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How to Choose a Book

young girl choosing a book from the library shelf

One of the most important parts of reading, if not the most important part, is choosing a book. Often, choosing the right or wrong book will make a big difference in a child developing a love of reading or not, and there are a number of variables to consider. This article will help you understand the various items to think about when helping your child choose a book. Remember to help the child select the book; you don’t have to select it for him or her. Allowing children to choose will help them learn a love of reading!

Grade/Reading Level Appropriateness

It is important to choose a book that is appropriate for your child’s grade/reading level. A book that is too easy won’t challenge or engage your child. A book that is too difficult will frustrate your child and leave him or her discouraged. An easy way to tell if a book is a good level for your child is the Five-finger Test.

  1. Choose a book that you and your child think he or she will enjoy.
  2. Have the child read the second page.
  3. The child should hold up a finger for each word he or she is not sure of or does not know.
  4. If there are five or more words that are not understood, another book should be chosen.

If after performing the Five-finger Test, you are concerned it may be too difficult, choose another page or two and try again. A book that is on the child’s reading level is very important!

Choose a Book That is a Good Fit

Now that you’ve determined if the book is appropriate for your child’s reading level, it’s time to see if your child is interested in it. The best way to do that is by reading a small part of it. Help your child choose two or three pages, read it, and ask him or her these questions:

Will It Be a Good and Fun Book to Read?

  • Do you understand what you are reading?
  • Do you know almost every word?
  • When you read it aloud, can you read it smoothly?
  • Do you think the topic will interest you?

If your child answers yes to most of these questions, this will be a good book to choose. If the answer is no to most of the questions, keep looking! This isn’t the right fit.

Will This Book Be Hard For Me?

  • Are there five or more words on a page that you don’t know or are unsure of?
  • Is this book confusing and hard to understand on your own?
  • When you read it aloud, does it sound choppy and slow?

If most of your child’s answers were “yes,” this book is probably too hard. You should help your child choose a different book and wait awhile before he or she reads this book. Give the book another try later. If the child really wants to read it, help him or her with it or read it to them.

Choosing the right book is of great importance. It can help develop your child’s love of reading. Reading is one of the best things we can do to help children excel academically and do well in life. Enjoy your book!


Lesley Woodrum, WVU Extension Agent, Summers County