Sunday, March 29, 2009

Just Right Books

This week on the FAMILY Magazine and Moms Like Me segment on WUSA 9 News Now, we are discussing choosing the appropriate book for your child. FAMILY Magazine’s Assistant Editor, Amy Bevins has put together some information to help parents achieve this and I am very happy to share it with you.

As parents, we all want our children to love reading. Choosing a “just right” book can help children become better readers and hopefully develop a love of reading. Choosing a “just right” book means to choose books at the right reading level for your child.

How do you find the right level?

There are several ways. One is to think of books your child reads as being divided into three groups – Independent, Instructional and Frustration.

A book at a child’s independent reading level is one a child can easily read on his or her own.

An instructional level book, or “Just Right” book, may have a few challenges, but your child can read it with a little support. Maybe help with a word or a meaning. They can retell the story and enjoy it, even if they have to work a little.

The last group is the frustration level. This is a book where your child constantly stumbles on words, isn’t able to retell the story and that discourages your child.

How can you tell what your child’s reading level is so you pick books at the right level?

First, ask your child’s teacher. They do routine assessments of kids reading levels and can guide you.

Second, periodically, have your child read out loud to you. Listen to how well they read most of the words. Have them retell the story. They should be able to tell you most of the main events and answer who, what, why questions.

Also, look at the reading level of the book.

Where do you find a book’s reading level?

Some books have the reading level listed on the back. For example this book says RL 4.0. That means this book is at a 4th grade reading level. This one has RL 2.9. That means its reading level is 2nd grade, 9th month.

What if the reading level isn’t listed?

Check with your local library, teacher or bookstore. They have lists of books arranged by grade or reading level.

Should we stay away from books they find frustrating?

Actually, not necessarily. Books that are very challenging can be wonderful for reading to your child or for paired reading, when you each take turns reading. Especially if the book is on a subject your child loves.

For example, when my son was little, he was fascinated by ocean creatures. We got him this early reader that he could read himself. We also got these two more challenging books that we read together. As he got older, he started being able to read parts of the book himself and eventually, these became books he could read on his own.

What about books that are really easy for your child?

These books are great for kids, because reading them can increase fluency, recall and be fun for kids to read, or even reread. They can also be relaxing for kids. Kind of like a “beach read” is for us.

Choose books at all levels.

You really want to choose a mix of books for your child. As well, if there is a subject they are really interested in they will often stretch themselves to read about it.

What have you done to help your child love reading? Please share your tips with us.

And, remember to enjoy every minute when you are reading with your children.

Happy Parenting, Brenda

1 comment:

  1. Reading Is Fundamental (the nation's oldest and largest children and families' literacy nonprofit organization) is all about helping children discover the joy of reading!

    Join the 2009 Read with Kids Challenge! Log the minutes you spend reading with your child between April 1 and June 30, and be eligible for prizes including a trip to Disney.