Unless you are looking for a specific book, walking into the local bookstore or neighborhood library can be overwhelming when looking for something your preschooler will enjoy. Preschoolers are very different from the toddlers they once were. Younger children are quite happy with books that have simple pictures and little text. Around 3 years old, children begin to crave more sophisticated books.
Here are 10 questions to ask yourself as you look for quality books for your child:
- Are the illustrations appropriate, engaging, and relevant? Young children are understandably drawn to pictures before text, so choose books that have photographs or illustrations showing emotion and/or activity.
- Are the text and the illustrations bias-free? Look for books that fairly depict children of all races, ethnic backgrounds, and abilities. Select books that do not perpetuate gender stereotypes. For example, in books about community helpers, are the women teachers and nurses, while the men are firefighters and police officers?
- Is the text appropriate for my child’s developmental level? You want to choose books that have words preschoolers can understand, but you also want to provide children with opportunities to learn new words. Preschoolers like text that is predictable, rhythmic, and easy to memorize. Don’t be afraid to choose books without words. Wordless books offer great opportunities for children to be creative in making up their own stories.
- Does the story inspire imagination? Young children enjoy pretending. Imaginary play is an important part of cognitive growth and development. Choose books that encourage children to think or imagine beyond the story on the pages.
- Do you, as an adult, find the book interesting? It is OK to choose books that you enjoyed as a child. Passing on your excitement and love for reading is a good thing.
- Will your child be interested in the subject? Preschoolers enjoy books that describe experiences they can relate to. Books about going to school, visiting relatives, or taking trips are subjects children can identify with. If your child has a particular interest, such as cars or horses, choose books on that subject. Also, use books to expose your child to new subjects that they might not otherwise experience.
- Does the book encourage interaction? Although not every book will be interactive, it’s a good idea to choose some that are. Books that encourage your child to follow directions, search for a hidden object, open/close flaps, or perform other actions help children to understand that reading is not a passive activity.
- What is the purpose of the book? Select books that serve a variety of purposes. Some books are humorous, others are meant to teach a concept or moral lesson. Books may provide information or help children identify their feelings.
- Is this a nonfiction book, and if so, is it accurate? Young children are natural scientists who have an innate desire to learn about the world around them. Encourage this trait by selecting books that will expand children’s knowledge about their world. When choosing nonfiction books such as biographies or informational books, do your best to ensure you are selecting books that are accurate and easy to understand.
- Will my child want to read this book more than once? Think of choosing a book as an investment. When you invest in a new car or couch, you plan on using those items over and over. Think of a book the same way. When your preschooler asks to read his favorite book for the 100thtime, realize that children learn with repeated exposure. Choose books that you and your child will want to read again and again.