ENHE Board Member
We've talked about The Five Finger Rule in ENHE's Saturday family engagement workshops frequently. The basic principle is that sometimes, reading a book with too many unknown or difficult words can be discouraging for a child. But by the same token, reading a book where they aren't challenged at all can be boring or too easy. A good way to check is by having your child turn to a random page in the book in question and read it, counting on their fingers how many words they don't know.
0-1: This book might be too easy!
2-3: This book is probably just right
4: Read this book along with your child to help them when they need it
5: This book might be too difficult for now, try again later
Eventually, one day I opened Anne of Green Gables and to my surprise, all of the words made sense! What had once seemed like flowery gibberish to me turned into beautiful lines of poetry and prose that captured my imagination and my heart for years and continues to do so to this day. I would stay up for hours at night, reading and re-reading the stories about Anne and committing full passages to heart. It was definitely a challenge, as L.M. Montgomery didn't necessarily write her books to be written by young children, but it was just the right amount of challenge.
You can find more information about The Five Finger Rule and other literacy tips and tricks in our Resource Center!