How to Help Your Child Choose Books They Can Read

help your child choose books

Help your child choose books they can read on their own by teaching them the 5 Finger Method for choosing a book. Independent readers know how to choose their own books that they can read!  I recommend teaching children this skill right away so they can use the Five Finger Rule to choose books any time they want to read! 

The Five Finger Method for Choosing a Book

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Here Are The Steps to Help Your Child Choose Books They Can Read on Their Own

Teach your child to do what we call the 5 Finger Method for choosing books:

  1. Choose a book you think you will enjoy.
  2. Read the second page.
  3. Hold up a finger for each word you are not sure of or do not know.
  4. If there are 5 or more words you did not know on one page, you should choose an easier book.
  5. Not sure? Still think it might not be too difficult? Use the 5-Finger Rule on two more pages.

Choosing “Just Right Books” is Critical for Independent Reading Practice

For independent reading practice and in order to improve fluency, it’s important that children are reading books in the Independent range: 95% or better accuracy. Simply put, for every 100 words read, your child should not miss more than five. We call this the “just right” range–not too hard and not too easy. 

But what if the books your child chooses to read are TOO EASY? Great question!

Here are a few things to remember when you help your child choose books they can read:

  1. EASY is better than HARD! Remember we are talking about books your child will be reading independently, so it’s important that they are books they can read with ease. Hard books will take too much energy away from comprehension to concentrate on decoding. When children read books that are too hard they fail to make progress toward fluency and they end up unable to find meaning from text, thereby teaching them that reading is not something that makes sense to them or helps them learn. Plus, it’s not much fun to read something that is too hard–how much do you enjoy those inserts from the medication the pharmacy gave you or the prospectus from your IRA investments?
  2. Reading independently should be enjoyable: If a child does choose something that is, in your opinion, too easy, just remember you are also nurturing the LOVE of READING!
  3. Balance: Help your child choose a balance of books that will entertain easily and also reinforce new skills that she is ready for.
  4. Give some parameters like: “You can choose 3 books that are super easy and then 3 books from this selection.” (pointing them toward the level you know is more appropriate).
  5. What does your child need? Struggling readers should consume easy books, stronger readers can be challenged a bit more.
  6. They can be a model and practice at the same time! Encourage them to read easy books TO others like a younger sibling. When reading easy books they can practice expression, tone, and phrasing.

You will be choosing their Instructional Level books for them so don’t worry about them practicing with easy books!

Try the 5-Finger Method the next time you visit the library then tell us how it worked inside the Facebook Group: Teach a Child to Read.

~ Mary

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