There’s such a wealth of books available that sometimes making a choice can be overwhelming. Children also appreciate a guiding hand and are delighted when you suggest something they end up really enjoying, whatever their age.
First you will need somewhere to record your list. Whether you opt for a spreadsheet, a word document or a good old-fashioned notebook, once started the list will grow and develop to reflect your ideas and your child’s changing interest and reading abilities. Personally I like the idea of a little notebook that I can have on me at all times, jotting down ideas when I see a good book in the library or bookshop or when someone recommends something. Over time your child may choose to have their own notebook or to add to yours.
When you start sharing books with your baby they have no direct influence on what you show them, but even by their first birthday you will have recognised some things that interest them more than others and this knowledge can help you find books that will inspire them and their interest in reading. Having said that, it is also worth throwing in some unusual or unexpected choices as it is good to encourage your child to try new subjects or genres especially as they get older. Discovering a new series, author or field of interest is exciting at any age.
During the early years you will also want to choose books which will help them learn different concepts from colours, numbers, opposites and shapes to sharing, using a potty and going to bed. The idea of including books that tell a child something you would like them to know doesn’t stop when they head off to school. Most really good books teach us something even if they appear only to be telling a story. Using books to help a child understand an emotion or new aspect of their lives can be invaluable. The arrival of a sibling, starting school, going to the dentist or a visit to the hospital are difficult subjects for children and much of their anxiety can be alleviated if you share a book with them on the subject.
So where do you go to discover books to add to your list? Start with your own personal favourites from childhood, and those of siblings and other family members. Professionals such as teachers, booksellers and librarians are a great source of ideas. Other parents, children and friends will all have favourites. Spending time browsing in a good bookshop or library will have you eagerly scribbling down ideas. And there are often reviews of books on television, radio and in newspapers and magazines. There are also some very inspiring book blogs which can steer you in the right direction.
Your book list should be on-going, always being added to. You could use it to record your child’s reaction to a book and later on they could begin using ‘star ratings’ for books which will act as a guide for future reference.
Reading must always be fun, to be considered a form of play not a task so never put pressure on your child to read. Make sure your book list is an inspiration rather than a list they have to work their way through.