How to Pick a “Just Right” Book in 3 Easy Steps

One of the first questions many parents have when it comes to reading with their family is, “Which books are appropriate for my child?” While determining your child’s reading level might seem daunting, the truth is that nobody knows your child better than you. Observing when your child is frustrated, bored, or interested is all you really need. Simply by trying out a few books and seeing how your child reacts to them, you can find “Just Right” books that will help your child become a better reader.

What is a “Just Right” Book?
“Just Right” books are books that are not too easy and not too hard for your child to read all by themselves. (You can always read more advanced books together.)

Why is this so important?
Finding a book for your kidChildren need to have books that challenge them to learn new strategies but are not so hard that they become frustrated with reading. Helping them choose a “Just Right” book helps them practice their skills while still having fun and feeling successful.

Remember, while children might get frustrated with books that are too hard, they can also get bored with books that are way too easy. Make sure that books they are picking out aren’t far below their grade level. For example, a first grader might find a Kindergarten book (large text, with not a lot of words per page, pictures that closely mirror what the words say) too easy, but would have a hard time with a chapter book that has no pictures at all.

How can I find a “Just Right” book for my child?

1. Pick out interesting Books.
Plan a trip to the library to pick out some books. If your child is into sports, dinosaurs, or bugs, try to find books on these topics. If he’s interested in what the book is about, he is much more likely to keep reading.

2. Ask your child to read the first page out loud.
If he doesn’t understand more than two words on the first page, the book might be a little too hard for him. If he breezes right through it and seems bored, it might be a little too easy.

3. Ask your child to summarize the first page.
Ask him if he can summarize what the page was about. If he understands what he’s reading, then that book is probably “Just Right”!

What if my child wants to read books that aren’t the right reading level?
Children in elementary school can strengthen their reading skills in a variety of ways, and independent reading is only one of them.  If your child is really interested in a book that’s too hard for her, that’s a great book for you to read out loud to her. If she’s attached to books that are too easy, encourage her to share them with a younger sibling or friend. Having favorite books in a variety of reading levels will help your child grow as a reader.

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