How to Find a Good-Fit Book!

The Five-Finger Test

     We provide students with access, choice, and motivation to read so they can avoid the slippery summer slide that sends reading skills spiraling downward.  It’s important to remember a key ingredient for success: identifying right-fit books.

     “It’s one thing to learn how to read, but it’s another thing to read.  Many students know how to read, but they don’t choose to read,” says Reading Professor Timothy Blair. “One possible explanation is they have not read a lot of books at their level.

    Tim offers a simple Five-Finger Test for helping students identify books at their level so they can be armed with just-right books to keep them reading over the summer.

First, open the book to the middle, and ask the student to read a page out loud.

Then, hold up a finger for each unknown or misunderstood word.

1. When the child misses the first word, hold up your thumb.  If that’s all they miss on the page say, “You know all but one word! I knew this book would be easy for you.”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. After the second missed word, hold up your thumb and forefinger in an L shape. If that’s all they miss on the page say, “‘L’ stands for learning. This book will be a good learning book for you.”
3. After the third missed word, hold up three fingers. If that’s all they miss on the page say, “‘W’ stands for ‘warning.’ This book may frustrate you, and you may not enjoy it.”
4-5. With the fourth or fifth missed word, represented by four or five fingers, you can advise the child to stop and explain, “This means ‘stop.’ It’s time to find another book that you’ll be able to enjoy all by yourself.”

  Helping students avoid frustration will improve reading practice, Tim says.

“That’s the only way students will become fluent. The more students read, the better readers they will be, and the better students they will be.”