How to Find the ‘Just Right’ Reading Level for Your Child Using the Five-Finger Method

As parents, we all want to support our children’s learning, especially when it comes to reading. But sometimes, it can be challenging to find books that match their current reading level—books that are neither too hard nor too easy but just right.

This post will explore practical methods to help you select books that fit perfectly with your child’s reading ability, focusing on the Five-Finger Method—a simple, effective way to gauge reading difficulty.

If you want to dive deeper into reading comprehension strategies and learn how to better support your child’s reading progress at home, I invite you to sign up for my free 5-Day Comprehension Crash Course video email series. This series will walk you through practical tips and techniques, empowering you to build your child’s comprehension skills effectively and confidently. Together, we’ll uncover ways to help your child thrive and enjoy their reading journey. Click here to join today!

Why Finding the Right Reading Level is Crucial

Selecting the correct reading level is essential because it helps children build confidence, improve comprehension, and develop critical thinking skills necessary for tackling complex questions. If a book is too challenging, children may become frustrated and disinterested. Conversely, a book that’s too easy might not provide enough challenge to keep them engaged or promote skill advancement.

The Five-Finger Method Explained

The Five-Finger Method is a quick and easy way to check if a book is suitable for your child’s reading level. Here’s how you can use this method at home:

  1. Pick a Book: Start by selecting books that might interest your child across various reading levels. If your child is in third grade, for instance, you can visit websites like Scholastic to identify the exact reading levels associated with different books. Look for a selection of books ranging from the second (a lower reading level) to fourth-grade reading levels (a higher reading level). Then, you can visit your local library and check out a few of these titles, noting their reading levels before beginning to read with your child. It’s often best to start with a book that is below their current grade level and then progress upwards. If a book feels too easy initially, it’s better than starting with a text that’s too challenging. This gradual approach ensures your child gains confidence while finding the right reading level to advance their comprehension skills effectively.
  2. Open to a Random Page: Have your child open the book to a random page in the middle. This page should be representative of the book’s overall difficulty.
  3. Read Aloud: Ask your child to read the page aloud. Sit close and listen carefully.
  4. Count Tricky Words: For every word your child struggles with or cannot decode, raise a finger. These might be words they pause at, mispronounce, or ask for help with.
  5. Assess the Count:
    • Five or More Fingers: If you find yourself raising five or more fingers, the book may be too difficult for your child at this time.
    • Less Than Five Fingers: If you raise fewer than five fingers, the book is likely a good match for your child’s reading level.

Using Professional Reading Assessments

If you want a more precise understanding of your child’s reading level, consider asking their teacher about assessment data. Many schools use systems like Lexile measures or ATOS scores, which provide specific numerical values indicating the complexity of texts that match your child’s reading skills. These assessments help ensure your child is reading material that stretches their abilities without overwhelming them.

Finding Books by Reading Level

Once you know your child’s reading level, finding books can be easier. Many books list a Lexile or ATOS score on the back or inside cover. Additionally, websites such as Lexile and AR BookFinder can help you find books that match specific reading levels.

Visit Your Local Library

Librarians are a fantastic resource for helping find books that match your child’s reading level. They can guide you to sections dedicated to different reading levels and recommend popular books among children of similar ages and abilities.


By using the Five-Finger Method and understanding professional reading assessments, you can significantly enhance your child’s reading experience. Encouraging reading at the right level fosters enjoyment and learning, helping your child progress toward becoming a proficient reader.

Remember, the goal is to make reading a positive part of your child’s daily life, reinforcing skills that will benefit them across all areas of learning.

Additional Resources

For more detailed steps on other methods to support your child’s reading, check out our free 5-Day Reading Comprehension Email Video Series!

If you want to help your child with a pre-leveled reading comprehension workbook, I’ve created one that will guide you as a parent in supporting your child’s reading at home. This workbook is designed to simplify the process, offering practical tips and exercises that you can use together to strengthen your child’s comprehension skills. Click here to learn more

By familiarizing yourself with these approaches, you ensure that reading becomes both fun and educational for your child, paving the way for their success in school and beyond.

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