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Feb 06, 2012
The Early Years
According to the American Library Association there are tens of thousands of children’s books published each year. Now, that makes it both incredibly easy and excruciatingly hard to pick a book to read to your child, depending on how you look at it. How do you know what to read given that there’s so much to choose from?
I think there are two ways to arrive at the answer.
Read what catches your eye
You could just trust your instinct and pick books that seem appropriate for your child’s age and interest. This is what makes board books and cloth books the obvious choice for infants, bright picture books an ideal pick for babies around 6 months of age, books with minimum text and sharp, contrasting images perfect for slightly older babies and so on. A few trips to the children’s section of your library or local book store should be enough to master the skill of picking the right books for your child. Especially if you take your child along on these trips and take his lead.
Or, you could ...
Trust the experts and their book recommendations.
The American Library Association’s NCB list (Notable Children’s Books) is a great place to start. The list spotlights notable and award winning children’s books in various categories each year and you should be able to find many of these at your local library. The winners of the Newbery, Caldecott and other medals and awards every year are great candidates to put on your child’s book shelf. The awards themselves are indications of what you can expect from the book. The Newbery Medal honors the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children. The Caldecott Medal honors the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children.
Many Caldecott Medal winners are wordless picture books such as Jerry Pinkney’s The Lion and the Mouse (2010) that appeal to the very young eyes. The 2012 Caldecott Medal winner, A Ball for Daisy by Chris Raschka is a picture book about how a little dog deals with the loss of his prized possession.
It doesn't matter ... as long as you read. Period.
Whether you choose books by instinct, look up to recommended lists or try a combination, the important thing is to read lovingly and consistently to your child. What you read doesn’t really matter as much, especially in the initial months. In fact, if your baby is too young to comprehend pictures and words, you could even just read aloud a paragraph or an ad from the magazine you’re reading. At that stage, it’s not the actual substance that matters but the act of making the connections between print and sound and associating it with a pleasant experience.
Finally, here are a few book recommendations to read aloud with your child based on what my daughter and I enjoyed reading through her baby, toddler, pre-school and kindergarten years.
What are some of the books you and your little one enjoy? I'd love to know.