Choosing A Children’s Book: Parent’s Or Child’s Choice?

Parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and guardians and other significant adults like to buy books for children to encourage an interest in books, reading, and learning, to open horizons and for sheer enjoyment.

When a child is small it is usually the adults who choose the books. Their choices may be based on what popular tv shows the child might watch, what they enjoyed themselves when they were children, or what is valued on an educational level or what is good in creating a creative imagination.

As children get older they begin to develop particular interests in certain subjects whether it be dinosaurs, horses, sports or unicorns and fairies; so parents tend to buy books that cover those specific topics. Children start developing their own tastes and choices. So should they start choosing their own books and at what age should they be left to their own devices?

‘Although it seems as if letting kids choose their own reading material will ensure they get something they like, it doesn’t always work. According to teachers and librarians, when left to their own devices on library day:

  • Kids choose the same book over and over and over (and over) again.
  • Kids choose a book because they like the cover, although the content isn’t actually a match for their interests or reading level.
  • Kids choose a book because it’s based on a movie (for example, Star Wars), although the book itself is not that great.
  • Kids choose a book because their friends chose it — and they don’t actually like it.
  • Kids simply can’t judge whether a book is at their reading level.
  • Kids won’t choose a book, leaving them empty-handed and frustrated.’

But with some guidance along the way children will learn to become independent readers and begin to make their own choices about what genres they prefer and what authors they enjoy.

  • ‘When your child is ready to start reading, begin instilling the fact that we read for a purpose – whether it’s to learn something or for simple enjoyment.
  • Have your children browse through the books either at the library or the bookstore. If this seems to be too overwhelming, then have them narrow down their choices by either a type of book (fiction or nonfiction) or by genre such as action, comedy or a particular subject.
  • Say “yes” as often as you can when your child selects a book that he or she is interested in. If the book is inappropriate, let them know that although they may not choose the book today, they may choose it when they are older.
  • If your children select a book that is beyond their reading ability, solve the problem by reading together. Whenever possible, allow them to read as much of the book as they can themselves; you can jump in if there are parts that are difficult for your children to read or understand.
  • If your child has really enjoyed a particular book, remind him or her of the author’s name the next time they are selecting books.’

Once children have reached a certain maturity in their reading there are very good reasons to let them choose their own books. According to a teacher’s observations in her methods of getting children to read books, she discovered that…

1.  When you let kids choose what they read, they will take risks.

2.  When you let kids choose what they read, they will read more.

3.  When you let kids choose what they read, they become better writers.

4. When you let kids choose what they read, they enjoy reading; it’s not a chore.

5.  When you let kids choose what they read, they become empowered.

5 thoughts on “Choosing A Children’s Book: Parent’s Or Child’s Choice?”

  1. Excellent article Eileen Moynihan. Very good information for parents, grandparents, and anyone who influences children on their reading journey.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.