Reading can be such an enjoyable activity for young children, especially when it is coupled with snuggle time with mom and/or dad, or possibly spending time with a friend. Reading can take a child to new places, fantasy worlds, or events set in a different time and place. Reading can be chock full of the facts and details that children love adding to their “list of things they know.” Who doesn’t love to recite the name and size of every dinosaur known to man?! Unfortunately, for some children, reading is a struggle and a frustration. That is why it is important to understand how to help your child find a “Just Right Book” for their reading enjoyment. Here are a few suggestions of how to find books that match your child’s personality and reading level.
Read What You Love
Is your child hooked on collecting facts and information about their favorite topic? Then perhaps non-fiction books are the way to go. Or maybe your child loves animals or insects? Then find a series that incorporates them. Whatever interests your child has is what you should seek in reading material, even if it is not your type of book. Any reading is good reading, even if it is a graphic novel or a topic you as a parent don’t particularly enjoy. Remember to help them choose what they love, be it about outer space, horses, fantasy, history, travel, or any other topic that interests them. If they are reading about something they love, they will be more invested and stay with it longer.
Is it Too Easy or Too Hard ?
Once you have found a series or a stack of books that are sure to interest your child, try it out for difficulty level. The best way to do this is to open the book and have your child start reading it. Here are some things to consider:
- 5 Finger Rule – Hold up a finger for each word your child has difficulty with. If you get to five fingers for a page then the book may be too difficult. No fingers may mean that the book is far too easy. Use your judgement on that.
- Comprehension – After your child has read a page, ask him/her about what happened. Does there seem to be a level of comprehension appropriate to your child’s age? If so, then continue on.
- Fluency – Listen to how smoothly your child reads the passage. Is there a struggle to sound out certain words, or does it flow well? If the reading sounds choppy or slow, then maybe the reading level is a little too hard for your reader.
Let’s say you have found a series that your child is dying to read, but the reading and/or comprehension level is a bit too hard. What do you do then? We suggest that you read with your child to help with sounding out and comprehension of what is going on. Reading with and to your child is just as productive. In fact, many educators believe that the positive feelings of reading with a child can be lifelong and help them gain a love of reading for years. If the passages are a little too difficult, share pages to give your little one a break. While reading, be sure to talk about vocabulary, cause and effect, and the flow of the story, including the climax and solution. Happy reading!