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For babies up to 12 months old, parents should select books with photographs or images with strong contrasts. Select books that are durable. Board books have heavy, sturdy and laminated pages. Cloth and vinyl books are made for infants. These books can be lovingly chewed and held in little hands. They should have few words and clear simple pictures to engage infants.
Books with simple, large pictures or designs in bright, contrasting colors or black and white
Stiff cardboard, “chunky” books
Fold out books that can be propped up in the crib
Wash able cloth books to cuddle and mouth
Plastic/ vinyl books that go in the bath
Simple pictures of people or familiar objects
Board books with photos of other babies and familiar objects such as balls and bottles
Small, plastic photo albums of family and friends
For crawlers 13 to 24 months, parents should select books with photographs or images with strong contrasts. Select books that are durable. Board books are still appropriate at the beginning of this age range. These books can be chewed and carried in little hands. Books should have simple stories and clear simple pictures to engage toddlers. Short stories with rhyming schemes and repetitive texts are loved by this age.
Sturdy board books
Goodnight books for bedtime
Books with photos of children doing familiar things like sleeping or playing
Books about saying good-bye and hello
Books with only a few words on a page
Books with brightly colored, engaging illustrations and with simple rhymes or predictable text
Animal books of all sizes and shapes
For children 25-36 months, board books are still good for mobile toddlers. Look for a short story or books with short rhymes. As they get older find books with engaging and rich text to encourage children in learning new vocabulary. Books with repetitive phrases or books that pose questions are good for this age. By 2½ children can handle a hardback book.
Books that tell simple stories
Simple rhyming books
Concept books about counting, the alphabet, shapes or sizes
For preschoolers 37-48 months, parents should select books about their child’s own experiences, but children this age also enjoy learning about new worlds. Longer stories can be enjoyed by children this age. Children can begin to predict what will happen in the story.
Books with simple text that they can memorize or read!
Books about children that look and live like them, as well as children living different lives
Counting books or other “concept” books about things such as size or time
Simple “science” books about things and how they work, like garbage trucks, flowers or tools
Books about things of special interest such as trains, animals or cooking
Books about making friends, and the challenges of friendship, making up after an argument, sharing, dealing with a bossy friend, etc.
Children are just happy to cuddle in your lap and enjoy a good book. You can make a book more enjoyable for both you and your child by including some of these simple ideas:
Make sharing a part of everyday. Select a special time of day to share books. But do share books any other time you both would like.
Children learn from you that reading is fun, an important ingredient in learning to read.
Even a few minutes are okay. Don’t worry if you don’t finish the story. Sometimes we just don’t want to! Young children can sit still for only a short time. As they grow, the time will increase. Read while your child is playing or in the bathtub. S/he is listening!
Talk or sing about the pictures. You do not have to read the story. Tell what you see in the illustrations. As your child what s/he sees.
Let children turn the pages. Babies need board books learn how to turn pages. A three year old can turn pages in any book alone with practice.
Read the cover page! Read the author and illustrator and explain that the author writes the words and the illustrator draws the pictures. Explain what the book is about.
Show children the words. Run your fingers along the words. Sometimes talk about how letters make words; that words make sentences. Explain that the letters and words tell you what to say.
Make the story come alive by creating voices for the characters and use your face to express the emotions of the story.
Make the book relate to your child by talking about your own family, pets or friends in connection with the story.
Ask questions about the story and let the child ask questions too. Use the story to engage your child in conversation. Talk about familiar activities and objects. Wait! Remember that toddlers need 8- 12 seconds to respond to a question.
Let children tell the story. Children as young as three can memorize a story. Let them tell you the story or let them make up a story about the pictures.
By Jenny Stenis, MLIS, Coordinator of the PLS Center for Children's Services
What do Go, Go, Grapes: A Fruit Chant by Sayre, Boy + Bot by Dyckman, Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons by Litwin and Dinotrux by Gall have in common? These books are my grandson's favorite books. Your child will have his/her own favorites. But I also really enjoy reading these books to Henry. We have fun together cuddling, reading and talking about these books. These special times encourage development of one of the most important aspects of the pre-reading skills--the love of reading. We call this print motivation. Print motivation is a child's interest and enjoyment of books. A child with print motivation enjoys being read to and plays with books. These children pretend to write, ask to be read to and enjoy going to the library. Children who enjoy books will be curious about reading and how to read. They will want to read more.
Studies show that when the interaction involving books is negative, "stop wiggling," "listen now," the young child will associate negative interaction with books and reading, and it is likely that they will enjoy reading and books less. When the experience of sharing a book is pleasurable for both parent and child, the child will be more attentive and responsive. The more pleasurable book sharing is, the more regular and frequent an activity it will become both now and in the future. Here are some tips to foster print motivation:
Let children pick out their own books.
Read often and make it fun. Read to your child when he is having a snack. Have plastic books that he can play with in the tub and make sure that there are books to look at while your child is in the car.
Let your kids see you read. Read the newspaper over your coffee or take a magazine from the rack in the doctor’s office or a book from your purse to read while you wait.
Have a book your child can look at while he is waiting at the doctor’s or in the checkout line of the grocery store.
Make reading together fun and memorable. Make the story come alive by changing your voice and pace or use sound effects and motions.
Create loving associations with books and reading. This is a time of closeness and cuddling, another way to show your love as a parent, grandparent or caring adult.
Make sure to have some books on a shelf that your child can access at any time.
Stop reading when your child becomes tired or loses interest: keep it short and keep it fun!
As picture book author, Rosemary Wells says: "Read to your bunny, and your bunny will read to you!"
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