Engaging in reading can be intimidating for students with a learning disability and/or ADHD. Beginning with a book that is both interesting and in their reading level range can help students more easily engage in reading. At Springer, we call this finding “just the right book,” and we teach students a strategy that helps them to assess whether the book they have chosen is appropriate for their reading ability.            

First the student needs to choose a book that looks interesting. This can be easier said than done. In the past few weeks, Springer students have filled out interest surveys to get a better idea of what kind of books they like. This not only helps them, but also helps us learn what they like, so that we can better guide them in finding a book. Some questions students can ask themselves are:

  • Are there any series I am interested in?
  • Do I have a favorite author?
  • Is there a certain subject I want to know more about?

Students are also encouraged to ask one another for recommendations. Their classmates can be the best promoters of books to read.

So, now that a student has picked out a book he’s interested in, how does he know it’s the right reading level? We have taught students the “Five Finger Rule” to find just the right book:

  • Open up to any page and read that page.
  • Each time you come to a word you do not know, put a finger up.
  • At the end of the page, 0-1 fingers means the book is too easy.
  • More than 5 fingers means it is too hard.
  • 2-3 fingers is just right!

We want students to be able to understand what they are reading, and also to be challenged and learn as they read. It takes some time and practice, but in even a few short weeks, I have seen students learn to pick out appropriate books. Once they have found their “just right” book, they check with an adult to make sure. After that, they are able to check out a free choice book. This book does not need to be on their reading level.

Finding just the right book can help students grow as readers and enhance their reading experience. This helps students improve their decoding, fluency and comprehension skills. As students grow and learn throughout the year, their book selection will grow and change too!

Library Media Specialist Amanda Forbes shares her knowledge in literature, library media, and technology, and in supporting students in literacy and digital information skills. If you have questions, please contact Amanda at aforbes@springer-ld.org.


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