1 02-D1 02-D3 WHY IT IS IMPORTANT What the Experts Say Choosing Children s Patti Bokony, Teri Patrick, Stacy Fortney University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences Not all books are created equal. The types of books a parent chooses to read with their young children makes a difference in enjoyment, enrichment, and in early literacy skill development. There is a great variety of children s books available for both parents and schools to choose from, but information is not always readily available on which books are better and why. In 2004 alone, 5000 new children s books were published. 1 With such a large number of books available, it can be difficult to decide which to purchase or otherwise access. Parents may also be persuaded to purchase items such as flash cards or computer games instead of children s storybooks. Literacy researchers are concerned that both parents and teachers may be misled by marketing of skill and drill materials that may actually undermine rather than promote the goals of early literacy learning. 2 Parents may benefit from information on the importance of choosing good books for their child. Choosing books appropriate to the child s developing skills and interests enhances both the pleasure and power of parents reading to their children. 3 WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY Books Research is clear on the importance of reading in the home. 4,5 Shared book reading is the single most important activity to help children become literate. Shared book reading increases a child s vocabulary, knowledge of the world, and motivation and desire to learn to read. 3 By sharing information with parents on selecting books, teachers have a positive impact on the home reading environment; therefore, the development of a child s early literacy skills. 4,6 Choosing the right books for children depends on several factors. Key factors to consider are the child s age, the child s interests, and quality of the book. Children also benefit from different types of books. Infants interact with books very differently than older children; therefore, they benefit most from books appropriate to their developmental level. Preschoolers show more interest in books on topics they enjoy. When parents and other caregivers choose quality books that are age-appropriate and of interest to their child, they can be most effective at enhancing their child s early literacy skills. 3
2 Making reading fun is the most important thing parents can do for their child s literacy development. 7 A selection of good, age-appropriate books make that easier. Books for Infants and Toddlers It is never too early to begin reading to children. Children as young as 6 months respond when a parent or other caregiver reads to them. 3 When parents share books with infants, they practice looking, listening, and interacting with another person. These early skills are important to successful learning later in life. 8 Adult patience, sensitivity, and understanding of child development are helpful when interacting with infants and books. Not all infants interact with books in the same way. Some may sit quietly without touching the book, some pound or mouth the book, while others quickly climb off the parents lap and move away. None of these early book behaviors are wrong. Understanding the infant s cues (signals) and responding sensitively helps make reading enjoyable, and therefore supports early literacy development. 9 Table 1 gives examples of infant cues and sensitive responses from adult. Table 1: Examples of Sensitive Responses to Infant Cues Infant Cues Infant bangs on book Infant mouths a washable book Infant squirms and looks away from the book Sensitive Adult Responses Adult imitates banging or taps on an illustration and names it. Adult allows mouthing the book or hands infant a desirable toy to mouth. If infant releases the book, adult begins turning pages or talking about the pictures. Adult sets the book down and allows infant to engage in another activity or provides a change of scene. Choosing books appropriate for infants and toddlers provides a foundation for emergent literacy skills (i.e. pre-reading and pre-writing skills) and makes reading time more enjoyable for both parent and child. Young infants prefer primary colors (i.e. red, blue, yellow, green), deeper or more saturated colors, symmetric or regular patterns, high contrast (i.e. white/black), and pictures of human faces. 3 Parents can look for these attributes when selecting books. Other basic guidelines for choosing age appropriate books for infants and toddlers are: Birth to 3 months: Newborns vision is still fuzzy. They see things best about 7 to 8 inches from their face. They can raise their head briefly when lying on their stomach. By 2 to 3 months of age, they can sit upright in a lap with head support. 9 Simple Pictures. Young infants focus best on and prefer simple pictures of a large, single objects or patterns. A simple drawing with dark lines and contrasting or white background is easier for them to see. Tana Hoban s Black on White, White on Black, and Who Are They? are good examples of books with simple patterns with contrasting colors. Showing a Book or Picture. The best way to show a picture or book is to snugly support the baby in the parent s lap and talk quietly about it as the infant looks at it. Another way to show books to young infants is to prop them nearby during wake times. Some books are designed especially to stand
3 with fold-out pages. These can be folded out like a zigzag panel near the crib or on the floor when the infant is on her tummy. Examples of fold-out books are My Toys, by Dick Bruna or Baby Animals by Kimika Warabe. The book should be placed so that the infant can turn away when tired of looking. Overstimulation. Parents needs to be aware of cues of overstimulation (i.e., infant has had too much). Some signs that indicate overstimulation are yawning, turning away, arching, or crying. These signals say it is time to remove the book or picture, change activities, or move to a quiet or darker place. Adult actions. Young babies respond with rapt attention to parent s voice. This is especially so when the adult uses a higher pitch, pauses, or exaggerates on some syllables. Singing songs and saying nursery rhymes lend themselves to this, are very soothing, and are early literacy experiences. 9 4 to 6 months: By this age, a baby is more active, can hold up her head, is able to reach and grasp, and wants to put everything in her mouth. Infants this age are making more sounds (cooing) and take turns making sounds with an adult. Positioning. The best place for the baby to look at books is still the parent s lap. Washable books. At this age infants can be expected to mouth, grab, and bang on the book. Cloth or vinyl books are best because the infant can grasp those materials easier and they are washable. Giving a toy to mouth while looking at the book together may help the baby focus on the pictures as the parent talks about them. Adult actions. Continue singing nursery rhymes and songs. Use poems or songs that include touching the infant s hands and or other body parts along with the song (i.e. Pat-a-Cake, This Little Piggy). Engage the baby in a turntaking conversation by imitating the sounds the baby makes. Simple books or pictures. Simple bright pictures with contrasting backgrounds are still good for getting the infant s attention. Simple photographs of people, especially babies are usually appealing for this age group. 9 7 to 9 months: Although it may seem that infants at this age are not be paying attention to a book, studies have shown that the more words parents use when talking or reading to their child at 8 months of age, the larger vocabulary the child will have at 3 years. 10 Banging and mouthing the book continues at this stage, but babies can do much more, including pointing to a picture and using fingers to grasp and turn a page. They are beginning to understand the meaning of words and their babbling increases. 9 Books - Point and Say books are good for this age range. They have one to three pictures per page and no text (words). Cardboard books (board books) with thick, stiff pages are a good choice as they are easier to manipulate. Infants this age enjoy tearing paper so it s a good idea to hold off on books with paper pages. 9 Infants are likely to be attracted to bright, bold illustrations of faces, familiar things, or things of interest.
