What is a “just right book?”

The teacher suggests that your child needs to be reading “just right books” at home, but what does that mean? What is a just right book?

How do parents help their child become a better reader at home? Here’s a guide to get you on the right track!

Early readers need to spend time reading books at their “just right” level to ensure they are not always reading texts that are too hard nor too easy. There is a fine line between allowing a young reader to breeze through reading a text and giving them a book that creates frustration.

How to find the right level of book?

Educators categorize books simply into three reading levels for young readers. Each level serves a purpose for the reader, but it is important to make sure you have an overall balance for your child. Balance helps them become a stronger reader. When a child reads too much in one of these levels they may not be growing their skills. Here are some of the characteristics to look for when you listen to your child read a book. Use this as a guide to pick the right books for your child to read at home.

  1. Too Easy: These books are like tricycles. They give readers lots of practice and allow them to gain confidence in their abilities at an independent level.
  • Students can breeze through the book quickly with the ability to read every word.
  • Readers can easily use their “story voice” rather than sound like a robot.
  • The reader may have much of it memorized.
  • Readers can easily retell all about this kind of book because they know it so well.
  • Reading this level book too often can create boredom.

Parent Tip: Have your child point to the words as they are reading to be sure they are tracking the print with their voice, eyes, AND pointing finger. This helps you watch to make sure they are not purely memorizing the text.

Just Right: These books are like bikes with training wheels. The child is almost ready to ride the bike on their own and will be able to with more practice. These are books “fit like a shoe” with a little growing room.

  • Students are able to handle the book on a first read
  • Readers use learned reading strategies for figuring out new words independently.
  • Reading may sound a bit like a robot reading on the first read and may need encouragement to practice the book a few times with their “story voice”.
  • Readers can sound smooth or fluent with practice.
  • A reader can retell this story with confidence and detail.
  • Retelling will need only a few prompts. *A prompt is the asking of a limited number of good questions that encourage the reader to retell in detail which demonstrates understanding.

Parent Tip: Allow your child to struggle. Do not supply the unknown word or the answer to your book questions when they pause. Readers need to try out the word using good reading strategies and do their own thinking. Click here for ideas on questions to ask when they struggle. Trust them. Telling your child the answer, tells them they can’t do it.

Too Hard These books are like ten speed bikes- a bike to ride when they have enough skills to ride, but cannot ride by self. They are a goal to strive for and can push readers to the next level if they have avoided risk-taking. These books are a good choice to prove to a hesitant reader that they have skills to read more challenging books!

  • Students have difficulty reading most words on a page without the help of an adult.
  • When a reader cannot do over 3/4 of the reading on their own without adult intervention the book is too hard.
  • These are often picture books that allow readers to tell the story in pictures instead.
  • Readers who constantly struggle with too many new words lose their confidence.

Parent Tip: Read these books to your child and let them follow along and develop listening stamina and comprehension. Use this book to have your child orally tell the story using the pictures. Ask your child lots of questions to show they understand. Click here for ideas on good questions to ask your reader.

Create a balance between all three types to help your young reader.

Creating a nice balance between all three types of books when a teacher sets up a reading program in the classroom is the goal. Think about your own home reading shelves. they are most likely filled with a variety of reading materials. Parents can give their child this variety at home as well.

Kids will enjoy easy books just as adults like to pick up a magazine for light reading.

Just right books are the “night stand table” books we have that we find enjoyable. These give students the right amount of challenge that is within their capabilities .

Those challenging books are like our text books or books that we really have to concentrate on. For kids these usually have some great picture support. There are skills readers can gain in the retelling of these stories.

Helping students select a variety of books in order to keep a balance between the books they spend their time on will help them become a stronger reader. Click here if you need a resource on finding books.

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