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Tips on selecting the right books for your child

Updated: Apr 5, 2023

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 lift-the-flaps, touch and feel elements, and pop-ups.

  • Repetitive Texts: Books with repetitive texts, rhymes and bedtime stories are also perfect for story time at this age.

3) Selecting books for toddlers: 3-4 years

little girl unboxing her josh and cherie book box

Toddlers enjoy books about everyday experiences that help them explore and understand the world around them. They are also at a stage where they can start to read independently.

  • Rhyming Texts: Toddlers relish large colorful pictures and photographs with simple story lines. Predictable text, rhymes and stories with funny sounding words are all fun to read aloud

  • Aesthetic & Creative Expression: Select books that allow them to be creative and develop their imagination. Books with no words allow children to make up their own stories and nurture their creative expression.

  • Language & Literacy: Concept books with topics like animals, colors, numbers, shapes and letters, are good in fostering their language and literacy skills..

  • Social & Emotional Development: Choosing books about familiar and comforting things like mealtime, other routine activities, making friends, feelings and emotions, are useful in developing their social and emotional skills.

  • Adventure & Curiosity: Fun read-aloud picture books are also good to introduce them to new concepts, sparking their curiosity and taking on new adventures one book at a time.

4) Selecting books for older preschoolers: 5-7 years

a reading corner for kids

Books for preschoolers should have simple stories with basic plots, engaging illustrations and a fun text that lends itself to being read aloud.

  • Longer Stories: Preschoolers can handle longer stories with more complex plots and characters, so choose books with a narrative structure that keeps them engaged.

  • Thinking Out of the Box: Preschoolers enjoy books with familiar topics, but also appreciate books that add a new twist to the story, such as a different perspective or a surprising ending.

  • Diversity: Look for books that represent a diverse range of cultures and experiences to expose your child to different perspectives and broaden their understanding of the world.

  • Discovering the world around them: Preschoolers are naturally curious about the world around them, so introduce them to non-fiction books with simple, clear information about topics they find interesting.

Remember, these are just general guidelines, and your child's reading level and interests should be taken into account when selecting books. It's also important to remember that children may enjoy reading books that are above or below their age range, so it's always a good idea to provide a variety of books and allow your child to choose what interests them.

baby boy dancing happily with his books

Josh & Cherie Books believes that it is never too early to start reading to your child. Build your child’s first library with a Josh & Cherie Book subscription, where we deliver a curated box of books to your child monthly. Let us help you nurture your child’s love of reading from young by making reading fun, consistent and affordable!

Find out more about Josh & Cherie Book subscriptions here.


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