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Helping Your Child Pick a
“Just Right Book”

Reading becomes easier and more enjoyable for a child when he is reading the “just right book” for his style of learning.

According to the Common Core State Standards, “To build a foundation for college and career readiness, students must read widely and deeply from among a broad range of high-quality, increasingly challenging literary and informational texts. Through extensive reading of stories, dramas, poems, and myths from diverse cultures and different time periods, students gain literary and cultural knowledge as well as familiarity with various text structures and elements. By reading texts in history/social studies, science, and other disciplines, students build a foundation of knowledge in these fields that will also give them the background to be better readers in all content areas. Students can only gain this foundation when the curriculum is intentionally and coherently structured to develop rich content knowledge within and across grades. Students also acquire the habits of reading independently and closely, which are essential to their future success.”

  • It is imperative that your child is reading grade level appropriate texts. This is one of the hardest concepts for all readers and especially struggling readers. Often times, parents will say that their child can read grade level texts but when asked comprehension questions their child struggles. These questions can range from anything that is “right there” (answer is found explicitly in the text) “in between the lines” (answer has to be inferred) or “beyond the text” (answers require further research and synthesis of multiple texts).

As students’ progress in their education, they want to read what their classmates are reading, which then becomes problematic if their Lexiles (reading levels) do not match up. A lesson that I did each year with my students was an example with shoes. We wear different shoes for different occasions; weddings, sports, school, hiking, swimming etc. Therefore, we have different books for different purposes; enjoyment, research, school, work. In addition, the shoes that I wear are a size 7; the shoes you wear might be a size 4. My shoes may serve the same purpose as yours but my size is “just right” for me and yours for you. Books work in the same way. We may all read about the same content but the books we are reading to learn about that content vary in level based on what is “just right” for each of us.

  • Try having this open conversation with your child as they start the school year and then revisit throughout the year as their reading level will increase as will the level of complexity in which they can read.

Here are some open ended questions to ask your child as they read.

  • What do good readers do?
  • Am I clear about what I just read? How do I know?
  • What makes a story a “great” story?
  • Why does the author’s choice about the type of writing matter?
  • How do active readers use their schema to make connections and get smarter?
  • How does asking questions help me as a reader?
  • When word doesn’t make sense, what can I do?