In this final installment of readability help, I want to leave you with some resources. Again, do you need to know the level of every book your child reads? Certainly not, but if you want to start having your child read to you in preparation for school, and he or she does little pleasure reading, you might want to check out some of the links below to help you determine where to begin. (More on moving your child along in reading fluency, reading rate, and more in the upcoming days.)
1. Site to key in title, author, etc. of a book and get that book’s readability level---the first site is one that I was led to from the reading link I gave a couple of days ago. I didn’t know it existed—and I have to say that it is way cool. It is from Scholastic, and it is a free site in which you can find the readability level of many, many books (Scholastic and otherwise). I just keyed in a couple of our readalouds, and voila! The readability level popped right up. http://bookwizard.scholastic.com/tbw/homePage.do
2. The next link is helpful for determining readability if you are reading isolated stories, articles, etc. It was created by the man who developed the most widely used readability formula, G. Harry McLaughlin. It is called SMOG—Simple Measure of Gobbledygook, and was invented before computers could quickly do the computations necessary for readability level determination (in 1969). According to McLaughlin, it is a simple formula in which one counts the words of three or more syllables in three 10-sentence samples, estimates the count’s square root, and adds three. That’s way more math than I ever want to do—and especially more math than I want to do to simply figure out if a text is appropriate reading level for my child. (This formula was widely used for health and medical information, to ensure that this data was readable by the general public.) But don’t worry---computers to the rescue! At the following link, you just key in a portion of the text in question, and voila! It gives you an approximate readability level for that text.. SMOG: http://www.harrymclaughlin.com/SMOG.htm
We will look at building reading fluency in the child who doesn’t necessarily need phonics instruction but still needs to increase his reading skills, in the days to come—sort of moving out of the “beginning reader” phase into upper elementary reading help.
Remember, whether you are a trained teacher/tutor, whether you understand readability formulas or not, whether you remember all your phonics instruction (!) –are not the important factors in your helping your kids academically this summer. Showing them that learning and their school—and the children themselves—are important to you are the crucial factors in helping your kids.
And also keep in mind that anything is better than nothing at all—just sit down with your kids in the days to come and say, “Let’s read something together…” and get the ball rolling in preparing your reluctant learner to go back to school in six to eight weeks.