Support a Lifelong Reader
Welcome to our Elementary Readers Guide! We developed this page to help parents choose just-right books for kids. On this page, you'll find information about reading skills, recommended reading lists, and other resources to support your child as they become an independent reader. As always, don't hesitate to contact us for tailored recommendations.
Which reading skills are Elementary Readers working on?
Knowing your child's skills can help you select a just-right book. An elementary reader (3rd - 6th grade) is mostly reading independently. They are developing skills like:
- Intermediate Fluency: Developing stamina to read smoothly and expressively for longer periods
- Intermediate Vocabulary: Using foundational vocabulary and sentence context clues to solve new words, applying new words correctly in sentences
- Intermediate Comprehension: Summarizing the main idea and identifying important details, applying background knowledge and personal experiences to what they read
- Self-Selection & Fit: Selecting books that are the right "fit" for them and filtering out ones that aren't, identifying favorite genres and interests
What's the deal with reading levels?
At school, their teacher may be using a leveling system to gauge their reading progress. Some common leveling systems are listed below. PS - It's not a bad thing for your child to explore above or below their level! Kids who freely explore books of all difficulties learn self-selection skills.
Elementary Book Selection Tips
We get it: it can be hard to get your child to read when there's so many other things grabbing their attention! Here are some tips and tricks parents can try to engage a reluctant reader. If you feel stuck navigating the world of juvenile books, there's also some additional info we think that will help.
- Narrow their choices:Sometimes kids get overwhelmed by having the amount of options in front of them. Help elementary readers avoid "choice overload" by narrowing down 2-3 genres or topics to explore before searching. Our children's librarians recommend asking questions like these:
- "Are you looking for a book with a story or a book with facts about a topic?"
- "What are three topics you enjoy learning about?"
- "What was the last book you enjoyed? Do you want something like that, or something different?"
- "It seems like you really enjoy [favorite book / movie / video game / TV show]. Would you be interested in a book that has similar elements?"
- "Are you looking for a story that is funny, serious, spooky, or adventurous?"
- "Are you interested in standalone books, or do you like series books?"
- Go for graphics: Exciting pictures and infographics will help your reader overcome any trepidations about nonfiction being "boring" or unengaging.
- Find a series: Sometimes, kids really enjoy series because they offer predictability. Series are helpful for picky readers who prefer engaging with the same character or author.
- Genre tip #1 - Realistic Fiction: Juvenile realistic fiction books range from silly to mildly serious in tone. They tend to depict stories about changing friendships and families, with low-stakes mysteries and drama.
- Genre tip #2 - Fantasy & Sci-Fi: Juvenile fantasy/sci-fi books are more adventurous than heady. They often feature talking animals, aliens, magic powers, and portals into new lands.
- Genre tip #3 - Horror / Spooky: Many children are excited by the promise of being thrilled or chilled. For parents concerned about disturbing content or grossness, rest assured: most juvenile horror books are more "spooky" than scary. (Think Scooby Doo or Goosebumps.) They feature elements like ghosts, hauntings, vampires, werewolves/shape-changers, and magic gone wrong. If you need some extra info just to be sure, just ask us - we can pull reviews for you ahead of time.
Recommendation Tools for Parents
- NoveList K-8: Sign in with your library card to get recommendations.
- Minnesota Youth Reading Awards: See previous winners and this year's selections for the the Maud Hart Lovelace Award and other categories.
From Our Physical Collection
These list links will take you to our catalog. Have your library card number and PIN available to put items on hold!
- Smooth Reading Kits: Designed to help readers practice fluency and expression. Great for readers who need extra practice.
- New Chapter Books: Browse our newest arrivals and on-order items for young readers.
- New Juvenile Graphic Novels: Great for engaging reluctant readers! We even have graphic nonfiction books to help engage kids in topics they might consider dull.
- Juvenile Series: Series can be a gateway into reading for reluctant readers who feel picky or prefer exclusively reading about their favorite characters.
eBooks & eAudiobooks
In addition to the physical items above, elementary readers can discover downloadable eBooks and eAudiobooks from eBooks Minnesota and the Twin Cities Metro eLibrary on Libby.
- Get the Libby App: Download Libby by OverDrive from your app store and search for "Scott County Library" (listed under "MELSA: Twin Cities Metro eLibrary"). Sign in with your child's library card and PIN.