I love answering reader questions! Thanks for sending this one along.
I love taking my girls, 18 months and 2 1/2, to the bookstore. We always pick out a few books, but I feel like I don't know which books I should be choosing. Any advice?
Yes! There is a lot to consider. Here are 4 things to consider as you curate a library for your little girls.
1. Interest & Motivation
To develop lifelong readers, we want children to understand that they should pick books that interest them. Research has shown that children are more motivated to read when they have choices. So we want to honor your childrens' interests, but young children will need some guidance to make good choices.
So let's say your two and a half year old daughter is obsessed with unicorns and wants every unicorn book you can find. If you have time, I would read her several unicorn books right there in the store and have her pick one to buy. The library can also be very helpful with choice and student interests, because you can go ahead and check out 8 books about unicorns and you haven't over-invested for when her interests change in two days.
When it comes to other books, help her make a pile of possible books, read some, let her look through them and ask her to choose a few. If making a choice is super hard, make a list or take pictures for next time.
2. Multicultural Children's Books are Important
It is important to have books that tell stories from different cultures and have diverse characters, represented in an authentic way. A very long time ago, early in my teaching career, a temporary administrator told me to just get a marker and darken the faces in books in my classroom library to better represent the children in my classroom. I don't even think I need to explain why that is a terrible idea. This is the same woman who told me she retained kids who lost their textbooks, so there is a lot to unpack there for another post.
Multicultural stories, authors and illustrators have long been underrepresented in children's literature. But the tides are turning as more educators and parents seek out these books. I have compiled a few suggestions, and even more are listed in this round up from the University of Wisconsin at Madison. I also found this amazing blogger, Mia Wenjen, who blogs at Pragmatic Mom about children's books and multicultural children's literature. You know how there is a national donut day and a national hula hoop day? She co-founded Multicultural Children's Book Day (Jan. 27!) which seems just a tad more important, and healthier than a day of donuts.
3. Range of Book Types
There are many types of books for young children. Remember Brown Bear, Brown Bear? It's a pattern book- the text follows a pattern that allows children to predict what will come next. There are rhyming books, ABC books, poetry, wordless children's books... it's a lot. The beauty of being a parent, and not the classroom teacher or school librarian, is that you don't have to stress about this as much. The way I think about it is to think about including books that seem different from the ones you already have. Do most of your books rhyme? Pick up an informational book. Missing poetry? Add some to your collection. Reading is Fundamental has good coverage of book types for further reading.
4. Include the Classics
There are some books that your child will see again and again in preschool and Kindergarten. It's nice to have some of these in your library so that your child is familiar. Here are a few classics to get you started:
I hope that helps. Just keep in mind that the very fact you are worrying about this, concerned enough to ask... yeah, you are probably doing just fine. Keep it up, Mom.
What else do you recommend? Any suggestions? Let me know in the comments, or if you have ANY questions- ask the teacher.