Often times parents have difficulty determining if a book is at the right reading level for their child.  When in doubt, I recommend using the Five Finger Rule.      

                                The Five Finger Rule

  • Have your child choose a book he wants to read.
  • Ask your child to open to a page in the middle of the book and begin to read.  He should hold up a fist.
  • Each time he comes to a word that he doesn’t know or is difficult for him to pronounce, ask him to put up a finger.
  • If he gets to the end of the page and he has five fingers up, the book is “too hard.”
  • If he has no fingers up, the book is “too easy.”
  • If he has 1-2 fingers up, the book is “just right.”

 You want the book to have a few challenging words, but not so many that your child becomes frustrated with reading and fails to comprehend what has been read.  Eventually, your child should be able to use this tool to help him choose books independently.  So the next time you are in the library or the book store and your child picks up a book to read, ask him to use the Five Finger Rule to determine if it’s at the right reading level for your child.    

Dawn Little (@linkstoliteracy on Twitter) blogs at www.teachingwithpicturebooks.wordpress.com where she provides educators with picture book lessons based on comprehension strategies and the Six Traits of Writing.  In addition, she blogs at www.literacytoolbox.wordpress.com where she provides educators and parents with tips and tools to enhance the literacy lives of children.  She is the founder and owner of Links to Literacy, a company dedicated to providing interactive literacy experiences for children and families.  Find out more at www.linkstoliteracy.com