Just the right read
Choosing a book is an important skill that children need to become good readers. Children who find a book that’s just right for them are able to engage with the text without becoming mired by difficult words or concepts. Remind your child that finding a book that is just right can be difficult and they should not feel discouraged if they think a book is too hard. Not every book is appropriate for everyone.
Book recommendations can come from teachers, family members, librarians, booksellers, and friends. Students can also swap books with friends to have exposure to a wide range of books. Even children’s magazines offer book suggestions for different reading levels, or you can check the net.
There are several ways your child can figure out if a book is just right for them. The first thing they can do is look at the title and cover. Does the title seem interesting? Most of the time, there is a summary on the back of the book or inside the book jacket. This summary provides information about the book’s subject and voice. Does the summary pique your child’s interest? Your child may enjoy books in a specific genre, such as suspense, mystery, or fantasy. Explain that libraries and bookstores divide their books based on genre and if they don’t have a title in mind, they can simply browse an area. Sometimes children become engrossed in a voluminous series and you may agonise over how to broaden their interests. Don’t worry too much, children will move to something new when they lose interest and that may be a good time to introduce a new author or genre.
Your child can also take a picture walk through the book by flipping through the pages and looking at the pages. Do the pictures seem interesting and engaging? After they find a book, the next step is to determine if the book is the right level.
The five finger test is a quick way to determine the difficulty of a book. If you child finds five words that are too difficult for them on one page, then chances are the book is above their level. If your child finds no difficult words, then there is a good chance that the book is below their level. However, this does not mean the book is not appropriate.
Your child can also read a page aloud to test the reading level. If he or she can read it smoothly then the book is most likely appropriate. Your child can also test the reading level by reading a page and trying to retell what happened in his or her own words. If they cannot summarise the page, the book may be above level.
Remind your child of the Goldilocks rule — find a book that is not too hard, not too easy, but just right.