When selecting materials (books, magazines, websites) for your child to read at home, he or she should always have one “Just Right” or independent reading material. This means that he or she can read the words (decode) and understand (comprehend) the text on his or her own. This will usually not be the same level that he or she reads at during guided reading in the classroom which takes place at an instructional level.
- can read ALL but 0-2 words on a full page (or 2) without getting stuck
- reads smoothly, with good rate (not too slow, not too fast)
- can make meaning/understand all events and details easily
- has some background knowledge of the material in book
- can make connections, ask questions, visualize, and interpret what’s happening in book
- finds the text interesting
- gets stuck on 3 or more words on a page
- choppy, slow reading
- can’t recall information read/no or little understanding
- has no background knowledge of material in book
- cannot make connections, visualize events, or make deeper meaning
For independent reading there are three main things a child should be able to do after reading to demonstrate that he or she can comprehend the text:
1. Retell the beginning, middle, and end of the story.
2. Answer questions (who, what, where, when, why, how) about what has happened in the book.
3. Compare and contrast with other characters, themes, or stories (depending on your child's grade level).
Do quick informal checks when they are reading a new book at home. The answers don’t have to be perfect, but if your child is struggling to come up with answers, you may want to find an easier text.