Diagnosing an Advanced Reader in 8 Easy Steps

Photo taken from Barb Cabot

Photo taken from Barb Cabot

I have a problem. Some say it’s a good problem, but it has become all consuming.

Keeping my six-year-old in books.

Teachers and instructors call these kids ‘Advanced Readers.’ Perhaps one lives at your house. Here are 8 easy signs that this kind of person resides at your address too:

1. Child is a library addict. Simply meaning you visit the library two, sometimes three times per week and max out your library card for the benefit of that ONE child (that is in addition to that child’s school library that she says, “she isn’t allowed in enough”).

2. Child is book-deaf. Meaning that you have repeated yourself five hundred times and they still have not made eye contact with you because your Advanced Reader is still, yes, reading and thus in another world.

3. Child becomes unable to exit vehicle. Defined by arriving at any destination and after the rest of the family exits the vehicle, you then lock your Advanced Reader inside (and she still doesn’t notice).

4. Child is on unintentional hunger strike. Your Advanced Reader cannot see, smell, or hear you when their meals are ready.

5. Child is book-blind. Your Advanced Reader walks into walls and other immovable objects around the house. Child may also step on pets and on occasion run into siblings all because there is a book in front of child’s face. We shall now name this “The Walking While Reading Offense” (or should it be Reading While Walking Offense – I have lost my way).

6. Child has book-separation-anxiety. Upon waking the first thing your Advanced Reader does after opening their eyes is grab the book they were reading when they fell asleep the night before.

7. Child has book-separation-anxiety part deux. Upon falling asleep they snuggle the book they are currently reading like their favorite stuffed animal rather than actually putting the book away for the night. (After all, they might not be able to find it immediately in the morning (see #6)).

8. Child has TV-Book-Multitask-Disease. Yes, this is a huge one; they WATCH television with the family WHILE READING their book. This is a sign they are not normal.

Do these signs ring true? Is there an Advanced Reader in your home? Are you suffering like me? Outside of starting a support group for parents of Advanced Readers I thought we could share the wealth (and sympathy) here together. Tips, advice, and emotional support for dealing with these counter-cultural beings are all welcome.

Here are a few things I have learned that have also offered challenges:

  • While my six-year-old can read at a fifth grade level, the CONTENT of books at that level is not to her taste (too many boy issues, deaths, cat fights between girls, scary things, parents splitting up, etc.) I need fifth/six grade level material for a six-year-old. Where are these books?
  • She prefers fiction over non-fiction. Some of the advice I have read says to turn your Advanced Reader over to non-fiction solely for the purposes of content issues. But, she gets bored with too much non-fiction and then in turn I get frustrated when I cannot locate enough appropriate content in fiction for her. It is a vicious cycle after all. Are there non-fiction books your Advanced Reader has been captured by?
  • I really like fiction that involves nature. Books like Miss Hickory are fantastic for creating the magical and yet remaining on a content level that is appropriate for any age. Where are other books like this?

Let us join forces to solve these problems together. (I believe this could be a global plague.) There is no one mightier than parents who CANNOT go to the library one single more time this weekNO.


  1. You may be an advanced reader if you have many memories of your family telling you the house was on fire just to get you to the here and now… I LOVE the Wayside School stories by Louis Sachar (I think there are three starting with Sideways Stories from Wayside School). I also second Encyclopedia Brown. Also, From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler (I think this one is about to become a movie too). Pippi Longstocking, possibly Anne of Green Gables series (I don’t remember all of the content of those though). My nieces (who read books to their preschool class) really enjoyed the Magic Tree House series. Also, The Boxcar Children or Bobsey Twins were always one of my favorites as well.

    • Thank you Emilie! I have never heard of the Wayside School series and will definitely check that out. The house is on fire thing I can totally use too….

    • Oh, my kids LOVE the Wayside School books! Louis Sachar is pretty much brilliant. FRINDLE by Andrew Clements is another favorite. Has she read the Alvin Ho series of books? Sort of a Wimpy Kid for the younger set. I think those read at about a 4th grade level, but the main character is 7. Or what about Kate DiCamillo…Tale of Despereaux or Winn-Dixie…but the content in those is a little more serious. My kids loved Anne of Green Gables but I read it out loud to them because the language was so (in their words) “old-timey” :-)Soooo many good books, so little time! Good luck!

      • Thank you Amy! That’s two votes for the Wayside series! She read Tale of Despereaux this past summer and although she made it through, it was too serious/scary for her with all the dark imagery and such. I may try her out on Anne of Green Gables though – thank you for the recommendations!

  2. I loved the Wizard of Oz series, the “shoes” books (Ballet Shoes, Skating Shoes), Paddington Bear, Roald Dahl books, Beverly Cleary books and Little House on the Prairie. My kids have loved The Magic Schoolbus, Flat Stanley, the Warriors series, the Phantom Tollbooth, books by Scott O’Dell, Mr. Popper’s Penguins and Encyclopedia Brown books.

    • Thank you Cat! I have not heard of the “shoes” books and will definitely look them up! And, yes, Wizard of Oz is a true, true favorite. 🙂

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *