Finding A “Just Right” Book

Have you ever wondered how to help your child pick a book? Maybe you’re worried that the books they are picking are too hard? Or too easy? I want to help you KNOW if they are reading a Just Right Book.

I’m going to give you two tools you can use today to get started picking Just Right books. 


  • Purposeful – What is the purpose of reading the book?
  • Interest – Does the book interest you?
  • Comprehend – Did you understand the topic?
  • Know – Do you know the words in the book?


  1. Pick a book
  2. Open to any page
  3. Put one finger up for each word you don’t know/can’t read or keep a tally.  
  •  0-Too easy
  • 1-2 perfect choice 
  • 3-4 give it a try 
  • 5+ Too hard

So what does this even mean?

If the book is:

—>Too easy the student won’t need any help and can finish quickly. The words in the book are all easy to read. You might notice that your child will get bored easily.

—> In Just Right books the student can understand what’s going on in the book, and knows most of the words but might need a little help. When a book is Just Right it makes you want to keep reading,  the student feels confident reading them, and they can make connections and retell the story.  Have them read as many as they can to become a strong reader!

—->If the book is too hard then the words are difficult for the student to read and they need a lot of help to decode the words and understand the story. Usually, their comprehension is impacted. They might have to keep rereading and find that their mind wanders when they’re reading. They won’t be able to explain or talk about the story.

iPICK and the FIVE Finger Test can get you started, but there are some other things to consider when picking a book:

  • Do they like the genre?
  • Have they read and enjoyed other books by the author?
  • Has someone recommended it to me?
  • Is this book part of a favorite series?
  • Is the book based on a movie they like or want to see?

Let’s take a moment to talk about those too easy books and too hard books. Is it ever okay to read easy books?  What if your child is interested in a book that is “too hard?”

It’s okay to let your child read easy books sometimes.  We all do it, right?! Sometimes we read a blog post or a magazine just for the fun of it.

Reading easy books can help a child build reading fluency and confidence. Reading Fluency is the ability to read with speed, accuracy, and proper expression. When students read an easy book they can focus on the other parts of fluency.  Kids can also practice their skills by reading a book that is too easy for a younger sibling. 

Another thing that might happen is that your child might want to read books that are too hard.  My son wanted to read difficult books right away. His interests were always more advanced than his reading skills. 

You always want to encourage reading excitement! So what can you do if you KNOW the book is too hard? This is a great opportunity to have your child listen to the audiobook and either follow along in the physical copy or enjoy the experience of just listening.  This totally counts as reading!

Finally, I’m always an advocate for reading WITH your child. The more difficult books can be read together and shared. I often pause when there are words I know my son can read and let him help with that sentence. 

Let me know if you plan on using these tips to help your child pick out their next book! It always makes my day to hear from you, so email me at or comment below. Keep Reading!

About the Author Ashley DiMercurio

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