Quality Books for Kids
‘No book is really worth reading at the age of ten which is not equally – and often far more – worth reading at the age of fifty and beyond’ – C.S Lewis
The sharing of stories is an exciting and joyful activity that elicits conversation and discussions about the world in which we live. Books help us to make sense of the world around us, and we come to better understand that world, as well as unknown places, the more we read.
Children are very discerning and are not always the easiest audience to engage in a story. It may appear as though children’s books are simple to write but in fact the opposite is true. It is precisely for this reason, that selecting a good quality text for children to read and explore, is critical to developing their love for literature and stories.
In the beginning babies and toddlers like books with a good rhythm, rhyme and repetition. They like non-fiction books with simple text and bright pictures of familiar things such as animals, food, household items and family. Board books are excellent for this age as they often have simple stories to follow, they’re tough and can withstand chewing, drool and tears ;)). As children grow, their literacy needs change, and the picture books you select need to reflect their changing interests and developmental stages.
Reading with our children is one of the most meaningful ways we can connect with them. Through the shared experience of reading together, we are relationship building and bonding over the words and pictures we read. So, what constitutes a good quality kid’s picture book? I’m here to outline some key features that will hopefully help you next time you’re at the library or bookstore looking to bring a few (or 10 ;)) new and exciting books home.
Top 5 Features of Good Quality Books for Kids:
1. Good quality children’s literature STIMULATES CHILDREN’S IMAGINATION AND CREATIVITY and can be read over and over again. The story captivates and engages the reader and invites them to ask questions. The stories give children a sense of hope, optimism and limitless possibilities in creative enchantment. A good quality picture book is most definitely enjoyed by adults as well!
2. Quality books for kids are well written and have RICH, MEANINGFUL AND EXPRESSIVE LANGUAGE. By exposing children to a variety of quality books, it will provide them with examples of great writing and language. The language does not need to be simple – don’t be scared of words you THINK they won’t understand. The more diverse the language children are exposed to the greater the chance their vocabulary will expand.
3. EVOKE A STRONG EMOTIONAL RESPONSE in the reader. The stories present strong themes to which we can relate and arouse a response such as a sense of joy, anger, happiness or sadness in the reader and makes them think. It has strong characters to which the reader can relate or they care for. It has problems and complications that make the reader invested and an urge for it to be resolved.
4. Quality books for kids NEVER UNDERESTIMATE THEIR AUDIENCE and don’t talk down to the reader. The stories have depth, are respectful of the reader and make the reader think and engage with the story.
5. Finally, good quality children’s books always have GREAT ILLUSTRATIONS AND IMAGES to not only compliment but also add to the story. Much of the story is read in the visual imagery so it is imperative that the illustrations that accompanying the story are thought provoking and meaningful.
There are so many elements to consider when selecting your next picture book, however it’s important to remember that the book subject or topic must be something that is of interest to the child, whether it be transport, animals, fairytales and so forth. It’s best to let their interests lead the way, as this will excite them way more about reading. One thing I know for sure is that reading a good book should be fun and enjoyable!
At the end of the day, we read for pleasure, so the book were reading must please us in some way to make the experience something worthwhile and something we want to do again and again. If you get tired of the same topic over and over again, have a few books handy that are ‘Mum’s Pick of the Week’ :).
What quality is most important to you when you’re choosing a picture book to bring home?