The Five Finger Test…And What I Do With My Fingers

If you find your kid sitting quietly in a corner, with a copy of Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment in hand, don’t be too quick to celebrate that your son- who previously couldn’t be unglued from his Nintendo DS- has suddenly become a voracious reader. It would be good to assess if a particular book is “just right” for your kid’s reading level.

If you’ll notice, some books which are more popularly known as “leveled readers” have the reading level indicated on the book cover. The truth is reading levels do vary among kids of different ages, so that’s not a reliable indicator if a certain book is just right for your kid. A more effective gauge would be the Five Finger Test. This is how it’s done:

  1. Turn your book to a page which has all text and no illustrations.
  2. Hold up 5 fingers on one hand.
  3. Start reading at the top of the page.
  4. If you stumble upon a word that you don’t know, put one finger down. Hold down one finger for every word you don’t understand.
  5. If you get all the way to the bottom of the page with at least one finger still up, that means the book is just right for your reading level.

As for what I do with my fingers, I’ll save that for another post… soon!