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BookTrust’s Great Books Guide 2021: How do you choose the right book for your child?

Sharing stories daily with my students is one of the best parts of my day. Sadly, the National Literacy Trust points out that 55% of all 0–2s are not read to daily. At this age, naturally children want to wriggle, roam and crawl. But that doesn’t mean they won’t enjoy a story. Whilst they may only have a short attention span, this will lengthen as they grow older as reading becomes a part of their routine.

The difficulty most of my parents’ face isn’t necessarily knowing when to read to their child, it’s knowing what to read.

The Great Books Guide is great for this exact reason as there’s 100 books to choose from. Each and every one ordered by age all the way up to 11 years old. You’ll find everything from something silly, informative, moving, and even scary (if you’re feeling brave). So, how can you choose the right one for your child?

Choosing the right book

To start with, you shouldn’t be doing the choosing. It should be your child. Even if they’re not old enough to grasp the book or turn the pages, you can offer options and see which holds their gaze (or enters their mouth) for the longest. But sometimes you want to gift a book, or you may have a reluctant reader on your hands and if that’s the case, here’s some tips to help you out:

Appreciate all books

There are definitely some books we’re all sick of reading or listening to (I’m sure you’ve also lost count of how many times you’ve read The Gruffalo’, right?) but if your child is choosing to read that book (even if it’s the hundredth time), let them, and be excited about it!

Be bold with text types

When it comes to ‘reading books’ it can be easy to just go for a fiction or ‘storybook’. There are so many other options to choose from; poetry books, plays, non-fiction, graphic novels, magazines, newspapers. If there’s print, there’s bound to be a story to tell. Pick up a jar or packet in your kitchen cupboards and there’ll be a little tale about what it is, I guarantee it!

Try all genres

Just because your child’s ploughed through the entire ‘Diary of a Wimpy Kid’ series, that doesn’t mean they won’t love a mystery like ‘Pizazz’ by Sophy Henn or fantasy like ‘Dragon Mountain’ by Katie & Kevin Tsang, or history like ‘When the Sky Falls’ by Phil Earle. All books were made equal, and we should treat them as so.

Ask for recommendations from librarians and teachers

They’re genuinely an excellent source for what’s new, what could peek your child’s interest and they LOVE being asked (trust me, it’s a real pleasure).

Don’t be offended if they don’t like your choice

Finding the right book and author is like choosing your favourite ice cream flavours. Some of people love mint choc chip (tastes like toothpaste to me) and others are a just a plain ol’ chocolate kinda’ person. This is where a library comes in handy as you can try plenty and haven’t wasted your pennies.

Offer plenty of options

Think of it like a book buffet, the more choices there are, the better chances of them finding something they like.

When it comes to choosing books for your child it can feel like an impossible task. I promise you it’s not. As long as you remember that the book should be entirely their choice, revolve around their preferences and abilities. It may take a while finding your perfect fit but checking out resources like the Booktrust’s Great Book Guide will offer you up an array of options.

Books are splendid gifts always ready to be opened and enjoyed.
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