How to Choose Books for, and with, Your Children

How to Choose Books Your Children Will Love.

How To Choose Books For and With Your Children

From a very early age, children love books: receiving books as gifts, or enjoying selecting a range of books from the local school or town libraries. They are never too young to join a library and to begin choosing books that catch their eye. By being members of a library they will have access to thousands of books to read without the financial burden of your having to purchase them. However, how to choose books to enhance their reading is sometimes a challenge.

choosing books


When they are young, often their choices will be based on the cover or the pictures. They may even choose books in which they will not be able to read any of the words but are fascinated by the pictures or photographs eg a book about ships. It is important to ‘read’ the pictures as well as the words. (See our Blog Article for ideas for helping support your child's identification of letters and numbers).

Also, let them see you borrowing books to read as this provides them with a positive role model for understanding that reading is important.

How To Choose Books | A Variety of Genres

In selecting books it is good to give your children access to a wide range of genres.

Narratives – the books that entertain us we tend to call “stories” – eg picture books, adventure stories, mystery stories, love stories, horror stories, folktales, fairytales, myths, legends, fables, parables, science fiction, ballads, photo stories, short stories, cartoons.

Recounts – tell about something that happened – eg diaries, letters, journals, biographies, autobiographies, historical books, reports of events in newspapers and magazines.

Procedures – tell us how to do something – eg craft books, recipe books, books of science experiments, books of maths problems, manuals that explain the rules of a particular sport or game, how to operate a toy, how to use a computer program.

Information books – provide information about a particular topic from the natural world or manmade constructed world – eg wildlife, earthquakes and volcanoes, natural environments (forests, deserts, seas), the universe, the human body, transport, cities, farms, countries of the world.

Explanations – tell us how and why things happen in areas of science and technology and are often found in information books – eg how aeroplanes fly, why volcanoes erupt, how the various body systems function, how does the water cycle work, how do cyclones form, how is electricity generated.

Persuasive texts – these can be written in one of two ways, either an exposition which presents one point of view concerning a topic or a discussion which presents more than one point of view – eg essays, advertisements, news articles, documentaries, editorials or letters to the editor in newspapers.

Descriptions – detail the characteristics of a particular person, place or thing and are found most frequently in other texts eg the description of: a character in a story or a play, objects in the setting for a story, a chemical reaction during a science experiment, an animal in an information book.

Poetry and Plays – poetry and plays are used by authors to achieve a range of purposes – eg tell a story, describe people, places or things, create an image, recount events, express feelings. Reading poetry gives children an opportunity to understand rhyme, rhythm, free verse and literary devices used by poets. By reading plays children can identify with the characters and adjust their reading style accordingly.

Stories of value and of moral and religious significance - tales of value from people’s lives and events throughout history; religious books such as the Bible; or other books relevant to your family’s spiritual beliefs.

Newspapers and magazines – newspapers and magazines contain different types of writing by a range of authors and have features in the presentation and layout that are quite different to books

Books of riddles, jokes, puzzles, crosswords, word searches and games – children are provided with many examples of different types of reading while they are engaged in puzzles and games

Activity books – these could include story books in which children read the text as well as colour the pictures or complete puzzles

As you can see there is plenty of variety when deciding how to choose a book for your children.

“You can find magic wherever you look. Sit back and relax all you need is a book!” – Dr. Seuss




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Shirley Fuller PSM

Shirley Fuller is passionate about improving the learning outcomes of students from preschool to Year 12 and beyond. Her experience includes secondary mathematics, science and physical education teaching, primary teaching in all subjects, librarianship and resource centre coordination, tutoring students in mathematics at secondary level and in preparation for some university courses.

She holds a Public Service Medal for her contributions to education.

Shirley has written a comprehensive Guide for Parents to help support children’s literacy in the home and social environment.

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