Choosing The Best Books For The Children In Your Life + Resources
Updated: Nov 16, 2019
Reading is one of the best ways to explore the world around us. When we expose children to books about various people, cultures, and histories, we give them a better understanding of their community, the communities around them, and the world.
Reading a variety of stories can encourage creativity, critical thinking, and growth, but it's important to share books that are appropriate for a child's age, reading, and maturity level. Most books have a suggested reading level or age, but these are just guidelines. Every child matures differently, processes information differently, and requires different kinds of support for growth.
FIVE HELPFUL TIPS FOR CHOOSING THE RIGHT BOOK
1. Preview books before sharing them with the kids in your life to ensure they appropriate for your intended audience.
Sometimes we share books that have been recommended to us by teachers, parents, and youth. While the books may be great for some, they may be too much for others. Previewing books creates an opportunity to decide whether a book is appropriate for your reader. As readers grow, discuss book topics/content with them to help them reflect on what they read. This will empower them to choose appropriate reading materials for themselves.
2. Let the child choose the book.
Children are drawn to what excites them. Have the child choose the book. You can still preview the book to ensure the content is appropriate.
3. Include diverse books in your collection.
Diverse books help to affirm, educate, and inspire children. Dr. Rudine Sims Bishop wisely wrote that books can be Window, Mirrors, and Sliding glass doors
“Books are sometimes windows, offering views of worlds that may be real or imagined, familiar or strange. These windows are also sliding glass doors, and readers have only to walk through in imagination to become part of whatever world has been created and recreated by the author. When lighting conditions are just right, however, a window can also be a mirror. Literature transforms human experience and reflects it back to us, and in that reflection we can see our own lives and experiences as part of the larger human experience. Reading, then, becomes a means of self-affirmation, and readers often seek their mirrors in books. (1990, p. ix)” via NCTE
4. Choose books that will keep the child's interest
Are they excited about airplanes, princesses, or coding? Find books that will keep their interests and they'll be more likely to read them. Also pay attention to the content, reading level, and genres the child has been drawn to in the past. Choose books similar to those.
5. Family reading and book clubs can encourage new interests
Reading with someone can encourage children to read books on topics they haven't considered in the past. Create a family reading time or find a fun book club to join. This could open up new genres and content for your reader, while also helping to build strong bonds or create new friendships.
RESOURCES - Here are a few resources for finding great books.
Lee & Low has a checklist for educators to help educators create a diverse book collection. Checklist: 8 Steps to Creating a Diverse Book Collection
Lee & Low has a list of places to find diverse and inclusive books. Where to find diverse books
2. Here Wee Read is a website run by Charnaie Gordon. She finds and shares the very best diverse and non-diverse books that she reads aloud with her two children.
Charnaie keeps an updated list of Ultimate Diverse Children's Books for each year. It's a must follow list!
Charnaie also created a list of publishers who support and specialize in publishing diverse and inclusive books. Diversity in Publishing from A to Z: A List of Book Publishers Who Specialize in Diversity and Inclusion
3. We Need Diverse Books - advocates essential changes in the publishing industry to produce and promote literature that reflects and honors the lives of all young people. They have a list of resources for finding diverse books. Where can you find diverse books?
Reading book reviews, book summaries, and book lists are all great ways to find great books. Remember to preview the books and decide whether a book is appropriate for the intended reader. As readers grow, empower them to identify appropriate content for themselves. Reading, learning, and growing is journey that lasts a lifetime.