I’ve felt adage “So many books, so little time” when thinking about my reading opportunities…there’re just so many good books with good stories to tell out there! And aside from the facts that:
1. Reading is a good predictor for success in school (as well as Life in general) and
2. Reading to your child is a good way to lay the foundations for your child becoming a reader
The sooner you start reading to your child the sooner they’ll be able to start making it through their own pile of books just waiting to be read!
At the most basic of categorizing, there are 2 types of books—non-fiction and fiction. We know books are a great way to garner new information as well as be entertained through stories or tales.
Stories can give family’s a way to share feelings, emotions and ways to handle other situations—like friendships or sibling relationships—situations going on in their child’s world. Tales can give family’s a way to enjoy the sound, melody and rhythm of language.
Knowledge is POWER and books certainly contain a lot of it but books also can be just plain FUN and enjoyable—a great way to relax and unwind.
I will admit it—I have a weakness for children’s picture books. I love them!
When you find an excellent children’s picture book you’ve found a book that’s been able to combine a good story with beautiful art. The illustrations are equally, if not more, important in a picture book than the text! It’s through the illustrations that children come to understand words convey meaning. Choosing quality pictures books can increase your child’s vocabulary; their understanding of concepts; their imaginations; it can begin a lifetime love affair of reading!
A cautionary note: Every parent probably remembers that 1 book their child wanted to hear over and over and over again…I know it’s tough to summon up the enthusiasm to read it over and over and over again, but you’ve got to do it. First of all—this isn’t unusual, most kidlets go through this phase—perhaps that 1 book addresses some special interest she has or an anxious concern he has that he’s working through. Whatever it is be patient. Offer up others as well, continuing to expose them to a variety of books and—as with so many other phases—“This too will pass”—and they will be ready to move on. Also know, as with learning anything—it takes practice or exposure to master and understand. So the more you read a book, the more they become familiar and comfortable with the words and story in the book. Re-reading…and re-reading also helps children become aware of the rhythm and pattern of written words. Language is more than just words — it’s also about the sounds words make and the way they connect to each other. You may find that you’ve read the book so many times that your kidlet can ‘read’ the book back to you!
Factors to consider when choosing picture books to read with young children:
- Make sure the pages easy to turn. Board books are especially helpful for toddlers or others with underdeveloped fine motors skills.
- Choose books that convey a positive message without preaching. Children’s books can subtly present good values.
- Choose books free of all bias–including age, gender, and race.
- Choose books with language containing rhyming words, funny characters, an interesting plot and/or surprise ending.
- The Caldecott Award is given each year for the best picture book in the United States. The Newbery Medal is given to the best books in Children’s Literature. It’s always a good idea to check the books in these categories PLUS asking the children’s librarian at your local library for their recommendations.
Do all children’s books have to have happy ending? IMHO: NO! LIFE isn’t always a rose garden–childhood AND PLAY is the time AND WAY children are given to develop the skills and coping mechanisms to handle Life’s ups and downs.
Nursery rhymes and other fairy tales often have a lesson to learn or moral to their story. These stories started with oral tradition; allowing for a certain fluidity of the story line. Changes that happened in the ’80s though were more sanitizing…to ‘protect’ children from the harshness and brutality of the story. Again, IMHO–this was misguided. Picture books can start conversations–even uncomfortable conversations. Children shouldn’t be sheltered or bubble-wrapped. They need guidance and preparation towards independence using compassion, sensitivity and understanding. Because one thing is certain: Time continues onward and one day your child will need to function without you. And if you need a reminder–just read Love You Forever
Yours in Play!