Five Finger Test for Choosing Books
As a parent you can help your child choose a book that is Just Right for them by following the Goldilocks’ Rules.
In “Goldilocks and the Three Bears," Goldilocks desperately wanted to find the porridge, chair, and bed that were "just right" for her. Selecting a book can sometimes feel the same way. Just as Goldilocks found that some porridges were too hot or too cold and others were just right, beginning readers often have the same difficulty finding books that are just right for the skills they possess.
When you are reading a book, use the Five Finger Test to help find a book that is “just right.”
The Five Finger Test
Sometimes it is difficult to know if a book is going to be too easy or too hard just by looking at it. The Five Finger test is one way to "test" a book before you spend too much time with it and get frustrated.
1. Choose a book you would like to read.
2. Open it to a page near the middle.
3. Begin to read the page. It is best to read the page aloud while doing the test so you can hear the places where you have difficulty.
4. Each time you come to a word you don't know right away, hold one finger up.
5. If you have all five fingers up before you get to the end of the page, this is a book that mom or dad might need to read to you. Right now it is too difficult for you to read it on your own. All five fingers up is called a Too Hard Book.
6. If you have no fingers up when you finish the page, then the book may be an easy read for you. No fingers up is called a Too Easy Book.
7. If you have less than five fingers but more than one or two fingers up when you finish reading the page, the book may be just what you need to grow as a reader. Some fingers up is called a Just Right Book.
Too Easy Books
As you read, ask yourself these questions. If you answer "yes" to most of the questions then the book is probably too easy for you. You can still have fun reading it, but next time try to choose a book that is a little more challenging.
1. Have you read this book many times before?
2. Do you understand the story very well without much effort?
3. Do you know and understand almost every word?
4. Can you read it smoothly without much practice or effort?
*This is the kind of book that can be read independently as it will build your child’s confidence.
Just Right Books
As you read, ask yourself the following questions. If you answer yes to most of them, then the book you are reading is probably "just right" for you. These are the books that will help you make the most progress in your reading.
1. Is this book new to you?
2. Do you understand most of the book?
3. Are there a few words per page that you don't recognize or know the meaning to instantly? Try using the five finger test.
4. When you read, are some places smooth and some places choppy?
5. Can someone help you with the book if you hit a tough spot?
*This is the kind of book a child can read independently and can be used for guided instruction.
Too Hard Books
As you read, ask yourself these questions. If you answer yes to most of these questions, then the book is probably too hard for you. Don't forget about the book, try it again later. As you gain experience in choosing "just right" books, you may find when you pick the book up again that it is "just right."
1. Are there more than a few words on a page that you don't recognize or know the meaning? Try using the five finger test.
2. Are you confused about what is happening in most of the book?
3. When you read, are you struggling and does it sound choppy?
4. Is everyone busy and unable to help you if you hit a tough spot?
*This is a book that an adult can read to the child. Alone, the child will reach frustration.