Picking up books for your child can be difficult, especially when you do not have much exposure to children’s literature. There are so many genres, so many kinds, so many sizes! There are many questions to ask. What do you want? What does your child want? What would the teachers want?

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We have come up with a few tips to make this process a little easier for you. You’d still have to do your research, you’d still have to flip through a few pages, but at least you would know what to look out for!

Take their opinion:

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Always take your child’s interests into account. Talk to them and find out what kinds of books they enjoy. If your child is too young to convey what they like, you can observe what books they respond to and what books they ignore. This will give you an idea about where their interests lie. Remember, what your child likes is more important than what you want them to like. Loading children with books they do not enjoy will only put them off reading.

Trust in their capabilities:

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Getting children age-appropriate books is important. But it is also crucial that you do not underestimate the abilities of your child. Children are constantly learning things and acquiring new skills. While a 4-year-old usually reads Level 1 picture books, they should also have access to Level 2 books so that they can move forward when they are ready. I have seen older and younger children read books that I thought were too difficult for them to read- with ease, multiple times. We often underestimate what children are capable of. So feel free to get a few books that may be a little more challenging for your child to read in your perception. Your kids might surprise you!

Variety:

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Having different kinds of books is just as important as having books for different age groups. Your shelf should have all of these: adventure, drama, science fiction, animal stories, folk tales, fairy tales. This will help your child in developing their own interests, while always keeping the door open to a wider range of possibilities. It is also important that you do not make gendered book selections. Very often parents tend to buy fairy tales for girls and adventure storybooks for boys. Such practices will only put your children in a box and curb their imagination. All children should have access to all kinds of books so that they can choose for themselves.

Educational, activity-based books:

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Books are a great way to learn new things, no matter how old you grow. You can use storybooks as a vehicle to teach your child more about animals, math, science, history or social issues. Such educational storybooks will be a great addition to your shelf. Keep in mind to buy books that have activities, especially for younger children. This will make the reading experience more interactive and active.

You can read our recommendation list for science-themed books here.

Illustrations:

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Always choose books that have beautiful illustrations. This is all the more important for a child who is just starting their reading journey. Text will not draw children in like pictures do. There are also many interactive storybooks like texture books which make reading more engaging for very young children. These are essential to make your child view books as a positive, fun thing.

Pro Tip: Selecting a few books from each of our book recommendation lists will tick all these boxes.