LEWISTOWN - Parents always ask me, "What is the best book for my child?" Or they ask me to show them where the second grade books are or the fourth grade books.
As a librarian, I'm a firm believer in reading for fun. As the saying goes, "If you don't like to read, you are doing it wrong." But if your child is struggling, what can you do? Is there a tool "out there" that can help? Just because your child is in the third grade doesn't necessarily mean he is reading "third grade books."
But what is the "right" book for your child? Here is some advice that I find helpful.
Juniata Valley Family graphic by BRADLEY KREITZER
Susan Miriello, children’s librarian at the Mifflin County Library, recommends the “five finger test”?to determine whether books are appropriate for young readers.
A "right fit" book is a book that your child can enjoy reading on his or her own. Reading "right fit" books helps your child develop as a reader and helps him grow in confidence and ability. To find the right fit book is easy with the Five Finger Test.
Here's how it works: Turn to a page in the middle of the book. Chapter book or picture book, this Five Finger Test is perfect for any reader of any age. As your child reads the "test page," hold up a finger for every word he doesn't know.
If there are no words or one word that your child doesn't know or recognize on the test page, the book is too easy.
If there are two words on the test page that your child doesn't know, the book is a good choice for your child to read on his own.
If there are three words that your child doesn't know, the book is still a great choice, but the child may need help or may need to save this book to read aloud to an adult or older reader.
If there are four words that your child doesn't know on the test page, then you know that the book is too difficult for your child to read and understand alone. You will need to read the book to him or read the book together.
And if there are five words that your child doesn't recognize on the test page, the book is too difficult. That doesn't mean that you shouldn't read it at all. This just means to take it slow and talk about what's going on in the story.
In addition to right fit books, make reading a part of every day. Spend time reading together as a family. Parents should read to their children until they graduate high school.
No, I'm kidding! But if your child is older, read the same book together and talk about it. If your child is young, cuddle together and share a good book or listen to an audio book in the car.
The Mifflin County Library has a large selection of audio CD books and a huge digital eAudio collection on our website that may be downloaded to a portable device. We also have Tumble Books, found on our webpage, which is a huge collection of children's eBooks. Finally, we have BookFlix, which are eBooks displayed in video format (sort of like Reading Rainbow).
I hope this advice helps your child grow into the kind of person who loves to read.
Susan Miriello is the children's librarian at the Mifflin County Library in Lewistown.