Choosing a "JUST RIGHT BOOK" can be quite challenging, but the right reading choices are crucial for the developing reader. The text should be easy enough to build your child's confidence while also challenging enough to keep your child engaged and "working the brain muscles."Here are 6 tips to help you stock your libraries at home with "just right books." Please keep in mind that these tips are meant to be guidelines, not finite rules.1) Use the Five Finger Rule
We introduce this strategy to students early on and practice using it a lot at school. It's important to make sure that your child chooses books that have an appropriate amount of challenge. Your child should be able to read most of the words in the book.
The ultimate goal of reading is to comprehend, or construct meaning from the text. Knowing how to read the words is not enough. To demonstrate comprehension, your child should be able to...a. Retell the beginning, middle, and end of a story.b. Answer questions about what has happened in the book. ("Who?" "What?" "Where?" "When?" "Why?" "How?")c. Make connections while reading.
3) Look at the Size of the Print and the Illustrations
As a general rule, books with larger print and more pictures are easier to read than those with smaller print and less illustrations. If a book passes the "5 Finger Rule" test but your child is still having trouble talking about what is happening in the story, then try a book with larger text and more visual support.
4) Choose a Picture Book
When a child begins to read independently, it’s natural to head toward the chapter book section of the library. However, it’s important to still check out some picture books, too! Picture books are written at a higher reading level than most people think, which can be good practice for children who are great decoders.
Picture books provide a less overwhelming way to read challenging text. They have beautiful illustrations that help aid in both comprehension and decoding. Picture books can also be read in a short sitting for those who may not have the patience or stamina to read an entire chapter book on their own.
5) Try Choosing a Series
Chapter books series, especially those with a lot of titles, usually get more challenging as you get further into the series. As your child’s reading level increases, the books also become more difficult, which is perfect for readers in elementary school. Ask teachers or librarians for recommendations and start with the earlier books in the series.
6) Don’t Be Afraid to Break the Rules
If there is a book your child is begging you to read, let him/her try it! Motivation and background knowledge play a huge role in comprehension so your child may surprise you with how well he/she does with it. If you find that your child isn't able to tell you much about the story but has a basic idea of the plot line, encourage him/her to go back and reread sections that aren’t clear.
We’ve all started books, movies, or activities that weren’t “just right” for us. Being able to figure that out is an important skill, too. Giving your child choice and independence may be what sets him/her up to be a lifelong reader!