It’s pretty much impossible to overstate how great it is to share a book. The early years are the perfect time to introduce our children to print and for them to experience the wonders of being read to. But there’s such a vast array of books out there, how do we know which one to choose? Is there a certain kind of book which is most suited to each age? Well broadly yes. A book targeted to an infant, isn’t likely to inspire devotion in a preschooler, but then again, there are no hard and fast rules.
At ages 0-1, children are already starting to interact with books. Those most suitable at this stage have clear, large pictures, and talk about familiar topics such as family life, animals etc. Stiff board or vinyl books are best at this stage, so that they can be handled and aren’t going to be easily damaged.
Books for the toddlers + age range (ages 1- 3) should again feature familiar objects and routines, such as brushing teeth, or life with pets- something that toddlers can identify with. Rhyming books are great at this age, as the rhythm created by the repeating syllable stress and anticipation of the rhyming speech sounds, means children find the text easier to process and remember. Children are likely pointing and speaking some words so they may be interested in word or alphabet books and learning new vocabulary.
By the age of four, children may already know a fair bit about books and how they work. They likely have their favourites, and want them read over and over again. This is great. Repeatedly reading the same book helps your child to learn. They may also benefit from having a number of different stories featuring the same characters (e.g. Pip and Posy). This helps them to learn about how telling a story works. Children will be used to standard picture books by this age, but also enjoy oversized ‘lap’ books which they can spread out with. Books which capture a child’s particular interests, whether fact books or fiction, will work well at this age.