Let’s face it: there are a lot of children’s books to choose from. It can be difficult to tell the difference between the quality books and the useless ones. While there is no straight-out formula for what makes worthwhile kids books, some general guidelines can help narrow your search.
Balance Teaching with Good Story Telling
Kids’ books have stories that are intrinsically infused with moral, social, and personal lessons. However, there is a difference between providing the “moral of the story” and shoving that moral down the child’s throat. Good stories for children are:
- Genuine – The story’s goal is to help and entertain the child first. All other intentions come in second.
- Believable – Even fantasy-based stories should feel real in the way characters interact with one another. After all, what better lesson to teach your child than “anything is possible”?
- Captivating – Essentially, does the story appeal to your child? Holding the attention of a kid for any amount of time is a task in itself, but a child will enjoy a good story enough to pause in the real world and dive into a fictional one.
Illustrations and Text Should Work Together
One of the most essential traits of kids’ books is the relationship between the text and illustrations. If the book does include both text and illustrations (some books are all-pictures), take into consideration how one entity supports the other. The text in kids books should do more than describe what’s happening in the illustration, and the illustration should imply more to the story other than what the simple text can provide.
In addition, it’s easy to grab the first book on display in the bookstore or on amazon.com, but these books are typically mass produced by television shows and movies targeted at children. While the characters and illustrations are immediately recognizable, this does not mean they make a quality kids book. Take the time to look through the rest of the children’s section to find something worthwhile for your kid.
“Old” Does Not Mean “Classic”
Don’t choose a book just because you liked it as a child. While some older books have stood the test of time, many are not relevant to the next generation. Try and expand your scope to the many newer books available to children today.
Books for Developmental Stages
Not all books are for all children. Certain books will appeal to your child more than others depending on where they are developmentally. This is not to say that you shouldn’t challenge your child. After all, kids books are meant to teach as well as entertain. However, it may be helpful to follow these general guidelines when choosing a book for your child.
Stay Tuned for the NAMCC Book of the Month
For great kids’ books suggestions, check out NAMCC’s book of the month. Each month features a recently released book that follows the guidelines above.