Think about the last time you read a news or magazine article, or a book that you just couldn’t resist talking about with a friend. That simple process of actually discussing what you read can help you better understand it. The same is true for your kids, but for them to talk about what they read, they need a book in their hands.
As school begins, so do the reading demands for your children. Schools are going to great lengths to grow our kids’ literacy and promote the culture of reading, and moms and dads can offer tremendous support at home.
As parents, you want to have a role in helping your kids select books that are appropriate for them. This task should not be approached haphazardly, I assure you, so here are some suggestions to serve as a compass in a very personal, family-centered decision process.
First of all, you need to learn what kind of books are out there for kids. Read children’s books, middle grade books, young adult books with, or for your kids, to get a feel for what’s out there, what you would approve, and what authors work for you as parents and families.
You can choose some books, perhaps books that your children express interest in, and read alongside them, with them, or to them. Reading one or two books by a certain author, or in a certain genre, will help you determine if they fit your criteria.
Do those books fall into a challenging reading range for your kids? Many books have a Lexile rating — a reading measurement that matches a book’s reading difficulty with a reader’s ability. Books that are far below your kids’ levels may be entertaining, but not too challenging. Some of the books they read should fall into that range, but certainly not all of them. However, books that are too far above them might be too difficult for them to understand. We don’t want to set up kids for failure.
The way to find books for your kids is (I know this will sound silly) actually finding books for your kids. Go to the bookstore and bring your kids along so all of you can handle and look at the books. What books get your children’s attention? What are the costs? How much will you spend?
It wouldn’t hurt to begin setting aside some money every month for purchasing books. Even just a little bit can add up over a handful of months. You can save money by looking at paperback versus hardback. Compare prices at retail bookstores, used bookstores or online. You could even form book clubs with like-minded parents, and trade books that you’ve purchased. Of course, as school begins, kids also have a super resource in their school libraries, which will become even more vital with the public library closures.
The third suggestion is showing them that you’re interested in reading, too. Choose books for yourself. Read them; let the kids see you read them. Talk about them. Be a passionate consumer of things written.
The joy of discovery awaits you and your children! Don’t let them look at it as a burden of having to read so much. Just tackle it one page at a time. Soon, a story will grip you and your kids, and you’ll be talking about it together and sharing ideas. The value of doing that is, perhaps, priceless.
Your kids can usually find out their Lexile reading score from their schools. Most schools administer some sort of reading test (usually called a reading inventory) that indicates a student’s Lexile score.
Once you know what your child’s Lexile level is, you can go to Lexile.com and search book titles to match. If a book is within a hundred points above or below your child’s level, it is sufficiently challenging for them.