Finding the Right Book

You may have noticed every school district or classroom uses some sort of leveled reading system to help students choose the “right” book based on fluency and comprehension. It is hard for a public library serving so many different school districts to provide this same support for readers–mostly because the books would have so many numbers or letters on them, it would be hard to find the title or author. Instead, we can use a slightly different system to help young readers find just the right book–and parents, you can use this, too!

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  • Find out what your child has enjoyed reading in the last year.
    • What are his two or three favorite books?
    • What does he know a lot about?
    • What are his favorite stories? authors? series?
    • What does he want to know more about?
  • It is important to get an idea of your child’s reading level and fluency rate. Choose one of the books he has read and enjoyed, ask him to tell you what it is about, and read a page from the book. Talking about the book gives you an idea on comprehension and reading aloud gives you an idea on how well he can read without making mistakes for this book. This gives you the opportunity to find something similar in vocabulary and reading level.
  • Once you have an idea about reading level and interests, you can begin searching for a book he might enjoy. It is important to find two or three choices. Browse the books together and talk about them. Get to know what he is thinking about as a reader through casual conversation. Talk about the pictures, the story, the characters, and point out interesting things in the book.
  • The storyline is the most important part during this casual conversation. Don’t get bogged down with vocabulary, yet.
  • Now that he has chosen a book or two, use the Five Finger Rule to determine if it would be a good independent read. Ask him to read aloud the first page, holding up one finger every time he gets to a word he doesn’t know. It’s okay to help him. But if he reaches five words before the end of the page, it’s probably going to be a harder book for him to read on his own. (Don’t put it away, though, as it might be a great choice for you to read aloud to him. Reading independently does not have to be the end goal! Reading together is very beneficial.)
  • Take the book home and read it over and over! Ask your child questions about it. Relate the book to his own life or interests. He is more likely to remember it.

Stay tuned for another blog post next week on how the library can help you find books using Accelerated Reader (AR), Lexile, DRA, and grade level.

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