Saturday, May 28, 2011

Can My Kid Read This?

How do you know if a book is right for your child? As a teacher a lot of parents come up to me and ask for advice on picking books for their kids. They’re stuck in the unfortunate position of trying to get books that they kid’s enjoy but that also help develop their reading skills. While as a teacher I’ve had to go to trainings and class that show me how to do this most parents don’t have that choice.

So for any parents out there who don’t quite get why the teacher gives their kids the books they do, or wants to learn how to pick skill appropriate books that won’t have everyone in the family screaming in frustration here’s some of the things I mention to parents with questions about helping their kids make solid reading choices.

Just Right Books

  • The best way to tell if a book is just right for your child is to have them read a page out loud to you. If they whiz through the page with no mistakes then the book may be too easy for them. This isn’t a bad thing, but keep in mind that if they aren’t challenged then they won’t grow as readers. If they struggle with between 1 and 4 words on the page then the book is a “just right book” for your kid. If they make 5 or more mistakes then the book is too hard and trying to read the whole thing might be frustrating and result in a struggle between you and your child. Finding another book would be a good idea.

Guided Reading Programs

  • Have you ever wondered how schools officially determine where your child is as a reader? Well the answer is through Guided Reading Programs. The purpose of the Guided Reading Programs are to determine what level a student is reading at, and they're usually administered in the fall and spring. Each program is a little different, but the gist is that student choose a book out of a leveled collection that seems just right for them. They then read the book to their teacher and their mistakes or lack there of will tell their teacher what leveled books would be a good fit for that students and what they need to improve on.


  • Leveling ties into the idea that in order to become a proficient reader students need to hit certain benchmarks in their reading each year. This ties into Guided Reading Programs because these benchmarks equate to certain levels in Guided Reading Programs. For example in order to be considered proficient a student going into third grade should be reading at DRA 28, Guided Reading Level M, or Lexile 600. The Guided Reading Program assessments mentioned above help to establish which level your child is at, but since every child progresses at a different rate not all kids will fit the timeline exactly. A child could be struggling one year and then through continued practice the next year they'll exceed the leveling expectations of their grade. Here's what the grade level leveling looks like for the three programs I've mentioned.

Book Rooms

  • A book room is something all of the schools I’ve been in have had. In many ways it’s like a miniature library. The school’s collection of leveled readers (a.k.a. books scored using the DRA or other leveling system) is stored there. The books tend to be interesting and appropriate for that level. There are usually about ten different sets of books for each level. If you can get a look at your school’s Book Room (if they have one) this is a great place to get ideas about interesting and appropriate books for your child.


  • If you know what your child’s DRA Level, Lexile Level, or Guided Reading Level is then you can go to Scholastic’s website, put that information in, and the site will spit out a whole list of books that fall in your child’s range. The nice thing about Scholastic is that if you don’t know you’re child’s level you can pick some of their just right books, search the titles on Scholastic, and find out what level they’re at that way.

Any questions?


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