Even though it’s been awhile since I’ve had the pleasure of picking out children’s books for my kids, it’s a subject I have a genuine fondness for! Books….any kind of books, are one of my favorite things! Ever since I was a little girl and my Mom would take us to story time at our local library, I have been enchanted with the stories I find inside the covers of a good book. My absolute favorite childhood book was “The Secret Garden” by Frances Hodgson Burnett. I must have read that book a hundred times! That book was what “Harry Potter” was to my children when they were young (to me too for that matter! I’ve read all seven books in the series myself.)
Reading books is something I believe everyone can come to love if they are introduced to the right kind of books. I remember my Mom introducing me to “The Secret Garden” and to “The Boxcar Children” books at a young age, and from that grew a life-long love affair with the printed page.
If you want to raise readers and are overwhelmed at all the choices out there, here are few tips from “Reading Is Fundamental” (RIF), the largest children’s literacy advocate in the US.
Access to good books is the first step to discovering the joy of reading. The more trips you make to the library together, the more likely your child will want to choose a book from the stacks. The more books you have in your home, the more likely your child will pick one up and read it.
A book doesn’t have to win an award to be considered “good.” It doesn’t have to be a best seller or on a recommended booklist, either. A good book is simply one a child enjoys reading.
Libraries, bookstores, and yard sales are filled with books. But how do you know which ones are good? Trust your instincts. Keep your child’s interests and reading level in mind.
Ask your kids! Kids can tell you what they like and don’t like, what they want to learn, who they would like to meet, and what they want to do when they grow up. All of these are the subjects of great books.
Since children’s reading interests and needs change as they grow, here are some basic things to look for as you help kids at any age choose good books.
For INFANTS AND TODDLERS (Birth to age 2) look for:
- Books with big, bright, colorful pictures of familiar objects.
- Stories told in short, simple sentences with pictures that explain the text.
- Poems and rhymes that are fun for parents to read aloud.
For PRESCHOOLERS (Ages 3 to 5) look for:
- Illustrations and photos that are clear, colorful, and engaging.
- Simple, fun plots. The action should move quickly, so each book can be read in one sitting.
- Lively rhymes and repetition that children can repeat and remember.
- Stories about everyday life and events.
- Main characters who are your child’s age or slightly older.
For YOUNG READERS (Ages 6 to 11) look for:
- Colorful, attractive illustrations and photos that bring the text to life and give clues to the meaning of unfamiliar words.
- Books that appeal to your child’s interests.
- Books with your child’s favorite characters.
- Chapter books that can be read over several days instead of in one sitting.
For ADOLESCENTS (Ages 12 and up) look for:
- Novels that might help your child cope with daily challenges of growing up by featuring characters dealing with similar experiences.
- Books that introduce new experiences and opportunities.
- Biographies, classics, folk tales, historical fiction, and mythology.
Knowing how to choose good books is a skill your children will keep for the rest of their lives. Take time to show them how!
No matter how “digital” we become (I get a kick out of watching my grand nieces and nephews that are little more than babies handle their parents’ smartphones with ease!) I don’t think we’ll ever be able to replace the sheer joy of holding a book in our hands and slowing turning the beautiful pages as the story unfolds before our eyes and in our minds.
With that in mind I was beyond thrilled when my nephew and business partner, Scott, introduced me to the talented illustrator Samantha Hollister with the idea that we should collaborate on a children’s book! Samantha is a third-generation Disney artist who has illustrated countless storybooks, including Disney’s “Brother Bear” Little Golden Book.
This was basically a dream come true for me! As we brainstormed ideas for it, the nickname my Daddy gave me as a little girl came up…Jillee Bean…and we were off!
The result is one of the most beautiful and charming children’s books I’ve ever seen (let alone been involved in the creation of!) OK, I might be a tiny bit prejudiced on this, but I’m pretty confident you will agree when you see it!
The story revolves around a Dad teaching his daughter (Jillee Bean) all about serving others through one “good thing” at a time.
Here are a few excerpts from the book to whet your appetite! :-)
It’s wonderful, right?!? I knew you’d think so. :-)
Here’s the exciting news….as of today you can buy “Jillee Bean and the One Good Thing” online!