How to Keep Kids Reading: Find Their Level


One key to keeping kids reading is to make sure they are not struggling. Who wants to try something if it is too difficult?   If a book is at their appropriate reading level, it will be much more enjoyable to read.  Makes logical sense, right?    Sometimes that is forgotten.

As a reading tutor,  I would see many of my struggling readers carrying around a thick volume from the Harry Potter series- terrific reads, but not for students that are a bit behind grade level.  It was what classmates were reading, and they wanted to read it too.

Upon opening the book and reading aloud, it was easy to see that just a paragraph was a huge struggle to get through, let alone a whole book.  It just made reading more difficult and frustrating.  It was better to guide them to a similar themed book at their level and have the Harry Potter become a read aloud with a parent, or Play Away “book on tape.”

Lexile scores are one easy way to find out if a book is a good fit.  Many teachers can provide parents and students with their lexile scores.  These scores are derived from standardized testing.  Once the child or parent knows their range, they can easily see if a book fits into their reading level by typing the title into or checking the spine of the book.  Barnes and Noble's site is helpful in finding books by lexile score and reader's interest.

Of course just because something fits into the Lexile range doesn’t always mean it is an ideal fit.  It is still a good idea to sample a page or two and read it out loud for errors.  Last week’s  School Zone tip discussed selecting books based on the Just Right process.   Students read from a random page in their selected book.  When read aloud, a page with 4-5 errors is too difficult, whereas only a couple of miscues is fine.

A child's  interest in the subject and genre of the book is very important.  A science fiction book in the correct lexile range is still going to be unappealing to a child that has an aversion to science fiction.  Don't forget to add some nonfiction into your summer reading, Common Core standards are stressing it.  More on that in a future post.


IF YOU LIKED THIS POST: You might also like this previous post on freebies and summer reading programs. Subscribe to School Zone now for summer skills, tips, and ideas.

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    Lisa Stiegman

    My name is Lisa Stiegman and I have been a Chicago area resident all my life. Besides being the mother of three children, I have been a writer, editor, and teacher.

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