1. Search online for “Award-Winning Books” or “Best books” for [your children’s age]. Then, request those books online at your library. The librarians put the books on a hold shelf for you so it’s quick and easy. When you go to the library, just pick up your books from the hold shelf and check them out. Then, create your own library shelf at home for your kids to choose a book to read. (The library also has a plethora of movies. If we’re traveling on a road trip, I request a bunch of movies and books for our trip.)
2. Take advantage of children’s book catalogs. I use the Scholastic magazine my kids get from school to find great books. My kids circle books that look interesting to them. Then I request them at the library instead of purchasing them.
3. Find other books by the same author. If your children love a certain book, search for books by that author.
4. Search homeschool curriculums reading programs. They usually have examples of books to read based on age.
5. Suggested Books. When you search for books online that you love, there is usually a suggestions’ section for similar books. For example, if you search a book that your children enjoy on Amazon, at the bottom of the page, it usually says, “Customers who bought this book, also bought…”. Then, request those books online from the library. The library also usually has an “other suggestions” section when you search for a book online.
6. Try different books series to see what your children like. When your children read chapter books, you can check out one book from many different books’ series to see what they enjoy. If they don’t like a book from a series, return it. If they love one, jackpot – check out more! Then search online for similar book series that your kids might like.
7. Take a trip to the library with your kids! Bring your children to the library when they’re open again to choose a handful of books that interest them (bring a large bag to carry the books). When your children are beginning to read, the “I can read” section at your library has numerous books to check out based on your kids’ interests.
8. Ask a librarian. Librarians have a multitude of suggestions for your children of age appropriate books that will engage your child.
9. Tools such as Common Sense Media are helpful. As our children get older and the books are longer, it becomes difficult to keep up with which books are age appropriate and which ones aren’t. Common Sense Media is a good resource for reviews and warnings on books. You search the book on the website and they fill you in.
However, by age 6, 7, or 8, depending on the child, our goal shouldn’t necessarily be to protect them from every challenging topic, unless it’s clear that the topic is above their heads and not age appropriate. This is a great time for our children to begin applying wisdom and discernment.
Prepping our kids to tell us when subjects arise they don’t agree with, don’t understand, or make them feel uncomfortable, is a wonderful way to engage discussion and to help our children navigate the world. One day our kids will be in the real world – our job is to prepare them for it. There’s no better time to do that than when they’re in our homes.
Book Suggestions by Age
Picture Books (I just picked a few per age group)
(2 – 6) Pete the Cat and His Magic Sunglasses, Silly Sally, The Circus Ship, Dr. Seuss books
(4 – 8) The Berenstain Bears, Book with No Pictures, Stone Soup, If I Built a House
(6 – 10) You are Special, My Three Best Friends and Me, Zulay, The Water Princess
When my kids were almost 8, they loved The Magic Tree House, Capital Mysteries, and I Survived books. My kids just turned nine and some series of books they enjoy now are The Hidden Scrolls, Puppy Place, Mysterious Benedict Society, Chronicles of Narnia, and Boxcar Children, all of which can be found at the library.
Learning to Read
If your child is beginning to learn site words and short phrases, Dr. Seuss’, My Big Book of Beginner Books About Me is a wonderful book. The words are simple and the rhyming allows the child to guess words which gives them the confidence of reading, while having fun doing it. Picture association books are also great for beginner readers and can usually be found in a particular area of the library.
Books to Read To your Kids The Boxcar Children, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, and Wonder are a few chapter books that we have loved. Boxcar children is for younger kids (5 and up), Charlie and the Chocolate Factory for 6 or 7 year olds and up, while Wonder and the Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe are for kids about 8 or 9 and up. Indescribable is a wonderful devotional to do with kids 6 – 12 or older.
6 Practical Ways to Instill a Love for Reading in Your Kids:
Having been an elementary and middle school teacher and being the mother of triplets, I’m passionate about instilling a love for reading in our kids. Expecting our kids to go directly from playing to sleeping could be compared to us trying to fall asleep right after exercising. Carving out time for bedtime reading calms them and helps them fall asleep more easily.
1. Create a cozy reading nook
When our children were three years old, we started creating cozy “reading nooks” in their beds. At bedtime, they chose a handful of books to look at in their nooks. I introduced the reading time by saying, “Now you’re older so you can stay up later reading in your room.”
We started off with about 15-minute reading times – the time wasn’t quite as long at this age since they weren’t actually reading, but were simply looking at books. however long they wanted to look at books. I would read a book to them and then they had their own winding down time to look at books. This time shouldn’t be forced, but enjoyable. We did our best to create a relaxing environment they looked forward to.
2. Provide many book options
Having a plethora of book choices for our children, from picture books when they’re younger to chapter books when they’re older, is key. I often bring a huge bag to the library for books and fill it up – I have repeatedly hit my 100 maximum of check outs – they know me well! The library automatically sends notifications when books are due to renew them online.
I also let the kids request the books they want on the library website so when books are ready, we’re notified and we pick them up. They get so excited when we’re able to bring in another round of books.
If I have a late fine, it’s still cheaper than buying books. If I were to purchase the amount of library books I have on my shelf right now, it would be about $600. Instead, we spend a quarter on late fines every so often.
We have a specific shelf where we keep library books so we don’t lose them. When our children are reading a particular library book, they keep it on their nightstand. When they are finished with a book, they put it back on the shelf. When all three are finished with a book, it goes in a basket to be returned.
3. Finding books that engage your children is KEY
Whatever your children’s interests are, find a book about that topic. Involve them as much as possible with looking for books to request online so they’re more excited.
4. Take 15 minutes or more to read books TO your children.
Reading books to your kids promotes creative thinking, connection with you, and engagement in books. Read with expression and ask prediction questions throughout a book to keep their attention, such as “What do you think will happen next?” Whether you read a picture book or chapter book for 15 minutes or more, it is so beneficial. The Read Aloud Revival has a multitude of book suggestions and information on this topic.
When my triplets were babies, I started reading picture books to them. Even if your child is too young to understand the book, it is great for them to hear the rhythm of reading words.
If your children are different ages, your older children could also read to your younger children. Don’t worry about a picture book being too simple. Many times, older children enjoy the ease of picture books, and deeper themes and questions can be drawn from them.
You can read to your kids during the day instead of at bedtime if you’re too tired at night – it doesn’t have to be right before bed. They can simply have their own reading time at night before bed if that works better.
5. Make sure the books are simple enough for your children to read – the simpler, the better
Reading should build confidence, not frustration. It might take time to find that sweet spot. Once your children can read, tell them to let you know if a book is too difficult. Or you can find out for yourself by having them read to you for a few minutes. If the book is too challenging, point them to one that is more enjoyable and at their level.
6. What to do when they don’t feel like reading.
While our children love reading, there are some nights when one doesn’t feel like reading. If this happens, we read with them for a few minutes to get them into the book and then let them have their independent time. Next thing you know, they’re usually engrossed in the book. Or, we suggest reading a picture book or simpler book to take a rest from the longer chapter books.
On nights when we’re with friends or have later activities, we sometimes skip the reading. But, regardless of what’s happening, we try to at least squeeze in a short reading time to help them transition to sleep. We usually let them have one night they can choose to read, draw, or create things in their rooms during the “bedtime reading”. You have to figure out what works for your family, but the overall goal is to create a routine of reading so the habit becomes second nature.
I hope these practical tools will help build a love for reading in your children and assist you in finding great and age appropriate books. Adding bedtime reading to your children’s routine, not only offers them a tool to wind down, but also builds confidence, imagination, and a life-time love for reading.
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Previously published by ForEveryMom.