Today let’s talk about what we should read to our little ones.
With thousands of children’s books published each year, choosing can feel overwhelming. Poor quality literature may entertain, but it’s also mind-numbing.
High quality literature is thought-provoking as well as entertaining. It inspires greatness and character development, and doesn’t shy away from dealing with difficult topics.
Think of it this way: it’s our job to nourish our children’s minds as well as their bodies. My kids really love candy, but I don’t allow them to eat large amounts every day. It wouldn’t be healthy. I need to pay the same attention to the quality of reading material they digest.
Here’s how to choose the best books for your little ones.
Photo by Desirea Rogers
1. Read the books you loved as a child.
A mother’s enthusiasm goes a long way. Books can be like friends to children – how fun to introduce our little people to long-lost pals from our own past! Only bring into your home titles you don’t mind reading again – and again (and again!).
When you visit the library, look for children’s books with illustrations and topics that appeal to you. It isn’t only about what our children enjoy – it’s also about sharing our passions. This way we learn from each other.
2. Help them find the books they love.
Follow your child’s interests. I’ve read every book about garbage trucks in our local library over the past year because of my son Jonathan. When my kids ask a question or mention a new interest, I jot it down. Then when we go to the library we can do some research. This coming week we’ll be hunting down books about bones, architects, and plumbing.
3. Use a guide to help you choose.
Photo by PL Youth
Many wonderful book lists have been written to help you discover the best of the best. My favorites include Honey for a Child’s Heart and The Read-Aloud Handbook.
Also check out a few online resources, like the American Library Association’s Caldecott Medal Book List, as well as Simple Mom’s post Twaddle-Free Books for Preschoolers.
It’s easy to gently steer our children’s interests when they’re young. Why give them a taste for ground beef when we can offer filet mignon every day? By giving them the best from the beginning, they’ll grow up to choose it for themselves.
When we intentionally approach our children’s literacy, it’s simple to create lifelong readers and learners.
What do your kids like to read?
Caroline Starr Rose
Reading with our children is one of the most important things we can do. Literature provides a safe way to explore the world, opens imaginations, and gives voice to the desires, questions, and thoughts that make us human.
What could be better than experiencing this alongside your child?
My oldest is the “if it has text, I’ll pick it up and read it” mentality. He was a very early reader, though we continued to read to him long, long past the time he started reading to himself. My husband has been reading the Chronicles of Prydain to him recently.
Tank, my middle child, is into anything with dinosaurs, the Harry the Dirty Dog books, and Mo Willems’s pigeon books.
My youngest is only a baby, but we do read simple board books to her.
The most important thing is that their father and I are avid readers, with books littering every corner and cupboard of the house, so my children are growing up within a reading family, a reading culture.
vanessa@silly eagle books
I have found that my excitement over a book definitely transfers to my daughter. We have fun discovering my childhood favorites and are discovering new favorites together. My blog http://www.sillyeaglebooks.com is a record of the very best books we have found together on our reading adventures.
My girls love, love, love to do anything crafty. We have a box that is full of cut up cards that we’ve gotten through the mail, gift bags, stickers, fun magazine pictures, etc. They will sit and create colleges over and over and over again!
We are also lego and play-doh fans!
Thanks for this great post! I am so excited to have found this site; I look forward to watching it grow, and learning along the way. My daughter is still just a wee toddler, but already her love for books is starting to shine. One of my favourite experiences as a mother, thus far, has been reading with/to her. Melts my heart every time!
Another AWESOME resource is “Read for the Heart” by Sarah Clarkson. It is truly a compendium of the greatest literature for children with a summary of each book and why it was included in the list.
One of my favorite sources is c-t-l.org. It’s the website for The Center for Teaching and Learning, a demonstration school founded by Nancie Atwell, who is pretty famous in educational circles for her work with reading and writing workshops, particularly in middle school grades. In the left margin of the home page is a link called “students recommend.” It features lists for K-8 graders, most further divided into groups by gender, that are “kid-tested, teacher approved.” There is also a separate list for high schoolers.
Books For You, edited by Kyleen Beers is an annotated bibliography filled with hundreds of books for kids middle-high school. It’s so valuable if you’re or your older kids are looking for books they’ll love.
I just started using Sonlight – the catalog itself serves as an excellent book list. I am sooo happy with these books, it is just so delightful to read to my kids when I have quality books. I enjoy it so much more. We are doing some great read-alouds too, which is really fun I’m finding.
Mother of Pearl
I know what I am about to say may be controversial, but don’t knock the twaddle too much. As long as they don’t read only twaddle, a good entertaining story will keep them coming back to books for more – and that is what we want. I remember devouring the Happy Hollisters and Nancy Drew as a child. When I came back to the books as my kids grew older, I realized that they weren’t the best written books. But they did cement my love for books. As I grew, my taste became more discerning and I trust that will happen for my kids too. Someday they will go beyond box mac and cheese to develop an appreciation of the homemade kind. The same goes for books – they will go beyond the twaddle to adore fine literature in good time.
What do my kids read? Everything! The newspaper, the cereal boxes, board game directions, the user’s manual for the watches they got for Christmas, dozens of library books, and all books I have around the house.
Another great resource is this website http://www.classical-homeschooling.org/celoop/1000.html
Thank you for the links to the book lists. I love Silly Eagle too. A couple other sites to check out:
My children a variety of books- from comics to series titles to non fiction based on their current interests. I believe in exposing as many genres as possible, trying not to turn up my nose at some titles ;p
I would also like to mention another great book list entitled The Book Tree by a mother and daughter; Elizabeth McCallum and Jane Scott. They have two editions out and they are great resources for book searching for your children. Our family loves to read aloud! It has become a very important part of our day. Plus it gives me a chance to read the books I should have read as a child myself. Lori
If you are looking for books to add to your child’s collection? You can find a great selection of children’s books at http://www.leeandlow.com/books/
They have the best books for children of all ages and ethnic backgrounds.
I recently came across your article about finding books to read with children. My grandfather, Andrew Svenson, wrote a series of children’s mysteries called the Happy Hollisters under the pseudonym Jerry West. These stories about the Hollister children were patterned on his own children: my father, aunts, and uncles. The series started in 1954 and ran through 33 volumes, ending in the late 1960s. In the 1960s the Happy Hollister Book Club had over 1 million members, people who have now grown up and are sharing the books with their children, grandchildren, nephews, and nieces.
I thought you might be interested in some exciting news! Over the years we’ve heard from many fans who have fond memories of the wholesome Hollister family and their exciting adventures. Many fans want to share the stories, but don’t want to give up their collectors’ editions. We have just released a new paperback edition of the first book in the series, The Happy Hollisters. The story is identical to the original, with its family-friendly dialogue and charming illustrations.
If you’d like to learn more about this new edition, and see pictures of the “real” Hollister family, please visit our website: http://www.TheHappyHollisters.com or join our Facebook group http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Happy-Hollisters/33291503077
Thank you for encouraging children to read!
Andrew E. Svenson III
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