One important step in becoming a reader is learning how to select books which are at an appropriate reading level. You can help the students in your class self-asses by creating a “How to Find Just Right Books" poster to display in the room. This poster will then serve as a ready reference for students to use before, during and after reading.
What Should the Poster Look Like?
The poster is best displayed in a prominent position in the room – perhaps at the front, directly above the chalkboard or whiteboard. Another option would be to hang the poster in the reading nook or above the classroom library, if one is available.
The poster should be large enough in size that the words written on the front are easily read by all of the students and from all angles of the classroom. Below describes suggested guidelines to include on the poster for students to use.
This book is too easy. I know this because…
- I can read the words smoothly with good expression.
- I know how to say all of the words.
- I can read the book very quickly.
- There are not a lot of words on the page. I know that I can read more!
- I am not learning anything new when I read this book.
This book is too hard. I know this because…
- A lot of the words are too hard for me to read.
- I have trouble with at least 5 words on the page.
- Some words I can read, by I do not understand what they mean.
- I have to read slowly, otherwise I make mistakes.
- My reading is very choppy. When I read books that are just right for me, my reading sounds like I am speaking.
- I do not understand what the story is about.
- I am not enjoying the story because reading it is hard work.
- I am having a hard time concentrating. When I read the story, my mind starts to think about other things.
This book is just right for me! I know this because…
- I can read most of the words.
- I understand what I am reading.
- I can read the book with a voice that is fluent, not choppy.
- I can read the story at a good rate or speed. (Not too slow or too fast)
- I can sound out the hard words and figure out what they mean by using the words around them.
- I really enjoy reading this book!
At the beginning of the school year, devote time to each section of the poster. Thoroughly explain what is meant by each section and each statement, and provide examples. Then, for the next month or two, encourage students to verbally identify the appropriate category for each book they are reading, and ask them for proof. For instance, if they say the book is "Too Hard," ask them to specifically identify how they know. They may respond by saying something like, "Well…my reading is choppy." If so, then ask them to read a portion out loud to you. If you agree with the child's opinion – say so. If not, then explain why. By modeling this appropriate use of the poster and its points, you will be teaching the children how to eventually use it on their own.
Having a “How to Find Just Right Books" poster displayed in your classroom encourages children to take charge of their own learning, and goes a long way in helping your students become independent readers.
- Information offered is based on the author's extensive experience as a classroom teacher.