Books For All Ages

Reading is one of life's greatest pleasures. It can take us to far away places, introduce us to unforgettable characters, set our mind free of all stress and worry, and teach us fascinating things about ourselves; our world. And of course, the ability to read helps us to cope efficiently with everyday life for much of our ability to get ahead, to become what we always dreamed of being, is rooted in our capacity to recognize words.

Reading To Infants

Even at the infant stage children learn the value of books. Much of the attraction is the sound of their parent's or caregiver's voice, the rhythm of nursery rhymes, the melody of song. Pictures, too, play an important role in the charm. In their book, Make Your Child A Lifelong Reader, authors Jacquelyn Gross, Ed.D. and Leonard Gross, note the following guidelines for choosing Starter Books For The Very Young.

Look for clear and forceful illustrations and typeface.

Look for subject matter which your child can relate to.
Look for text and illustrations that elicit physical or emotional responses.
A well stocked infant library would include any number of colorfully illustrated Mother Goose, song, animal, alphabet and counting books, as well as a variety of simple picture and board books which the baby can cling to, flip through, and enjoy.

The Toddler and the Story Book

"Goodnight room ... Goodnight moon ... Goodnight cow jumping over the moon ..." goes the repetitious nature of Margaret Wise Brown's book Goodnight Moon. According to Good Books For A Good Start, a publication of Health and Welfare Canada, repetition "allows the younger reader to take in a somewhat longer story." These include stories with the addition of unusual items to a previous line-up or theme, or an interactive story where children easily learn and eagerly repeat a sequence of items or events.

Story books for toddlers are comprised of simple ideas, easy language and story lines that are clearly recognizable. The rhythm of song and fairy tales remain an attraction as do books with quality illustrations that enhance the text. Picture books without text or wordless books as they are often called, are also good for this age group as they foster vocabulary building skills by encouraging the children to make their own stories to fit the pictures.

Story Time for the Preschool Set

An increase in vocabulary and longer attention spans make reading such books as Peter Rabbit, by Beatrix Potter or the classics like The Three Little Pigs or Cinderella a real joy for three to five year olds. As they begin to develop a "sense of story" these preschool kids are fascinated by realistic animal stories. These adorable characters help children to cope with feelings, with the stress of growing up.

By the same token, they are just as eager to learn about other children in other places or how the world works. They favor books with repetition, love rhyme, and adore pictures. When purchasing picture books for preschool children, Jacquelyn Gross, Ed.D., and Leonard Ross, Make Your Child A Lifelong Reader, suggest the following:

Look for illustrations that have depth and meaning.
Look for stories that have drama, characterization, and an absorbing plot.
Look for books in which illustrations and stories work together to create emotional moods.
Look for strong themes.

Reading, Books, and Daycare

A quality child care program will include a daily story time where children, in their respective age groups, can relax on pillows, throw cushions, or a comfy chair, and listen to stories presented by the caregiver, a volunteer, or even the local librarian. Story time should be a relaxing, quiet activity that is not rushed. The children should be encouraged to ask questions, comment on the illustrations, tell the group what they liked about the story, how it made them feel. A good book can often be followed by related art, craft or other activities. Other components of a quality reading program include:

Weekly visits to the local library

field trips to family resource centers and libraries where the children can partake in "story time" programs
visits from the local librarian to read to the children, to discuss the center's or home's reading program and choice of books, or to address a meeting of parents and staff about the importance of reading to children
a lending library where children can borrow books from the center for home use
a well-developed and maintained infant, toddler and preschool library
a free period that allows children to utilize, flip through, and enjoy books.

More than anything else, children like to mimic adults - they watch us constantly. If a child sees a parent or provider read, and do so often, they themselves will pick up a book. Even if they only look at the pictures, if they do so often enough, they will begin a lifelong reading habit that will enhance their lives.


Make Your Child A Lifelong Reader, by Jacquelyn Gross, Ed.D., Leonard Gross. Jeremy P. Tarcher, Inc. Publisher

Good Books For A Good Start, Health & Welfare Canada. Copies may be obtained from: Child Care Program, Health & Welfare Canada, 6th Floor, Brooke Claxton Building, Tunney's Pasture, Ottawa, Ont. K1A 1B5

Caring For Children In Your Home, Ohio Dept. of Human Services.