How to Choose Just-Right Books According to Teachers

Keep these smart strategies in mind when stocking up on books for back-to-school season.

Jul 01, 2022



How to Choose Just-Right Books According to Teachers
©Ronnachai Palas/Shutterstock

Jul 01, 2022

It’s exciting to stock up on fresh books for your child, especially as you get ready for a successful new school year. However, it can also be tough to choose the titles that both keep your child engaged and growing as a reader.

Here are five things teachers recommend when you’re selecting new books:

1. Establish a strong starting point.

Leana Malinowsky, a second-grade teacher and certified reading specialist in New Jersey, suggests reflecting on your child’s reading level from the previous school year. “Reach out to your child’s teacher from last year if you do not have a starting point,” says Malinowsky. 

If you're unable to connect with the teacher, Malinowsky recommends reading a book at home with your child to gauge their fluency. “If they have difficulty reading a text, or if they are sounding out many words on a page, then look for books that have more simple plots and vocabulary,” she says. “Also consider picture books or early readers versus chapter books. These will serve as books the student can read independently.”

2. Look for books that inspire self-discovery.

For older children, books are a wonderful tool for helping them discover who they are. Seek out books that touch on themes like identity, self-expression, and finding one’s passions. “They want to read books that relate to the world they live in and the feelings they are having and processing,” says Amy Soupiset, a middle school English teacher in Texas. 

3. Choose books that motivate and interest your child.

Aim for titles your child can read on their own, and mix in a few that are more complex in storytelling and vocabulary. “If books are too challenging, then children are less likely to want to read and improve their skills,” says Soupiset. 

Reserve more challenging books for reading out loud with your child, and then have a discussion about the story to boost comprehension

4. Give your child the power of choice.

Allowing your child the freedom to pick the books they want is important. “Motivation weighs heavily on their excitement for reading,” says Malinowsky.

However, she notices her students gravitate toward books they read aloud together in class — titles she primarily selects.“If parents notice their child tends to read more fiction, such as graphic novels or picture books, they could suggest some nonfiction topics they like and look for books on those topics,” she says.  

5. Find a series they love.

Both Malinowsky and Soupiset are big proponents of series. “The benefit of buying books in a series is that readers don’t have to spend a lot of time learning about the characters, the setting, and the backstory,” says Soupiset. “They already know all of this and it aids with comprehension and overall enjoyment of the book.”

Get ready for your child to go back to school with our guide — it's full of recommended books (like this list of the best book series for kids), teacher tips, homework help, and more resources for a successful school year.

Stock up on books and series recommended by teachers below! You can find all books and activities at The Scholastic Store.

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