4 Joint attention - Between 6 and 10 months of age, infants are able to establish joint visual gaze (i.e. looking at the same thing) with their caregiver. Parents can support this milestone by pointing at pictures to focus the child s attention. 3 At this stage, adult naming (labeling) and pointing to pictures is important. Other adult actions - Allow the baby to handle the book, to turn pages back and forth, turn the book over, etc. Patiently label pictures as the baby comes to them. Babies may turn to the same page over and over. Towards the end of this age period, babies who have been frequently exposed to books will take more pleasure in actually looking at the pictures than babies with little practice. 9 9 to 12 months: This is the age infant s begin to use first words. Although they can say only a few words, they comprehend more than 50 and can respond to questions such as Where is your nose? They are becoming more skillful with their hands. Many begin to toddle by the end of this age range and can bring a book their caregiver. They also begin to show interest in the content of the book, especially if it is about something familiar or interesting. Books - It s a good idea to continue using board books as babies are still likely to enjoy tearing pages. Avoid board books that are just cardboard versions of a book that was written originally written for older children. Storybooks that are appropriate for preschoolers usually have too many words and concepts that are beyond infants understanding. Babies enjoy books with pictures of babies and parents doing things familiar to them such as getting dressed or taking a bath. 8 Adult actions Use a sequence in reading 9 : Get the baby s attention Point to a picture and say Look! Ask a labeling question What s that? Wait for the baby to respond If baby makes a sound (it does not have to be the word), say Yes, that s a doggie. If baby makes no sound, provide the answer. Give feedback If the baby mislabels, correct by saying, Hmmm, it looks like a dog, but it s a monkey. See the long tail. These techniques engage a baby this age and support emergent literacy. 9,11 It is okay to allow the baby to take the lead turning pages. Babies with an adult who uses the strategies above may take over by pointing, labeling in their baby talk, and asking the questions themselves ( Wha dat? ). It is also okay if the baby climbs off the parent s lap, takes the book, and toddles off to 18 months: Babies are able to both say and understand more words. They name things and point to things they want the adult to name. Early in this stage, their babbling may not be words but the pitch of their voice may rise and fall like sentences. By 18 months they are putting two words together and doing more pretend play.
5 Books Young toddlers enjoy books with pictures of children like themselves and adults in familiar roles. They begin to sing and enjoy books with songs and with repeating phrases. They may jabber or sing along as the book is being read. Towards the end of this age range, they begin to take interest in actual stories. The best books for this age have simple pictures and stories with few words such as a child going through a bedtime routine. This type of book does not have a plot, but does have a theme or familiar sequence. This type of book is a good transition between the earlier pointand-say books and preschool storybooks. 9 Adult actions - Adult pre-reading techniques, such as attention getting, pointing and labeling should continue but now parents can expand by adding more descriptive talk. For example, label the kitten, then talk about how kittens feel ( Kitty is soft ) or the sound they make ( Kitty says meow ). When reading the same books often, young toddlers will join in saying the words of predictable books. If they have heard nursery rhymes since early infancy, the poems will be familiar when they appear in a book. 9,11 19 to 30 months: By this age, most children enjoy actual story books without mouthing or tearing pages. Toddlers are now able to talk in sentences and carry on a conversation. They can ask and answer more questions including question about recent events. Book Content. Toddlers this age are able to enjoy story books with simple plots. A better ability to focus their attention lets them benefit from pictures with more action and information. Toddlers enjoy stories about familiar things such as using the potty, going to grandparents house, or losing a toy. Author Shigeo Watanabe has a series perfect for this age child called I can Do By Myself. Each book features a panda bear busy learning. In How do I Put it On,? the bear asks that question each time he first puts an item on incorrectly (i.e. shoes on ears) and then correctly. Toddlers are able to understand and enjoy the humor when things are incongruent (Ears and shoes don t go together!). Toddlers enjoy looking at pictures with more elements or action. Books that closely link a few words to the picture on each page help toddlers understand the action of the story. Books with pictures that illustrate the action described in a few words are good choices. Being Together by Shirley Hughes and Lily and Willy by Martha Alexander are good examples of books with these elements and a simple plot. 9 Book Length. Short books are good because a child this age child is likely to get up and go play in the middle of the book. Bedtime is a good time for slightly longer storybooks when a child may be tired and more likely to stay settled.
