Children’s books can help to facilitate language development and form a positive early literacy experience. Studies have shown that reading to babies starting at eight months of age has a significant impact on early language development. Parents can start with simple board books and graduate to picture books and longer stories as their child gets older. Not all books are created equal, however. The following is a list of characteristics that you should look for when choosing books to read to young children:

Books for Babies

  • Choose books that have lots of colorful pictures of familiar objects, toys, animals, and other babies.
  • Durable board books are best for children this age.
  • Interactive books with flaps to lift or textures to feel are also a good choice and will help keep their attention.

Books for Toddlers

  • Choose colorful books with 1-2 sentences per page.
  • Children this age enjoy repetitive books with predictable text.
  • Poems and rhymes are great for toddlers.
  • Older toddlers will enjoy silly books that make them laugh.
  • Older toddlers will also like stories that have a simple problem that needs to be solved.
  • Interactive books such as pull-the-flap books or pop-up books are great for children this age, but best not to leave kids alone with these books, as they can be ripped easily.
  • Toddlers enjoy looking at books containing photos and pictures of familiar objects and children doing familiar activities such as sleeping or playing.

Books for Preschoolers

  • Choose storybooks with colorful and clear illustrations.
  • Choose picture books with simple, fun plots. The action should move quickly and books should be able to be read in one sitting.
  • Predictable books involve children in the reading experience. The patterned language, repetitive phrases, and predictable storylines help preschoolers anticipate what is coming next. They also help children understand language and how sentences and stories are put together.
  • Preschool children enjoy making connections between their own lives and what is happening in books; therefore, they love books containing characters their own age doing familiar things such as going to school or visiting the dentist.
  • Playful animals, both real and imaginary, will also hold a preschooler’s attention.
  • Non-fiction books written about topics that children have a natural interest in such as animals, food, vehicles, sports, or seasons of the year are great for preschoolers.
  • Children this age are very curious and also enjoy books that explain how things work.
  • Chose picture books that will help preschoolers practice skills, such as letter recognition, rhyming, and counting.