Nunavummi and you: What is a levelled reading series?

by Jessie Hale

You may have noticed our books are part of the Nunavummi Reading Series. What is that? And why do our books have numbers on them?

As you may know, Nunavummi means “of Nunavut” in Inuktitut. The Nunavummi Reading Series is a levelled reading program that presents Nunavut-made fiction and non-fiction books that focus on Northern stories and information. We organize these books by reading level.

Our reading levels correspond to different grades and reflect a student’s journey from pre-reader to independent reader. Each level prepares the student for the next level, teaching new literacy concepts such as sentence complexity, punctuation, character development, and storytelling. These reading levels were developed after extensive research and consultation with linguists, Inuktitut language specialists, and Nunavut educators.

Through the Nunavummi Reading Series:

  • children in the North can read level-appropriate books that reflect perspectives, knowledge, and experiences that will be familiar to them.
  • southern children, families, and educators can read and enjoy level-appropriate books that showcase authentic Northern and Inuit perspectives and knowledge.


Levelled reading programs exist around the world, and we wanted to create a system of reading levels for Northern students in both Inuktitut and English that would match existing English, French, and Spanish levelled reading programs. The result is a set of detailed guidelines for 16 reading levels for students from Kindergarten to Grade 4, with plans to expand all the way through Grade 12 in the coming years. You can feel confident when you introduce your young readers to a new book that it is at a level that will be accessible but challenging.


To create the reading level guidelines, the working group had to consider not only the typical reading development of a child, but also the unique characteristics of Inuktitut, including teaching Inuktitut syllabics, where each symbol represents a unit of sound.

Inuktitut readers need to learn to identify the different symbols and the sounds they make when they begin to learn to read. Books at Level 2 are sound books that teach children the names and sounds for individual symbols.

As students progress, they begin to learn morphemes, or “chunks,” in Inuktitut: the units of meaning that are put together to make words, phrases, and sentences. The Inuktitut reading series is based on a gradually increasing understanding of different chunks and what they mean.


From the Level 2 book Sounds of U, Tu, Nu, and Qu

Our 16 reading levels were developed to help children move gradually from learning the very fundamentals of reading—how to hold a book, turn pages, and understand a story—to being able to read complex stories and non-fiction books. The reading program was created for use with Inuktitut, and it can also support beginning English readers in their literacy development. Each English book has been officially levelled by Fountas and Pinnell.


From the Level 7 book What Are We Doing?

A brief description of the characteristics of each level from Kindergarten to Grade 2 can be found here.

For children who are learning to read in Inuktitut, this  program represents an opportunity to gradually build on reading success, just like the programs currently available to readers of other languages. For beginning English readers, the program can not only assist them in their reading development but also expose them to the knowledge, culture, and people of the Canadian North. These books can be used as part of a reading program or to support classroom units on animals, the environment, math, Aboriginal peoples, and many other subjects.

Whether your kids or students are reading independently or just beginning to experience books, whether they are Inuktitut or English readers or both, and whether you’re building your home or classroom library, we hope that you all enjoy the Nunavummi Reading Series!

Jessie Hale is an editor and project manager with over 10 years of experience in the book industry. She has worked in a wide variety of publishing environments as a bookseller, account manager, marketing manager, community manager, editor, and proofreader. She lives in Toronto with her very fat cat, Tesla.