How to Choose Books for Your Child

Sometimes it can be hard to find the right books for your child, especially when their age, interests, and reading level change — as they should! We have a few suggestions to help: 

  • Babies.  Read anything!  Sing anything!  Talk and talk and talk to your baby – narrate what BABY is doing; narrate what YOU are doing.  As Baby grows and begins to reach out for books, have BOARD BOOKS at hand –  books that tell a story, books that have photographs of children or animals, or that teach concepts, like colors or numbers or feelings.  Read the text, or talk about the pictures, pointing things out to your baby.  Ask your librarian for suggestions.  
  • Toddlers to 3-year-olds.  Picture books with simple story lines, rhyming, and basic concepts (like counting, alphabet, shapes, colors, opposites).  Not too much text for the 2-year-olds – about 5-10 words per page.  As your child’s attention span grows, so can the length of the stories you read together.  Ask your librarian for suggestions. 
  • 4 and 5-year-olds.  Picture books with more complex plots and longer stories.  Counting books that go up to 100, longer rhyming books, easy non-fiction with lots of illustrations or photographs.  Ask your librarian for suggestions. 
  • Kindergarten – 2nd grade.  Check out the Children’s Beginning Readers section at your library for books for your growing reader.  Beginning Readers are shelved by author name, not reading level, though the reading level is often displayed on the cover and the spine.  To help your child find the right level: 
    • Open the book together and look at the number of words per page, the words themselves, as well as font size to help you determine if this book is an appropriate choice for your new reader. 
    • Teach your child to use the “Five Finger” Method:  Have your child read the first full page and hold up one finger for every word they don’t recognize or can’t pronounce.  By the end of the page, if they’re holding up:  
      • 0-1 fingers – too easy 
      • 2-3 fingers – just right 
      • 4-5 fingers – too hard, or best read aloud with a buddy 
    • If the book looks too hard for your child to read alone but they’re still interested in it, read the book to your child, or read it together.  Interest is a great reading motivator!   
  • Ask your librarian for suggestions. 
  • Book Bundles.  In a hurry? Ask your library if they’ve got some book bundles on hand.  Bundles contain 4-6 picture books on a popular theme – dinosaurs, mermaids, making friends, bedtime stories, to name a few.  Just grab a bundle and go!