With so many children’s books to choose from, it can feel overwhelming to head to the bookstore or pay a visit to the library. To make reading more enjoyable and educational, it is important to look for the elements that are usually found in the very best children’s books. By learning what makes a good childrens book, you can know how to select them for your own child in order to maximize their benefit and enjoyment of their reading experience.
Depending on the target age range and reading level, many books for younger children or middle school children feature illustrations. Especially for children who cannot yet read independently, the illustrations are not just fun to look at, they also help the child understand the story. Look for books with interesting, distinctive pictures that capture your child’s attention and spark the imagination. For some children, this may be realistic watercolors, while others may prefer stylized cartoons. Exposing your child to new artistic styles can also help expand his or her horizons. Children can learn to interpret scenes and understand emotions or relationships by viewing these illustrations.
The best children’s books feature strong, interesting writing. Instead of condescending to kids or being geared towards adult tastes, these books show that the author has experience with the types of language and stories that children truly respond to. If the book tackles serious subjects, it should do so in a respectful and age appropriate way. The vocabulary is varied enough for children to learn some new words, but also familiar enough to help them feel confident. Overburdening children with unfamiliar vocabulary can cause them to disengage from the story and may turn them off of reading completely.
A good children’s book will tell an interesting story. Kids respond well to plots that move along at a good pace and keep the reader guessing. The characters should be easy to relate to, whether they are funny, smart, goofy, or thoughtful. This is especially true of the main character. When a child can see aspects of himself or herself in a protagonist, it makes the book more engaging.
If the book has a message or moral, it should be subtle and not overly forceful or preachy. The moral or lesson should emerge naturally from the plot and character interactions. To ensure that a book contains appropriate moral content, parents should read the entire book before giving it to their children. Doing this will ensure that the book meets the parents standards and ideals that they want their children to learn.
Some parents may prefer to choose books that have won awards and honors, or books known as classics. While these can definitely be good guidelines, you should also feel free to explore new or lesser known books, exposing your child to the wide, varied world of literature. There are many good books out there but there are many more bad ones, so choose carefully and your children will thank you.