Educators tell us that every child needs to hear five hundred books read aloud to them before entering Kindergarten. Hearing all those stories prepares children for learning to read. They’ll pick up important “book knowledge” such as the concept of words and sentences, left to right orientation, top and bottom, plus beginning middle and the end of a story. They’ll also learn to appreciate book language which is different from everyday speaking. They’ll move and bounce to the rhythms of rhymes and they’ll learn to love characters who do silly things. They’ll learn to appreciate great illustrations that add so much to the text of a story. They’ll learn there are books about virtually everything in the whole wide world.
But your grandkids will learn something more important as you read to them and send them books to add to their libraries: they’ll learn to love reading. They’ll see that the adults in their life— their parents, aunts and uncles, and grandparents value reading. They’ll notice when you spend time reading for your own pleasure and they’ll look forward to story times with you. They’ll love the books you send to them as gifts to add to their growing libraries.
Quality over Quantity
There are a lot of children’s books out there. How do you know where to spend your dollars? It’s tempting to purchase the book that retells your child’s favorite movie or television show, but, in truth, these books are often of questionable quality in both their writing and their illustrations. They also tend to be made of low-quality materials that don’t last.
One of the best ways to find quality reading material for your grandkids is to be aware of the classics. Find listings of children’s authors and illustrators and choose from their award-winning titles. Find the classic stories that have stood the test of time. A story like The Little Engine That Could or The Winnie the Pooh stories are such classics. They have been enjoyed for decades by young children. Goodreads.com has a listing of excellent classic children’s book titles.
Look for Newbery Award stories and Caldecott Award Illustrators. These folks have earned their place in the history of quality children’s literature. Very young children, those aged two to five will benefit from reading lots of nursery rhymes, poems and simple stories with just a few words to a page. Older children love a character to whom they can relate and a story filled with adventure or fun.
Look for books made of sturdy materials. Board books are perfect for very young readers and will stand the test of a few sticky hands and spills. Quality binding and paper create a book that can last through many readings.
Favorite Children’s Authors and Illustrators
Look for books for children aged 2-5 by authors such as Eric Carle and Jan Brett. Mo Willems stories about the Pigeon will make them laugh and Arnold Lobel’s stories about Frog and Toad will teach them about friendship. A.A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh stories will introduce young children to lovable characters living in the Hundred Acre Wood. Rosemary Wells tells simple, sweet stories of a sister and younger brother.
Older Children will love the stories of Beverly Cleary (The Mouse and the Motorcycle, Ramona Quimby, Age 8) and E.B. White. (Charlotte’s Web). Kevin Henkes (Owen and A Weekend with Wendell) tells a good story for school-aged children. But there is so much more.
For comprehensive listings of children’s authors and illustrators and the awards they’ve won, go to www.toppsta.com. and search children’s authors or illustrators.
Don’t forget the power of rhythm and rhyme and the wonder of Fairy Tales. Good anthologies of Nursery Rhymes include Mary Engelbreit’s Nursery and Fairy Tales Collection, and Eric Kincaid’s Mother Goose Classic Nursery Rhymes. Excellent collections of children’s poetry include the Random House Book of Poetry for Children edited by Jack Prelutsky and the Oxford Illustrated Book of American Children’s Poems edited by Donald Hall.
A well-chosen children’s book will be read and enjoyed over and over again. Children enjoy hearing their favorite stories and seeing their favorite characters. They don’t tire of the same words and pictures; in fact they delight in the familiar.
Grandparents, you can add a great boost to your grandchild’s literacy by adding regularly to their home library.