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How do I choose books for my child?

Reading every day with your child from birth builds foundational skills like vocabulary and language, which lead to speaking, reading and writing skills. Listening to stories also helps your child learn how to work through challenges and develop the social and emotional skills essential to school success.

These guidelines will help in choosing books for your child. 

For Infants (up to 18 months)

  • Nursery rhymes and fingerplays
  • Simple, high-contrast pictures
  • Predictable patterns and repeated words
  • Pictures of babies and everyday objects
  • Board books that can be easily cleaned
  • Interactive books with fold-out pages or flaps
  • Cloth or soft vinyl books
  • Books with handles
  • Books you can sing
  • Animal sounds

For Toddlers (1-2 years old)

  • Simple plots and illustrations
  • Playful words and rhyming text
  • Stories relating to real life featuring everyday objects
  • Familiar characters, such as animals, children, TV characters, or adults in familiar roles
  • Books that label objects
  • Books about bugs and "backyard" nature
  • Books that invite your child to participate in the story
  • 1-2 lines of text per page
  • Large, colorful pictures

For Preschoolers (3-5 years old)

  • Short paragraphs on each page
  • More elaborate plots and illustrations
  • Folktales and fairy tales
  • Factual books about the natural world
  • Short picture book biographies
  • Picture books without words
  • Poetry and song books
  • ABCs, Shapes, Numbers
  • Books that invite your child to participate in the story

If you need guidance, your local NPL children’s librarian will be happy to help you choose books appropriate for your child. Send us an email or call (615) 862-5800 and ask for the children's desk. 

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