"My son is a Level G. Can you show me that section?"
"My daughter's teacher just informed us that Katie is between a I and a K. How to I find books at her reading level?"
"Where do you keep your C books?"
These are questions that we children's librarians are asked almost every week. Parents, caregivers, and children will frequently come to us with a Leveled Reading list or instructions from their teachers to find books on the Guided Reading scale (this method of reading instruction, also known as the Fountas and Pinnell system, uses a scale from A to Z to indicate increasing levels of book difficulty.)
Since public libraries are organized and arranged to facilitate browsing, searching, and to inspire a lifelong love of reading, you won't find our Children's Library organized by the A to Z levels. So, how do you locate books that are appropriate for your child's reading level?
Here are a few ways to find great books for your child:
1. Ask a Children's Librarian.
We pride ourselves on knowing great children's literature and enjoy making recommendations. We will usually begin by asking you or your child what kinds of books you've read recently and whether those books felt "just right" or not. We can help you find similar titles, ones that are a little harder, or a little easier.
For children just learning to read on their own, a great place to browse is in our F5 Learn to Read area. These books, also known as beginning readers, are designed to help newly emerging readers recognize common vocabulary, anticipate rhyming words, construct meaning through carefully placed illustrations, and build confidence.
For children who are reading independently but not quite ready to delve into Harry Potter, check out our Kids I Read section. Filled with popular chapter book series, these books help keep new readers engaged but not overwhelmed.
3. Use the Five Finger Rule.
What is a level H or K or D anyway? What does it mean? It can be frustrating for both parents and children to locate books on their assigned Guided Reading level. Oftentimes, the Guided Reading lists given to parents contain titles that are out of print or unavailable.
One simple and effective way to judge whether any given book is too hard or too easy is The Five Finger Rule. Here's how it works:
- Ask your child to start reading a page from the book. Anytime they come to a word that they cannot pronounce or don't understand, hold up a finger.
- One finger means the book in question is probably too easy.
- Four or five fingers means the book in question is probably too hard.
- Two or three fingers means the book is probably JUST RIGHT.
Looking for more information on finding great books for your child? Stop by the Children's Library anytime or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
photo of child reading courtesy of Flickr user John-Morgan; photo of hand courtesy of Flickr user Phineas H.