We have fond memories of childhood books – the familiar stories, engaging illustrations, even the smell of the pages – and we want our children to experience these pleasures, too. Provide books that will encourage your child to read.
“Books are important for children,” says child psychologist Eileen Kennedy-Moore, Ph.D. “Books can be entertaining, intriguing, engaging or comforting. They help kids understand their own experiences and the world around them.”
It’s difficult to predict which books your children will fall in love with, so start building your home library with these tips from educational expert Wendy Zachrisen.
Books on the correct level
According to Zachrisen, determine your child’s reading level and choosing books accordingly. “Books that are too difficult can frustrate children and discourage them from reading on their own.”
The New Magic Bookshelf: Finding Great Books Your Child Will Treasure Forever by Janie McQueen promises to help “parents, guardians and teachers build permanent, high quality home libraries for children of all ages.” You can also visit The Magic Bookshelf online.
Not only should books be on level with your child’s reading readiness, they should also be on level with her physically. For easy access, “store books at your child’s height,” suggests Zachrisen.
Books that interest your child
Adults are more likely to pick up reading material that interests them. The same holds true for children. “Get to know your child’s interests,” says Zachrisen, “and let her be involved in selecting books.”
McQueen agrees. “My main goal is raising book lovers and finding books that will challenge and excite children, whatever their interests.”
- Baseball’s Best: Five True Stories, by Andrew Gutelle
- From Caterpillar to Butterfly, by Deborah Heiligman
- Barack, by Jonah Winter
Some children love fairytales, others prefer factual books. “Animal fact books are almost always a sure bet,” advises Zachrisen, especially those with real-life photography instead of illustrations. Add books with hands-on elements – craft books, cookbooks and how-to books.
- Little Animal Encyclopedia, Roaring Brook Press
- How Artists See Series, Abbeville Press
- The Best of Sewing Machine Fun for Kids, Lynda Milligan and Nancy Smith
Reading material other than books
As long as children are reading at the appropriate level, it doesn’t matter what they read. “Think about literacy from a life skills point of view,” says Zachrisen, “kids will need to read lots of different kinds of print.” Stock up on magazines, comic books, catalogs and anything that appeals to your child.
- Highlights for Children magazine
- Magical Pokemon Journey comic books
- Children’s Organizer: A Calendar System of Daily Tasks for Children (Gr. K-8), Toni Pighetti
Multimedia and online books
“Don’t build a 20th century library for a 21st century child,” advises Mary Donev of IBW (Interactive Book–Webscene). Look for traditional print books that include multimedia components such as animations, music, games and video as part of the reading experience.
Check out these IBW readers:
- Super Hero – An unlikely hero helps Ox when he’s stuck in a box.
- A Day at the Zoo – The Dog Family finds fun and surprises visiting the zoo.
- Don’t Frown, Clown! – Three mice perform circus acts to cheer up their sad friend.
Computer-savvy kids may also enjoy reading great classic stories online. MrsP.com is a free online library. “Nothing helps a love of reading more than hearing a great book read to you,” says Dana Plautz of Mrs. P Enterprises. “Mrs. P is like Mr. Rogers for the broadband generation – a very safe place for kids to learn to love reading.”
Find these classics in Mrs. P.’s library:
- Goldilocks and the Three Bears, a folk tale
- Cinderella, by Charles Perrault
- Hansel and Gretel, The Brothers Grimm
Public libraries have offered videos and DVDs for years. Enhance your library with visual versions of your child’s favorite stories. The Scholastic Storybook Treasures series offers animated story adaptations of children’s classic, best-selling, and Caldecott award-winning books on DVD.
Watch these stories come to life:
- Harry the Dirty Dog, by Gene Zion
- The Emperor’s New Clothes, by Hans Christian Anderson
- Corduroy, by Don Freeman
Zachrisen suggests searching lists to find books for your child. Check out online bookstores like Amazon and Barnes & Noble. The buyers for the children’s section at Borders bookstores recommend these books for kindergartners:
- Where the Wild Things Are, by Maurice Sendak
- Green Eggs and Ham, by Dr. Seuss books
- Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel, by Virginia Burton
Add some of your favorites
Consider adding some of your childhood books to the library. You’ll enjoy reading them – to yourself or aloud to your child – and they may inspire your child to become a book lover like you!