Not all books are for all children. Depending on what developmental stage your child is in, some books may be more appropriate than others. Keep in mind that “stage” does not mean “age.” Every child develops at a different rate and may follow their own schedule. While this blog is does not contain hard-and-fast rules, it offers a helpful guide for choosing a good book for your child.

Infant/Toddler

Type of Book

“Board” books, or books with thick pages, will survive the brunt of an infant’s habits as well as make it easier for the child to turn the pages on their own. As the child nears the pre-school stage, it is a good idea to introduce them to “hardcover” books with paper pages.

Language and Story

One Dr. Seuss rhyme per page is more appealing to an infant or toddler than a page covered with text. In addition, playful language that teaches children similarities, differences, categories, etc. For example, books with the following are typically appealing to infants and toddlers:

  • Rhyme and rhythm
  • Song
  • Chant books
  • “Pointing” books with a question-and-answer format (i.e. Where is the cat?)

Illustrations

Simple is best. With infants and toddlers, bold illustrations outweigh busy or faint pictures.

How to Read These Types of Kids Books

Chances are children are not reading to themselves at this age. Instead, an adult builds a relationship with the child by reading aloud. Keep in mind that this activity is typically initiated by you and not the child, so be sure to set aside time for reading with your child.

Preschoolers (approximately 3-5 years)

Type of Book

Preschoolers are ready to progress from basic board books to illustrated hardcovers and paperbacks. At this age, the illustrations are still as important as text.

Language and Story

As children attain a better grasp on language, they are ready for a wider variety of books. These can range from:

  • Poetry
  • Stories
  • Informational books
  • ABC books

In general, stories should be kept to a basic plot rather than anything too complicated.

Illustrations

While preschool children don’t need illustrations to be as simple as infants, don’t go overboard with too many details. Bold illustrations are best.

How to Read These Types of Kids Books

Preschool children still need books read to them by adults because the experience is still relationship-based. However, unlike infants, preschoolers can initiate reading on their own. Therefore, keep books on a low shelf where they are easily accessible to your child.

Kindergarten (approximately 5-7 years)

Type of Book

Kindergarteners are typically ready for hardcovers and paperbacks where illustrations are optional.

Language and Story

Basically anything in the children’s books section, including:

  • Fiction
    • Traditional tales
    • Fantasy
    • Historical fiction
    • Series
  • Nonfiction
    • Biography
    • Science
    • History

Illustrations

If illustrations are included in books for kindergarteners, they usually swing to the extremes: either complex and detailed, or minimalist and iconic.

How to Read These Types of Kids Books

By this age, children should have the freedom to choose the book they want to read without being judged by teachers or parents. Some may even be able to read on their own. However, since a child’s auditory vocabulary is more developed than their reading ability, reading aloud is still important.

For great book suggestions, take a look at North American Montessori’s Book of the Month blog.

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