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What are some ‘easy’ chapter books?

Posted in Just Right Books

No matter what grade your child is in, reading aloud with your support is very helpful. What you select to read is important too.

“What are some ‘easy’ chapter books for 2nd graders?” a friend asked me the other week. She is helping her niece with her reading homework. But her niece is stumbling through the reading. She makes quite a few errors and guesses at many of the words. My friend is hoping choosing easier books will help.

I gave her a few suggestions- the Frog and Toad series, Henry and Mudge, perhaps the Arthur books.  But afterwards I couldn’t help but think that although those titles are a starting point to discover what books are ‘just right’ for her niece, there is much more to finding a book that is ‘easy’ for any given child. 

So here are a few guiding principles to help you select books for a child no matter what grade they are in. It should be a book that interests your child – but you already know that.

  1. Where do you start? Talk to the teacher or a librarian.

Tell them the names of the books which seem too difficult for your child. Ask them for books that are easier. For 1st through 2nd grade you may ask about books that are called ‘decodable’ or ‘easy reader’ books. Be careful with “easy reader” books – in the next blog I will share with you why some ‘easy reader’ books are not so easy.

2. Do these new books work for your child? Does he/she make fewer errors or fewer ‘guesses’?

If your child can read the book with a high rate of success – with only a few challenging words — you have found a book your child can enjoy without a constant struggle to simply identify words.

If the new book is still challenging (your child makes more than 2-3 errors in 20 words) try another book. Try a few books if you need to until you find a book your child reads with a high success rate. A high success rate allows your child to enjoy and understand what they are reading. All their attention isn’t devoted to simply figuring out the words. 

3. What if my child really wants to read a particular book that is too difficult for them?

Let them read it. Just ensure they are not using inefficient word identification strategies, such as only using the first letter or a few letters and then guessing inaccurately.

Let them know it is okay to not recognize a word immediately if it is new to them, and they can take their time to process all the letters. If necessary, coach them through decoding of the word or simply point to the word and slowly say it for them.

If your child begins to make a number of errors, you could take turns reading. Your child may be working very hard to read efficiently and may just need a little break to sustain his/her effort to read a more challenging text.

Books your child can read with just a bit of support from you help build a child’s use of efficient reading strategies. Accurate reading practice is productive practice.

For more information on selecting books appropriate for your child’s reading ability, check out our section on Just Right books.

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