Choosing the right books to read to your child is not a simple matter. If you choose the wrong books, your child can start to think of the reading sessions as a boring activity, but choosing the right books can help your child love reading and engross them in an activity that will last the rest of their lives.

Here are some hints that will help you along the way:

  • Because you are reading to your child, it is okay to choose a book with a slightly higher vocabulary than they would choose themselves. This is a great way of introducing new vocabulary to them.

  • Choose from your child’s interests. This can be a great place to start and will give you a boost if you are trying to establish a reading routine. As time goes by, though, it is worth introducing some different genres as this will expand vocabulary and allow the exploration of new things.
  • Choose something that is exciting very quickly. This is a terrific way to get a child hooked in a book and can be very good for establishing a reading routine.

  • If your child has poor concentration levels, it is worth starting with short stories or novels that have a mini adventure in each chapter.

  • Explore an author. If your child has already read a book from an author and enjoyed it, introduce another book by the same author. This opens up the chance to compare and contrast the two works.

  • Don’t select the book they are using for a reader at school. Reading to your child is a time to enjoy a book together. When you are reading a school reader, you are likely turning it into work.
  • Choose high quality literature. There are many books written for children and most of them are of a poor standard. They are based on simple formulas and fail to do any more than relate a simple adventure.
    There are many places to see lists of high quality children’s books. Ask at your local library or check for the short list of top (Australian) books each year.
  • If you had favourite books or authors yourself as a child, use these. There’s a certain magic in sharing your own childhood with your child. This can also be a good choice if you are reading to more than one age group together, because it gives you the excuse of choosing the book.
  • Don’t feel guilty if you don’t want to persist with reading a book you really don’t like. Your enjoyment or lack of it will come through in your reading aloud.
  • Join your local library and join your child up as well. This can give a wide selection and freedom of choice without having to worry about cost. It empowers the child in their choice as well.
  • Be adventurous and check out some poetry for children. Again, start with your local library. There are many poems suitable for children. They are often short and memorable (good for reciting) and can introduce humour or feelings in a way that children can understand, especially if you tease it out a bit with questions. Reading poetry aloud has a different pattern from reading stories aloud, so it gives children a bit of variety in the material choice. If your time for reading aloud is restricted, choosing a poem or two makes a complete activity in a short time.