Just Right Books Make A Huge Difference

July 2, 2014 by Geoff Nixon

“Just Right” Books & Online Quizzes

If your child will fight you every step of the way over reading this summer, consider a reading program like ours: software you can work on at home or on vacation, that will engage your child in reading over summer.

However, if the issues are less serious and all they need is a bit of encouragement, here’s a simple two-step plan:

  1. Find in-the-zone “just right” books.
  2. Keep track of reading and set rewards.

Here’s how you do it.

1. Find “Just Right” Books

It sounds simple, but to keep your child reading, pick books in his or her reading comfort zone. Scientists call it the Zone of Proximal Development.  It’s that sweet spot where reading is beneficial and fun, where vocabulary and reading comprehension are at 80% or better.  Harder books are frustrating, and with easier books below the zone the reader is not learning.

First, know your child’s reading level, in grade-equivalent terms, e.g., a 2.1 (second grade, first month) and convert this into a reading zone, ZPD using this Reading Chart.

Second, find books that are in this zone. Here is Gemm Learning’s Recommended Reading List — favorite books chosen by Gemm staff, sorted by reading level and category — sports, more for girls, more for boys, etc.

To find out the reading grade level of a book at home, use this book level search engine. You can search by author or book title.

2. Create Rewards

While a purist may disagree with the idea of “paying” kids to read, rewards do work. Here are some ideas:

  • Check out your local library. Chances are they have a reading club where you could incorporate your just right books into their program.
  • Go to a site like www.BookAdventure.com. At that particular site, there are about 3,000 books that your child can choose from to read then answer 10 questions to show that the book was indeed read. It allows your child to accumulate points for books read. You can attach a prize to a points level achieved.
  • Make up your own Reading Race. Set a prize goal by hitting a realistic points target – using 100 points for short books, 150 for average size, 200 for longer books — and a good list of just right books to read for the summer.

Schools report that children who do not read through the summer spend 1-3 months of the new school year just getting to where they left off the prior year. So being proactive about reading over summer is important.