young girl reading in the libraryDoes your child enjoy the latest and most popular children’s books? If so, consider yourself lucky. For many parents of gifted children, finding books that fit their child’s interests and reading ability can be a challenge. It’s not impossible, though, if you know what to consider as you search for books for your child. Fortunately,  there are four criteria that can help you find the right books for your child.

1. Your Child’s Interests

Your gifted child is likely to have some strong interests. Use those interests as a guideline.  For example, if your child is fascinated by caterpillars, look for books about caterpillars. If your child is interested in the weather, look for books about the weather. You’d be surprised at the variety of topics children’s books cover. They aren’t all for older children either. You can find books, like pop-up books, for very young children on numerous topics, including the weather.

2. Fiction vs Non-Fiction

Don’t be surprised if your child doesn’t show an interest in fiction books. Quite often parents think their child isn’t interested in reading, when the truth is that the child simply prefers non-fiction over fiction. That interest applies to preschoolers as well as older children. Gifted kids of all ages love to learn, and when they have a deep interest in a topic, like the universe, they’ll want to learn all they can about it, so books on their favorite topic are a sure bet.

Some gifted children prefer fiction to non-fiction. One favorite fiction genre is the mystery, and there are quite a few great mystery series for kids of all ages. However, some children enjoy fiction based on their interests. For example, children who love dinosaurs enjoy reading stories featuring dinosaurs.

3. Reading Level

Your child’s interest won’t be enough if the book is too easy to read. An eight-year-old does not want to read a book written for a three-year-old. The same is true for a three-year-old who’s reading on an eight-year-old level. Even children who are not yet reading on their own often appreciate the language level of books meant for older children when they are just listening to someone read them out loud. When in doubt, pick an advanced level. Children will eventually catch up, but if the level is too low, the book will remain unread.

How do you know what your child’s reading level is? Reading levels are determined in a number of ways, but the easiest one for parents to use is known as the “five-finger test.” Children can use this test by themselves as well.

“Five Finger Test”

  • Open a book to a middle page full of text (not mostly pictures)
  • Hold up five fingers
  • Ask your child to read the page out loud
  • Each time your child misses or struggles with a word, put one finger down
  • If you put all five fingers down before your child reaches the end of the page, the book is probably too difficult

You can teach your child to use the “five-finger test” alone.  If your child is a strong silent reader, that might provide more accurate results.

Unfortunately, the “five-finger test” won’t help you decide which books to buy if you’re buying them online.  If you need to get an idea now about your child’s reading level and don’t have a number of books handy, you can have your child take the Schonell” test.

4. Age

When you consider your child’s age, it is not to find books meant for that age group in terms of reading ability. It is a consideration only in terms of subject matter. A gifted eight-year-old may be reading on the level of a fourteen-year-old, but that doesn’t mean that the eight-year-old is dealing with the  same issues a fourteen-year-old is dealing with – or is even interested in such issues. A fourteen-year-old might be dealing with the struggle for independence or sexual identity; an eight-year-old isn’t and will unlikely to be interested in those issues or be able to relate to them.

Carol BainbridgeBooks, Toys, & MoreFor ParentsBooks for Gifted Children,Parenting Tips
Does your child enjoy the latest and most popular children's books? If so, consider yourself lucky. For many parents of gifted children, finding books that fit their child's interests and reading ability can be a challenge. It's not impossible, though, if you know what to consider as you search...