February 24

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How to choose a just right book for independent reading

By Martina

February 24, 2021

independent reading, just right

Hooray! Your child is ready to embark on reading alone! But how do you choose a just right book for independent reading?

Firstly, let's start off by giving yourself a big clap on the back. You've probably spent hours (though it might feel a whole lot longer that that) trudging through phonics, pointing out long A sounds and sounding out words. Then waded through treacle with those Biff, Chip and Kipper books, the mere memory of which makes me shudder.

But now your child can read alone. Bliss! Easy street! You've made it! But it's not over yet! It's not time yet to retire to the sofa, magazine in one hand, cocktail in the other. Because now you have a really important job to do. Now you need to find a book that's just right for your fledgling reader.

Before we go any further, let me dispel the myth of 'the perfect book'. There's no such thing. Not for an adult. Not for a child. Each book is a stepping stone to the next one. Or a rung on the ladder. And you need to find a book that is just right for that rung, so that your child wants to clamber up to the next rung. So the book you're looking for now, the just right book for independent reading is for now, just to keep the reading momentum going.

You'll need to channel your Inner Goldilocks. You're looking for something that's not too hard, not too easy...you need a just right book. If your reader is relatively new to reading, a book that's too hard won't give them a good learning experience. It might even damage their confidence in their new-found skill and put them off from continuing. If you choose a book that's too easy for their reading level, it's unlikely the story will hold much interest for them. And it certainly won't challenge them. 

So, how do you choose the just right book for independent reading?

Choosing the just right book is pivotal to what we do at The Little Bookstall. We have committed to giving you all the tools to help you assess the books before you make your purchase. We want to make it as easy as possible for you to help your child on their reading journey. 
Cover of Granny Magic book with caption Does the cover catch your eye?
  • The Cover - Let's start here with the book Granny Magic, by Elka Evalds. Does it grab your attention? Does the title intrigue, delight, inspire you? Do the images catch your eye?
  • The Blurb - Now flip the book over to the back cover and take a read. Does the blurb make you want to open the book?
  • The Inside Pages -  Have a look at a couple of pages. Do the illustrations draw your eye? Are the chapter titles engaging and captivating? Do they make you want to read the book?
  • The Five Finger Rule - Go to a sample page and ask your child to read aloud to you. Each time they come across a word that's too tricky, or they can't read, ask them to hold up a finger. If they are holding up more than five fingers by the end of the page, the book is too tricky for them to read independently. (If the book is too tricky, but has really piqued their interest, you could buy it anyway but have it as a book that you read together. It probably won't be long until the book is a just right book for your independent reader!)
Choosing just right book for independent reading The Five Finger Rule
Knowing how important it is to choose the just right book, we've chosen to include a gallery of images for each of our titles. You can look at the front cover and the blurb. You can take a look at sample pages to see the illustrations and the reading level.
sample text to help choose just right book for independent reading

We hope that you've found this helpful and that you're now ready to browse our book selection and find the just right book for your independent reader.

But, if you're not sure what to choose, just ask us! We're here to help. Just send us a message with some information about your child - age, what they have enjoyed reading and their interests - and we'll make some recommendations for you.

Happy reading!

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