How To Choose A Book For Your Preschooler

Tap your preschooler's creative energy by choosing books that stimulate imagination and help to prepare him or her for school.

Preschoolers love to explore new things and new ideas. Consequently, presenting a book can be a wonderful gift for holidays or a birthday.

But you need not wait for a special occasion on which to buy your preschooler a book. As a treat or an outing with a family member, take her to the local library or bookstore and have fun browsing. Not only will she have fun, she will be taking the first steps to academic success.

Preschoolers who are read aloud to develop important listening, comprehension, and critical thinking skills that will help them become good students. Kids who were read to three times or more weekly demonstrated stronger reading and study skills than those whose were not read to. If your preschooler begins to recognize words and read for enjoyment, the benefits become even more significant.

There are many good books for preschool children available in a variety of libraries and stores. Here are some tips for making a good reading choice:

1. Let your children browse the preschool section at a favorite store or the public library. Guide them into selecting books based not just on attractive covers, but on key words or themes. For example, point to the horse behind the little boy on the cover and suggest that the story will be about the boy and a horse. Comments like these help your preschooler begin to identify key words and concepts.

2. The book cover's labeling should include an age advisory. Look for indications that this book is suitable for preschoolers. Buying one that is geared for younger or older readers may turn off your child to reading for some time. Don't lose this important opportunity to cultivate a life-long learning opportunity.

3. Discuss the title with your child. Will the topic interest your son or daughter with a theme or conflict that will prove interesting, such as losing a tooth, starting school, playing with pets, or making friends? Read a few sample lines or a page together to see if it looks like a good fit with your child's interests.

4. Is there a lesson? Even fictional stories offer a main idea that helps children to learn a valuable truth about themselves or about life. Perhaps the story is about losing a grandparent or moving to another state. It may be about a party that doesn't go well or a misdeed that gets caught. Try to discern the story's direction as you look through the book to be sure it's good for your child. Sometimes an author will glamorize an inappropriate behavior that can mislead young readers.

5. Look for readable style. Sentences should be short. Preschoolers may begin to recognize words and simple sentence structures. The right kind of book can help them practice these important skills. Are vocabulary words understandable? Do they paint mental images?

6. Do accompanying images enhance the story? Children may be drawn to a book because of pictures, so if they are not particularly exciting your child's interest in reading may wane. Images should support the plot by stimulating a reader's imagination. Some books even provide crayons and blank space for children to draw their own accompanying pictures.

7. Look for quality publishing. Choose a book with a firm binding. You may want to purchase a vinyl or plastic book cover for added protection. Let your child write his or her name inside to convey a sense of ownership and responsibility for care of the book. Find a place in the child's bedroom for storing prized possessions like a new book.

Reinforce a family reading time as an opportunity to promote healthy mental growth and to prepare your child for success in school. Reading is the single most important habit a parent can encourage in a child that can have a substantial impact on your child's academic performance even through the college years.

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