Which Story? A Simple Method to Select Books for Your Child
Remember the hungry little creature called the Nook in Dr Seuz’s One fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish?
The one who installed a hook onto his hat so that he could hang a cookbook from it, to read a recipe while freeing up his hands to prepare his supper?
Only to discover it’s all rather pointless, because, as Seuz puts it:
but a Nook can't read
so a nook can't cook
SO what good to a Nook
is a hook cook book?
Shame. Bonus points for confidence, Mr Nook. But you could have used some helpful guidance in selecting a more appropriate book, we think – perhaps a audio or picture book.
A Nook parent might have been able to help suggest an alternative.
Which brings us to an important question: How can you as a parent or family member help select books for your child?
When is it important to select appropriate books?
It all comes down to instilling a love of reading in your child. You know, to boost their confidence, literacy and love of stories. So a book that’s too challenging might be a bit discouraging. And one that’s too easy might not provide enough stimulus for growth.
Now, some publishers use age guides on the jackets and descriptions of their children’s books. But we at Nooksy are a bit different – we purposefully don’t put age recommendations. Because we believe each child’s developmental path is different, and age isn’t necessarily the best indicator of that.
And, as long as the topic is appropriate, we believe there is no minimum age for a book.
After all, even when using age guides, most publishers recommend you use your own judgment:
- Boost confidence in self-readers by ageing down from the age guide a bit
- Age down with picture books for new readers, to get them interested in new topics
- But do age up when you are reading aloud to them, to expose them to new ideas
- Also slowly age up the books when you see your child’s really interested in the topic
When to let them pick their own books
As a side note: We know you feel like you want to have control over what they’re reading. But, as a little tip, do let your child start choosing, or at least contributing to suggested ideas, as they get older.
The act of choosing their own books helps ensure you explore topics that interest them. And it teaches them the special skill of reasoning why we select books to read in the first place.
Criteria for selecting books for your child
When choosing books together, it’s helpful to consider:
- Does the topic interest your child?
- Does it appeal to their maturity and intellectual level?
- Does it uphold the values and morals you cherish?
- Does it stimulate the mind and imagination?
- Does it provide useful information?
- Can you read it over and over?
- Does the book open doors for great conversations with your child?
- Does it cover a topic that may be particularly relevant to your child or family?
- Does it bring joy?
How to select books for different developmental stages
Non-verbal and pre-verbal (baby)
Infant eyesight is still developing, so the sound of your voice as you read is the main attraction here. So pick books with few words and lots of rhyme for auditory stimulation.
Go for books with pictures in high-contrasting hues, so their eyes can make out the images. And maybe think about using books that are the right size to allow you to carry Baby as you read, sturdy enough to withstand chewing (maybe even waterproof) and look for pop-up books to further stimulate their curiosity through reading.
Verbal, but unable to think in abstract terms (toddler)
Toddlers also appreciate big pictures and rhyming, rhythmic and predictable text. But a handy tip is to choose books that talk about familiar and comforting things. Everyday things your child might experience throughout their day – mealtime, bathtime, bedtime. Because they are still learning about the world around them, they tend to find the most value in books that talk about the things they are experiencing day to day.
Able to reflect and reason (preschooler)
The growing child wants fun stories with engaging illustrations, and you can still opt for rhyme and poetry. But do be sure to aim for simple stories, with basic plots and a fast-paced story (so you can read it in one session).
Books presenting real-life situations are still the main drawing card, but you can start introducing abstract concepts like family, friendship, belonging and maybe even start learning about different societies, cultures and countries.
Where to select books for your child
If you’re already making use of the Nooksy read-together story time app, you’ll find loads of amazing, specially selected books in our library. Or see some of our Nooksy impact children’s books.
How to engage when reading
Now that you know how and where to select the ideal books to read together, also think about how you want to engage with different topics. For example, books with animals often give the opportunity to talk about the natural world and maybe even practice making animal sounds together.
Or, for engagement around more basic, everyday concepts, consider something a story centred around colours and shapes.
See our feature on how to read each page with your child. And get some helpful tips on video-calling with toddlers.
We’re introducing an exciting new feature to the Nooksy app that brings extra information onto page (in selected titles at first) to help you engage your child even further during reading. Discover more about the all-new Nooksy Tips feature.
You might also be interested in…
See why it’s our job to help our kids love reading, learn how picture books develop literacy, see how reading improves school readiness and discover how reading develops empathy.
Discover all the amazing benefits of reading to your child. Get into a good flow by creating a solid family reading routine. And, for faraway family, here are some ideas on how to stay connected.
For some great book recommendations, consider taking a short trip to the farm with A Very Very Noisy Tractor, or come play among the trees in We Walk Through the Forest.