerous examples of Accelerated Reader™ working as an intervention. One example is the Learning Resource Centre (LRC) manager, Beth Khalil, at Thorp Academy, Tyne and Wear. Beth has this to say about the AR programme - “We initially introduced Accelerated Reader™ because we needed a way to measure progress through reading skills. We had heard of its success in other schools and decided to implement it through the English department. It has proved to be a positive way to promote reading for pleasure as well as building on vocabulary skills and engaging the students through literacy.”

Over time AR had been fully embedded into the literacy policy of the Academy. Data collected from RS and Star Reading Assessments were used to demonstrate progress and inform further learning strategies. “We monitor and adjust the AR lessons regularly to show we are taking action to improve reading and literacy standards. For Ofsted inspections, we have provided the data we get from the Star Reading tests. Students are tested four times per year, allowing us to track their progress each term.”

All quiz scores and progress towards agreed targets are tracked by the teachers and LRC staff. They listen to students reading from the books that they have picked and give individual help where it is needed. Because students receive regular feedback, teachers are given opportunities to praise and reward students for their continued successes. It also gives teachers the chance to discuss with their students what they have been reading and what they would like to move on to next.

Students are a lot more engaged with their reading and top readers are given bookmarks, posters and certificates. Badger Learning has provided the academy with bookmarks and posters and our current range can be viewed here. There is now a growing culture of reading at Thorp Academy and a record number of students have received reward stamps for passing quizzes at 90% or above. Over 2,000 books were borrowed in one-half term! Beth, and the AR programme, have created a fantastic reading culture at the academy - “The LRC is used much more for personal reading during social times, as well as during lessons. Students are getting used to quizzing regularly and independently outside their AR classes.”

We at Badger Learning publish a wide range of Hi-Lo books which are levelled by Accelerated Reader™, you can view a list of books at each level here.


Is Accelerated Reader™ a whole school programme?

Yes. It can be used for specific year groups, as an intervention or as part of a whole school reading approach. A successful AR programme requires the provision of sufficient books for pupils to have a choice of titles at each level to foster reading for pleasure and progression.  A whole-school approach might include library development, teacher training, allocated time for pupils to read during the school day as well as the monitoring provided by the software. 


How do I choose Accelerated Reader™ books for my school?

AR uses published books, levelled by a computer algorithm to assess the complexity of the text. This allows schools to select from a vast range of books published by a wide range of publishers including well-known authors and classic stories. There are also a substantial number of books available that are high interest, low ability (hi-lo) so that pupils working below expected levels for their age group can potentially access a variety of texts that appeal to their interests.

When schools implement the programme, they don’t need to purchase specific sets of books upfront but can often combine existing stocks with top up titles to ensure a variety of books is available. They will need to ensure they have a range of texts at different levels so children have variety and breadth to select books that appeal to them with appropriate challenge. If pupils have access to a large range of texts, they can read books they’re interested in and are more likely to engage with, and sustain, a reading habit.

We offer Accelerated Reader™ collections which are ideal to top up or build library stocks, ensuring a range of titles to support a growing reading culture in school. Our collections range from hi-lo to full-length novels. Every AR pack contains a copy of each listed book and is supplied with inside cover and spine stickers.

Levelled collections can save teachers and librarians time in building a comprehensive reading resource within the Accelerated Reader™ programme.

Primary School AR Collections

Secondary School AR Collections

Badger Learning also offer an easy and fast way to fill your AR library with our Super and Mega packs, brimming with hand-picked selections of the best children’s books from leading publishers.

AR Mega Pack LY & MY

AR Super Pack LY

AR Super Pack MY


How do I choose new Accelerated Reader™ books so my library stays up to date?

The Bookfinder tool from Accelerated Reader™ is useful for this. Use Advanced Search and filter by Quiz Released. You can browse titles based on when they were quizzed.

Badger Learning’s Best Newly Quizzed Collections are levelled by AR and include 30 books for LY and 30 Books for MY. These are proving extremely popular with teachers and pupils as the books have been read by experts and selected as the best books suitable for primary school pupils published in the last year.

Best Newly Quizzed Accelerated Reader Books for Lower Years (LY)

Best Newly Quizzed Accelerated Reader Books for Middle Years (MY)


How do I choose Accelerated Reader™ books for struggling readers?

Accelerated Reader™ can be used by a teacher to help guide struggling readers to books that they can read and understand more successfully. Once the pupil has completed a Star Assessment they will be given a ZPD score. Using the AR Bookfinder the pupil or teacher can search for titles in that range, and combine this information with interest age and area of interest.  School library stocks could also be stickered with the AR Levels to aid the selection of appropriate titles.

For pupils who experience difficulties with reading, text selection is important. Engaging books geared to the interest age of the pupil with a low word count can help enthuse reluctant readers and develop their skills and confidence.

Badger Learning publishes a wide range of Hi-Lo books which are levelled by Accelerated Reader™. To help you find quizzed books at the right level we have listed all our AR titles along with their interest level, book level and quiz number, which you can view here.


Does Accelerated Reader™ take account of interest age?

Yes. LY relates to lower years, MY middle years, MY+ and UY upper years.  These relate to the following chronological ages:

Lower Years, ages 5–8

Middle Years, ages 9–13

Middle Years+, ages 12 and above

Upper Years, age 14 and above


Are Badger Learning’s books quizzed and levelled for Accelerated Reader™?

All of our published books are quizzed and levelled for Accelerated Reader™. All published titles at each level can be viewed here.

