How to Choose a Book
Our goal is to create lifelong readers. Teachers and librarians (and parents) always try to put the right book into a child’s hands--that’s our job--but we also want children to learn how to make their own thoughtful and appropriate choices. Self-book selection is an invaluable skill but it takes lots of practice. The next time you visit the public library or a local bookstore, help your child make a good book choice. Here are a few guidelines.
Kids, ask yourself some questions. What topics do I like to read about? Which books are my favorites? Who is my favorite author? Do I want fiction or nonfiction today? Is this book for a school assignment or just for my own enjoyment? Thinking about some of these questions gives you a purpose when you’re surrounded by thousands of books. Of course, browsing---with no particular book in mind---is okay too! Let a cover or title catch your eye.
Try it out. We always joke with kids in the library that sometimes they seem afraid to...open the book! Choosing the right book takes a little effort. Read the blurb on the inside flap or on the back of the jacket. Flip through the pages. Look at the pictures. Read the captions. Notice the size of the text and the space around the words. Comfortable? Does it appeal to you?
Read a little of it. One common suggestion is to use the “five-finger” test to determine readability. Also, many teachers talk to their students about three types of books...vacation, just-right and challenge. Just right books are those at a child’s instructional level--not too easy, but not too difficult. He or she can read most of the words (but not all) and understand most of the story (but not all). It's important to read a lot of just right books to become a better reader. That said, we all enjoy a vacation book now and then (really easy, can read it smoothly, almost know it by heart). Also, never underestimate the power of a truly motivated student to tackle and conquer a challenging book when he or she is passionate about the subject. Usually, challenge books are best read together with a more advanced reader, like a parent or other family member.
Variety, variety, variety. In addition to enjoying vacation, just right and the occasional challenge book, try different types of reading, too. Love fiction? Try a different sort, like mysteries or historical fiction. Give nonfiction a try. Check out a cookbook or read and follow the directions for a craft. Read a magazine, or even a graphic novel! Don't forget poetry. Additionally, remember you’re never too old for picture books. Mix it up.
Talk about books and reading. Tell your friends about great books you have read, and ask what they are reading. Parents, talk about the books you’re reading too. It’s cool to talk about books.
Still need some help? Ask a librarian! We read A LOT of books, and we just LOVE to connect kids with books they might love. Ask a teacher--they can tell you about books that other students have enjoyed. Feel free to stop by the LMC to talk more about books and kids.