5 Finger Test Helps Kids Pick a Book at Their Reading Level

Teach your child how to find a book at his or her  reading level using this simple test.

I recommend using and teaching your child the “Five Finger Test.” This is a method for deciding if your child is able to comprehend the book.

You’ll need to do this with your children many times before they’re able to do it on their own.

“Five Finger Test” – Sample Script for Parents

“You have 5 fingers. Wiggle those.

Open the book to the middle – any page.

Start reading. When you come to a word you don’t know, that’s okay. Hold up one finger for that word.

If you come to any other words you don’t know, hold up one finger for each word. Stop at the end of the page.”

Now, you can explain that they will know if it’s a just right book because of how many fingers they’re holding up.

0 fingers is an easy book.

1 – 5 fingers is a just-right book.

More than 5 fingers is a challenge book.

Easy Books

0 Fingers

Don’t worry if your child is reading a lot of easy books. Kids need to read books that are comfortable and easy. Remind him or her to mix in just right books, too.

Just Right Books

1 – 5 Fingers

These books are considered “just-right” by literacy specialists because they are at an instructional level for your child. These are the best books to choose most of the time.

Challenge Books

5+ Fingers

These are the books your child will want to save for later. Help them choose a just-right book.


Parents, remember that this is a new and tricky skill for your kids. Practice with them until you’re confident that they can do this on their own. In other words, until they can select just right books by themselves.

Happy reading!

Also read:
Learning to Read: Word Attack Strategies Beyond “Sound It Out”
Pressured to Read: What to Do If Your Child is “Behind”