Helping Your Child Choose Books

A common scenario: Your second grader comes home from school on “library day” and pulls a chapter book out of her backpack. “I’m going to read this book to you!” she says excitedly. As you sit down to listen, you find that your daughter gets stuck on as many words as she can read correctly. Even with your help, your child thinks that this book is “okay” for her because she does know how to read many of the words in it. In fact, the book is not okay for your child, because you are supplying most of the words. What do you do?

The situation described above does not only occur with younger children. Students in the upper grades also make the mistake of choosing books that are not appropriate for them to read independently.


Signs That a Book is “Not Right”

• Your child does not know how to read five of the words on one page, or can read them but does not know what they mean. For children in kindergarten and first grade, the threshold should be three words.

• Your child’s oral reading is not fluent. Fluent reading should sound like speech – smooth and expressive, with words read in phrases. However, the reader should slow down occasionally to problem-solve; i.e., figure out a new word, reread to double-check pronunciation or meaning, or just think about what’s happening in the story.

• The content of the book is something with which your child cannot connect; e.g., an eight-year-old reading a book about issues faced by teenagers, a child who has no background knowledge about the Civil War reading a book that takes place during that time period.

• After reading part of the book, your child cannot tell you what it is about. Your child may be reading every word correctly, but is not making meaning while reading.