by Fiona Ingram, a  South African writer who loves books, travel, animals, antiques, and adventures of all kinds! Read Fiona’s author site and find out about her recently published children’s adventure novel

Choosing books wisely for a child is important because young children are impressionable. If your child develops a love for reading, it will create a solid foundation in their literacy and education skills and possibly even influence their life and career choices.

Children usually begin to read around the ages of 4 to 6. A child may even begin earlier, especially if the parent has formed a habit of bedtime reading with the child.

However, many parents may not know how to choose age appropriate books for their child. Choose books for your child around their age, interests, and the type of books they have already read and enjoyed. Make reading exciting by exploring great stories together from an early age!

Ages 0-5 (Preschool)

In this age group, children need interesting stimulation and colorful visuals to promote vision and identification with objects, people, and animals. Board books, fabric books, pop-up books, and picture books are loads of fun to share with Mom and Dad. Slippers, Sunny Days & Starry Nights, and Leon the Lizard.

Ages 7-9 (Chapter)

Chapter books are the next step for this age group. Chapters are usually short with exciting story lines, and the beginnings of more complex character and plot development. Parents can also encourage their children to think beyond the story by asking the child’s opinion of the character’s actions and choices. Children can also retell the story to the parent in their own words. In this way, parents can track their child’s development of logic, memory, and comprehension skills. Illustrations will help the child appreciate and remember the story. Spiderwick Chronicles, The Witches, Hero, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Magical kids.

Ages 10+ (Middle grade+)

Now children begin to enjoy more complex themes and character developments, as well as elements in the characters to which they can relate. They like characters that are children solving problems, or children with problems, and start to form a moral, ethical, and emotional picture of the world. They will also begin to make their own reading choices. Your child will love reading if books capture the child’s attention. Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, The Kane Chronicles, The Book Thief

Problematic Themes

Sexuality and violence are worrying themes. The older the child the more independent they will be regarding book choices. From teen and YA years, choices will be up to the individual. By then the child’s upbringing and moral training will help them make their own decisions. Concerned parents should watch what their teen is reading but remain open to discussing controversial issues. Popular teen/YA choices include The Hunger Games, Inheritance Cycle, and the Twilight series.

Publishing houses categorize book lists on their web sites. A local librarian can also advise on appropriate choices. Most children read up so allow your child to select a more advanced book than usual for their age group. Above all, let your child explore and find the books that they love!

(All titles available from Exclusive Books or CNA)

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