As children grow, their interests begin to develop with their personalities. Choose books that appeal to their interests. If you are lucky enough to be nearby, go with them to the library, talk with the librarians, and help them choose books for their reading level and interests.
Whether at the library or the bookstore, take the time to carefully look at the books you are considering. If you are choosing a picture book, read it through. If you are looking for a chapter book, read passages from the beginning, the middle and near the end in order to get an idea of the writing, the characters and the gist of the plot.
In my opinion, there is nothing like holding a book in your hands, turning the pages and feeling the paper. However, I am also enamored with ebooks and love them, too. If your youngsters have access to computers or tablets, there are wonderful digital versions of many children’s books. The convenience of ebooks cannot be denied. Some also include not only the “pages” but also audio for solo listening, if you are not there to read with your bird.
Another way to share books with your grandchild is to record yourself reading a special or favorite book. There are a number of ways to do this, by using a webcam on your computer and video software, YouTube or Vimeo, or without the video. There are also recordable books that will record your voice reading the story, so that your youngster will hear you reading the story each time he or she opens the book and turns the pages.
There is help for choosing specific titles for your specific gift giving or sharing. The classics and award winners are always good choices. Sharing books that you loved and that your chicks (the parents of your grandchildren) loved are wonderful places to start. Telling your bird that their parent really liked it when you read this book to him or her when they were little creates a special link between the generations. Here are some resources to find books for children of all ages:
- My library, Cuyahoga County Public Library, compiles a list every year, Great Books for Kids: A Collection of Great Books and Gift Ideas for Kids. I can’t wait each year for suggestions for my little ones.
- Go to your local public library. The children’s librarians there will be eager to share suggestions and tips. This is a good place to “try before you buy.” Browse and see what appeals to you. Local bookstores are also good places to find new and interesting, as well as classic books.
- The Reading is Fundamental, Inc. website has a good tip sheet on choosing children’s books.
- Scholastic has a wealth of information for parents on choosing books and lists for different age ranges.
- The Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), a division of the American Library Association, yearly presents the Caldecott and the Newbery Medals for children’s literature as well as other children’s literature awards. The Caldecott Medal is for the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children and the Newbery Medal is to the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children. You can find not only the current year’s list but the annual awards back to 1938, including many classics.
A book does not have to be an award winner to be a “good” book; it just has to be one your young one enjoys. And if it is one you enjoy also, your enthusiasm will shine through. What a wonderful gift to share with your bird, the joy of reading and the making of lasting memories.
Jeanne Sapir is a librarian in Northeast Ohio. She is a mother of three and grandmother to six charming birds. She loves visiting her grandchildren and sharing books with them. Each story they experience together is a new memory she has to cherish.