Study Guides and How To Use Them

The study guides that you'll use with each book are like substitute professors. These will help you understand the steps to improving your child's reading comprehension.

Reading Comprehension Guidelines:

Select appropriate lexile level books here
Choosing a Book and Study Guide

Once you’ve determined your child’s Lexile level, choose among the recommended books for that level. A child's reading comprehension can only improve if the book is close to her present reading level or a bit above. To review the Lexile test, click here.

Next, download a study guide to go with the book and purchase a small notebook to go with the book. Here, she can keep her notes, questions, and essays about the book in one location.

New Lexile Levels

Grade 2: 420-650

Grade 3: 520-820

Grade 4: 740-940

Grade 5: 830-1010

Grade 6: 925-1070

500 Lexile Level

600 Lexile Level

Grade 7: 970-1120

Grade 8: 1010-1185

Grade 9: 1050-1260

Grade 10: 1080-1335

Grades 11-12:


Note to Parents: 

When a free copy of these books is available,

I have linked to it.

700 Lexile Level 

800 Lexile Level


Personal note: You can never go wrong with a story about a Beagle. 

How do you find the Lexile level of a book?

When I was teaching reading, I learned about a website,

 It has been extremely helpful in measuring the difficulty level of books by their Lexile levels, and it has a wealth of free information   that you may find helpful. 

Reading Comprehension Process

This is important because the only way she will get a feel for the book is to read the chapter through in one sitting. If she tries to answer the study guide questions as she goes along in her reading, she will never get the flow of the story, and the process won’t make any sense to her.

  • Read the study guide's questions for that chapter FIRST.
  • Read quickly (but not skimming) through the entire chapter. 

Once she has read the chapter, she should open her notebook and begin answering the discussion questions and defining the vocabulary words.

I Love My Kindles

A word about the Kindle. You may have noticed that I advertise the Kindle Fire on my web pages. That is because I love them, so I decided that since I own them, I feel honest and good about recommending them. If you decide to buy one and click on my page, I'll get some money from  Amazon for that. Amazon is not paying me to write this opinion.

We have three Kindles, one Kindle reader and two Kindle Fires. These are AWESOME.

You can click on the links to learn more about them, but I want to show you a TIMESAVER for your child. When you download a book on the Kindle, if your child doesn't know the word, all she has to do is touch the word and in a second, the word will pop up with a basic definition.

After she's read the word, she can choose one of four colors to highlight the word, touch again, and continue with her reading. 

While the basic Kindle readers are a bit cheaper, if you download books with illustrations, they won't be in color like the hardcover books unless you buy the Kindle Fire. I think it enhances your child's reading experience to see the illustrations in children's books. 

In the dinosaur days (when we went to school), you had to get your dictionary, look through the key words at the top of each page, say the alphabet, and look up and down for it.

Well, so much for getting a good reading flow going with all that distraction. And there weren't any free study guides either.

Click on this link to find hundreds of free Kindle books to download. For every one book I've bought, I've downloaded more than 50 books free. I have downloaded more than 200 free books, and there's still room for hundreds more. 

Engaging Your Child To Read Using Study Guides

My son and I are reading Under the Dome by Stephen King. If he doesn't know a word, he touches it, reads it, touches the screen again, and continues with his reading. It's AWESOME. We put a bookmark where each of us leaves off. It provides an incentive for each of us to read a bit more to impress each other with our reading prowess. While this book doesn't have a study guide yet, we may be the first to create it. 

Learning To Use A Dictionary

This is what a dictionary entry could look like in your child’s notebook.

While there are no suggested vocabulary in the study guides, your child can use her best judgment with your guidance. I would recommend about seven words for every 500 words.

fer·tile  (fûrtl)Share: fer·tileadj.1. Biologya. Capable of initiating, sustaining, or supporting reproduction.b. Capable of growing and developing; able to mature: a fertile egg.2. Botany Bearing functional reproductive structures such as seeds or fruit or material such as spores or pollen.3. Bearing or producing crops or vegetation abundantly; fruitful.4. Rich in material needed to sustain plant growth: fertile soil.5. Highly or continuously productive; prolific: a fertile imagination; a fertile source of new ideas.6. Physics Capable of producing fissionable material: fertile thorium 232.[Middle English fertil, from Old French fertile, from Latin fertilis, from ferre, to bear; see bher-1in Indo-European roots.]fertile·ly adv.fertile·ness n.Synonyms: fertile, fecund, fruitful, productive, prolific
These adjectives mean marked by great productivity: a fertile imagination; a fecund theory; fruitful efforts; a productive period; a prolific career.

1.Write the part of speech.

