A large number of students don’t have a problem with this skill. The seem to naturally know how to look at books, decide whether they’re interesting, try to read them, and follow through if the reading is working. But some students have to be shown. Like reading itself, the skill of evaluating books for personal use is one that can be developed. Here are the steps for helping a child, who is not confident about books and reading, find a books for him or herself.
- Sit down with the child and the books that are available. In a home, this would be the family bookshelf. In a public library, you can find easy readers, novels, or you can go to a specific spot in the nonfiction shelves (countries of the world, WWII, animals.)
- Suggest the child look at the books. But if he or she doesn’t seem very anxious, start getting out the books yourself and see whether you think they would be interesting and that the child would be able to read them Get about 6 books. Ask which one looks good.
- Tell the child to check the cover front and back for relevant information. If it looks good, he or she opens it up.
- Now have the child read the first page. Try not to say “oh that’s too hard, forget it,” or “that’s boring.” or “that’s easy.” When the child is done ask whether he or she likes the book and can understand it. Ask if this book would be something he or she might like to check out or keep in a book basket or bag. If it is, put it aside and keep looking at books.
- If the child insists on taking books that you know will be a little challenging (a very common mistake for children learning this skill) gather some easier books together so that when book fatigue sets in on the hard ones the child can read the easier ones.
- If you repeat this process a number of times, children will become comfortable with finding books, will identify preferences and learn what they like. As they practice book selection on their own, they will work toward the goal of becoming lifetime readers.