How To Choose a ‘Just Right’ Book
The Five-Finger rule – How To Choose A Just Right Book
Last week, my son came home from school with a reading book that was far too difficult for him.
“But…but… my teacher said I could read books from the European section of the library. My friend Sarah is reading it and says it’s really good.”
As I listened to him struggle over the first couple of pages, I knew he was going to get too frustrated to finish the book. It was time to teach him how to choose a ‘just right’ book for independent reading.
We need to teach our children how to select appropriate independent reading books. These are books that will increase their reading fluency and, at the same time, help them develop their reading comprehension skills.
How To Choose A ‘Just Right’ Book
- In order to choose a ‘just right’ book encourage the child to pick up a story that looks interesting by glancing at the front cover and reading the title.
- Next, the child should do a ‘book walk’ by flipping through the pages, looking at the illustrations, and reading the captions and/or chapter titles.
- Finally, they should choose a page in the middle of the book to read. As they come to difficult words they should hold up a finger. If they have 5 or more fingers up by the end of the page, the book is most likely too difficult for them to read independently. Of course, we must apply this rule with common sense. If the children are missing names of people or places we may decide not to count these. My son loves reading tales of Greek heroes and gods. These names are difficult even for me, so I don’t count them when we use the 5-finger rule.
Here is a link to a thorough explanation of this rule that I found helpful.
Now that I am a parent I believe that this is one of the most important concepts a teacher can share with parents and children. The Five-Finger rule empowers children to choose the books that will really move them forward.
When To Revisit Easy Books
Of course, there are times when it is beneficial to revisit ‘easy’ books. I often encourage my son to read picture books to his little brother. He loves to do this and it really helps his reading fluency and ability to read aloud with expression.
When To Use Challenging Books
I also expose my son to challenging books above his independent reading level when I read him a story each evening. I purposely choose this book because I know he will enjoy the story. I choose this book with the purpose of promoting vocabulary development and providing ample opportunities for discussions that will enhance comprehension.