If you read our previous article, you would have got a complete guide to leveling in children’s books. But it is not always easy to level your children. If you are not a reader yourself, or if your child faces huge difficulties in understanding English then this task becomes all the more difficult. However, leveling is extremely important when it comes to a child who faces reading difficulties. Children who start reading later in their life can also benefit from reading level-appropriate books. A book that is too difficult to read might discourage them from reading and learning English altogether.
So, what do you do? We have summarized 2 effective strategies suggested by many publishers, developmental psychologists, and literacy leaders to help you with this process. These tests will only take a few minutes of your time and will save your child a world of pain!
The Five-Finger Test:
Make your child pick a random page from the middle of the book. Ensure that this page has text. Now make your child read the page aloud. Ask your child to tell you every time they find a word that they can’t read or understand. Every time your child points to an unknown word, put out a finger. If you have put out five fingers by the end of the page, then the book is too difficult for your child. It is time to look for an easier book. If you have no fingers or only one finger up, then the book is probably too easy for your child. If you have put up two to four fingers by the end of this page, then the book is just right for your child. It is challenging enough for your child to learn new things, but not so challenging that they would tire of it.
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The Running Records Test:
The Running Records Test was created by noted researcher Marie Clay to find how much children have understood from a text. Make your child read a text for you and make a note of how fluent they are. Note how many words they skipped, how many words they mispronounced, how many words they stumble over, and how many sentences or words they have to reread. After that, ask your child what they understood from the text to analyze their comprehension skills.
If your child could only pronounce less than 90% of the words and could not summarize the story, then you should drop the book. If your child faced little to no difficulty, then it’s time to find a harder text. The ideal book should come with some hard words, which you can assess using the five-finger test, but your child should still be able to understand the book without working too hard.