Choosing the right book to read to your little one can feel daunting. How do you know which book to read to your kid? There are only two hard and fast rules:
- Pick something you will enjoy reading. Your enthusiasm will come through as you read.
- Follow your child’s lead. Does it look too hard? Start reading it anyway and put it down when they lose interest. Does it look too easy? Read it anyway—reading for fun should be fun! Foster a love of books by honoring your child’s interests.
Still feeling overwhelmed by the choices? Children at different stages of development tend to enjoy different books. We recommend board books for babies and young toddlers. Picture books can be great for older toddlers and preschoolers. But picture books and even board books vary in complexity. Here are some tips for choosing books, along with lists of suggestions.
Infants (0-12 Months):
Start reading to your baby from day one. Look for board books with high contrast, simple illustrations. Babies love looking at photos of other babies. Look for books with clear photos of people of different races. Books with no words or only one word per page are a great choice for this age. Books with textures, sturdy flaps, or mirrors engage babies’ senses. Older infants start enjoying very simple stories with one sentence per page.
Toddlers (12-24 months):
Books with textures, flaps, and other interactive parts remain popular at this age. You can start to read slightly more complex stories. Children this age love books that show characters doing the same things they do. They also enjoy interactive books that get them moving. Rhymes and repetition help your little one learn to understand new words. Start introducing alphabet and counting books.
Young Preschoolers (2-3 years):
Your kid might be ready for picture books with paper pages, or they may not. Fine motor control and caution vary a lot at this age between children. If your kid likes longer stories, but isn't ready for paper pages, the library has board book editions of many picture books. Stick with simple stories with one or two sentences on a page and bright illustrations. Kids this age love books with humor and start to have favorite subjects.
Preschoolers (3-5 years):
Kids start getting into stories with more plot that introduce more complicated ideas. Your kid’s interests will lead you. Do they like fairy tales? Cars and trucks and things that go? Princesses? Dinosaurs? Stories about kids like them? You will become an expert in their favorite things. As your kid’s sense of humor develops, they will enjoy irony, metafiction, and other books that stretch the form.
Remember, these are only guidelines. Reading to your little one will boost their vocabulary and get them ready to read, no matter what book you choose.