How do I pick a book that my child can read?

How hard should the book be?How do I know if I am buying the right one? I am probably asked this question weekly by parents.

Picking a book to read to your child is pretty easy, finding one that he/she can read independently is a little trickier. Often parents think that should be stretching their child with a “hard book”. I get complaints about school “take home books” being “too easy”!

Children will learn sight words from regular reading. No one is disputing this. It is recommended that children read for up to 10minutes daily.If the books that they read are always challenging it may actually turn them off reading.  Reading at home should mostly be about “reading for fun”.

You might actually be surprised by the rule below. Only 2/10 unfamilar words  per page is considered the perfect level for both learning and enjoyment.

The 5 Finger Rule

Open a page in the middle of the book and read it using the 5 finger rule:

  • Make a fist.
  • Hold up one finger for every word that you find tricky


a) Too hard: 5 tricky words = Frustration

4 tricky words = Challenging/instructional level that we would use in school

b) Too easy 0-1 tricky words



c) Just right 2-3 words = Interest level

I made this cute little bookmark for you to downloadand stick into a book or onto a noticeboard for reference.

It is a really great idea to use this rule with your child so that in time he/she can actually make informed choices about what to read.

Clipart by DJInkers

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh 🙂


5 thoughts on “How do I pick a book that my child can read?

  1. Isabelle Bates says:

    Hi Miss Mernagh
    I am taking part in ‘Circus Stars’ at Wexford Library during my summer holidays. One of my favourite books so far is ‘Meggie Moon’. The library is great because they have such a selection of books and they always seem to be getting new ones. I can’t believe we are half through the holidays already. I hope you are enjoying some well earned time off. Looking forward to seeing you again in September. From your friend Isabelle.

    • missmernagh says:

      Hi Isabelle, I am so delighted to hear that you are participating in Circus Stars this Summer! It should be no trouble to you now that you have already read 100 books! Perhaps you could use my Reading Log to see how many books you read. I would love to hear all about it in September and will be very eager to see your medal. It will be another great achievement for you. I will visit my local library and read Meggie Moon myself, thanks for the recommendation. I love to spend my holidays catching up on books that I have wanted to read all year. Enjoy the rest of your Summer holiday. Miss Mernagh 🙂

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