We all know that reading books is wonderful thing to share with children, and they love being read to. Choosing books for your child, at any age, is really a simply thing to do with these few tips in mind. More than anything, I hope this article will inspire you to do more reading. It's actually a summary of the information we shared at a recent “Short Talk for Parents”. I think we all left the room feeling re-ignited with energy for the joy of books.
So here our top 10 tips for choosing books and supporting the joy of reading for children.
- Keep it real for young children (0-5 years). Young children are interested in the world around them and real life experiences. So choose books that explore every day themes in believable situations.
- Choose books with rich language. Descriptive, colourful language exposure children to a broad and accurate vocabulary making it easy to avoid baby talk. Very young children will enjoy the sound and rhythm of your voice.
- Picture books are fantastic at any age. A parent told us how his three year old daughters loves reading through a collection of art catalogues that her grandfather passed on to her. What a wonderful opportunity to explore the world through art – shape, form and colour. This is something that could appeal at any age and imagine the discussion you could have with your child. mm Choose books that are beautiful and treat them carefully. This allows for teaching children appreciation of the beauty in the world around us. For babies, cloth or board books are useful until they can care for a paper book.
- Choose books that are interesting to look at. A book we love is “All Through the Year” by Jane Godwin because you can see the pictures changes as the children grow through the year provided lots to talk about “How have the children changed/”, “What’s happened to the garden?” etc.
- Read what your child is interested in! And that can be anything, so long as it’s a book. Make it a shared and an enjoyable experience. This is especially true for emerging and reluctant readers. If you force or push you risk turning them off. Don't worry, they won't read the Lego book for ever. They will move on to big and better books; just give them some time and space to develop.
- Read aloud to your child and don’t stop until they leave high school. OK, well, as long as they will let you read to them! This is just so so important. Remember point 4!
- Don’t force a child to read to you – it can be a complete turn off for the child and it will be very difficult to reignite their interest.
- Share books with friends. This is especially good for primary aged children who will enjoy recommendations from peers. The Harry Potter series has taken off with a group of nine year old girls at Montessori East recently and they’ve shared spells, made potions, and carved wands during their deep diving into the series.
- Remember that reading skills can take time. Just like the acquisition of language, developing reading skills can take longer for some than others.
Finally a note about Montessori philosophy and fantasy stories. Dr Maria Montessori didn’t believe in exposing children to fantasy at an early age, ie. approximately 0-5 years and this is sometimes confused as meaning that we (Montessorians) are anti-fairytales, which is not true. The vital point is development of the imagination is incredibly important, and is built on a foundation of reality. The reality is built in the first six years of life. Exposure to excessive amounts of fantasy can be confusing and even distressing. The Absorbent Mind is just that: an absorbent mind – a sponge that looks at everything, touches everything, tastes everything! So feed the young mind worthy content.
A few favourites .......