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How to Pick an Appropriate Level Book for Beginning Readers

Young children need help selecting books that are appropriate for their individual reading level. As parents and educators we want to instill a love of reading in our children. Helping them find books that are at an “appropriate level” and a “good fit” for the child is a great place to start.

How can parents and educators help children find books that are not “too hard” and not “too easy” but “just right”?

Five-Finger Rule

  1. Open to any page in the book and read the page.
  2. If you encounter a word that you can’t read or don’t know the meaning of, hold up one finger.
  3. At the end of the page check to see how many fingers you have up and use the following chart to assess the level of this book for you:                                                          0-1 too easy, 2-3 just right, 4-5 a little too difficult
  4. Still not sure if the book is a “just right” level? Use the five finger rule on one or two more pages. It is worth taking a little time before selecting a book to make sure it is a book you will enjoy.

How can children choose a book that is a “good fit” for them?

  1. Look at the title and cover. Does the title seem interesting?
  2. Read the summary and determine if the topic is something you would be interested in reading about.
  3. Flip through the book. Do the pictures look interesting? Are there too many or too few words on a page?
  4. Read two or three pages and ask yourself the following questions.
    • Do I understand what I am reading?
    • Do I think the topic is interesting?
    • Can I explain what I have read to my friend?
    • Does it pass the “Five Finger Rule”?
    • When I read it aloud, can I read it smoothly?

If most your answers were “yes,” this will be a fun book to read independently.

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