Monday, January 16, 2012

Choosing a "Just Right" Book

If you are trying to find a book that is "just right" then you know it can be frustrating and confusing.  There are many ways to find a book, and not one method is always perfect.  

One way to do it "on the fly" without reading too far into the book is the "5 Finger Test."  This is a loose way of checking without actually having to read more than a page.  This method is a good first way of checking, but I do suggest that you check in frequently as you read to see if the book still seems to be "just right."  Try the 5 finger test, and then read what Beth Newingham says below about finding just right books. 

Beth Newingham is a fabulous 3rd grade teacher in Michigan.  She has wonderful Reader's Workshop resources for both teachers and parents.  I have included her link below about finding "just right" books, but I have also included an excerpt in case you don't want to read all that she has on her website.

* you can read the words fluently (smooth and with an interesting voice)
*there often are not a lot of words on a page
*you know how to say all the words
*there are not a lot of pages in the book
*you have a lot of schema for the subject
*sometimes the book has a larger font
*you totally understand the story
*your reading rate may be quicker
*your thinking comes easy as you read the words

*you can read most of the words
*you can understand what you are reading
*you enjoy the book
*you may have some schema for the subject
*you can read the book with smooth fluency but there are some choppy places
*your reading rate is just right- not too slow and not too fast
*you can figure out the tricky words and still get the meaning of the story

*many of the words are too hard to decode (failed a five finger test)
*you don't know what the tricky words MEAN
*your reading becomes choppy more than it is fluent
*you don't have any prior knowledge the subject
*there are often a lot of words on the page
*often the font is small
*you lose focus as you are reading
*you are not enjoying the book because you have to do too much word work
*your thinking is confused
*your reading rate slows way down

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