Is there a Science to Selecting the Right Book?

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Marian Wilde, GreatSchool staff writer, asks the provocative question, “Is there a science to selecting the right book for your child?”

She argues that a tennis racquet and a baseball bat have sweet spots. Does a beginning reader have one too?

The reading sweet spot is that perfect balance between a child’s ability and a text’s difficulty, that place where a child can skim across the page without realizing she’s decoding symbols into ideas and stringing them together to create meaning.

Many teachers will agree with her description of balancing ability with difficulty.

Ah, but what if another technology (say, direct instruction)or a new machine enters into the equation? Does that change the sweet spot beyond conventional and commercial expectations?

We know that direct instruction has lead millions of preschool and primary grade students to read beyond expectations. It changed their sweet spot for math and reading, reported many teachers and evaluation study report writers.

Can a Tablet PC software developer (perhaps using direct learning) show a novice reader how to increase reading levels beyond what teachers and commercial evaluators define?

Direct learning with a Tablet PC and MathPractice increases individual learning rates in math beyond teacher expectations. I wonder if it will also increase learning rates and thus change the sweet spot for novice readers?

Thanks, Marian, for raising your question. It seems to precipitate more questions for answering, and questions are basic to science.

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Robert Heiny
Robert W. Heiny, Ph.D. is a retired professor, social scientist, and business partner with previous academic appointments as a public school classroom teacher, senior faculty, or senior research member, and administrator. Appointments included at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Peabody College and the Kennedy Center now of Vanderbilt University; and Brandeis University. Dr. Heiny also served as Director of the Montana Center on Disabilities. His peer reviewed contributions to education include publication in [I]The Encyclopedia of Education [/I](1971), and in professional journals and conferences. He served s an expert reviewer of proposals to USOE, and on a team that wrote plans for 12 state-wide and multistate special education and preschools programs. He currently writes user guides for educators and learners as well as columns for [I]TuxReports[/I].com.