6 Predictable Books. Simple, predictable books with phrases that repeat or rhyme are good choices for toddlers. Brown Bear, Brown Bear by Bill Martin is a classic example of a predictable book. Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown is a predictable book perfect for bedtime. Adult actions - Parents can continue the adult reading techniques described above, but can now add more conversation such as relating the book to the child s life, expanding on the child s comments, and adding descriptive phrases and questions. (i.e. Lily is putting her doll in the swing. You like to swing too! or I wonder if your doll would fall off a swing. ) Ask the child questions while reading so he learns his thoughts and feelings are important contributions to story time ( Remember when you had muddy feet, like him? What did you think about that? ). 9 Books for Preschoolers By three to four years of age, many children are able to carry on an adult-like conversation, particularly if they have had many experiences with books and conversations with parents and caregivers. They are able to listen to an entire picture book read aloud but may not always choose to do so. They should understand what books are for, how to hold a book and turn pages, have specific interests and book preferences, understand a story as a sequence of events, and be motivated to read or want an adult to read to them. 12 Child Experiences. The best books for preschool children are those that relate to the world around them and build on what the child already knows. 13 For preschoolers with much book experience, it is also good to include books that are conceptually challenging (i.e. causes child to think about something in a new way). Children use their prior experience to understand new meanings or ideas. 3 Adults can help children reflect on their prior experiences with people, places, or things to build further knowledge. 14 For preschoolers with little prior book experience, it may be necessary to use simpler books with fewer words per page and adult techniques described above (pointing, labeling, and allowing child to manipulate pages). Child Preference. Preschool children are usually drawn to books about families like theirs as well as topics they are interested in or curious about. Books about a child s favorite topics or interests have been shown to increase their vocabulary as the child is motivated to learn something he cares about. Parents generally know what their child likes. Teachers can help parents connect books with their child s interest (i.e. books with dinosaurs, trucks, animals, etc.) as well as help parents respond to changing interests and growing abilities. Diversity. Multicultural literature has long been a standard for classroom practice. Extending this concept to the home is important as well. Children need books that reflect their own social world and culture as well as books that let them see our multi-cultural, ethnic, and racial world. Seeing characters that look like themselves and their family in books fosters self-esteem and reduces a sense of isolation. Seeing people who look different is also important. It cultivates respect, empathy, and acceptance of others. 15 Good multicultural books for children portray the language or culture realistically and in a positive light. 13 For example, I Love My Hair, by Natasha Anastasia Tarpley is a beautifully illustrated story of an African-American child and the good feelings of having
7 her mother care for her hair. All the Colors of the Earth, by Sheila Hamanaka, and What a Wonderful World by George David Weiss and Bob Thiele beautifully illustrate differences and sameness. Variety. A wide variety of books are available for preschool children. Each variety or type of book has elements that teach different literacy skills. Exposing children to different types of books helps them learn how various texts are organized. 9 In literacyrich households, children have access to multiple types of books including storybooks, traditional, wordless, informational, concept, predictable, and poetry /songs. These types or varieties of books are described below. Storybooks (narrative text or fiction books) cover every topic imaginable and are the most familiar type to parents and children. Story books have a plot, or theme, and a beginning, middle, and end. The characters often are in a predicament and have to solve their problem. 9 Good storybooks draw the child into the story. They are often light-hearted, imaginative, and humorous, but also deal with real life issues children face such as going to the doctor, divorce, hurt feelings, or a new sibling. Stories can help children learn to cope with their world. There s a Nightmare in My Closet and There s an Alligator Under My Bed, by Mercer Mayer help children cope with common fears of monsters or other unknowns. In My Mom Travels A Lot by Caroline Feller Bauer, children whose parent must be gone sometimes relate to the main character s feelings and learn that there are good parts to a situation that at first seems only bad. Yo, Yes by Chris Raschka uses simple pictures and few words to illustrate feelings involved with being lonely and making friends. If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Joffe Numeroff has subtle humor preschoolers appreciate. Some research has shown children s reading pleasure is increased when they are exposed to a series of storybooks with a familiar character in books by the same author. 3 For example, author Frank Asch has a series of storybooks (Happy Birthday, Moon; Good-Night, Bread & Honey) about a little bear. Each has a plot in which the little bear solves a perplexing problem. Children who have enjoyed one of these books are delighted to see this familiar character again. Other storybook series children enjoy are the Curious George series by H.A. Rey, the Corduroy series by Don Freeman, and the Harold and the Purple Crayon series by Crockett Johnson. An important type of story book to include for preschoolers is traditional children s literature, such as fairy tales, folk tales, and other familiar classics. These are stories that have been passed down from generation to generation. Classic stories and tales from many cultures have been adapted to picture books for young children. A good classic for this age will limit sentences per page, but hold true to the story. 16 Children learn much from traditional stories: Life lessons such as being wise, kind, and honest and working hard. Reading conventions such as plot, beginning, middle, and end as well as concepts as diverse as counting, size, feelings, overcoming fear, and appropriate behavior.
