CHOOSE THE BEST BOOKS FOR YOUR CHILDREN
“He that loves reading has everything within his reach.”
Reading is one of the best habits a child can learn. The benefits are countless and the impact reading a story creates on a child’s mind is immeasurable. Children are like mud; shaping these young minds at this tender age is essential, and books play a major role in it. Initiating your child to children’s literature is essential as it covers a whole range of stories and knowledge laid out to them to experience and indulge in. Children’s literature comprises those books written and published for young people who are not yet interested in adult literature or who may not possess the reading skills or developmental understandings necessary for its perusal. Literature serves children in four major ways: it helps them better understand themselves, others, their world, and the aesthetic values of written language. When kids read, they often assume the role of one of the characters. Through that character’s thoughts, words, and actions, the child develops insight into their character and values. Frequently, because of experiences with literature, the child’s modes of behavior and value structures are changed, modified, or extended.
Children need to read books which are good and help them in some manner. Getting confused and going for a book that is not quite right is prone to happen. However, one should be very careful when selecting books for children. Ursula K. Le Guin said, “A person who had never listened to nor read a tale or myth or parable or story, would remain ignorant of his own emotional and spiritual heights and depths, would not know quite fully what it is to be human.”
Here are some of the reasons why books are important, justifying therefore why choosing good books is highly important.
- Books create warm emotional bonds between adults and kids when they read books together.
- Books help kids develop basic language skills and profoundly expand their vocabularies—much more than any other media.
- Books are interactive; they demand that kids think. Fiction and nonfiction books widen our consciousness. They give us new ways to think and new ideas. They expand our universe beyond time and place and inspire our original thoughts.
- Books develop critical thinking skills. A book is read by an individual. It has no laugh track or a musical score that emotionally primes a reader’s reaction. You alone decide what you think about a book and its contents with no one leaning over your shoulder telling you how to think.
- Books develop and nourish kids’ imaginations, expanding their worlds. Picture books introduce young children to the world of art and literature. Novels and nonfiction books stimulate kids’ sensory awareness, helping kids to see, hear, taste, feel, and smell on an imagined level. Books inform our imaginations, inspiring creativity.
- Books let kids try on the world before they have to go out into it. Books allow kids to experience something in their imaginations before it happens to them in real life. Books help prepare kids for their next stage of maturity, vicariously preparing for the “grown-up” world.
- Books help us to understand ourselves, to find out who we are. Books strengthen our self-confidence and help us to understand why we are who we are. They help us discover where we come from and help us figure out where we want to go.
- Books help children and adults to open up, to move beyond self-absorption, and connect to other people. Books show us the inner workings of multiple perspectives and let us know there is more than one way to view the world. Books build connections and broaden our capacity to empathize; they help us to understand others. Books help us to become more compassionate.
- Books help kids to chart their own moral and ethical course. Books help us to reflect on right and wrong, good and evil. Books can offer guidance and help us to determine our life priorities, our own set of values.
- Books answer questions.
- Books create questions.
- Books provide the opportunity to share cultural experiences. When kids read the same book, enjoying a common reading experience, peer bonds are built within a generation. When children, parents, and grandparents share classic books, extended familial and community bonds are formed creating a shared frame of reference.
- Books offer a wide breadth of information, experience, and knowledge. But unlike many electronic mediums, books also offer a great depth of information, experience, and knowledge. Books inform us about other people, other countries, other customs, and cultures. Books help us to teach ourselves about history, the arts, science, religion, nature, mathematics, and technology –– anything and everything in our universe and beyond. Books also help us to understand the effect that all those things have on us and our world.
- Books entertain and offer a great escape. They make us laugh and giggle. They make us cry.
- Books — unlike many other entertainments –– are free for everyone. You can find the book you need, for free, at your neighborhood public library.
- Books are great companions. You are never lonely when you have a book to read.
- Books comfort us. Books help us understand that no matter who we are, or what our experiences may be, we are not alone in the world.
- Books inspire us to dream.
- Books give us the tools to achieve our dreams.
Giving children access to all varieties of literature is extremely important for their success. Educators, parents, and community members should help children develop a love and passion for reading. Not only is reading literature important in developing cognitive skills to be able to succeed in a school or work setting, but it is valuable for other reasons as well. Children’s literature is extremely valuable in both the school setting and at home. Teachers and parents should both be able to differentiate between quality and mediocre literature, in order to give students access to the best books to encourage these important values of literature and considering developmental domains. Children’s literature is valuable in providing an opportunity to respond to literature, as well as cultural knowledge, emotional intelligence and creativity, social and personality development, and literary history to students across generations.
Books tell kids about life-concepts, value systems and teach them about love, God, peace, and truth. Show kids how to deal with grief, anger, disappointment, bullying, divorce, and much more.
Thus, looking at the importance of quality literature in a child’s life, the five-finger rule is an important aid in choosing a good book. A book has various parameters to qualify as a good book. However, vocabulary is one of the most important parameters. Children need to understand what they are reading. Only then they can benefit from reading. A child should be able to decode and comprehend. Also, it should be challenging enough for children to stretch themselves and learn new vocabulary. In such situations, the Five Finger Rule comes handy.
Five Finger Rule
How many of you parents out there struggle to find the perfect book to fit your child’s reading level? Or worse yet- how often are they having trouble selecting the right books for themselves? Sometimes cruising the shelves of our library can prove difficult when titles are overly challenging or too easy for our young readers. If you pick one which might be above their phonics capabilities, it’s possible to discourage a healthy relationship with literature. On the flip side, books that are not continuing to introduce a variety of ambitious vocabulary and overall content within their stories can also hold them back from progressing. It’s a tough balance that has to be found by both parents and kids which affects lifelong skill sets valuable to their future education and more importantly their love for books in general. Your child may have already developed a love for reading or is still hesitant when it comes to picking out books; there is an easy way for them to choose a just-right book on their own. It’s called the Five Finger Rule! 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 this 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 it is too easy for your child. It indicates that the selection is below what you should be challenging yourself with, so you’ll need to find something a step higher to motivate your reading skills.
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 – It 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. Don’t be discouraged by this though because chances are, you’ll be ready for that title in just a short while.
What you are shooting for is a two to three finger ratio, where the text is comprehensible but still provokes your learning. This means it’s the “Just Right for You” book and chances are, you’ll be pleasantly paired with one another.
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.
Some reasons for a child choosing a book include their friend had read it, it was by their favorite author, or they liked the cover. This is all very well, but these reasons don’t take into account a child’s reading level or ability. We need to teach strategies to help them choose a just-right book for independent reading. We want the children to develop into lifelong readers. Being able to choose a just right book is the first step in that direction. All children, no matter if they are struggling or confident, need opportunities to be taught reading strategies into practice independently. This is reinforced if they have the opportunities to choose their books.
For all of us, reading is a continued source of education for both kids and adults which allows us to grow constantly throughout our whole lives. Whether our unique pace occurs within small steps, leaps or bounds, books will always remain one of the largest entryways into our discovery. Exposing children to quality literature can contribute to the creation of responsible, successful, and caring individuals. Therefore Five Finger Rule functions as one of the important tools in enhancing reading habits. Hopefully, this article was useful in highlighting the importance of reading for children and the Five Finger Rule!