Just Right Books: What They Are and How to Choose Just Right Books for Kids

Looking for just right books for your child? You’ve come to the right place! Just right books are valuable learning tools that support literacy development and help build confidence and a love of reading. Thus, by understanding what a just right book is and how to find one, you can help your child expand their literacy skills.

This article explains everything you need to know about just right books, including what a ‘just right’ book is and how to choose just right books for kids.

Ready to learn more? Let’s go!

What is a just right book?

If you're new to the world of just right books, you might be wondering - what does a 'just right' book mean? A just right book is a book that your child can and wants to read independently. In other words, a book that is ‘just right’ is intriguing and neither too difficult nor too easy. 

More specifically, just right books have the following features:

  • Align with your child’s interests. A captivating book will increase your child’s enjoyment and help motivate them to read.

  • Provide your child with some challenges that require the use of reading strategies. An adequately challenging book will help your child enhance their reading skills.

  • Isn't too difficult to read. A book that is too difficult to read may discourage your child from reading.

  • Can be understood by your young reader. In addition to being able to read the text, your child should also be able to understand what they are reading.

Now that you know what a ‘just right’ book is, you might be wondering why just right books are important. Let’s take a look.

Why is it important to read just right books?

It is important for children to read just right books for several reasons. 

Firstly, just right books provide children with the opportunity to practice reading strategies independently. This will help them expand their vocabulary and reading comprehension skills. 

Secondly, just right books are important because they help build reading confidence. When your child can read most of the words and understands what they are reading, they become more confident in their literacy skills. This confidence can also further motivate them to read. 

Finally, a just right book can prevent frustration from overly difficult texts and avoid boredom from overly simple ones. As a result, your child will enjoy what they are reading - encouraging them to become a lifelong reader!

Looking for more ways to help your child build their reading skills? Check out our list of 10 Fun Reading Comprehension Activities.

Now, let’s look at how you can help your child choose a just right book.

Choosing a Just Right Book

You may be thinking - “How do I choose a just right book?” Well, you can use several strategies to determine if a book is just right! That said, it is essential that you involve your child in choosing just right books. After all, they are the ones who will be reading the story! Choosing a just right book together with your child will also ensure they can select suitable stories for themselves in the future.

Here are some strategies you can use to help your child choose books that are just right.

The 5 Finger Rule for Choosing a Book

What is the 5 finger rule for a just right book? The 5 finger rule for choosing a book is a common strategy for determining whether a book is ‘just right.’

The rule focuses on your child’s ability to read the words within a given book. Your child should be able to read most, but not all, of the words with ease. That’s because a just right book should include an element of difficulty that requires your young reader to utilize strategies as they encounter new vocabulary. Thus, the 5 finger rule for just right books ensures a book is challenging but not too challenging.

Here’s how to use the five finger rule for choosing a book.

  1. Open the book to any page and have your child read that page.
  2. Have them raise a finger as they encounter words they do not know.
  3. If your child has 4 or 5 fingers raised at the end of the page, the book is too challenging. If 0 or 1 fingers are raised, the book is too easy. If 2 or 3 fingers are raised, the book is just right!

*It is important to note that this strategy does not consider comprehension. Just because a child can read most of the words in a story does not mean they understand what they’re reading. Thus, it is helpful to also check for understanding. For example, ask your child what the story is about, who is in the story, or what they learned.

5 Finger Rule for Choosing a Book - Simplified Guide

Below is a simple chart to help you determine whether a book is too easy, too difficult, or just right using the just right books 5 finger rule.

 Finger Rule for Choosing a Book

Keep in mind - if your child chooses a book that is too difficult to read on their own, try reading aloud together! Or, if you’re using the Booka reading app for kids, try the audiobook (Read To Me!) version. Like reading aloud with your child, there are numerous benefits of audiobooks for kids.

Want to keep the 5 finger rule for choosing a book handy? Download our Five Finger Rule coloring sheet! Your child can decorate this literacy resource and hang it up for future reference.

5 finger rule for choosing just right books coloring sheet for kids

The I-PICK Strategy for Choosing Just Right Books

The I-PICK strategy is another way to help your child choose a just right book. When choosing a just right book, your child’s interest in the book is just as important as their ability to read and understand the text. Thus, the i-PICK strategy for choosing just right books takes into account both the book’s appeal and difficulty.

Below is the “I-PICK” strategy for choosing a just right book. Encourage your child to ask themselves these questions to find a book that is right for them - a book that is enjoyable, not too easy, and not too hard!

  • I - I choose a book 
  • P - Purpose - Why do you want to read this book? 
  • I - Interest - Does this book interest me? 
  • C - Comprehension - Do I understand what I am reading? 
  • K - Know - Do I know most of the words in the book? (Use the 5 finger rule for choosing a book.) 

*This strategy was initially developed by authors Gail Boushey and Joan Moser.

Where to Find Just Right Books

Need help finding a just right book? A reading app for kids, like Booka, is the perfect place to find just right books for kids of all ages! 

With a wide variety of topics and genres to choose from, your child is guaranteed to find a book that interests them. Plus, with the Booka book app for kids, your child will get access to unique and advanced features like Booka Reads - a list of stories curated for them based on their interests. As a result, finding a just right book is easier than ever!

Best of all, reading apps like Booka allow children to choose and try out as many books as they wish. No need to spend hours in the bookstore or library or spend money on books that aren’t ‘just right’ - with Booka, your child can explore as many books as they want from the comfort of home!

Help your child find just right books with Booka.

Want to learn more about how to help your child develop their literacy skills? Check out our blog, where you’ll find additional reading resources for parents.

To improve the operation of the service and its interaction with users, we use cookies. By continuing to use the service, you agree to the use of cookies.