Finding Books with the Right Fit

The following post is from Jennifer Burke, a lifelong educator:

Library shelves
source: Jennifer Burke

Summer is a great time for children to explore the world through good books.  If one of your goals is to ignite your children’s passion for reading, as it was mine, then finding the right books is important.  Choosing appropriate material, though, can be a difficult experience for children.  If a book is too easy, they may become bored with it.  If the book is too hard, they don’t understand it and soon toss it aside out of frustration.

Finding a Good Fit

Talk to your child about their interests.  Look for books in both the fiction and non-fiction sections that can extend their learning in those areas.

To make sure the level of the book is at child’s reading level, open the book to a random page.  Have your child start reading aloud.  Every time they come to a word that they don’t know, hold up one finger.  If you get to four or five before the end of the page, the book’s probably too hard for them to read alone.  They may say most of the words, but they won’t really comprehend the story line – which is the point of reading in the first place.

If they really want to read a too-hard book, try to find out why.  Is it because their friends have read it?  Did they enjoy a book by the same author?  A book that is a little challenging can still be a good choice if the reader is motivated and you are willing to make yourself available to help with difficult sections. 

Ask the librarian for recommendations.  They are able to guide you to writers who have similar styles as a favorite author.

Look for books on CD.  Some stand alone and others come with the accompanying print.  Either can help improve a struggling reader’s comprehension and love for books.

Give your child permission to stop reading and not finish a book.  You can encourage them to push through a rough passage but if they truly aren’t interested in completing the book, don’t turn reading into a punishment.

Investigate the children’s section of e-reader selections.  Digital formats are sometimes more appealing to a reluctant reader.

Content in Child’s Choices

Keep in mind that the author’s values may or may not support your families’ values.  Well-written books are powerful.  You want to make sure that the time your child’s spends between the pages doesn’t undermine your beliefs and principles.

Create time in your daily schedule for reading!  If you really want to develop a reader, make it a priority.

How do you motivate your kids to find the right books?

Jennifer is passionate about children and education. She homeschooled her two sons for five years, established and directed a Christian school in Maryland for 20 years, and currently teaches in a public school in a Chicago suburb. She loves investing in relationships and delights in every moment that she spends with her family.