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Children's Reading Books: Three Foolproof Ways to Choose the Right One

Updated: Aug 27, 2023

Encouraging your child to read can be difficult if you are not sure which children's reading books to choose for them. Here are three simple steps that can show how to choose an appropriate level of book that your child is interested in.

1. Children's Reading Books: The Interest Check

First of all, is the theme or topic of this book something your child is interested in? They may love construction vehicles (as my son used to) or be interested in dinosaurs or magic.

Toddler looking up at a model of a dinosaur
Maybe your child loves dinosaurs?

It may be a book that is about something they have not expressed any interest in before. If so, try reading the blurb (the little bit of text on the back of the book) to them to see what they think. Ask them a question like, ‘What do you think might happen in a story like this?’ If they can give you a suggestion, then that is a good sign. Remember, try not to ask them at a time they will be distracted, like watching TV or if they are engrossed in playing as they will not give you much of an answer to any question at that point!

They say not to judge a book by its cover but I am going to suggest that you do! Show your child the front cover and see what they think. Did they ask you a question about what they can see? Did they study the picture for long? This can give you a good indication.

2. Children's Reading Books: The Five Mistakes Check

When you have go past the first hurdle of interest, you want to see if the book is too hard or too easy (which you also don’t want if the book is going to help them progress as a reader). Pick a page, it can be the first page if you like but it doesn’t have to be, and then get them or you to hold up one hand. As they read the page, put down one finger for each time they get stuck on a word.

0-1 words

The book is too easy for them.

2-3 words

This is the ideal amount as the book will challenge them but not so much that they can’t read it.

4-5 words

The book is too hard.

The other benefit of this is that it also teaches children that, in order to learn, we need to be making mistakes or struggling with some of it. This is something I am passionate about, as a teacher and a parent, because children (and adults!) can find making mistakes very uncomfortable and want to avoid it meaning they often hold themselves back.

3. Children's Reading Books: The Comprehension Check

Ok, so your child has found a book they are interested in, it is the perfect level of difficulty for them so what else do we need to check? Whether they actually understand what is going on in it.

This is a simple check, nothing fancy. All you need to do is have them read one or two pages and then ask them what’s happening in the story (or what the book is about if it is a non-fiction book). If they can tell you well enough that you feel they understand what’s going on then congratulations! You have found the perfect level book for your child to read!

A boy reading a picture book
If the children's reading book passes all three checks then they can read independently!

If you find your child is regularly getting stuck at one of these stages then here is where you can find more help. If you cannot get past The Interest Check then try reading my blog 5 Ways to Get Reluctant Readers to Read!

If they are struggling to read 4 or 5 (or more) words per page in most books you try then you can click on my blog, 5 Easy Ways to Start Teaching Your Child to Read, for more information and ideas.

If you are finding comprehension/understanding to be the difficulty, I will be writing some future blog posts on this that will hopefully be helpful.

Hope this helps!

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