The Five Finger Rule: How to Find ‘Just Right’ Books for Your Child
It’s important to encourage your child to read from an early age. One of the best ways to nurture this early interest in reading is by making sure the books they read on their own are suitable for their ability.
Books that are too easy can make reading time boring, while those that are too difficult can cause your child to become frustrated, skip parts, and fail to understand what’s happening.
Helping your child to find ‘just right’ books – or the perfect books for their reading level – can be simple using the five finger rule.
The five finger rule
The five finger rule is a quick and easy way for your child to check if a book is suitable to read on their own. Before they start, ask them to turn to a random page in the book and read it. For every word that they don’t know, they should hold up a finger.
Your child can use the following guidelines according to how many fingers they hold up:
0 or 1 – Most probably too easy for your child.
2 – A good choice that will give your child a reasonable challenge and allow them to learn new words.
3 – Your child might need some help, but still a good choice if they’re up for a challenge.
4 – May be too difficult for your child to read on their own. If you are on hand to give them help or read along with them it can be suitable, but if they are reading on their own, choose a different book.
5 – Most probably a bit too advanced, try a different book.
Important things to remember about the five finger rule
The five finger rule should only be taught as a guideline for helping your child to find ‘just right’ books. It’s worthwhile remembering that if they have their heart set on a book that seems too hard, it’s probably OK to let them have a go. Be nearby to help them if they get stuck on a tricky word, and don’t forget to praise them for making an effort.
Alternatively, if you know they’ll struggle to enjoy the story or will likely feel despondent, tell them that they can read it later in the year and suggest a different book instead. At the end of the day, allowing your child to read the books they’re interested in (whether they’re too easy or too difficult) is an important part of nurturing and maintaining their love of books and reading.
The Reading Eggspress Library has over 2000 online books for children, which can be sorted by reading age, reading level and Lexile level. Log in to your account now to browse the library or create your free online account here.