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Books: Selecting Books for Your Child

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KEY POINTS

  • Books can help your child learn about new people, places, and ideas, as well as learn how to use language. Books also help your child explore thoughts and feelings.
  • Different kinds of books will appeal to children of different ages. You can ask a librarian or a clerk at the bookstore to help you select books for your child. If your child enjoys a book, check for other books by the same author. Review book lists and consider award-winning books.

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Books can help your child in the following ways:

  • Use creativity and imagination
  • Learn about new people, places, and ideas
  • Learn new words and how to use language
  • Explore thoughts and feelings about different things
  • Offer quality “together time” with you

Teaching your child about books at an early age helps him or her to read earlier and do better in school. Books also help you and your child grow closer. One way to help your child learn to love reading is to show that you enjoy reading.

You and your child can find good books at your local bookstore or library. Used bookstores, thrift shops, and garage sales are good places to find less costly books. If you have a young child, take him or her to story hour. If your child is older, make sure he or she has a library card. Ask your librarian to suggest books for your child’s age and grade level.

Infants (0 - 18 months)

Your newborn will enjoy just hearing your voice. You can read your favorite novel aloud while feeding or cuddling with your baby. The time you spend reading to your baby is far more important than the book itself.

As your baby gets older, read to him or her every day. Choose books that are durable (cloth or board books). Let your child hold the book. Pick books with bright colors and large simple pictures. Books that let you and your baby make sounds (such as animal sounds, trains, singing, or rhyming) are fun to read. Reading the same books over and over will help your baby to recognize and name familiar objects. Your baby will enjoy feeling the rough and smooth textures found in touching books and listening to the rhythm of poems and nursery rhymes. You'll be surprised at how quickly he or she will learn to join in the rhymes and songs.

Toddlers (18 months to 3 years)

During this period, your child will know some words to favorite nursery rhymes by heart. Your child may ask you to read the same book over and over. This repetition is a natural part of learning. Encourage your child to pick new books but save time for favorites. So, read "Goodnight Moon" for the hundredth time and know that each time you do, it reinforces your child’s love of reading.

At this age, your child enjoys naming things. He or she will also like bright colors, shapes, rhyming words, and funny-sounding words. Books are a good way to teach about size, shape, and color. Let your child open flaps, ask questions, and make comments. Books made of cloth or thick cardboard are easy to clean and last longer than paper books.

Toddlers have short attention spans, so choose books that are short, simple, and have lots of pictures. A 3-minute story at bedtime may be best for your child. Engage your child. Look at the pictures together and ask, “What do you think is going on?”

Preschool (3 to 6 years)

Preschoolers love to ask "Why?" Your child may be interested in books about the weather, nature, animals, and children in other cultures. Books can also help your child with fears or feelings. Choose books that show actions you want him or her to imitate, such as getting along with siblings or taking care of toys. Preschoolers love stories with repetition, rhymes, and funny sounding words. Make sure the books have happy, clear-cut endings.

Preschool children learn reading skills while watching you read. Your child starts to figure out that printed symbols have certain meanings. It may help if you point to the words as you read them. Use funny voices and make animal sounds as you read. Books that take 5 to 10 minutes to read and have just a few printed lines on a page are best for most young children. Soon your child will start to read.

Younger school-age (6 to 9 years)

Six-year-olds learn new words and new concepts every day. Choose books with simple words and strong, simple storylines. Choose books on topics that your child enjoys and that fit his or her reading level. Let your child choose some books.

To get your child excited about reading, it helps to:

  • Set a time to read together every day.
  • Re-read lines your child found funny.
  • Take turns. Let your child read to you sometimes.
  • Ask your child what he or she thinks about what happens in the story. What would your child do in the same situation?
  • Leave books in your child’s room and give your child a reading light.

Reading books that are too hard can be frustrating and make your child feel bad about himself or herself. It can also make your child dislike reading. If there are 5 or more words on a page that your child cannot read, chances are the book is too difficult for him or her to read on their own. Ask your child’s teacher for advice on helping him or her learn to read.

As your child’s reading skills improve, he or she will start reading longer, more involved books. Your child may like stories about family, friends, and school. He or she may enjoy stories about children from other countries, simple biographies, fictional stories, and collections of jokes, riddles, and tongue-twisters. Your child will probably want to read books with a main character who is the same gender.

As your child learns to read, be sure to give him or her lots of praise. Your praise and support can help your child enjoy reading and learning even more.

Older school-age (9 to 12 years)

At this age, it is not unusual for a child to spend hours reading books about things they are interested in, such as magic, model making, or animals. Your child's interests may change from day to day. Let your child choose the books he or she is interested in.

Your child may like books about mysteries, kids dealing with challenges, and books with plot twists. Adventure and fantasy books are popular. Children of this age like stories about explorers, artists, scientists, and heroes. You might give your child books you enjoyed when you were a child and talk about why you enjoyed them.

If your child enjoys a book, check for other books by the same author. Review book lists and consider award-winning books. You can also ask a librarian or clerk in a bookstore to help you select books for your child.

Developed by Change Healthcare.
Pediatric Advisor 2019.4 published by Change Healthcare.
Last modified: 2019-09-17
Last reviewed: 2019-09-16
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
© 2018 Change Healthcare LLC and/or one of its subsidiaries
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