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How to choose the best children's books
Reading books at bedtime has been part of my 2-year-old daughter's nightly routine since she was an infant. It's something we look forward to doing together, especially after working all day.
Each night she chooses the books, and even though she picks the same ones each night, I love watching her get excited about the characters as she eagerly awaits to lift the flaps or get to her favorite page in the book.
Even though my daughter isn't reading on her own yet, I often wonder which books are appropriate for her age. So I reached out to Kaylee N. Davis, author of "The Barnes & Noble Guide to Children's Books" (Sterling; $9.99) and asked her for tips on how to select books for kids. Here are her suggestions:
* Select sturdy books with rounded edges that are the right size for little hands.
* Choose concepts that are simple with clear text and bright graphics or photographs.
* Find books that focus on basic skill building, such as shapes, colors, sizes, opposites, numbers or letters.
Books to try: "Moo Baa La La La," by Sandra Boynton (Little Simon; $7.99); "Say Goodnight," by Helen Oxenbury (Little Simon; $7.99); "Red Blue Yellow Show," by Tana Hoban (HarperCollins; $6.99)
Ages 2-6 (Picture books)
* Find stories that will interest your child as well as elicit questions and discussion.
* Choose funny stories that will help develop your child’s sense of humor.
* Be sure to include books and favorite characters that you loved as a child to share with your own children.
Books to try: "What Do People Do All Day," by Richard Scarry (Random House; $14.99); "The Paper Bag Princess," by Robert Munsch (Annick Press; $6.95); "Make Way for Ducklings," by Robert McCloskey (Penguin Group; $19.99)
Ages 4-7: (Beginner readers)
* Find books that focus on concepts and topics of interest to your child.
* Look for books with pictures that are cued to the text for very early readers.
* Find high interest subjects, especially nonfiction such as, dinosaurs, dramatic weather, or historic events for older readers.
Books to try: "A Day in the Life of a Firefighter," by Linda Hayward (DK Publishing; $3.99); "Amelia Bedelia," by Peggy Parrish (HarperCollins; $4.99); "Finding the Titanic," by Robert Ballard (Scholastic, Inc; $3.99)
Ages 6-8: (Chapter book series)
* At this age children like to select their own books, but you can help by leading them to their favorite topics or interests, such as animal stories, science, fairy tales, or sports.
* If you have a reluctant reader on your hands go for humor — and the more scatological the better. If they keep laughing they will keep reading.
* Mystery stories are great for a reader who likes to figure things out and solve puzzles.
Books to try: "Magic Tree House Series," by Mary Pope Osborne (Random House; $19.99); "The Adventures of Captain Underpants," by Dav Pilkey (Scholastic, Inc.; $5.99); "Nate the Great Series," by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat (Random House; $5.99)
Ages 8-12 (Middle grade readers)
* Look for books on subjects that interest your child and subjects or themes that coordinate with their current studies at school.
* Pay attention to your child’s school reading lists; often such lists can be found at your local bookstore or from the teacher or school librarian.
* Be mindful of reading levels and sensitive subject matter — but also try to select books that will stimulate and challenge your children and encourage discussion.
Books to try: "Fever 1793," by Laurie Halse Anderson (Simon & Schuster; $6.99); "The Incredible Journey," by Sheila Bunford (Random House; $6.99); "Walk Two Moons," by Sharon Creech (HarperCollins; $6.99)