Does your child have a stack of books that they have leafed through about once before sticking it back on the shelf? Do trips to the library result in your kid bringing back more DVDs to watch than books to read? When you want your children to experience the joys of reading, it can be frustrating to find a book that will actually capture their attention.
Best-fit books are just what they sound like—they are books that best fit the child’s interests and preferences, which makes them want to read more. These can help open up young readers’ love of books. But how can you choose a best-fit book? All you have to do is ask the following four questions.
4 Questions to Ask When Choosing the Best Fit Books for Your Young Reader
1. Who is your child?
Is she obsessed with Minecraft? Does he talk about his puppy every other time he opens his mouth? Did she demand to dress as a Disney character even when it wasn’t Halloween? There are plenty of books that are tailored to specific interests and franchises. Looking for a topic that matches your child’s personality is a great first step in finding a good-fit book. Read a book that you are considering buying your child first. A fiction book should contain characters that your child can relate to, and non-fiction books should have facts that your kid can’t wait to spout at the dinner table.
2. Why is your child reading a book?
For a school assignment? For pleasure? Whatever the reason, it can help you narrow down the pool of books. A book report will probably want a fiction book, while a science project can require your children to read some fascinating non-fiction. When reading in the car on the way to swimming class, your child may want a book about Michael Phelps’ accomplishments, or a story about a kid overcoming her fear of water.
3. Where is your child’s vocabulary level?
Your kindergartener may be interested in a book about insects, but will probably be puzzled by words like “metamorphosis” and “exoskeleton.” Check through the book to make sure that the vocabulary matches your child’s level. If there are some words that you think your child should know, but probably doesn’t, see if they are explained in the context of the book. Reading through the book with your child before she reads it on her own is also a great way to make sure she understand the vocabulary.
4. What can your child understand?
Look at the text density of the pages and how the sentences are constructed. Younger children (Pre-K to 1st grade) tend to prefer books with a lot of colorful pictures. Young readers in lower elementary grades can digest small paragraphs, but there should only be one or two paragraphs per page. The concepts that a book is built on may also confuse or distress your child. You know your children best, so you can evaluate whether you think that they are ready for books that deal with heavier themes like death, racism, or divorce.
You don’t have to choose these books by yourself—you can bring your child into the process, too. You can go to the library and select a few books that look like they may be winners, and then sit down at a table with your child to discuss the above questions. This way, you will definitely know what your child wants to read (or doesn’t want to read!), and it can help you make better choices during future trips to the library or bookstore!
Have fun reading!