Skip to main content

Choosing the Right Books for Your Child

A child's book is something special -- uniquely rewarding and pleasurable. Here are some basic points about specific age groups to keep in mind when you are choosing a child's book.

Choosing the Right Books for Your Child

There are bazillions of books in your library! How can you find what's best for your kids? No matter if your kids are two or twelve, if you choose the right books, you can make reading an incredibly rewarding experience for them.

These guidelines will help you select books depending on the age of your child. Print them out and take them with you on your next trip to the library or bookstore:

Babies and Toddlers

  • Very young children are attracted by brightly colored pictures of simple objects.
  • They're listeners, and respond well to books with simple texts and good rhythms.
  • At this age, little ones are stimulated visually and mentally by wordless books. The books also encourage them to create their own stories.
  • They're delighted with board books and cloth books (which are practically indestructible).

    Nursery School and Kindergarten

  • Look for Mother Goose, nursery rhymes, and other books that show familiar objects and experiences.
  • Young children like listening to slightly complex texts with good rhythm and effective word repetition.
  • They're also coordinated enough to have constructive fun with toy-like books that pop up, move, or provide other astonishments.

    Early School Years (Ages 5-8)

  • Some kids may learn to read before they're in the first grade. Most learn during first grade, and many learn even later.
  • Picture books with strong storylines and character development are especially good for reading aloud or with kids.
  • If your child is reading independently, choose a book with a straightforward story that has familiar, everyday words. Some publishers produce "easy readers" that independent readers often enjoy.
  • Third-graders are often able to handle stories of some complexity. The vocabulary should be relatively familiar but include some challenging words.
  • A lot of informational books have been published for the early grades. These books encourage children to read about topics that interest them and to satisfy their curiosity about complex subjects.

    Older Children (Ages 9-12 and older)

  • Think about your child's personality, likes, and dislikes. This will help you choose between an informational book or a novel in an area that your child is interested in.

    This article has been reprinted by permission of the Children's Book Council

    to Great Reads for Kids

  • Subscribe to Family Education

    Your partner in parenting from baby name inspiration to college planning.