Tuesday, August 16

How to Help a Child Select Books On Their Own (Ready to R.E.A.D.!)

When a child comes into a library, it can be pretty overwhelming. There's a LOT of books! Sometimes, kids will pull books randomly. Sometimes they find a title simply because someone recommended it. But what I want to make sure is that children know how to find a book successfully—selecting something they can enjoy so as to build a love of reading.

So I came up with a way to help them remember (and you, as an adult—parent, librarian, teacher) how to find a book to read. Or perhaps I should say R.E.A.D. (yep, dorky acronym time!).

Ready to R.E.A.D

R – Reason

What’s the reason for picking out a book? Is there a school assignment? Is it just for fun? Is there a popular title that’s getting a lot of attention? Did someone offer a recommendation? Determining the reason or need for the book will get a child started in the right direction, whether that’s looking at a certain area (nonfiction or fantasy genre) or asking about specific titles.

E – Enjoyment

Is this something that can be enjoyed? Once they’ve found a book that fits the need, children need to then determine personal interest—how engaging or enticing it is for them as a reader. It’s no fun to read a book just because they have to. Is there something that draws them in? Have them look at the cover and the summary, flip through the pages to see the chapter titles and/or any illustrations, and determine if there’s appeal.

A – Assessment

What’s really going on with this book? It fits the need and looks engaging, but now a child should assess his or her own understanding of the book. One way is to flip to a page and start reading with the "five finger rule." Read the page and count on one hand the unknown words. Just like Goldilocks, go for "just right"— 0 – 1 unknown words is too easy, 4 – 5 unknown words might mean the book is too hard, whereas 2 – 3 unknowns is just right. Also, acknowledging the reading level or the number of pages is another way a child can assess if this book is something they can manage on their own. If it's too difficult, perhaps it can wait until later, or be read with a parent.

D – Decision

What's the final decision? The child may have decided on a book title, but there's one more decision to make: was it any good? After they've finished reading, children should determine success—did they like it? And understand it? This final decision will be a great way to find their next book. If they enjoyed this one, have them keep looking for similar titles or more books written by the same author. If not...well, it sure doesn't hurt to try this process again.

When a child is involved in the picking of their own books, they're more excited about it. Reading does NOT have to be a chore—make it fun!

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