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What Book is just right for your New Reader?

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What book is just right for your new reader?

By Mary Ellen Braks, Youth Services Manager, Spokane County Library District, Success By 6 Board Member

It's an exciting time when your child is starting to learn how to read.  Many parents have questions on how best to pick out books that match up with their child's reading skills. We know it can be very confusing and overwhelming to pick out an appropriate book for a new reader. 

Easy Reader books are designed to challenge a beginning reader and give them practice as they become more fluent readers.  To make this process easier, the Spokane County Library District has divided their Easy Reader collection into four groups to help parents select books at an appropriate reading level for their beginning reader: pre-emergent, emergent, early fluent, and fluent.  Every book in the Easy Reader (ER) collection has a color coded label to easily distinguish between the levels.  Below is a list of the levels with the color of the label and some characteristics that show how each level is different.

Pre-emergent (white ER label) – For the new reader, these books feature large print and pictures with few words per page.  Children at a Pre-emergent reading level will:

  • Be aware that the text should be read from left to right and from top to bottom
  • Know that printed words have meaning
  • Use pictures as clues to help decode the words

Emergent (yellow ER label) – These books offer a few more words to decode and a slightly more complex storyline, but still feature a large print.  Children at the Emergent reading level will:

  • Use beginning and ending sounds to figure out simple words
  • Listen to themselves read, stop when they make an error, then try to correct the error themselves
  • Begin to recognize and read word endings, such as:-s, -es, -ing, -er
  • Recognize many sight words such as: a, an, and, the

Early Fluent (red ER label) – The books in this section offer smaller print and pictures, a slightly more complicated storyline and advanced vocabulary.  Children at the Early Fluent level will:

  • Read smoothly with few mistakes, and decode unknown words fairly quickly
  • Continue to use pictures to understand the story, but will rely more on the text for understanding
  • Be aware of punctuation marks, and use their cues to read expressively

Fluent (teal ER label) – These books offer more complex ideas, extended episodes and action with a more advanced vocabulary.  Children at the Fluent reading level will:

  • Be able to decode longer, multi-syllabic words
  • Read chapter books and comprehend most or the entire story
  • Ask the meaning of an unknown word and usually remember it for future use
  • Read aloud expressively and smoothly, using punctuation and sounding like they are speaking

The next time you're in the library looking for books, ask the librarian where the Easy Reader section is and we'll help you find the "just right" book for your new reader.