A look at the best books for kids
One of the most enjoyable and beneficial activities we can share with our children is reading books together. A good book opens a young mind to a world of imagination and knowledge. It can amaze and delight, entertain and inform. A best-loved book becomes a good friend, and later, a cherished childhood memory. For parents, kids books are a way to spend quality time with our children. Nothing matches the joy of seeing a young child engage excitedly with the story and illustrations, anticipating favorite lines.
Excellent childrens books are available for every age group. Whether your child has a wild imagination or prefers to learn about the physical world, there are books to get him or her reading.
0 to 3 Years
It's never too early to start reading to your child. Even babies can enjoy looking at picture books and hearing your voice as you read aloud. Cloth books for very young babies may seem to be merely teething toys, but baby is learning about turning and exploring pages.
The best books for preschoolers are very short and repetitive. They focus on simple, concrete themes and often have very simple illustrations as well. Many classics for babies and toddlers are available as board books. These editions are printed on heavy-duty, unrippable cardboard to stand up to abuse.
Some favorite childrens picture books include:
- Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
- Piggies by Audrey Wood and Don Wood
- The Foot Book or other Dr Seuss books
4 to 8 Years
Primary school children are able to follow a more complex story line. The pictures are still important for interest, but they no longer convey the whole story. As your child gets older, he or she will become more adept at reading independently, but most school kids still love being read to.
Look for these classics for young readers:
- The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams
- Jumanji by Chris Van Allsburg
- The Paper Bag Princess by Robert N. Munsch
9 to 12 Years
By this age, many children are reading "real" chapter books. You can still make this a shared activity, reading one chapter, or a few pages, aloud every night. Your child may discover an interest in specific genres, such as science fiction or historical fiction.
These examples show just how diverse children's literature can be:
- Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume
- A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
- The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare
Buying Books for Children
Discovering great new books together is half the fun of reading with your child. Be sure to involve your child in choosing and buying new books. There are several ways to do this:
- Take your child to a local bookstore and browse. Many stores will let you sit and read books aloud, and then you can take home one you both particularly like.
- Join a kid book club. These book-of-the-month clubs give reviews and recommendations, and allow you to buy new books regularly without leaving your home.
- Shop online for the best deals. You want to grow a library for your child, but you don't have to spend a fortune. Many online merchants specialize in discount childrens books.
Children who are exposed to books and reading from a young age tend to earn to read earlier, and they are more likely to enjoy reading. They often do better in school, not just because they have a head start in reading skills, but because they can use those reading skills in all of their other subjects. Reading opens the world to them and introduces them to new ideas, fostering a love of learning that will benefit them for their entire lives.
- If your child is not an enthusiastic reader, try these ideas to spark interest:
- Pop up books: These give the hands-on child something to do while reading.
- Personalized childrens books: What child wouldn't love a book about him- or herself?
- Childrens audio books: Listening to books on tape can help a child who struggles with reading enjoy classic stories without the frustration.
- Comic books: Any reading is good reading! If your child likes comic books, be glad that he or she is turning pages and enjoying it.