There is such a wide variety of books to choose from for young children, selecting them can often be a confusing and difficult task. Over 2,000 new children’s books are published every year, not to mention your childhood favorites, award-winning classics, and books that are on the front shelf in all the bookstores. Here are some simple suggestions to help you select good quality literature for your child from the many books that are available.
A newborn’s eyesight is not fully developed at birth. They see best from about 12 inches, which is perfect if you are holding your child and gazing into his eyes. Here are some additional characteristics to keep in mind when choosing books for babies:
- Choose small books that are easy for you to hold and turn the page while you are holding your baby.
- Look for books with black-and-white designs or with bright colors and highly contrasting images. This makes it easier for your baby to focus as her eyes grow stronger.
- Books should be simple, with one or two objects on a page surrounded by lots of empty space and very few words.
- Choose soft vinyl or cloth books that your child can use in the bath. Books should be durable since they are chewed on, tossed, dragged around and pulled on.
Oral language is important, so books with a single word and picture help infants learn that pictures have meanings. Books with simple sentences or nursery rhymes are enjoyable for older infants. These young children delight in listening to rhythmic and rhyming text. Here are some additional characteristics to keep in mind:
- Choose board books with rounded edges and thick pages to make turning the pages easier.
- Choose books that have large pictures or designs, or photos of other babies or family members.
- Choose books that encourage further investigation. Older babies enjoy peek-a-boo, pop-up or lift-the-flap books, as well as books with hidden surprises. They like books that are soft and furry with lots of texture, scents and even mirrors.
Toddlers are constantly on the move and might not sit in one place for very long. One thing toddlers still need every day is for you to read books with them. They enjoy books with lots of action about everyday experiences that help them explore and understand their world. As you choose books for toddlers:
- Look for small sturdy board books with a few or no words on the page. Books with no words allow children to make up their own stories and develop their imagination.
- Toddlers relish large colorful pictures and photographs with simple story lines. The lift-the-flap, touch-and-feel, interactive and sensory exploration books provide much interest at this age.
- Concept books launch topics like animals, feelings, colors, numbers, shapes and letters. Predictable text, rhymes and stories with funny sounding words are all fun to read aloud.
- Try some books that show children doing common things and that tell simple stories. Goodnight books for bedtime are great to help toddlers wind down at the end of a very active day.
- Books with songs, poetry and repetitive text are easy for toddlers to memorize and read or sing along.
- Choose books about familiar and comforting things like mealtime, saying goodbye and other routine activities.
- Your child’s favorite characters may attract his attention, but be sure to check out the story; sometimes they are too long and won’t hold the attention of your child. Instead, you could just talk about the pictures.
Your little ones are beginning to grow up. Books for preschoolers should have simple stories with basic plots, engaging illustrations and a fun text that lends itself to being read aloud. The storyline should move rapidly so it can be read in one session. It’s time for more intricate story composition using repetitive phrases and sounds that young children can repeat and remember. Try to choose books that have the following characteristics for your preschooler:
- Select books that promote imagination and solve problems in a creative way. Young children enjoy books about real-life circumstances that mirror their concerns. They enjoy stories about going to school, playing with friends and sharing with others.
- Remember that illustrations still are a great fascination.
- Choose lots of ABC books, counting books and simple information books about dinosaurs, trains, trucks, animals, insects, geography or construction. A soothing bedtime story for sweet dreams is always a nice way to end the day.
- Look for books with nursery rhymes and poetry.
- Predictable books allowing children to fill in the blanks, guess what comes next, or make predictions about sentences, phrases and words are intriguing.
- Introduce your children to cultures around the world that are different from theirs.
- Present opportunities to learn about families and making friends. Books about having brothers and sisters are a great way to introduce the pending arrival of a new sibling.
When it comes to choosing good books, no matter your child’s age, choose books you and your child will enjoy! Young children often like to hear the same story over and over. Children who love shared book reading often become lifelong readers who make good literature a part of their lives.