The nightly read-aloud routine you instilled from birth has paid off: Your child is reading well above grade level. Now you face a new challenge: They’ve read everything they can get their hands on.
“I was that child who was disappointed with what was in her school library — because I’d read everything in the school library,” says Deimosa Webber-Bey, director of Information Services & Cultural Insight at Scholastic. “I wasn’t satisfied with what was there.”
It’s a common problem, and it can lead to disengagement. Reading fatigue and avoidance is just as possible with advanced readers as it is with reluctant readers. It’s important that access to books is prioritized to maintain readers’ interest and stoke their enthusiasm.
For advanced readers, this may mean picking out titles you think are below their reading level or that they’re not yet ready for, either because of the density of the content or its maturity level.
“You want to honor their interests and also share yours,” says Webber-Bey. “One of the things parents can do is put kids into places where they have access and options.”
Providing your child with options may mean looking beyond the parameters of guided reading level — and that’s okay. Your elementary school student may want to dive into a chapter book series that’s popular with middle schoolers one night, and then pick up a favorite graphic novel the next. It’s completely natural; consider it a positive thing that they’re absorbed in reading.
“You want to be cognizant of reading level, but within the home environment also be okay with their reading up and down,” says Webber-Bey.
Barby Garibaldi, a consultant with Scholastic Book Clubs and mother of two children ages 11 and 13, echoes this sentiment.
“Advanced readers will still want to read Clifford, because that’s where their emotional development may be or interests lie outside of reading,” she says.
The key to supporting your advanced reader, Garibaldi says, is striking a balance between encouraging them to further their skills and understanding that sometimes they just want to enjoy a book.
“It’s okay that they’re advanced, it’s okay to embrace that aspect of their development,” she says. “What you want to do is push the reading in general instead of just reading level.”
Garibaldi advises parents to look at the big picture when choosing age-appropriate books for advanced readers.
“It’s not a bad thing that a child is reading above grade level, but it’s not a race to reading competency,” she says. “It’s about forming a reading habit, and finding comfort and joy in books.”
Follow Garibaldi’s tips below if you’re having trouble finding the just-right, age-appropriate book for your advanced reader.