Simple Ideas with Profound Impact

How to Pick the Right Books For Your Child

What should you look for when purchasing books for your kids? Let’s break it down by age.

Newborn to 3 months:

At this stage the most important thing is to have books with bright, big, contrasting pictures or shapes. They should be simple, only one picture per page, and the picture should have few details. The written information is not as important. Short duration is key here, so the book should have no words, one word, a couplet, or a phrase per page so you can flip through it fast. At this age the visual stimulation is more important than the auditory information.

Example of a good book for this age level: Look, Look!

3 to 6 months:

Continue with bright, contrasting pictures but now the picture can be more detailed. The written information now is important to begin developing understanding. Here, begin with books that have one phrase per page and as the baby grows you can read books that have one to two very short sentences per page. Books that rhyme and have a nice rhythm to the language are good. The duration should be kept very short so you want to flip through the book fast enough to keep your child’s attention. Later on in this stage or early in the next stage, books with harder and thicker pages are good so that it is easier for your child to turn the pages on her own as you read the book.

Examples of good books for this age level: Flip a Face – Colors  

6 months to 1 year:

Information content should increase and even more details in the pictures. Up to 2 or 3 short sentences per page. Of course, if your child loves to have stories read you probably can read books that have more sentences on a page. Here, the type of pictures are important because the more details there are in the pictures, the more things your child has to look at as you read the book and the more likely you will keep her attention as you read. Books about animals, babies, clothing, toys, transportation, etc. are good. Peek-a-boo type of books are fun at this stage.

Examples of good books for this age level: Tip Tip, Dig Dig or Haiku Baby

1 year to 2 years:

More information and more detailed pictures. Pictures can be smaller and have more things on a page for the child to look at. Even more so at this stage than the previous one, the more things a child has to look at, the more details, the more likely you will be able to keep her attention as you read all of the information on a page. You can now have books with a paragraph or two. Pop up books are fun! Books that teach body parts, colors, opposites, shapes, space and such. Books that give children information in a concise and simple manner. As you read to your child pay attention to what types of books she shows more interest in and foster that interest. Begin to introduce books that come from a series. Your child will enjoy seeing the same characters in different stories.

Examples of good books for this age level: Duck and Goose

2 years and up:

Keep increasing the amount of information. Books can become more and more sophisticated in terms of the information they contain and have many paragraphs on a page as child’s attention span increases. Books that come from a series have more sophisticated stories. Books that talk about feelings, that help with toilet training, and that teach life lessons are good. Books about nature, cultures. or any other subject that interests you and your child. By now you will have a good idea of the types of books your child enjoys.

Examples of good books for this age level: Cars and Trucks and Things That Go

The important thing to keep in mind is to keep the reading sessions frequent and short when dealing with a young baby and, although the duration increases as the baby grows, you always want to stop reading when you see your child beginning to lose interest or even before so the next time you offer to read a book your child will be happy to read!  

Make the first three years count!

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