How to Choose the Right Books for my Child

“I don’t know which books are good for my child.”

It’s hard to know which books your child will enjoy or will be able to read. We have one strategy that may help. Follow the 5-finger rule! 

Ask you child to make a fist. Ask them to put up one finger for each word they don’t know or can’t read while reading one page of a book to check if that book is the right level. 

Checklist for the 5 Finger Rule:

  1. Zero or only 1 finger up? This book could be too easy for your child’s level
  2. 2 or 3 fingers up? You an understand the meaning of the context
  3. 4 or 5 fingers up? You can read the book with help from others
  4. Need more fingers? This book is too difficult for your child’s current level. 

Check out our Instagram post here 

An alternative way of selecting books for your child is based on age, as this links to the books and reading activities done at school. 

Ages 1-3 Select Children’s Books containing pictures of objects, animals and other things

At this age, it is important to link objects to the right spoken words that describe them than to teach children how to read. One good way to do this is to have children look at the objects around them and repeat the words. Picture books are the best as parents can help their child articulate each syllable precisely and then repeat the words together. 

Ages 4-5 Choose books with repeated complete sentences

This is when children who have been speaking in monosyllables begin to pour out spoken language in a jumble of subjects and predicates. They will say something and watch how their parents and other adults respond, and begin utilising a more varied vocabulary. From this point on, it is important to read books that contain proper sentences with subject, predicate and object.

Ages 6-7 Read books of stories with good plot development

At this stage, books with a clear protagonist and an interesting development in the story, such as folk tales are the most suitable. Though it will be different with every child, books that can be finished in a single sitting of 20-30 minutes are recommended. 

Ages 8-9 Read factual books to expand vocabulary

This is when children quickly develop their vocabulary. As such, creative stories allow them to have indirect, visual experiences that explain various actions, objects, and phenomena. This will help them greatly in their linguistic development. Try some more non-fiction books and texts (magazines etc) to expand their vocabulary into more niche areas. This will put them on the fast track to discovering what they are interested in and what they want to pursue. 

Ages 10-13 Help to increase thinking ability with books of all topics

This is when thinking ability multiplies tremendously. Children at this stage will begin to learn that the world does not revolve around them, and that they must create relationships with others throughout their lives. Their vocabulary will also expand to include abstract language. This allows them to read a variety of books on many topics such as literature, science, history, geography, politics, economics, art, philosophy and so on. 

Reading begins as a solitary experience, but it is important for children to have the opportunity to read books together and have a discussion. As a way to interact with your child, here are 7 strategies to improve reading comprehension. 

If you want some Australian Children’s Book suggestions, the CBCA is a fantastic place to start. Their vision is to create a community that celebrates quality Australian literature for young people.

It is important to continue to advocate for local authors and illustrators so that children of all ages have a greater variety of stories to better understand the world around them. Without our local authors, illustrators, artists and voices we wouldn’t be able to learn more about our home, Australia. Consider reading, purchasing and borrowing books produced here first, there is just so much on offer!

Randwick City Library currently has an offer where you can reserve a 10-pack bundle of picture books!

Liverpool City Library has a great How to Have Fun at Library Programs blog – check it out!

Fairfield City Library has a great resources section you can use. Offering HSC resources and textbooks you can borrow too.

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