Choosing Books for Your Child​

If you have a child in elementary school, or one that is reading behind grade level, it can be confusing to figure out how to find books that they can successfully read aloud or to themselves. They key is to find texts that are not too hard, but also aren't too easy.


One great tool to use you can use when you're standing at the library or a bookstore with your child is the Five Finger Rule.


Five Finger Rule

When a child looks through a book, they can figure out if it is just right by counting on their hand the number of unfamiliar words they find.

1. If they find zero words or one word they don't know, the book is too easy.

2. If it has two or three words they don't know, it's just right.

3. When the book has four or five words they don't know, the book is too hard.


If you're the one choosing a book for your child, there are a few things you can do. If you're working with me, you can ask me what types of books I'm using with your child and I can give you an idea of their level. Or, you can ask your child's classroom teacher if they're in elementary school. They may tell you a letter like J or P, or they may tell you a DRA or lexile number. If they are older and getting intervention from a reading specialist or other special educator, you could ask that professional for a ballpark as well.


Armed with a letter (which is the Fountas and Pinnell system) or a number, you can use a chart like this one at Scholastic. It is often easier to search for a book by lexile number than by F&P letter. Once you've discovered the lexile number, you can search for books online. Be careful when you search: don't just find a title and bring it home. There are often a range of books within these categories and some will be easier for your child than others. It will be a good idea to glance at the text for content and word choice before you bring it home for them to read.


You can also search for books using


This mom has created a leveled reading list for download.


This site has teacher-curated lists of books.


You can also ask the children's librarian at your child's school or the public library for help finding just-right books.