We work very closely with Accelerated Reader™ to make sure that our newly published titles are with them as soon as they are available. Once they receive our titles they usually take a month to read through, level and quiz. We pride ourselves on a smooth and quick turnaround allowing our customers to have all of the AR information they need when choosing new titles for their school.

We have also put together AR collections of books from other publishers, which have been read, assessed and packaged into library collections by our expert product team. All of the books have been selected by our team for their ‘Book Level’, ‘Interest Level’ and ‘Book Points’ but with the added expertise of Badger Learning — selecting you books of the very best suitability and quality and a good mix of genres. We also work hard to ensure all collections meet our strict content guidelines to ensure we are considering the emotional maturity of the pupil as well as the complexity of text-level and are always looking to showcase the best of what’s on the market. All our published titles are also available to purchase individually.


AR Books for Primary Schools

AR Levelled Reading Schemes

AR Levelled Hi-Lo Collections for Primary Schools


AR Books for Secondary Schools

Levelled Library Collections for Secondary Schools

Levelled Hi-Lo Collections for Secondary Schools


Are there Accelerated Reader™ books for engaging boys in reading?

Badger Learning have curated 30 titles, all AR levelled and quizzed, which are guaranteed to hook boys into reading, be equally appealing to girls and help to close the gender reading gap.

AR to Get Boys Reading

From outrageously funny to action-fuelled adventures, these books offer the perfect range of text levels and have been specially selected to thrill boy readers in key stage 2. Buying from Badger Learning means these books also come with AR stickers included.


Does Accelerated Reader™ support diversity and inclusion?

There are currently in excess of 40,000 quizzed titles on offer from Accelerated Reader™, with almost 2,000 newly quizzed books added each year. As well as actively seeking out books with diverse characters and settings and inclusive themes, a high proportion of requests also come from teachers, librarians, parents and the children themselves. AR aim to provide a large enough range of books that the lives and experiences of the students reading them will be reflected within them. AR’s Content Team then ensure questions used in the quizzes for these books deal sensitively with controversial topics, use respectful, people-first language and avoid negative stereotypes.

Finding the right books to reflect the full diverse and inclusive range of experiences for each age group can be difficult and time consuming. Our team of book specialists at Badger Learning have done that work for you by cherry-picking top-titles for our primary and secondary school collections that will provide you with the strongest diverse and inclusive books, designed to slot straight into your AR provision. 

Diverse & Inclusive AR Books for Primary Schools: Instantly inject some brilliant AR books into your school or classroom libraries and help your pupils connect with an amazing array of different voices and storylines.

AR Celebrating Diversity & Inclusion

Diverse & Inclusive AR Books for Secondary Schools: Collections showcasing the best writing by brilliant authors featuring characters from diverse backgrounds. Not only do they challenge stereotypes and prejudices but they are also genuinely enjoyable and engaging stories.

AR Racial & Ethnic Diversity

Diversity & Inclusion Quick Reads for AR

AR Rapid Reads: Ethnic Diversity

AR Rapid Reads: Young Carers

AR Rapid Reads: Living With Health Conditions & Impairments

AR Rapid Reads: LGBTQ+



Are there Accelerated Reader™ books to support mental health and wellbeing?

The mental well-being of young people is still an ongoing concern particularly as the latest research shows one in six 11 to 16 year-olds are living with a mental illness. The collection of AR quizzed books below aims to raise awareness of various mental health topics such as anorexia, body dysmorphia and depression in its many forms. Each title is written empathetically to help teenagers realise they are not alone in their experience and guide them in how to ask for and access support.

Mental Health Focus for AR Levels 3.7–6.0


Do Accelerated Reader™ quiz non-fiction books?

Yes! Renaissance creates AR quizzes for most fiction and non-fiction books in each of the four interest levels: Lower Years, Middle Years, Middle Years+ and Upper Years.

It’s a fact that children love non-fiction and these wide-ranging collections of beautiful AR levelled and quizzed non-fiction books, featuring stunning photography and interesting facts, are captivating.

Fun Non-Fiction for Primary

Hi-Lo Non-Fiction for Primary

AR Non-Fiction for Secondary


Can I get Accelerated Reader™ stickers for my school library?

AR stickers includedAll our Accelerated Reader™ packs contain a copy of each listed book and are supplied with stickers included. If you require stickers for existing stock please email info@badgerlearning.co.uk for details.

Every Badger Learning AR pack is supplied with inside cover stickers detailing the book title, author, quiz number, interest level, book level and book points and spine stickers showing the book level and interest level.

Example Accelerated Reader stickers


Which Accelerated Reader™ books are popular with pupils?

Renaissance Learning annually releases a report showcasing the data from UK schools using the Accelerated Reader programme called What Kids are Reading.  This data is presented by Professor Topping and can be downloaded here.  Although popular titles such as Diary of a Wimpy Kid score very highly among several year groups, there is a wide range of titles that are selected by pupils.

Here is a list of our Non-fiction titles that have made it into the Top 20, Non-fiction Books Read Most Often: Year 8 and Non-fiction Books Read Most Often: Year 9

All in the Mind by Claire Morgan

Ice by Alison Milford

Secrets of the Dead by John Townsend

Goalkeepers by Jonny Zucker

Goal Scorers by Jonny Zucker

Body Art by Alison Hawes

Badger Learning are also able to offer an AR collection for KS2 students containing books which have been specifically chosen by children in years 4 to 6. Our Children’s Choice project gave an invaluable insight into the books which truly engage and excite young readers and we hope you will find something for everyone in this collection latest must-have AR reads.

AR Children’s Choice