Choosing the right book to read is a lot like reading a bike.
Too Hard! Just like riding a bike up a steep hill, these books are way too much work for children to read. Generally speaking, if there are five or more tricky words on any page, then the book likely is too hard.
Too Easy! Just like riding a bike downhill, these books can be read too fast. It’s fun but their brain is not learning as much as it should be.
Just right! Just like riding a bike on a trail, there are some bumpy parts, but not too many!
Matching a book with a child’s reading skill is an essential key to building a fluent, independent reader.
Why is it important to match books with a child’s reading skills?
When children are trying to reading books that are too difficult for their current reading level, they may resort to inefficient reading strategies such as:
- skipping words,
- guessing at words, or
- their reading becomes slow, laborious or inaccurate, and
- they won’t be building a good site word vocabulary, and
- they may fail to understand or connect with the story or information.
Worst of all, they may become frustrated and discouraged with reading all together.
Children need a book that’s just right so they may practice good reading habits.
Just right books allow a child to read independently, accurately, and with understanding.
How to you know if the book is just right for a child?
The child needs to choose and read books appropriate for her age and interests. Another criteria for finding the just right book, not one that only holds the child’s attention, but allows the child to make very few mistakes while reading.
The rule of thumb is that there should be less than one mistake for every twenty words — which equates to about 96% accuracy.
When children make too many mistakes, it interferes with their expression, rate, and understanding.
Just right books provide practice for good reading at home and school.
We want children to choose and read just right books so they can practice good habits — reading accurately with understanding at an appropriate rate and with natural expression.