Recently a grandfather came into Milton Public Library with his preschool-aged granddaughter, who was visiting from out of state. He asked where to find books for her, and looked overwhelmed when shown the many sections we have for children. Where to start?
This grandfather had already begun at the right place. Taking your child to a library provides an introduction to children’s literature, promotes a love of books and reading, and encourages a lifetime of learning.
Reading to and with your child helps them develop the early literacy skills they need for reading readiness.
A basic understanding of child development can help guide book choices. Children develop physically, intellectually, socially, and emotionally at individual rates. However, there are general characteristics and needs — defined by early education experts — to use as a guide with each age group.
Infants (Birth to 12 Months)
Children grow and develop faster in the first year of life than any other year. During the first year, you can stimulate baby’s learning by talking, singing, and reading to them. Sounds to hear, objects to see, and textures to touch are developmentally stimulating.
Choose books that:
- Are colorful, uncluttered, and short.
- Include rhyme, rhythm, and repetition.
- Have pictures of other babies.
- Feature songs, and point and say.
- Are made of cardboard (board books), so baby can hold them without tearing pages.
Toddlers (24 – 36 Months)
Children’s motor skills develop rapidly during the toddler years. They become vigorous, energetic, and enthusiastic. As they learn independence, their language development increases.
Choose books with:
- Simple stories.
- The alphabet, counting, and concepts like shapes and sizes.
- Guessing and participation.
- Predictable text that helps the child guess what will happen next.
Preschoolers (Ages 3 to 5)
Children at this age are developing a sense of personal identity, and tend to enjoy new experiences. They have vivid imaginations, and thus enjoy dramatic and imaginative play.
Choose books with:
- Longer stories and bigger words.
- Rhymes and songs.
- Participations and guessing.
- Simple facts and how things work — nonfiction books.
Early Elementary (Ages 5 – 8)
In the early elementary years, intellectual development occurs rapidly. Creativity should be stimulated and encouraged. Most children learn to read fluently during this stage of life.
Books to choose:
- Beginning readers, which are books with controlled vocabulary, often based on phonics and/or sight recognition.
- Chapter books and picture books that you will read aloud to them, or help them read.
The most important guideline to choosing books for your little one is simply to choose books! Look for titles, illustrations, and subjects that interest you, and that you know interest your child. Try different authors, illustrators, and topics. Let your child repeatedly take out their favorites. Repetition is good. Kids enjoy the familiarity of stories, and reading stories promotes lifelong learning.
By Susan Larson
This article was first published in the Thursday, July 11, 2019, edtion of Book Bits in the Milton Independent. It is reprinted here with permission.