Goldilocks Strategy: Everything You Need to Know

This is a system that helps beginners in reading to choose material at the right level of reading. It focuses on fluency and comprehension for grades K-5. Using it, students can classify books they are reading as “just right,” “too easy,” or “too hard” for their reading level.

The Goldilocks strategy helps select books that are ‘just right’ for students. This strategy draws its name from the story ‘Goldilocks and the Three Bears.’ In this story, Goldilocks tastes three bowls of porridge, each different from the other, and finds that she prefers porridge that’s neither too cold nor too hot but has a temperature that’s just right. Similar to Goldilocks, students too prefer activities that are neither too complex nor too simple but just right. When their reading material is too hard, they fail to grasp it and lose interest fast. Even when it’s too simple, they don’t feel challenged enough and can’t engage with it.

For instance, if Jack’s parents want to choose a suitable book for him, they should find answers to the following questions. If Jack’s answer is ‘Yes,’ the book is possibly:

Just Right

  •         Is the book new to him?
  •         Does Jack comprehend a lot of the book?
  •         When Jack reads it, does he find some sections smooth and others difficult?
  •         Are there just a handful of words in the book that Jack doesn’t know?

Too Easy

  •         Has Jack read it multiple times before?
  •         Does he understand the story extremely well?
  •         Can he read it smoothly?
  •         Does he know just about every word?

Too Hard

  •         Does the book have over five words on a page not known to Jack?
  •         Does Jack feel confused about what’s happening in most sections of this book?
  •         When he reads it, does it sound quite difficult?
  •         Is everyone else occupied and unable to help Jack?

Though parents and teachers can use this strategy, they can also teach the students how to apply it, thus letting them decide which books will be best suited to their reading level for independent reading. Once students learn how to use the Goldilocks strategy, they will become more responsible toward their reading and may possibly enjoy reading the books more.

To help students learn how to use the Goldilocks strategy, parents and teachers can:

  •         Explain the strategy by using three books at each level 
  •         Analyze books as a class and create a reference chart
  •         Make the students implement the strategy during their independent reading sessions
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