K is at a fun age for reading. He is finally growing out of his baby board books and in the last few months his desire to listen to stories has boomed. All the reading we’ve done with him since his was a baby is paying off! However, I have discovered that it’s been difficult to find pictures books appropriate for his level of understanding. Especially now that we’ve moved from the small shelf of board books to the rows and rows of picture books at the library.
When I’m looking for a good picture book for a toddler or young preschooler, I’m looking for one or more of the following six qualities:
- Concise. I want a short book (1-3 sentences a page max) that also has a good story.
- Simple. 2 year olds are concrete thinkers. Books that are abstract or use flowery language go right over his head. He wants to learn about things that make sense in his world.
- Teaching. Every book teaches a two year old something. Whether it’s teaching about something funny, a new kind of animal, a word he’s never heard, a moral lesson, or something else, I’m looking for books that continue to open my child’s mind to the world around him.
- Active. Books that encourage motion are a huge plus because they are both very well liked by the wiggly crowd and they also serve to further cement an idea in a little mind through kinesthetic learning.
- Engaging. Nothing’s worse than reading through a monotone book. We like books with emotion! Something that you can read with passion and drama. Books that ask questions also help to engage the reader.
- Beautiful. Books with beautiful, well made illustrations are a must since so much of the story is conveyed through pictures.
I like to have a mix of fun, easy books, coupled with some books that are right on the edge of his comprehension level. This challenges him enough to keep him moving forward in his ability to understand (and sit still!), without being too frustrating as to make reading time unenjoyable. Finding books that fit these qualifications without having to read the same ones a million times over is hard.
So what has my solution been? Quantity.
Every Saturday morning for the last few months we’ve headed to the library to load up our stash for the week. While K plays, I pick out 25-30 picture books. My method is haphazard: search a little here, a little there, pull a book out, open it up to a couple pages, if it looks promising, throw it in the pile. Out of these 25-30 books, although we end up reading them all, I usually only find 3-5 “keepers.” Books that we both loved and I wouldn’t mind adding to our collection.
While I don’t mind taking a half hour to pour through shelves and shelves of children’s literature, I realize that this may not be everyone’s cup of tea. It is also likely that when you go to the library you might prefer a higher success rate of “keeper” books as well.
With that in mind, I want to begin sharing with you the books that we have found and loved, with the hope that you will enjoy them as much as we have. As soon as I have a list of ten favorites, I will pass them on to you. That way, when you go to the library, you can get in, get out, and get to reading! Tune in tomorrow for the first installment!
What are some of your qualifications for a good book?