On Tuesday I spilled the beans about my near epic fail as a homeschool mom. I know that so many moms face the same issues in their homeschool. In fact, my inbox is filled with questions and comments on this topic. I’m excited about that because I know it means many moms are stepping outside of the box and feeling more comfortable creating something their child will love.
But I know that with those questions comes a lot of frustration and fear over picking books that are appropriate for your child to read. How do you know if it’s the right level? What if the book isn’t hard enough? Are there books that every kid should read?
Of course, I’m no expert on how you should homeschool and what is best for YOUR particular family, but I hope you will find my answers to be helpful in navigating the course! Oh, and at the end, I’m giving you a FREE reading list by grade level that you will probably love even if you don’t have questions.
How do you know if it’s the right level?
Choosing the right level for your books is important, but it’s not going to make or break your curriculum. So don’t fret. We want about 75% of our child’s reading to be practice–that is, words they already know and feel comfortable with. This is the best way to build fluency and comprehension. If more than 25% of what you are reading is new or too difficult to understand, you will find yourself feeling very discouraged.
I tend to choose books that are listed on a general grade level for my children. It’s not a fail-proof system, but it generally works well. I look at suggested reading lists for popular curricula or even look at book lists put out by libraries. This will give you a good place to start digging for your child. I also really love leveled readers, as they take out all the guess work. Just remember, no child fits in a box, so always look through the book to make sure it’s a good fit.
What if the book isn’t hard enough?
As I mentioned above, most of our reading should be practice. It’s ok if the book is easy. That is not a bad thing. As your child becomes a better reader, often they will lose interest in books that are too simple for them. I usually look for this sign before pulling the level out of their rotation. But again, let them read easy books. It’s really great practice and it never hurt anyone. Promise.
Is it really ok to let my child choose the books?
It’s more than ok. I believe it’s the key to growing readers who absolutely love being educated. God did not create us all to be the same, so why are we boxing kids in to some list? Trust me, give them the license to read and they will read far more.
My 11-year-old can easily pass a college level reading test because she is an avid reader. When I say avid I mean she literally will go to the library and get 7-10 novels and finish them all in a week. She stays up all night reading, reads while walking in the grocery store, and would rather read a book than do just about anything else (except actually working at the ranch with the horses).
BUT I firmly believe she got to this point because I allowed her to read freely. I allowed her to read as many horse books as she wanted. Yes, I was a little concerned that she was only reading fiction stories of girls who loved their horses. So instead of making her read a book about the civil war, I went out and found a horse book that also covered the civil war. I found nonfiction books about horses, too. Because I was sensitive to what she enjoys, it was easy to get a wide variety of books even on a narrow topic like horses.
Aren’t there books that every kid should read?
Absolutely not. If you and I compared a list of books that we read in elementary school (or even high school) we would find that the list varies greatly. There are so many wonderful books out there that I find it very difficult to defend the position that certain ones are “must reads.” I revert back to the notion that reading should be something we love- why not pick what we want to read?
Shouldn’t I start chapter books?
This question always gets feathers ruffled. I really don’t know why, but parents get all kinds of offended if you tell them their child is not ready for chapter books. I went through this multiple times every single school year when I taught first grade. The short answer: don’t rush a good thing. There are too many books out there to enjoy.
Once you start chapter books, often kids never go back. Don’t rob them of the beautifully complex plots and award-winning pictures that can be found in those beloved picture books. And yes, I think every first grader is too young. Not because the level is too hard for all of them; it’s not. But the content is generally not appropriate and they miss thousands of wonderful books by rushing it all. You can read more about this here.
But I don’t even know where to start. Help?
I can understand this one, too. We often buy the lie that without a teaching degree, we are not qualified to make choices about our child’s education. Oh, we say we are, but we don’t ACT like we are. Instead we find ourselves whining about the lack of useful lists for reputable sources.
Ok, I must admit that even with a teaching degree I find myself whining about the lack of reputable lists to help us with tasks like finding books our children might enjoy. So, I once again rolled up my sleeves and did a little research to compile the ultimate reading list by grade level. But before I let you see it, I need for you to promise me a few things, ok? Don’t forget that you want to review this list WITH your child. Don’t pick for him/her. Also, don’t get boxed into grade level. If your child wants to read The White Stallion in the 5th grade, let him.
Agreed? Ok good. Now on to the list…
Reading List By Grade Level
To get your FREE reading list, click on the image below. We have combined all of our most popular homeschool freebies into one amazing collection. You’ll get this one, plus 75 more!
You will receive an email right away welcoming you to our community and giving you the link for the pdf download. Be sure to check your spam box if you can’t find it.