Three Tips on Finding the Right Book

So, one of the most frequent questions I get from parents goes something like this:

“How do I find books for my child to read at his or her level?”

Such a great question. In order to close a reading gap, your child MUST receive the right kind of intervention AND they must read out loud every day, even when it’s tough. I encourage parents to help their children identify the difference between reading for fun and practicing their reading. If your child’s decoding ability is far below their comprehension level, it’s vital they understand this. When they want to read something for enjoyment, it’s most likely going to have to be in audiobook format for a while. Which is totally fine! They are building background knowledge, understanding of proper cadence, acquiring new vocabulary and building a love of learning and story. All these skills are vital.

HOWEVER, in order to build their decoding skills and thus fluency, they must be decoding words out loud every day, even if those words are really limited. For example, if your child’s independent reading level is at an A, they are going to be hard-pressed to find a book they can read on their own. It’s going to be hard work. But, it’s still important that they do.

So here are a few tips for helping you help them!

1) Download this chart and print it out. Keep it somewhere handy. It’s important you become familiar with the concept of leveled reading so you can help your child find a book at their level. Focus in on the Reading A-Z levels and the Lexile range. These will be the most helpful to you. If you are looking for books on Amazon, most will have a Lexile range listed and you can see if the book is within your child’s ability.

2) On your library’s website, find the online resource “NoveList K-8” and bookmark it. Set up a meeting with your librarian if you need help navigating it. It’s basically a search engine where you set a Lexile range, pick a genre and have a book list generated that is appropriate for student’s level. You can then help them choose books from that list so that you know they can read what they choose.

3) A general rule of thumb is if your child can’t independently read 5 or more words on a given page of a book, it is too hard for them. This is an easy trick to use when you are at the library and they have five books they’ve picked out. You can weed through the stack by having them read one page of each one out loud while you discreetly count words they need support with on your fingers. If you get to five, encourage them to choose a different book.

I’m always looking for more tips and resources on finding good independent reading books at a student’s right level. If you have one to share, please do so below in the comments section. I would love to both learn from you and help parents grow their tool belt of strategies.