Homeschool Parenting Reading

How to Choose Books at Your Child’s Reading Level

Teaching your kid to read is one of the most satisfying things you can do as parents. There is nothing more exciting than watching our babies grow and learn.

We all know that reading is an important skill. Children tend to learn to read their first books between the ages of 3 and 7. The earlier he or she begins to discover the love of reading, the easier it will be for them to become confident and independent readers as they get older. There are many online resources you can use to develop your child’s reading skills. It is important that once a child gets a small grasp of phonics that we encourage them to continue building their literacy skills. This can be done by choosing books that are on their reading level and of interest to them.

Twin boys reading a book

Keep in mind, children will not master reading skills overnight. The process takes time, and you must be patient with your child. You must also be supportive of their needs as they learn. The best way for a parent to teach their child how to read is by choosing books that are at just the right level.

Girl reads to her stuffed animal toys.

As a parent, it is important to choose books at your child’s reading level. By doing so, you are making the reading experience more comfortable for your child. Choosing books that are too easy will not challenge your child. He or she will not feel as if they are making any progress. On the other hand, choosing books that are too difficult can cause frustration for your child. It can lead to him losing interest in reading altogether.

The tips below will help you learn how to choose books at your child’s reading level.  This article will make the process of choosing books easier for you.

5 Steps to Choosing Books for Your Child (On Their Reading Level)

The 5 steps below are super easy ways to choose interesting books that your kid can actually read (on their own).

1. Learn your kid’s measured reading level

The first step in choosing books at your child’s reading level is knowing your child’s reading level. For this to happen, you will need to administer a reading test.

The best way to do this is with the help of a professional. They can tell you what level your child is at in reading. Then they can recommend books that are at that same level. It will allow you to choose books that are fun and challenging for your kids. It also ensures that they are learning new things while they read each book.

You can also do a reading test at home. One ideal way is by using the San Diego Quick Assessment of Reading Ability (SDQA). The SDQA measures a child’s recognition of words out of context. This means that the child will read the words independently, not in sentence or story format. Generally, proficient readers

read as accurately both in and out of context. This test consists of 8 graded word lists from Pre-K to 7th Grade. The words within each list are of about equal difficulty.

This test is very simple and easy to do. You can do it at home in just a few minutes.

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A minor fault of the SDQA testing method is that it is not suitable for comprehension testing. So, if your child pronounces words correctly but has trouble understanding what they are reading then this test may place them at a higher level than what is best for their reading enjoyment. Who can enjoy a story that they do not understand?

There are a plethora of online tests that you can give your child, to test word pronunciation and comprehension. Most will only take 10 to 30 minutes.

2. Searching for books that match your child’s reading level

Once you know your child’s reading level, it’s time to go out and buy the books. Of course, it will help if you can find out what the level is ahead of time. You can always get help from a teacher or librarian for this purpose. It will help you avoid buying books that are too easy or too difficult for your child.  Amazon’s children’s book section offers books for every age and stage.

3. The five-fingers spelling check and how to do it

The next step in choosing books at your child’s reading level is to do the five-fingered spelling check. It will tell you if you forgot any words to make sure that they are included in the words list. And it will prevent you from buying books that have words that your child can not pronounce.

You can do the five-fingers spelling check by asking your kid to hold up five fingers and read one page of a book. Put one finger down every time your kid doesn’t know a word. If all the five fingers end up down, the book is too difficult for your child.

This test can be done when buying a book in a store, at your local library, or while shopping online. If you are shopping for a book online, browse the look inside feature and ask your child to read one of the preview pages. 

4. A Quick Comprehension Check for Kids

The next step to choosing books at your child’s reading level is to check their comprehension. I mentioned this earlier when discussing the reading test. Who can enjoy a book that they don’t understand?  You can do this by asking your kids questions about what they have read. You can ask questions like “Who is the main character?”, “What happened in the story?” or “Why did that happen?”. Make sure that you do this as soon as your child finishes reading a book. If you wait too long after, they may have forgotten all about the story they read. So, it is best to do this right after they finish reading a book. If you notice a certain level of books or even books by a certain author are too difficult for your child to comprehend, try doing one of the following.

  • Re-read the book with your child.
  • Slow reading down and ask comprehension questions every page or every other page.
  • Go down a level and read books that are a tad bit similar. There is no shame in leveling down, your child will eventually be able to understand. We do not want to overwhelm children. We want them to develop a love for reading and acquiring knowledge.

5. Checking your child’s word pronounciation

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The last step in choosing books at your child’s reading level is to do an audio check. It will help you find out if your child has any trouble with pronouncing the words in the book. You can ask them to read short passages from the book. You can ask them to repeat words until they have them perfectly memorized. Make sure you provide the correct pronunciation before asking them to repeat words over and over. If you are unsure of how to pronounce a word, be open and honest with your child. Tell them “I am not sure about that one, but I will sound it out slowly so that I can say it correctly. Will you do it with me?”

Helpful Tips: Developing A Child’s Reading Skills Early

  1. Start reading with your kid from a young age.  It will give them the desire to learn how to read. Kids always want to do what they see mom or dad do.
  2. Encourage them to read books that are appropriate for their age. For example, if a young child is going to read a book about dinosaurs, make sure that the book doesn’t have any scary images. We don’t want our kids to be afraid of opening a book because a big scary dinosaur is there.
  3. Read with your kid every day. It will help them enhance their reading skills and learn how to appreciate stories. Bedtime is a perfect time to read.
  4. Encourage your kid to engage in conversations using what they have read. Talk about the books we read. It will help them to expand their knowledge and get ideas from the books you are reading together.
  5. Make sure that your child is always interested in what they are reading. “I can’t wait to read this book!” should be the feeling a child has when introduced to a book. Give your kids the opportunity to pick book topics that interest them. It will encourage them to keep reading.
  6. Whenever possible, turn regular TV time into reading time; for example, you can read aloud while your kid follows along with his book. As your child’s reading ability improves, he or she can even take over when you need a break!
  7. Give your kids multiple opportunities to read books based on their interests; this will help them develop their interests and differentiate between what they like and do not like, thus creating a more positive attitude towards learning. This will result in your child developing a love of reading.
  8. Actively teach phonics skills. Children as young as 2 or 3 years old can learn to read. Learn how to teach your child to read with these easy phonics videos, workbooks, and materials.  

We hope this article has helped you learn how to choose books at your child’s reading level. You can use the tips and strategies we have included in this article to make choosing books easier. Above all, the most essential thing you can do is to read with your children!


Learn About Our Guest Author

Andrea Gibbs is a blog contributor and stay at home mom
Andre Gibbs

I’m Andrea Gibbs! Born, raised, and still living in New York. I’m a work-at-home mom with a background in business development, strategy, and social media marketing. I’m a blog contributor at Baby Steps Daycare in Rego Park, New York to motivate and educate other parents about how they can get their children ahead of the game in school.

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