8 Classics often have repetitious/rhyming phrases that allow children to chime in during shared reading (i.e. Run, run as fast as you can. You can t catch me. I m the gingerbread man, I ll huff and I ll puff and I ll blow your house down! ) Author Paul Galdone has written children s versions of classics such as Three Little Pigs, Three Billy Goats Gruff, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, Henny Penny, and The Gingerbread Man. Classic folk tales from other cultures have been adapted for children s books. An Asian tale, The Funny Little Woman by Arlene Mosel and an African tale, Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People s Ears by Verna Aardema are good examples. Most children are drawn to and relate to the predicaments of the characters in classics. Classic stories are alluded to in other literature in later grades; therefore, such stories provide a strong foundation for later literacy and school success. They should be part of every child s life. It is best to avoid books that put modern television or movie characters in a classic story as this is a way to market or sell their product and can confuse young children (e.g. Donald Duck as the Pied Piper). Wordless Picture Books are storybooks with no text. They are wonderful for promoting conversation between parent and child. Language skills are practiced as the reader/child must supply the words. Shared/dialogic reading strategies such as asking who, what, and where questions, predicting, or relating (talking about feelings/actions of child in a similar situation) enrich parent-child conversations. The child can tell the story by looking at the action in the pictures. A Boy, A Dog, and A Frog, by Mercer Mayer and Good Dog, Carl by Alexandra Day are nice examples. Another wordless picture book, Deep in the Forest by Brinton Turkle is a fun twist on Goldilocks and the Three Bears. A child familiar with the classic story will enjoy telling this story of a little bear that sneaks into a human home and does all the same things Goldilocks did in the bear s home. Informational Books (expository text) are non-fiction books about specific topics such as firemen, the doctor s office, trucks, boats, animals, insects, food, homes, people, etc. Informational books do not tell a story, but convey information about a process or the world around us. Research shows exposure to informational books lead to a bigger vocabulary. 3,9 Exposure to informational books in preschool enhances later reading achievement. Informational books help children prepare for reading nonfiction text such as science books that will be required in later elementary school. 3 Both adult and child tend to talk more when looking at informational books. Parents can find informational books on any subjects of interest to their child. For example, a child fascinated by trucks would enjoy Trucks by Anne Rockwell. Gail Gibbons has written many information books on topics as diverse as firefighters, trains, farms, and flying. Several authors have series of books about insects, animals, and growing plants. Children also enjoy looking at and discussing pictures in an informational book above their grade level if allowed toset their own pace. For example, a child interested in the giant
9 machines seen at a construction site may enjoy looking at and talking about an adult magazine or brochure that sells heavy vehicles and equipment. 17 Concept Books teach pre-academic concepts, such as colors, numbers, and the alphabet. They do not have a story line, but usually have a theme. There are many attractive concept books geared for each child s interests. Alphabet books usually have a letter per page with pictures of objects that start with that letter. They are important because they help children understand the function of letters in writing and increase awareness of phonemes (the smallest sound of speech). 16,18 Examples of good alphabet books are Eating the Alphabet: Fruits and Vegetables from A to Z by Lois Ehler, Alphabetics by Suse MacDonald, and K is for Kiss Goodnight by Jill Sardegna. Picture books with attractive and fun illustrations that include math concepts help children understand, verbalize, and see practical uses for counting, shapes, measuring, patterns. 19,20 Many good books help children understand math concepts. The list below provides an example for each math concept, but most books connect more than one concept (e.g. counting and colors). 21 Counting: Ten, Nine, Eight by Molly Bang (also a great bedtime story) Measurement (weight): Who Sank the Boat by Pamela Allen (as each animal hops in the boat, it gets lower) Patterns: Ten Little Rabbits by Virgina Grossman (the rabbits have blankets with different Native American patterns) Shapes: Color Zoo by Lois Ehlert (basic geometric shapes triangles, squares, circles, rectangles, ovals make up the animals in a cut out book) Spatial sense: Where s the Fly by Caron Lee Cohen (fly on dogs is nose seen from different perspectives) Predictable books allow children to learn the words of a book quickly because they have a sentence or phrase that repeats on each or most pages or rhymes that are easy and fun to say. This allows the child to memorize the words and chime in while the book is being read. Children can soon recite the text verbatim while looking at the book independently. Predictable books help children begin to think of themselves as readers. Saying the words all by themselves (pretending to read) help them gain a sense of reading selfefficacy. Predictable books are sometimes referred to as controlled language books or controlled vocabulary books as they fewer words than narrative or expository text. The text generally does not lend itself to defining new words or vocabulary building. With predictable books, children learn the word meaning through picture cues rather than definitions in the text. Elements that make a good book predictable are 9 : Rhyme. Children easily guess the word when they both hear the rhyme and see the illustration (e.g. Bright Eyes, Brown Skin by Cheryl Willis Hudson).
10 Repetition. The basic sentence stays the same with just a few words changed each page (e.g. The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle, Henny Penny by Paul Galdone). Use of a refrain. Somewhat like the chorus of a song, the refrain is repeated several times throughout the book. It often has a rhythmic quality as well (e.g. Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin, Jr.). Cumulative text. A new sentence is added with each page building on the one before (e.g. The Napping House by Audrey Wood, Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain: A Nandi Tale by Verna Aardema, Jump Frog, Jump by Robert Kalan). One idea or sentence per page. Each page has just one idea or thought, but each is related in some way (e.g. Rosie s Walk by Pat Hutchins). Poems, Songs, and Rhyming Books include traditional literature (nursery rhymes and songs) as well as modern literature. Children are first exposed to rhyming as young infants when their parents entertain or comfort them with nursery rhymes such as Pat-A-Cake or Do You Know the Muffin Man. 9 From infancy on, children delight in hearing their parents sing and/or say nursery rhymes. These familiar rhymes can be found in books. Songs, poems, and rhymes are important because they teach phonological awareness. Phonological awareness is sensitivity to the structure of language and the ability to notice or attend to and manipulate the sounds of language/speech independently of the meaning of the word. 18 Listening to songs and poems gives children practice in paying attention to language structure or the sounds of speech ( i.e. first sounds, rhyming sounds, syllables). Young children seem to have a natural inclination to play with the sounds of language. They eagerly fill in the missing rhyme in a familiar book and easily notice the similarity between the sound of hat and cat. Parents and teachers can build on this inclination by including this category of books and playing word games with children. For example a parent may say, Go get your goat, (meaning coat) or let s eat this bapple (for apple) giving the preschooler a fun opportunity to correct the adult or think up other rhyming nonsense words. Phonological awareness is related to later success with reading and spelling. 18 There are many versions of Mother Goose and other traditional poems and nursery rhymes. Every child should be exposed to these classics both verbally and in books. A version that is easy to read, with one poem per page is Mother Goose Remembers illustrated by Clare Beaton. Most preschoolers enjoy the humorous rhyming books of Dr. Seuss (Theodor Geisel) such as Green Eggs and Ham, One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish Blue Fish, and The Cat In the Hat to name a few. The How do Dinosaurs series by Jane Yolen combines lessons in good manners with rhymes children find hilarious.
