Reading is a fundamental part of every child's life. Whether they are being read to, looking at pictures or reading a book themselves, kids should have as many experiences with books as they can. However, presenting kids with any old book simply won't do. Depending on age and developmental level, there are certain types of books that kids should enjoy.
Babies and toddlers between 1 and 2 years old will enjoy looking at books with bright colors and large pictures. Plastic, vinyl or cloth books are appropriate for children of this age because they are easy to hold and can be washed if they come in contact with kids' mouths. Infants and toddlers like to look at books that include pictures of babies and familiar objects such as a type of animal living in the home, favorite types of toys and foods and familiar items such as bottles and blankets. Older toddlers may also enjoy looking at sturdy board books including photos and pictures of familiar objects and children doing familiar activities such as sleeping or playing.
2 to 3 Years
Kids between 2 and 3 years old like to read picture storybooks that include vibrant, detailed illustrations that support the story line. Since kids of this age are becoming more aware of language, books that include rhythmic patterns, rhyming and repetition or predictable text provide them with opportunities to memorize stories to tell to others. 2 and 3 year-olds will also enjoy books that they can interact with including pop-up books and touch-and-feel books.
4 to 5 Years
Kids who are 4 and 5 years old love to make connections between their own lives and what is happening in books. Picture books are a big hit at this age and introduce children to the joys of language. A picture book might play with language, delighting this pun-loving age group. The language is often lyrical. Figurative language such as simile and metaphor may be used. "The Napping House" by Don and Audrey Wood is an example of such a book that makes a connection to the child's life in a fun way. "Owl Moon" by Jane Yolen introduces children to the poetry of winter and makes the familiar connection of a special time shared with a parent. As a parent, you may enjoy reading these books to your child as much as he enjoys listening to them. Also choose picture books that introduce diversity, as well as books that help them practice skills, such as letter recognition, rhyming and counting as well. The most important thing is for your child to learn to love books.
As kids begin to read books on their own, they will develop a preference for stories of different genres. Many children like to read books involving adventure, mystery or fantasy. Many tweens and teens also enjoy realistic fiction, that is stories where the protagonist must deal with hard issues, such as divorce and peer pressure. Judy Blume continues to be a popular realistic fiction author with preteen girls. Typically tweens and teens want a protagonist who is slightly older. Older children may also enjoy reading informational books about different animals, vehicles or sports that interest them.
School age kids progress from easy reader books, such as "Henry and Mudge" by Cynthia Rylant to chapter books, such as the classic "Charlotte's Web" by E.B. White and series such "The Boxcar Children" by Gertrude Chandler Warneras, to young adult novels, such as "Eragon" by Christoper Paolini. A children's librarian can recommend based on the child's personal interests, life experiences and reading levels.