How to choose a children’s book

Choose children’s books wisely with these helpful criteria.

Since children’s books are your child’s first introduction to literature, it is important that they make the right impression. Blessed with marvelous books at an early age, your child will be more likely to curl up with a good book in later years.

There are a number of ways to choose books wisely. First, consult your local children’s librarian, a wonderful resource brimming with sound, up-to-date information about books, magazines, CDs and a variety of other materials. Next, do some research on your own. Consult a few of the published guides to children’s literature available in your library’s reference section, and talk to your child’s teacher.

Criteria to consider

Use these five questions as a guide when choosing children’s books:

  1. Is it right for my child? You are the best judge of what will especially appeal to your child. You shouldn’t choose a book just because it is an award-winner. Keep your child’s unique personality in mind.
  2. Are the illustrations well done? Vivid, clear imagery is a must for children ages 4–8, and the images are most effective when they correspond to the storyline. Wordless books are also a wonderful source of language development, requiring your child to interpret the illustrations as the story progresses.
  3. Is the story 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. Is the text informative and lively? Don’t judge a book by its cover, or its author. While an author might be knowledgeable about a subject, he or she might not be able to communicate in a clear and engaging way that appeals to children.
  5. Is the theme of the book timeless and enduring? Children and adults alike enjoy themes they can identify with.