2. Write the first definition

3. Write the second and third definitions if greatly different from the first. (In this case, I would not copy these definitions.While the 6th entry is different, it is a rare definition. Only the first couple of definitions are the common ones in usage for each word.) 

 4. Copy the country of origin of the word and its original meaning.

5. Write the other forms of the word. 

6. Write the synonyms of the word.

6.Write a sentence of her own.

7.Go to the next word.

The probability, however, of coming across a word that you’ve actually studied from the study guide or been exposed to in a book, seems to magically increase with practice.

I know this sounds silly, but there is a sort of kismet or serendipity that occurs in life when you really learn a new word. It seems like hardly a day passes when you see or hear that word again.

A Word About Serendipity- a true story

About three weeks ago when I first wrote this section on vocabulary, I included this part about the "serendipity" aspect of talking about vocabulary. I hoped that it wouldn't sound false or off the top of my head, but I try to stay real, and seeing or hearing a word shortly after I have looked up its definition has usually occurred in my life. 

So I'm talking to my husband about how we'd never have any real conversations if it weren't for his habit of going off on tangential subjects.

My son Chris (whom I reading Under the Dome with) asked what tangential means. He knew what a tangent was, but this was the first time he'd heard tangential in terms of talking and not math.

So I give him the definition. End of story. UNTIL THE VERY NEXT DAY. About 12 hours later, Chris, Nathaniel (my youngest son) and I are in the backyard cleaning. (They are cleaning, I'm playing on Chris's Kindle.)

Then, one of them asks when Grimm, our favorite TV series, is coming back. I look it up on the Kindle and read aloud all the blurbs, blogs, and promos about it AND THEN SUDDENLY, THERE'S THE WORD TANGENTIAL. 

SEE, I TOLD YOU. Ok, that's the end of the story. SERENDIPITY.

How To Use The Free Study Guides
Answering The Questions

Now that the vocabulary work is finished, begin answering the questions in complete sentences in the notebook. In the study guide, follow along, question by question, page by page, until your child has created a work of art with this novel.

Writing complete sentences improves her writing skills. If you are unclear what this means, here is an example from The Great Gatsby:

Chapter 1

1. Who is the narrator of the story?

The narrator of the story is Nick Carraway.

This process doesn’t have to be over the top. The purpose is simply to write complete sentences and to review the paragraphs in more detail. Writing an answer like “Nick Caraway” does nothing to improve your child’s writing skills.

Answering the study guide's  questions will require your child to reread the paragraphs as it is likely she won’t remember enough details to answer them accurately without a good, second reread.

Does your child know what a “narrator” is?

Literary terms like “narrator” are best defined from a literary dictionary, but when you are first beginning to learn literary terms, be aware that many of these types of dictionaries are very thorough and may confuse or distract your child unnecessarily. To begin, get a basic definition of a narrator, but makes sure she learns it.

Interactive Literary Handbook by Glencoe  (Personal note: This is a remarkable free tool.)

Relating To The Protagonist

In all novels the reader should be encouraged to find something that she likes or respects about the protagonist.

As she learns to relate to the protagonist, she will begin to appreciate that she is being given the opportunity to learn vicariously from the lessons that the protagonist has to learn through experience.

This process will make it easier for her to understand the author’s message and the underlying themes in the book.

Remember, authors don’t write because they are trying to make a buck. Believe me, there are easier ways to earn a living than by writing.

An author always has something important to say that compels them to write, so teach your child to listen up so that she catches the theme by the end of the novel.

Relating to the protagonist, the vessel the author uses to send us her message, will help her accomplish that.

Reviewing and Rereading the Chapter

After she completes the vocabulary and questions for each chapter, she should reread the chapter quickly. Already she should notice that she understands more than her first reading. She can continue to the next chapter until she completes the book.

Writing An Essay

The opportunity to write a five-paragraph essay after reading a novel helps the child to synthesize what she has read by expressing her opinion and summarizing her observations of the protagonist, the conflict, or the theme.

A Heads Up To Save Time

Most of these study guides offer a number of essay topics that the student can write about. By having your child choose one before reading too far into the book, she will save herself a lot of time when she starts to write the first draft.

A well-written paper requires evidence to support it, and if she highlights and notates useable quotes and paragraphs while she reads, the writing process will be that much easier.

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Where to next?

If you would like to review the phonics rules, click study guides here.

If you would like to browse my writing pages, click on this link. 

If you would like to read my latest blog, click here.

If you would like to read about improving your child's Socratic thinking skills, go here.

Or visit my newest page on teaching your child to recognize and identify advertising propaganda ploys. 

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