11 Quality Books Matter. Quality books increase children s motivation for books and reading. Elements that contribute to a quality book for preschoolers are 1,22 : Pictures in the book are attractive and uncluttered. Pictures illustrate the story in such a way that a non-reader might understand the story simply by looking at the pictures. The pictures and the text go together. Each enhances the message of the other. The story has a universal theme (e.g. right versus wrong, hard work produces results, cleverness, caring). The story is conveyed with few words (1 to 4 sentences per page). The characters are believable, interesting or charming, dynamic and/or realistic. The story has a good plot with tension and a goal, changes in the character that we can relate to or are touched by, and a satisfying conclusion. The words speak to you and convey the story effectively. The theme is well-developed, the message is sensitive and satisfying, and whether it is serious or humorous, it draws in the reader effectively. The book has read-aloud qualities, such as rhythm, rhyme, or repetition that invite children to chime in with the reader. A good book or story for preschoolers should be interesting at any age. If it s boring to an adult, it will probably be boring to a child. Books that advertise toys, movies, and other commercial products are generally not considered quality books. Parents may be interested in organizations that officially name quality books for children. Since 1937, The American Library Association has given two awards each year for new children s books, the Caldecott Medal and the Newberry Medal. The Newberry Medal is awarded for the most distinguished American children s book published the year before. The Caldecott Medal is given to the most distinguished picture book. These books are clearly marked with the medal on the front cover making them easy to find in a library or book store. In addition, the selecting committee names several Newberry and Caldecott Honor Books (runners up) each year. 23 New York Times also has a committee that gives awards to several picture books they consider to be the best of that past year. Those chosen as Best Illustrated Book have a label on the front cover as well. 24 Finding Good Books The process of acquiring quality books may be challenging for some families due to lowincome, lack of near-by public libraries, lack of information on the importance of having books in the home, or lack of access to children s book in their native language. Providers who make a special effort to help parents acquire books for their children in the early years are promoting long term positive outcomes.
12 Library. The best place to find good books is the local library. Children need access to more books than most families can buy. Their needs and interests change often so a book they enjoyed last year may not continue to hold their attention this year. Librarians are usually more than happy to help find books. When parents and children talk to a librarian, parents model interest in books and show that reading is important. Children should be encouraged to talk about their interests. Parents can remind children of topics they recently found exciting or interesting (snow, dump truck, worms, butterflies etc.) and ask the librarian to help find age appropriate books on that subject. Adult guidance is important but it s a good idea to allow children to pick books too. Borrowing books from the library is an affordable way to have a wide variety books and new books that to take home. Usually all that is needed for a library card is a form of identification that shows the family s address (e.g. driver s license, utility bill). Families who do not check out books can still enjoy reading or attending special events at the library. School. Teachers and schools play a role in getting books to children and families. Some families may not be in the habit of reading at home, have time or feel comfortable going to a library, have a budget for buying books, or understand the importance of home reading for a child s school success. In addition, some parents have barriers such as difficultly finding books in their native language or the parents themselves have poor reading skills and lack of confidence even talking about books. Schools or classrooms with lending libraries of their own can be a family friendly place for parents to borrow books for their children to take home. 25 A classroom/school lending library takes time and resources, but it allows teachers who are familiar with the child and family to help in choosing appropriate books. Some popular children s titles are available in Spanish. For example, many of Eric Carle s books (e.g. The Very Hungry Caterpillar, The Grouchy Ladybug) have been translated. Laura Numeroff s humorous series (If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, If You Give a Pig a Pancake, etc.) have Spanish versions. Paul Galdone adapted classic children s folk tales are available in Spanish. Some books have English text alongside the Spanish. Siesta by Ginger Guy is a brightly illustrated book that tells a story while teaching colors in both languages. Most libraries stock a limited number of children s books in languages other than English. Many bilingual books are available at books stores or online. Purchasing Books. Buying books for special occasions or as gifts such as birthdays sends a message to a child about the importance of books and reading. A book store is a good place to purchase children s book as they usually have a comfortable area for browsing and reading and staff specifically knowledgeable about quality children s books. There are several commercial websites that sell children s books. Some have discounts, used books, or other specials that make purchasing books more affordable. Wherever the family acquires books, having a special place for the child to keep them is another reminder to both child and parent of the importance of reading together. Parents teach children to value and care for books by having a special place to keep them. The child learns to care for books at home and school.
