Editor’s Note: Good Morning. Today, Royston farmer and homeschooling mom Louisa McClellan is here to talk shop on how to find the right books for your kids.
Reading is a HUGE part of our lives around here and I, seriously, pound through dozens of books a month searching for the gems out there (long live the library).
Louisa’s got some great tips on how to get your kids loving literature. I have to throw mine in.:)
Consider being open to checking out 10 or 12 books from the library and loving only one or two of them. We regularly pick up a giant pile and return 50% of them within a few days. I’ve even caught myself re-checking out books that I once didn’t like at all, but now the tiny person is seriously into.
Anyway, enough of my blabber.
We surround our kids with books. Books from the library, purchased books, garage sale books, hand me down books, books from my childhood, books from my mom’s childhood.
Sometimes it feels like our house is being overtaken by them.
We believe in the power books have in our children’s future learning and educational experiences. We’ve read to our kids since they were infants, subscribing to the belief that instilling a love of books young IS early literacy, which would naturally grow into the love of books, reading and writing (and learning).
Children are made readers on the laps of their parents.
~ Emilie Buchwald
One evening before bed, I was reading P.D. Eastmans’ Go, Dog. Go! for the umpteenth time, one boy on each side and my youngest nursing.
I read to the boys “What is up there at the top of the tree?” Before turning the page I asked my boys what was up there.
My youngest pulled off my breast and yelled “DOG PARTY!”
Just think of the many many books that child has listened to! Reading has been a part of their lives since they can remember. Studies have shown that reading aloud to children is the most important learning tool a parent has to help children become successful in their lives in and out of school.
Reading is like an infectious disease: it is caught not taught.
~ Christine Nuttall
I can still remember the books read to me as a child. I read those same books to my kids now.
I could HARDLY WAIT to start reading Roald Dahl to them. I had practically all his books purchased before my oldest was two. I had to wait a couple of years to start reading them. The first one I read was The Enormous Crocodile.
I read it to them again today (for about the 40th time, I’m getting good at the bad croc’s voice). We’re also reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Ruth Stiles Gannett’s My Father’s Dragon series.
They squirm with excitement, can’t bear the suspense, beg me to keep reading and can hardly go to bed. Who said reading before bed calms them down? Reading is enjoyable, fun, rewarding, exciting, comfortable and friendly. My children want to read.
Education is the kindling of a flame, not the filling of a vessel.
So what books do we choose for our children?
Kids are born curious.
They have a deep overwhelming need to find out everything they can about, well, whatever their current passion is be it bugs, snakes, sharks, ballet, fairy tales or medieval history.
So which one (or three) books should you bring home?
There are some basic guidelines for choosing good books to become part of your family’s library:
- A good book has to be taken off the shelf. It must scream “Pick me up” at first sight. It doesn’t matter how good a book is if your child doesn’t want to pick it up and open it. A front cover that excites interest is important.
- A good book will engage and excite your child. Format, pictures, illustrations, colors, flaps, things to find, puzzles to solve, new and interesting information are all an important part of drawing children into the pages of a book.
- A good book has text that is geared to the correct age and developmental level having said that….
- A good book is lasting, it grows with the child. That is, they like it now, and they’ll like it in 2 years. It is an investment.
- A good book includes humour. Humour gets the hormones going and humour is the number one memory encoder.
- A good book avoids stereotypes. Women are pilots, men are cooking dinner, and disabled kids are playing at the park.
- A good book is an accurate book; accuracy not only in fact but also in reflecting the values in your own home.
- A good book encourages your child’s passion.
Any book that helps a child to form a habit of reading, to make reading one of his deep and continuing needs, is good for him.
~ Richard McKenna
Not all books are bright, colourful, exciting and full of flaps. There are many wonderful books out there written years ago.
How to find them?
I have tricks for finding good books for my kids. (Other than reading OBE!) Great books like Robert McCloskey’s Blueberries for Sal have the gold medal sticker on the front….Award winners!
Caldecott and Newberry award lists are great resources for sourcing new books.
For a comprehensive list of kids’ book award winners go HERE
No one knows my child like I do, and a book one person’s kids love may fall flat at home. I know I’ve brought some gorgeous books home from the library and my kids have no interest in them.
So a useful trick I use is to look at what books people bought at Amazon.
For example if I look at “Blueberries for Sal”, which I know my kids love, I can see a whole pile of phenomenal books listed with it. I then go to the library’s website and order the books. Knowing the books that my children (and I) have enjoyed reading in the past has helped me choose books to read to them in the future.
Good children’s literature appeals not only to the child in the adult, but to the adult in the child.
And finally, check out the reading lists of top home schooling curriculum. Many websites such as Sonlight have their catalogues online. I have found some gems this way.
I can explore websites about books and reading for hours, google the following phrases and lists of super books will become available:
Charlotte Mason (Who believed in “living” books a whole ‘nother topic!)
Twaddle free literature (Related to Charlotte Mason with great age appropriate literature lists.)
Living Science Books
Living History Books, Charlotte Mason (Make sure you type this together or you’ll get Hilary Clinton’s new book!)
We live at the level of our language. Whatever we can articulate we can imagine or explore. All you have to do to educate a child is leave him alone and teach him to read. The rest is brainwashing.
~ Ellen Gilcrist