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Tips on selecting the right books for your child

Updated: Apr 5

baby girl reading her books while sitting on play mat

The type of books that are suitable for your child will depend on their age, reading level and interests. Also know that there is no ‘wrong’ book for your child, as all reading materials have their own learning objectives depending on the reader’s ability.

The best books grow with your child

little girl reading her books on the table

You might buy a picture book for your 3 year old child for story time. You start off reading the book to him, he is unable to read the words on his own, but is able to recognize the illustrations in the book. When he is 4 years old, he is able to read aloud certain sentences of the book, and is able to discuss his feelings about the book. At 6 years old, he is curled up in a corner reading it alone.

The same book, yet providing different reading experiences over the years. This is especially true for classics titles, and books that will remain a child’s favourite over the years.

Is the book too easy or difficult for your child?

little girl reading happily with her books

If a book is too ‘easy’, a child may get bored of it. On the other hand, it might also give him a boost in his reading skills as he is able to read all the words himself and finish reading the book on his own. For such books, it is good to further challenge your child with post-reading activities like asking what he likes about the story, or how to spell certain words of the book.

If a book is too ‘difficult’, a child may get discouraged and give up reading halfway. On the other hand, it also exposes him to vocabulary and ideas that are new to him, and opens new reading adventures for him. These are perfect titles for adult-led story time, when children can pick up new words and sit through longer stories, which they otherwise would not have been able to do themselves.

Most importantly, it is important to understand your child’s reading level, and offer a variety of books of different levels and genres, some of which are meant for independent reading, and the rest for adult-led storytime. If you are still unsure of what books to select for your child, here are some general guidelines on the type of books for different ages of children:

1) Selecting books for infants: 0-18 months

baby girl with board books and bright illustrations

A newborn’s eyesight is not fully developed at birth. They see best from about 30 cm, which is perfect if you are holding your child and gazing into his eyes.

  • Board Books: Infants are still developing their motor skills and coordination, so board books with thick pages that can withstand chewing and grabbing are ideal.

  • Simple Illustrations: Look for books with black-and-white designs or with bright colors and highly contrasting images. This makes it easier for your baby to focus as her eyes grow stronger.

  • Little or No Texts: Books should be simple, with one or two objects on a page surrounded by lots of empty space and very few words.

  • Interactive Features: Infants enjoy books with interactive features such as touch and feel textures, flaps to lift, or sound effects.

  • Repetitive Texts: Books with repetitive phrases or patterns can be engaging for infants as they begin to recognize and anticipate the familiar words.

2) Selecting books for older infants: 19-30 months

baby with three board books in a box

At this age, infants are better with object recognition. Books with a single word and picture help infants learn that pictures have meanings. Books with simple sentences, and rhyming or repetitive texts are also enjoyable.

  • Familiar Topics: Books with familiar topics such as animals, transportation, or daily routines can help toddlers relate to and understand the world around them.

  • Interactive Features: Toddlers love books with interactive features such as