Parents are often at crossroads on the age-appropriate books to buy for their children especially when you have kids of different age groups. Most times as a book lover, you might have a child’s party to attend and probably confused about the age-appropriate books to gift the little celebrant. We understand this as there are so many colourful and fun options to choose from when buying books for children.
We listed a few criteria that you need to consider when buying a children’s book.
Criteria to consider when buying a Children’s book
1. Buy the right book – The best judge of what appeals to your child is you. Don’t just buy a book because it is popular or written by a famous child author. Keep your child’s unique personality in mind.
2. Properly Illustrated – Books with good images are good and more effective for kids. Wordless books are also a wonderful source of language development, requiring your child to interpret the illustrations as the story progresses.
3. Well written – Age-appropriate language is the minimum requirement. The language should be also imaginative, rich, and challenging. New and difficult vocabulary words are wonderful when meanings can be inferred from the context of the story.
4. Informative – Choose books that communicate clearly and engagingly to children.
5. Timeless – Children and adults alike enjoy themes they can identify with.
Having this in mind you can use the following guide in buying a children’s book.
0 to 12 Months
Birth to 6 months: Board books make good choices. Since an infant’s vision is still developing, choose books with little or no text and big, and high-contrast pictures. The more pictures on the book the better. You can read to your baby from grown-up books or magazines too. Comprehending the words isn’t the point with babies this young. For infants, reading is about the tone of your voice and cuddling up to you.
We also recommend reading audiobooks with them as read-aloud helps build literacy skills.
7 to 12 months: At this age, babies may begin to grasp some of the words read to them. The most meaningful words are the names and things from their everyday life. Words like “mama,” “dada,” or “tata(water).” They make gestures and can recognize familiar words or sounds.
Books with just one object or person per page are best; hearing you name something he recognizes reinforces your baby’s vocabulary and slowly helps him realize that illustrations stand for real things. Point to the pictures he shows interest in. And act out what you read with your face, hands, and voice. Let the baby babble back in the conversation. This “conversation” helps him learn to take turns and teaches him about focusing on the same thing as someone else.
One more tip: Because babies this age tend to be hard on their playthings, stick mostly to board books, which can take rough handling and even chewing. Picture books are good too, though turning the pages can be trickier for a baby.
13 to 24 Months
13 to 18 months: Now you can begin to introduce books with a sentence or two per page. The sillier you are while acting out the story, the better. For instance, if you’re reading about animals, make animal noises. This will sound funny but create a bonding moment for both. Sooner or later, he will “moo” or “baa” back to you and you’ll be ready to fall off the couch laughing.
Invite participation by asking questions such as “What does the dog say?” or “Do you see the cat?” Ask your baby to point to real-life examples of what’s pictured, (“Where’s your nose?”). At this age, you can show more pictures of things your baby doesn’t encounter every day.
Also, at 15 to 18 months, your baby may be able to answer questions with a word, so give her the opportunities by asking, “What’s that?” If she answers, you can boost her vocabulary by expanding on her thought:” Yes, a car. That’s a big green car.”
19 to 24 months: Many toddlers find the familiar routine of reading reassuring and calming. The same goes for familiar books. This helps explain why, starting at about 18 months, children may ask for the same book over and over and over — and why they won’t let you change your reading performance by a single “meow” or “vroom.” However, this dogged repetition has a learning benefit as well: Experts think it helps children make sense of and then remember new words.
2 to 3 years
Finding the best books for 2-3 year-olds is an adventure in itself. Choose books that are creatively illustrated with greater detail and show actions. Toddlers have short attention spans, select books that are relatively short, and tell simple stories. Books about a familiar activity or favorite interests help to keep her attention! And most 3-year-olds will have stopped eating their books and started devouring stories instead. Meaning parents of 3-year-olds can move away from board books and toward early picture books with narrative, heart, and humor. Though they’ll still love a simple book about concepts like colors, numbers, or farm animals
4 to 7 years old.
This is Reception and Key Stage one – is when most children learn to read.
For some children this involves starting with basic books with simpler and fewer words; while others take to reading with speedy gusto, zipping through picture books and straight onto chapter books.
It’s important to get books right at this age while making it all about fun and not about being forced to read.
Get this right and you’ll create readers for life, able to banish boredom with a browse of the bookshelf. The ideal book opens up a whole new world to the reader, so we’ve sought out some of the best that do so for this age group, from the “real” world of space exploration to the imaginary world.
Everyone should enjoy these, whether being read to, reading with help, or reading alone.
We recommend the Molly series and A Sound Mind.
With these tips and examples in mind, you can go ahead and shop for your children’s books. Have fun reading.