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What is a Great Book?
A great book pulls kids in, and then holds their attention. It has clear, engaging illustrations, or uses language that makes it easy to visualize the story. A good book might be comforting and familiar, or new and exciting. It might be an award winner that comes up in your Amazon recommendations or on Pinterest, or a simple board book you pick up in the checkout line at the grocery store. The bottom line is, a great book is any book that your family enjoys.
How to Choose Great Books
Take look at current favorites. Do your kids love silly rhyming books with whimsical illustrations? Or do they gravitate towards non-fiction books with realistic photography? Is there a chapter book series they enjoy? Consider current interests. Has your child recently become obsessed with buses or garbage trucks? Or do your kids settle right down when you reach for a book that depicts warm cozy family or school situations? Ask your kids for input – what would they like to learn more about? What is their teacher reading out loud right now? What books do they see their friends reading? Involving your children in this process will skyrocket their buy-in and excitement for reading.
Books for Infants and Toddlers
- Books with big, bold, colorful pictures of familiar or everyday objects or activities.
- Sturdy books made of heavy cardboard, washable cloth, or plastic.
- Small books that are easy for little hands to hold and turn the pages.
- Stories told in short, simple sentences with pictures that explain the text.
- Poems and rhymes that make the book fun to read aloud and fun to listen to.
Books for Preschoolers (Ages 3-5)
- Books that highlight basic concepts, such as colors, shapes, letters and numbers.
- Rhyme and repetition.
- Photographs and illustrations that are clear, colorful and engaging.
- Simple, fun plots with action that moves quickly.
- Stories about everyday life and familiar events in a child’s day-to-day life.
- Main characters (human or animal) who are your child’s age or just a little bit older.
Books for Elementary School Kids (Ages 6-11)
- Books that reflect your child’s interests and passions.
- Other books with your child’s favorite characters, or by favorite authors and illustrators.
- Illustrations and photos that directly support the text and give clues to the meaning of unfamiliar words.
- Project, craft, and recipe books with clearly worded instructions and supportive illustrations.
- Picture books your child enjoyed hearing when they were younger. Most picture books are written at a third or fourth grade level, and are terrific to revisit when your child becomes a more independent reader.
- Chapter books that your child can read independently, or higher level chapter books for you to read aloud.
- Fact books, such as world record books, trivia books, and almanacs.
Books for Adolescents (Ages 12 and Up)
- New genres – biographies, mysteries, spy thrillers, classics, historical fiction, and mythology.
- Books about places in the world that interest your child, or that they are studying in school.
- Novels that depict characters dealing with the daily challenges of growing up.
- Graphic novels that re-tell classic stories.
Involve Your Child
Perhaps most importantly, involve your kids in choosing new books. Encourage them to join you as you look for new titles, and model your thought process as you consider new books to add to your family library. Learning how to choose great books is a reading skill that your child will use forever.