How to Choose Age Appropriate Books for Your Child

how to choose age appropriate books for your child

Learn how to choose age appropriate books for your child. It isn’t as hard as you might think! The guidelines below will help you choose the right books for your child so they can read quality children’s literature no matter what level of reading ability.

For more on how to choose books for your child check out this video.


How to Choose Age Appropriate Books for a Child of Any Age

Step one is to commit to using REAL books for teaching reading, instead of boring and contrived phonics books. But one thing to keep in mind is that children need the RIGHT BOOKS to read in order to make progress. Here’s what to look for when choosing age-appropriate books for your child to read.

Keep these guidelines in mind when choosing the right books for your child. The age-appropriate guidelines are based on generalities but children all progress through reading development stages at their own pace, so don’t worry if your child is not lining up exactly with these guidelines.

How to Choose Age Appropriate Baby or Toddler Books

Key Features to look for:

– board books

– easy to hold books that they can page through

– letters or one word only that directly matches the picture on each page

– photographs are preferable over drawings (especially for babies who need the clear, crisp representation of real objects)

– lots of white space on each page

How to Choose Age-Appropriate Books for Emergent Readers (pre-kindergarten/late toddler stage)

Key Features to look for:

– minimal text – one or two words on the page

– very large font

– repetitive structure: The boy. The dog. The cat.

– familiar language

– pictures dominate and tell the story

How to Choose Age Appropriate Books for Emergent/Beginning Readers (kindergarten level)

Key Features to look for:

– a direct picture to text matching

– pictures still dominate the page

– repeated patterns and phrases: Polar Bear, Polar Bear, what do you hear?

– a few words or one sentence per page

– large font

– some rhyming words and obvious sight words or high-frequency words like color words, number words, or the days of the week.

– one basic concept or a simple plot

– one or two characters in the story

How to Choose Age Appropriate Books Beginning Readers (first grade)

Key Features to look for:

– pictures that strongly support the text (it is okay for kids to use the pictures as clues when decoding unknown words)

– high frequency and sight words

– few sentences per page

– medium-sized font

– simple plot or concept

– one and two-syllable words: teacher, farmer, someday, happy

– simple dialogue

– main characters with some supporting characters

-introduction of past tense verbs and suffixes: -ed, -ly, -ing, -er

How to Choose Age Appropriate Books for Developing Readers (end of first grade into second)

Key Features to look for:

– pictures enhance the story but do not provide for specific clues about print

– less repetition of words and phrases

– paragraphs are introduced

– short and simple chapter structure

– compound sentences: The dog walked home and sat down in his chair.

– dialogue between characters

– introduction of compound words and multi-syllabic words: mailman, butterfly, everywhere, exactly

– more complex plot or storyline: a problem and resolution

Keep These Things in Mind When Choosing Age Appropriate Books for Your Child

  • All children progress at their own pace so the developmental/grade range given is a standard but may be different at different stages for each child and some children may stay in one stage longer than others. Wait until your child is ready to move to the next level of books before introducing them.
  • This applies to books your child practices with you or reads on their own. Read-aloud books can be any books you and your child are interested in and preferably above your child’s level so they learn new vocabulary and enjoy complex stories with captivating characters.
  • Much of the child’s “reading” in the Baby to Emergent Reader phases is memorizing books, that is why the repetitive nature and attachment to pictures are so important.

**For more book recommendations see the Appendices in Teach a Child to Read with Children’s Books. Need your copy now? PURCHASE HERE


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