13 WHAT YOU CAN DO Teachers play a key role in teaching parents about choosing books. They can share information about choosing books with parents, provide lists of developmentally appropriate, quality books, create a school-based lending library, and provide information about the local library. Show parents examples of books appropriate for their child s age range and developmental level, particularly those of interest to their child, when parents visit the classroom. Encourage parents of infants to acquire Mother Goose or other nursery rhyme and song books for themselves to help remember poems and songs they may have forgotten since their own childhood. They will be more likely to recite the poems for their infants if a reminder is available. Show parents examples of the various types of books. Describe how each type prepares their child for later learning in elementary school. Maintain a school/classroom lending library. Stock it with a wide variety of quality books. Include bilingual books and books in languages of the families you serve. Show parents examples of quality books and describe the elements that make them so. Make efforts to talk about the book and the child s interest when handing a book to a parent. Describe the type of book, how it contributes to early literacy, and why it might appeal to their child. Show the parent how to use that book to enhance a particular skill (i.e. Good choice, that book helps him learn. ). Point out elements that make it a quality book. Ask parents questions about their family and their child s interests to help them individualize book choices. Let them know the importance of finding books about families that look like their family and books that promote diversity. Share book titles that may be helpful for them in dealing with socialemotional issues their child is experiencing. For example if the child is afraid to go to bed, the parent might want to have a copy of There s a Nightmare in My Closet by Mercer Mayer. Children enjoy a humorous look at anger and frustration in Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina. Encourage parents to schedule time daily for reading to their child by pointing out the later benefits for the child (e.g. bigger vocabulary, better grades, higher self-esteem, pleasure and motivation to read). Provide information about local public libraries (i.e. locations, hours, services, how to get a library card, special event calendars). Encourage families to: Get a library card. Spend time at the local library
14 Ask a librarian for help finding award-winning books and books that reflect their child s age and interests. Most libraries provide handouts on suggested books for children of various ages. RESOURCES Local libraries Books for parents: Einstein Never Used Flashcards, by Kathy Hirsh-Pasek & Roberta Michnick Golinkoff The New York Times Parent s Guide to the Best Books for Children, by Eden Ross Lipson A list of Caldecott winners can be found at: ecottwinners/caldecottmedal.cfm TIPS for more information: REFERENCES 02-D2a-j Reading 02-D4a-b Dad and Reading 1. Baker I. What makes a great children's book? Scholastic Parent & Child. 2005;13: Neuman SB, Roskos K. Whatever happened to developmentally appropriate practice in early literacy. Young Children. 2005; Dwyer J, Neuman S. Selecting books for children birth through four: A developmental approach. Early Childhood Education Journal. 2008;35: Padak N, Rasinski T. Home-school partnerships in literacy education: From rhetoric to reality. The Reading Teacher. 2006;60: Waldbart A, Meyers B, Meyers J. Invitations to families in an early literacy support program. Reading Teacher. 2006;59: Walbart A, Meyers B, & Meyers J. Invitations to families in an early literacy support program. The Reading Teacher. 2006;59: Hirsh-Pasek K, Golinkoff R. Einstein Never used Flashcards: How our Children really Learn - and Why they Need to Play More and Memorize Less. New York: Rodale; Honig AS. Sharing books with babies. Early Childhood Today. 2004;18: Schickedanz JA. Much More than the ABCs: The Early Stages of Reading and Writing. Washington D.C.: National Association for the Education of Young Children; Russ S, Perez V, Garro N, et al. Reading Across the Nation: A Chartbook. Boston, MA: Reach Out and Read National Center; 2007.
15 11. Whitehurst GJ, Falco FL, Lonigan CJ, et al. Accelerating language development through picture book reading. Dev Psychol. 1988;24: Anselmo S, Franz WK. Early Childhood Development: Prebirth through Age Eight. 2nd ed. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Merrill; Neuman SB, Copple C, Bredekamp S, National Association for the Education of Young Children. Learning to Read and Write: Developmentally Appropriate Practices for Young Children. Washington D.C.: National Association for the Education of Young Children; Morrison GS. Early Childhood Education Today. 10th ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Merrill Prentice Hall; Steiner SF, Nash CP, Chase M. Multicultural literature that brings people together. Reading Teacher. 2008;62: Strickland DS, Morrow LM. Family literacy: Sharing good books (emerging readers and writers). Reading Teacher. 1990;43: Katz LG, Helm JH. Young Investigators: The Project Approach in the Early Years. New York: Teacher College Press; Yopp HK, Yopp RH. Phonogogical awareness is child's play. Young Children. 2009;64: McDonald S, Rasch S. Picture books + math = fun. Book Links. 2004;14: Shatzer J. Picture book power: Connecting children's literature and mathematics. The Reading Teacher. 2008;61: Copley JV. The Young Child and Mathematics. Washington, D.C.: National Association for the Education of Young Children; Kyle T. Children's collection development: Good books, or books kids like? Feliciter. 2008;54: American Library Association. About the Caldecott medal. Available at: tcaldecott/aboutcaldecott.cfm. Accessed 4/22, Lipson ER. The New York Times Parent's Guide to the Best Books for Children. 3rd ed. USA: Random House; Milam C, Martinez L. Building biliteracy through a home-reading program, PK Available from: host-live&scope=site.
