A beginning reader opens a book from the classroom, the library, or the bookstore. It's on a topic she likes and the illustrations are enticing. But wait, will she be able to read it? If it's too easy, she'll likely be bored. Too hard and she'll put the book down in frustration. So how does Miss Goldilocks choose a book that is just right?
Many educators propose using the Rule of Thumb to determine if a book matches a child's reading level. Esme Raji Codell explains how it works in How to Get Your Child to Love Reading:
"Have a child choose a page in the middle of the book with a lot of text, and make a fist. Explain to the child that she should not use the fist to punch anyone in the nose. Instead, read the page silently, and if you come to a word you don't know and can't guess, put out your thumb. If you find another word, put out another finger, and so on. If you reach the end of the page and between three and five are up, that means the book will be a challenge. The child can decide if she is motivated enough to try to read it anyway (you can offer help), or she can choose to save it for the future. A pleasure read should have 0-2 fingers up."