With the weather turning colder, families will be spending an increasing amount of time indoors together. Reading together is a wonderful way to spend some of that time. Not only can it bring your family closer together, but reading with your child will go a long way toward helping him or her become a good reader.
Kathleen Deerr, National Coordinator for Family Place Libraries™
(an early literacy and family support initiative of Middle Country Library and Libraries for the Future, in New York), gave her helpful tips for choosing books, reading together, and engaging the entire family in family reading time.
We receive a lot of questions from parents on how to choose books for their children. What should parents keep in mind when they walk into their local library or bookstore?
Select books that match the developmental level and interests of the child. Look for books that promote interaction between the reader and the child listening to the story. Books with strong illustrations lend themselves to conversations about the characters and predicting what will happen on the next page or later on in the story. Choosing books that a child can relate to (such as going to the park, the seasons, or animals) encourages your child to participate in the story and the story will be sure to keep his or her interest. Librarians are a good resource for suggestions and often have book lists available for every age range and interest.
It is often recommended to choose books that are "developmentally appropriate" for your child. What does that term mean?
Choosing developmentally appropriate books means choosing books that fit a child's current stage of development. If you are not sure which books are appropriate for your child, your local children's librarian is a great resource. Librarians will work with you to find books that will work well with your child's age and interests.
Please give us a few things to look for when choosing books for various age ranges.
Infants explore their world through their senses. Look for books with simple clear bold pictures or photographs of everyday objects, animals and faces on contrasting solid backgrounds as well as books with simple sounds (i.e. animal sounds). For older infants, holding, touching and feeling books add additional sensory experiences. The rhythm of simple nursery rhymes is also very engaging for infants.
Look for sturdy board books with simple plots that do not have to be read in order. Board books (books with thick cardboard pages) fit nicely into little hands and allow your child to discover books by touching and feeling the pages. Board books allow toddlers to flip from page 1 to page 5 without damaging the book or interrupting the storyline. Children like to point to objects and have parents label them. While reading through the book, parents can engage their child by pointing out shapes, colors and objects and asking simple questions about what the characters are doing or saying.