Choosing Books for your Child: Finding the “Right” or “Good Fit” Book

Parents and grandparents often ask me how do I find the right book for my child or grandchild. It depends on what is meant by “right” book. Book choice, personal interest in the subject matter, and purpose (Why am I reading this?) are critical to any reader. Without these attributes, reading may become a chore, a struggle to complete if at all. I personally would rather opt for the delicious feeling of getting lost in a fictional world or showing off a new recipe or project that I learned by reading. Thus, modeling reading as a purposeful, enjoyable activity early on will reap life-long benefits for little ones watching [the parents and grandparents] and engaging children in the activity – even if it is only turning the pages and chiming in a repetitive phrase or stirring the cookie batter with a wooden spoon.

Now when the parent or grandparent selects a book to be read independently [and joyfully] by the child, the child needs to be able to understand what is read [a topic for another day] and needs to be able to read most of the words on a page. This is where teachers may suggest the five-finger rule. This is how the five-finger rule works: for every unknown word on a particular page, lay down a finger of one hand. If the child lays down all five fingers on the same page, the book is too hard to read independently and fluently. Often, non-fluent readers evolve over a period of time from reading books too hard for them. All is not lost as the book may be read aloud to the child.

A “just right” book or a “good fit” book
• Book choice – Child looks through the book and decides if this book is “right” for him or her
• Purpose – Why am I reading this book? (for fun, to learn…)
• Interest – Is this book interesting to me?
• Comprehension – Do I understand what this book is about?
• Knows most of the words – Can I read most of the words?

To learn more about “good fit” books, visit