16 CHOOSING CHILDREN S BOOKS NEWBORN TO 6 MONTHS 02-D3a Parent Messages Quick Reference During infancy, parents can begin setting the stage for their child to become a good reader. Young infants respond to simple bright pictures with contrasting background and to hearing songs and nursery rhymes, especially when the parent uses a soft or higher pitched voice. Parents can observe an infant s cues to know when to set the book or picture aside. Parent Skills Chooses books or pictures with simple lines and light background in first few months and then cloth or vinyl books when infant can grasp. Spends time daily quietly talking, singing, and looking at books or pictures with infant. Allows mouthing or banging on books. Follows infant s lead in turning pages. Responds to infant s overstimulation cues by changing activity. Makes reading together a time of warmth and positive attention. Dear Parents, CHOOSING CHILDREN S BOOKS NEWBORN TO 6 MONTHS Parent Tip Even though I m tiny, reading to me now will help me be ready for school later. I love to be close to you and hear your voice. Hold me close and show me pictures while you talk or sing softly. 1 to 3 months: I focus on pictures with simple black lines on a light background. I like when you change your voice to a higher pitch and say or sing nursery rhymes and songs. 4 to 6 months: I will probably mouth, grab, or bang on books. Washable cloth or vinyl books are best. I like looking at simple, bright pictures. I like to hear you sing songs or nursery rhymes. Touch my hands or name parts of my body while you sing (Pat-a-Cake; This Little Piggy). Thanks, Your Child Watch for signs of overstimulation (yawning, pushing or turning away, crying). Your baby has had too much and it s time to do something else. ELIGIENDO LIBROS PARA NIÑOS RECIÉN NACIDO A 6 MESES Queridos Padres, A pesar de que yo sea pequeñito, leerme ahora me ayudara a estar listo para el colegio mas tarde. Yo adoro estar cerca de ustedes y escuchar su vos. Ténganme cerca y muéstrenme imágenes mientras me hablan o cantan suavemente. 1 to 3 meses: Yo me puedo concentrar en imágenes con líneas negras simples con un fondo suave. A mi me gusta cuando ustedes cambian su vos a un tono alto y dicen versos y cantan canciones de cuna. 4 to 6 meses: yo probablemente morderé, agarrare o golpeare con los libros. Libros de tela lavable o vinilo son los mejores. Me gusta mirar lo simple, imágenes brillantes. Me gusta escuchar canciones y versos de cuna. Toque mis manos y nombre partes de mi cuerpo mientras canta (palmaditas). Gracias, Su Hijo Mire los signos de sobreestimulacion (bostezar, empujar o quererse ir, llorar). Eso significa que su hijo ha tenido ya mucho y es tiempo de hacer algo más.
17 CHOOSING CHILDREN S BOOKS 7 TO 9 MONTHS 02-D3b Quick Reference Parent Messages This age still likes to mouth, but can do much more including turning pages and focusing attention (joint visual gaze). Even though infants don t seem to be paying attention at times, this early book reading leads to larger vocabulary by 3 years. Larger vocabulary at 3 years associated with success in reading later (see 02-D2 Reading). If infant shows signs of overstimulation, set book or picture aside. Parent Skills Chooses cardboard Point and Say books with bright, simple pictures and no words. Avoids books with paper pages as it s typical for infant to enjoy tearing the pages. Spends time daily looking at books together. Is patient with mouthing or manipulating the book. Follows infants lead in turning pages. Practices joint visual gaze by pointing, labeling, and responding to infant s babbling. CHOOSING CHILDREN S BOOKS 7 TO 9 MONTHS Parent Tip Dear Parents, I like to mouth, bang, and grab on books. I can turn pages too. I like to tear paper, so cardboard books are best. I like bright simple pictures of familiar things. I like photos of babies like me. If we play with books together a lot now, I will be able to look more closely at the pictures by the time I m 9 months old. Help me practice focusing my attention. Point to a picture and name it. Books with 1 to 3 pictures per page and no words are called Point and Say books. They are best for my age. Let me turn the pages or turn the book over. Name the pictures as I come to them. Show me books are fun! Thanks, Your Child Infants this age may seem like they are not paying attention, but they are learning. Parents use more words when they read to their baby. This leads to a larger child vocabulary at age 3. ELIGIENDO LIBROS PARA NIÑOS 7 A 9 MESES Queridos Padres, Me gusta morder, golpear y agarrar los libros. Yo también puedo darle vuelta a la pagina. Me gusta arrancar el papel, por lo tanto libros de cartón son lo mejor. Me gustan imágenes brillantes simples con cosas familiares. Me gustan fotos de bebes como yo. Si nosotros jugamos bastante con libros ahora, yo seré capaz de mirar mas de cerca las imágenes cuando tenga 9 meses de edad. Ayúdenme a practicar a centrar mi atención. Señale una imagen y nómbrela. Libros con 1 a 3 imágenes por página y sin palabras son llamados libros de Señale y Diga. Ellos son los mejores para mi edad. Déjenme darle vuelta a las páginas o al libro. Nombren las imágenes mientras las observo. Muéstrenme que los libros son divertidos! Gracias, Su Hijo Puede parecer que niños de esta edad no están poniendo atención, pero ellos están aprendiendo. Padres usan muchas palabras cuando ellos le leen a sus bebes. Esto conduce a un mayor vocabulario del niño a la edad de 3 anos.
18 Quick Reference CHOOSING CHILDREN S BOOKS 9 TO 18 MONTHS 02-D3c Parent Messages At this stage infants can enjoy a simple story (child taking a bath) but are not ready for story books with plots. Pointing and labeling are useful emergent literacy techniques. Building on these, adults can expand to providing feedback, correcting, and adding more descriptive talk about the pictures. Parent Skills Chooses cardboard books with bright, simple pictures and few words per page. Chooses books with simple stories of things or routines the child is familiar with. Avoids books with paper pages to prevent destruction and hurt feelings. Allows infant to take the lead in acting on the book, including walking away with the book. Keeps interactions with books fun. Parent Tip CHOOSING CHILDREN S BOOKS 9 TO 18 MONTHS Dear Parents, 9 to 12 months: I say my first words. I begin to be interested in what the book is about. I like books about things I do, like take a bath or get dressed. Cardboard books with a few words on each page are best. I may still tear paper. Point and label the pictures and now ask me to do it too. 12 to 18 months: I say and understand more words. I may jabber along while you read, especially books that repeat words. I like simple stories with children who look like me doing things I do. Keep pointing and labeling, but now add more. If I say doggie, ask me what a dog says. If I point to a cow and say doggie, tell me the right word. Thanks, Your Child It s okay if your baby walks away in the middle. Keep it fun and she will come back for more later. ELIGIENDO LIBROS PARA NIÑOS 9 A 18 MESES Queridos Padres, 9-12 meses: Yo digo mis primeras palabras. Yo empiezo a estar interesada acerca de que es el libro. A mi me gustan libros acerca de cosas que yo hago, como tomar un baño o vestirme. Libros de cartón con algunas palabras en cada página, son los mejores. Yo puedo tirar del papel todavía. Señale y nombre las imágenes y ahora requiérame a mí que lo haga también meses: Yo digo y entiendo más palabras. Yo puedo balbucear solo mientras ustedes leen, especialmente libros que repiten las palabras. Me gustan historias simples con ninos que se parecen a mi, hacienda cosas que yo hago. Manténganse señalando y nombrando las cosas, pero ahora adicionen más. Si yo digo perrito, pregúntenme como el perro hace. Si yo señalo una vaca y digo perrito, díganme la palabra correcta. Gracias, Su Niño Esta bien si s u hijo se aleja a la mitad de la actividad. Mantenga esto entretenido y el volverá por mas, mas tarde.
