We had quite a few fun ideas shared in last week’s Love to Learn Linky that had to do with using books to help little ones learn through play. I decided to feature these terrific ideas this week along with my tips as a teacher for choosing good quality books for young children.
There are so many books for kids out there and sometimes it’s hard to know which ones are really good quality. Being a self-professed book worm and collector of kids’ books, I can tell you that there are some fabulous books out there that will help your child develop a love of reading, and there are some really poor quality kids’ books out there that will:
A) Drive you crazy while you’re trying to read them, or
B) NOT help your child develop a love of reading, or at the worst…
C) May even confuse your child and turn them off of books.
That being said, here are my 10 best tips for choosing great quality books for kids aged 2 to 5 years of age.
It can be very confusing to kids when they are seeing a picture that does not correlate with what you are reading to them. When the pictures match what you are reading, it helps kids connect the words they are hearing with the language forming in their head from the pictures – which improves their overall understanding.
It doesn’t matter if the pictures are real photographs (bonus!) or drawn. You should be able to tell much of the story from the pictures alone. Kids can easily start to “read” these kinds of books to you after they have heard them a few times.
Also, rich, detailed pictures give you something more to talk about with your child as you are reading. Fantastic books often have added humour in the pictures, or clues to the story that require a child to infer (a really critical reading skill).
Sue’s Detailed Picture Book Award: Picture a Tree by Barbara Reid(Barbara is an author/artist who makes her pictures out of plasticine. They are incredibly detailed and fun to look at. This story in particular tells a tale of trees through the seasons and there is so much said in the text that adds to the story. Love this book!)
These are fun to read and can help kids predict what words will come next. Predicting is another important reading skill that they will use when reading independently down the road. Books with rhythm and rhyme also help build important listening skills that will eventually help kids spell and figure out words on their own.
4) Avoid books that use baby talk or incorrect grammar.
Although these might appear “cute,” they are not modelling appropriate language for your child. We want to read our kids books that will show them how beautiful and rich our language can be.
Part of the value in reading to your child is that it is a very powerful way to expand their vocabulary. Good quality kids’ books use interesting words in an appropriate context that allows kids to understand their meaning.
For Non-Fiction (real information and stories), choose a wide variety of topics, as well as ones that your child has a particular interest in. These will help build new vocabulary and boost their understanding of our world.
For Fiction (make-believe), choose stories that have some kind of moral or lesson, or real-life application. They can be situations that are relatable to your child, like a story about learning to go to the potty, or going somewhere that your child might visit. Or they teach your child about how people interact.
Sue’s Best Teaching Book Award: Magic School Bus Series by Joanna Cole (This series is a highly engaging blend of fiction and non-fiction. The characters go on amazing journeys where they learn the science behind different topics! Always fun and funny!)
6) Choose some books that have a predictable pattern or repetitive elements.
After reading it a few times together, your child will be able to use the pattern and repetition to help them “read” it with you! These kinds of stories also tend to have momentum that builds to an exciting or humorous highpoint. Kids love them!
Sue’s Best Pattern Book Award: The Napping House by Audrey Wood (A silly story where everyone including grandma, the cat, the dog, the grandson, and even the mouse end up in bed together for an eventful nap!)
These can be books that use a lot of onamatopoeic words (words that sound like their meaning, eg. woof, pop, tweet, hum) so you can make the funny noises together.
Or if you choose books with rhyme, after reading a few times, you can read the line and your child will be able to finish “reading” by using the rhyming clues.
Also books with rebuses are fun! You know, the ones that replace words with little pictures so your child can “read” too?
Sue’s Best Engaging Book Award: I’m Taking a Trip on My Train by Shirley Neitzel and Nancy Winslow Parker (Super-fun story that uses a combination of rebus, rhyme, and pattern that will have your preschooler/kindergartener reading this on his/her own in no time!)
8) Choose some books with dialogue.
These are fun to read using different voices for different characters and these stories help kids learn about the variety of perspectives of characters and people.
9) Pick up some award winners or classics.
Often – great kids’ books are Caldecott winners awarded every year to the best American picture books by the American Library Association and the TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award.
Sue’s Best Classic Book/Award Winner Award: The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton (This lovely book tells the story of the life of a little country house (from it’s point of view) as it gradually gets enveloped by the city. Don’t worry – it has a happy ending, even though it chokes me up every time I read it!)
10) Always pick books that are enjoyable for YOU to read….over and over.
If you are having fun, your child will too! Oh, and as an aside, when you read a book over and over, it actually helps your child’s understanding and vocabulary!
Sue’s All-Time Favourite Kids’ Book Award goes to…
Each Peach Pear Plum by Janet and Allan Ahlberg (This story is perfect for toddlers and preschoolers, but Janet and Allan also wrote a few that are perfect for preschooler/kindergarteners: Peepo! and The Jolly Postman. In all their books, the illustrations are fantastically detailed and humorous and the stories are fun and engaging! You won’t mind reading any of these tens of times – I have, and each time I found something neato in the pictures or text!)
Now that you’ve got my best tips for choosing books, it’s time to share this week’s featured posts from awesome bloggers around the net! All 5 of these posts feature fabulous, good quality kids’ books and FUN activities that you can create to go along with them!
Chicka Chicka Boom Boom Bath from Kitchen Floor Crafts
Dragons Love Tacos Book and Craft from Dabbling Momma
Goodnight Moon Sorting Activity from Munchkins and Moms
Goodnight Construction Site sensory bin from Stir the Wonder
The Very Hungry Caterpillar from Stimulating Learning with Rachel
For other great learning ideas, follow my Books and Play Activities board on Pinterest: