With so many children’s books to choose from, how do I know which kids book options my child will enjoy?
There’s really no right or wrong way to select children’s books. However, finding the right children’s book, one that grabs their attention from the beginning and motivates them to keep turning the pages, is another story. Pun intended.
Choosing a Children’s Book: The Five Finger Rule
There are many tips and tricks you can apply or observe to ensure that the children’s book that you select is actually one that your child will want to read or enjoy. One good example has been dubbed the “five finger rule” by Reading Rockets:
- You or your child can choose a children’s book that may be enjoyable.
- Read the second page.
- Hold up a finger for each word your child doesn’t know or comprehend.
If you’re holding up five fingers, consider choosing another children’s book or follow the same process with other pages in the same children’s book. If you’re still holding up five fingers with each page, consider selecting another children’s book.
Here’s why: While most parents want their children to develop strong reading and literacy habits as a way to expand their vocabulary and knowledge of the world around them, reading books with too many hard words or difficult concepts can be a huge turn-off for children. It can backfire or discourage them from reading. Imagine reading a technical book outside your area of expertise (maybe it’s filled with medical jargon and challenging concepts) – would you want to read past the first several sentences? Probably not. But if children insist on reading a book that’s above their reading level, try to gently mention that they may enjoy it more when they get older. This simple act may persuade a child to choose another children’s book.
Lastly, try not to limit their reading to JUST books. Those graphic novels and magazines they enjoy so much can have as much of a positive impact on reading as traditional children’s books. Moreover, a bit of diversity in their reading material can make reading a richer and more fun experience while simultaneously helping to expand their interests.
3 More Children’s Book Selection Strategies
According to Childrenslibrarylady.com, “Children who read for pleasure are more likely to be successful in school.” But in order to develop strong reading skills, children need to learn how to choose children’s books to read on their own. Just like anything else, people are more apt to engage in reading if they choose the book versus reading a book their mother or teacher tells them to read.
Next time you visit the library with your kids, encourage them to peruse the wide selection of kids books in the children’s books section and see what types of books appeal to them. Don’t be surprised by the choices they may make!
Some kids may choose a children’s book because the cover is cool, features animals, or has pretty colors. Once they choose a children’s book, ask them to read the summary blurb. No matter how big or small the blurb, it will generally offer enough information for children to decide if the book appeals to them or not.
Another idea is to ask children questions that will narrow down their interests. Some include:
- Do you know what type of books you like? Maybe scary or funny?
- Consider all the children’s books you’ve read: who was your favorite character or author?
- What topics or themes do you enjoy reading about?
- What kinds of movies or TV shows do you like to watch? You may spot a trend.
- What genres of movies, TV shows or books do you not enjoy?
- Was the last children’s book you read too short or too long? What book did you read where the length was just right?
Some kids enjoy reading a children’s book series. They like following the same characters through different adventures, which can build a more relatable connection and fun reading experience. Although it’s a book, The Adventures of Mo can also be described as a series since the two main characters – Mo and Finchy – appear in each chapter in a different state. While the first three chapters lay the foundation for the book, each chapter:
- Is unique.
- Introduces new characters and challenges.
- Focuses on different childhood lessons.
Your child will become invested in learning about how Mo and Finchy get in and out of trouble and, above all, discovering what the key that Mo found in chapter one unlocks.
However, the potential downside to reading a children’s book or series is that some children find it hard to move onto other books. It’s that same feeling you get when your favorite TV show ends: you may feel disappointed, even a bit sad. But by then, you should know what types of topics your children enjoy reading about, so finding other related books that can build their enthusiasm for reading should now be less challenging.
Just remember the cardinal rule: reading should always be fun or entertaining! There are so many topics, authors, children’s books, and different types of reading material available – you may be surprised by what turns out to be the key to motivating your child and inspiring a love of reading and learning.