19 CHOOSING CHILDREN S BOOKS 19 TO 30 MONTHS 02-D3d Quick Reference Parent Messages By this age, toddlers are ready for books with stories that have simple plots. They enjoy stories with children like themselves and simple predictable books. Continue earlier strategies to promote emergent literacy but add conversational elements such as comments and questions that relate the story to child s life or interests. Parent Skills Chooses story books with simple plots, action pictures, and few words per page. Chooses books with stories of things child does (i.e. get dressed, lose a toy, take a bath) Chooses simple predictable books (repeat and/or rhyme). Leads a conversation about the book with questions and comments that relate the story and pictures in the book to child s life. Keeps interactions with books fun. Allows child to stop when ready. Parent Tip CHOOSING CHILDREN S BOOKS 19 TO 30 MONTHS Parents, At this age children are able to have simple conversations. They are ready for books with real pages and simple stories (i.e. short with few words per page). Books about things your child does getting dressed, playing with toys, taking a bath are perfect. Predictable books (repeat words or rhyme) are good too. Here are some good choices: How do I Put it On? by Shigeo Watanabe Being Together by Shirley Hughes Lily and Willy by Martha Alexander Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown Brown Bear, Brown Bear, by Bill Martin Talk about the action on each page. Relate the story to your child s life with comments and questions (i.e. Look, she likes to swing. Do you like to swing? ) It s normal for toddlers to skip pages or get up and walk away. That s okay. The main thing is to keep it fun. ESCOGIENDO LIBROS PARA NINO S 19 A 30 MESES Padres, A esta edad los ninos son capaces de tener conversaciones simples. Ellos están listos para libros con paginas reales e historias simples (e.j cortas, Con algunas palabras por pagina). Libros acerca de las cosas que su niño hace ponerse e la ropa, Jugar con juguetes, tomando un baño son perfectos. Libros predicibles ( que repiten palabras a frases) son buenos también. Aquí están algunas buenas elecciones: How do I Put it On? by Shigeo Watanabe Being Together by Shirley Hughes Lily and Willy by Martha Alexander Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown Brown Bear, Brown Bear, by Bill Martin Hable acerca de las acciones en cada página. Relate la historia como en la vida de su niño con comentarios y preguntas (e.j. Mira, a ella le gusta nadar. Te gusta a ti nadar? ) Es normal que los bebes salten paginas o se levanten y se vallan. Eso esta bien. Lo más importante es mantener esto divertido. Pregunte en la biblioteca por estos o por libros similares es español.
20 CHOOSING CHILDREN S BOOKS ESPECIALLY FOR YOUR CHILD 02-D3e Parent Messages Quick Reference Books that reflect a child s culture, race, and language build self-esteem. Books that show other cultures build respect, empathy, and acceptance of others. Books on topics the child is interested in or stories the child can relate to are appealing. Librarians and teachers can help parents find books that reflect their child s interests, their family s race, culture, and language, as well as books that portray other cultures. Parent Skills Accesses books that reflect child s race, culture, language and interests. Accesses books that reflect other cultures. Asks teacher or librarian for help finding books that illustrate above elements. Parent Tip CHOOSING BOOKS ESPECIALLY FOR YOUR CHILD Dear Parents, Help me find books that are especially for me and stories that I can relate to. Let s look for books that have: Pictures of kids who look like me and stories about families like ours. Characters who try to solve a problem like I ve had. My favorite topics or things you ve noticed I like such as planes, butterflies, teddy bears, big trucks, or worms). Our family s language. Let s ask a librarian or teacher to help find special books for me. Thanks, Your Child Babies and preschoolers benefit from books that show a multi-cultural world. Books that mirror a child s own culture build self-esteem. Looking at books that show people who are different builds respect, empathy, and acceptance of others. ELIGIENDO LIBROS ESPECIALMENTE PARA SU HIJO Queridos Padres, Ayúdenme a encontrar libros que sean especialmente para mí e historias que realmente me gustaran. Miremos por libros que tengan: Imágenes de niños que se parezcan a mi e historias de familias como la nuestra. Personajes quienes tratan de resolver problemas como los que yo he tenido. Mis temas favoritos o cosas que ustedes han notado me gustan como aviones, mariposas, osos de peluche, camiones grandes o gusanos). Nuestro lenguaje familiar. Preguntémosle al bibliotecario o a la profesora por ayuda para encontrar libros especiales para mi. Gracias, Su Hijo Bebes y preescolares se benefician de libros que muestran un mundo multi-cultural. Libros que reflejan la propia cultura del niño construyen auto estima. Busquen libros que muestren a las personas que son diferentes, están desarrollando respeto, empatia y aceptación de los otros.