|Brought to you by the US Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse & Mental health Services Administration|
|Home About Us Links Get E-mail Updates Awards|
|Send this page to a friend | Print this page|
Choosing the Right Books for Your Child
Experience the joys of reading together with your child. Reading together stimulates exploration and discussion of text and pictures and is a fun way for parents and children to engage with one another. It also promotes children’s healthy development as well as helps prevent behavioral problems that could lead to bullying or substance abuse later in life. Research from the past decade shows the importance of shared reading on healthy brain development and children’s overall success as they grow into adults (Shonkoff & Phillips, 2000). In addition, the routine of reading together is enjoyable and sets the stage for a lifetime love of reading and writing.
Benefits of Reading
Reading together can have beneficial effects on children’s development. These benefits can be achieved in several ways:
It is important to note that although a 3-year-old may not understand a complex story or learn the words on the page, just the act of sitting in your lap and listening to the words and connecting them to illustrations makes your child feel safe and open to exploring new ideas and feelings. It also provides an opportunity for parents to bond with their children and engage with them in a fun, low-key setting.
How To Read?
It is not just reading the book but the conversations that happen that count too.
What To Read?
You can choose books that help your child cope with certain issues or to help you address a specific problem with your child. Well-chosen books can guide you and your child through difficult situations, such as dealing with the stress of moving, a new baby in the family, divorce or separation of parents, death of a loved one, or the start of daycare.
Research conducted by Sesame Workshop revealed the following:
“…it is rarely acknowledged how young kids really experience stressful situations, or even what a stressful situation might be. For young kids, it can be anything from losing a favorite object to moving to changing a childcare provider.” (See Resources: “You Can Ask Helps Children Cope With Difficult Times.”)
Reading together can help your children open up and talk about what may be bothering them. Through books, children can learn how others have dealt with problems that cause anger, sadness, stress, and fear and use the same solutions in their own lives.
Through entertaining stories and situations, books can also reinforce positive behaviors, such as using good manners, valuing friendship, and sharing with others.
Choosing books to read together can be as much fun as reading them. The best books teach and entertain at the same time. So whether you shop for books at bookstores, exchange books with friends, or check books out of your neighborhood library, following a few guidelines for selecting them can help ignite a lifelong love of reading and communicating.
Between the ages of 2 and 6, children are ready for stories. They can follow a simple story line with characters, conflict, and resolution. Language skills develop quickly during these years, and imagination and curiosity are blossoming. Picture books stimulate toddlers and preschoolers visually and mentally and encourage them to make up their own stories.
The first thing you should know is that there are no rules in choosing a good book. Any book your child likes is the right one. The following are general guidelines to help you find the best books for your child.
Remember that the process of choosing books should be a joyful time for both parents and children. This is the time for your children to connect with characters and choose books that pique their interest.
Also, don’t forget to use your local library. Librarians are an excellent resource if you are looking for a particular book or a book on a specific topic. The library also gives children the chance to browse and look into books on topics that are new to them.
“Curious George Campaign,” from the Library of Congress, encourages parents to help their children get excited about reading by offering suggestions about reading aloud and motivating children to read.
“You Can Ask Helps Children Cope With Difficult Times,” from Sesame Workshop, relates research conducted in the aftermath of September 11, 2001, that revealed the need to create strategies to deal with early childhood stress.
“Help My Child Read,” from the U.S. Department of Education, provides resources for parents to read with their child.
“My Child’s Academic Success,” from the U.S. Department of Education, provides sampling of books, computer programs, and Web sites for parents.
“Selecting Books for Your Child: Finding ‘Just Right’ Books,” from Reading Rockets, provides tips on choosing the appropriate book.
“Composite Book List for Years 1999–2009,” by Read Aloud America, lists book titles, their authors, and the year each book was added to the list:
“100 Picture Books Everyone Should Know” is the New York Public Library’s recommended reading list of some of the best, most engaging books for young kids.
Baker, L., Mackler, K., Sonnenschein, S. & Serpell, R. (2001). Parents’ interactions with their first-grade children during storybook reading and relations with subsequent home reading activity and reading achievement. Journal of School Psychology, 39(5), 415–438.
Bus, A. G. (2001). Joint caregiver–child storybook reading: A route to literacy development. In S. B. Neuman & D. K. Dickinson (Eds.), Handbook of Early Literacy Research. New York: Guilford Press, 179–191.
Jalongo, M. R. (1983). Bibliotherapy: Literature to promote socioemotional growth. The Reading Teacher, 36, 796–802.
Lee, K. (2010). Do early academic achievement and behavior problems predict long-term effects among Head Start children? Children and Youth Services Review, 32(12), 1690–1703.
Shonkoff, J., & Phillips, D. A. (Eds.). (2000). From neurons to neighborhoods: The science of early childhood development. Washington, DC: National Academy of Sciences.
Updated on 3/21/2012