The Ultimate Guide to Reading and Books for Children
Helping kids to have a love affair with books is something we are passionate about. We want kids (our own and kids everywhere) to love a good story and feel successful reading. We want parents to feel empowered to help their kids and choose the right books for children.
Let’s face it. With the volume and variety of distractions out there these days it is tougher than ever to raise readers. Handheld devices, video games, and 24hr kids’ television are all competing against books for your child’s attention. I am very, very aware of the issues (ask me how I know).
The path to raising readers who love good books is a long one with many stops along the way. Here are some resources to help you navigate that path.
Choosing Books for Children
This is one of the biggest questions we get. How do you know which books are best for your kids? How do you choose ones they love that you will also feel good about them reading. Having a plan for choosing books — being intentional — is a great place to start.
Once the plan is in place you continue by learning to discern what good books are and are not. When in doubt one of the best places to begin refining your own tastes in children’s stories is a wonderful series like My Book House — we give you every detail about those wonderful books (incuding where to find them online for free) in this extensive overview.
While reading classics is definitely important, we love good tales from all eras. Here are a few of our favorite book lists to get you started with the process of choosing books.
- Award-Winning Children’s Books
- New Fairy Tales for Kids and Grown-ups Alike
- Thirteen FUN Geography Books for Kids
- The Story Goes On: Book Series Kids Love
- Ten Books of Poems for Kids
- Ten Books Full of Travel and Adventure
- What Boys Really Want to Read this Summer
- Books that are Laugh-Out-Loud Funny
- Forgotten Newbery’s for Girls
- Books That Take You On an Enchanted Journey
- Read Aloud Revival Book List – Books chosen specifically for their read-aloud-ability. (Nice word, huh?) This “living” list is updated frequently.
- Give Your Child the World – Excellent list of books from different cultures.
- Honey for a Child’s Heart – A great place to start for books to read aloud or hand to your child. Includes annotated book lists for all ages.
A Solid and Effective Reading Curriculum
I can’t say enough about how much I love All About Reading. Both of my current readers have struggled and been late bloomers in the reading department. This was no small concern for me — the person who couldn’t remember a day without devouring a book as a kid.
All About Reading gives me the peace of mind that I am doing everything I can to help them — all I have to do is open the book and work until they master the next lesson. Reading will come. The bonus is, we have fun with the program as well with the games and the fun box art the shipping department will draw for you on request.
Learn to Read Resources I Recommend:
- All About Reading Pre-Level – Sadly I only got to use this with my last child, but it was so much fun. Our time spent with Ziggy will never be forgotten (mostly because we still have to pull him out from time to time).
- All About Reading – We have used levels 1 -3 with various kids so far. I have a feeling my second son will also be doing level 4. My daughter did not need it.
- Homeschooling with Dyslexia – If you think there might be a problem, this is where to go for answers.
Reading Aloud Grows Readers
One of the biggest keys to a successful reader it to spend a ton of time reading out loud to your kids. Reading out loud is vital to building sophisticated language patterns that are a key to making better writers. It also builds a wonderful family culture and is fun for bonding.
Sadly, many families make a huge mistake when it comes to reading aloud to their kids. This is definitely one you don’t want to do.
Reading aloud takes practice, but it doesn’t have to intimidate you. In fact I have a few simple tricks that make any mom a fabulous read aloud artist — no funny voices needed.
More of our favorite reading aloud resources:
- Nurturing Competent Communicators – A not-to-miss lecture by Andrew Pudewa on the importance of reading aloud to your kids.
- Read Aloud Revival – A free podcast and monthly membership site that encourages you to “build your family culture around books.” Well done.
- Why We Should All Be Reading Aloud to Children — Rebecca Bellingham Ted Talk
Fun Reading Incentive Programs
We have three years of reading incentive programs to help inspire your kidsto read. With fun bingo cards, enchanted maps, prize coupons, bookmarks, and certificates of completion you don’t have to wait for summer to do a fun reading program.
The main purpose of the program is to get kids reading — and reading across genres they normally wouldn’t. The incentive tickets are blank, so if you decide to use them, you can choose prizes that work for your family.
- Race Across Space Summer Reading Program
- Enchanted Journey Summer Reading Program
- Traveling Through the Pages Summer Reading Adventure
More reading programs I like:
- Read Aloud Revival 31 Day Read Aloud Challenge – Build your child’s fluency and win great prizes.
- Pizza Hut Book It – Books. Pizza. Homeschool-friendly. Good stuff.
- Exodus Books Summer Reading Challenge — Emphasis on the word challenge. No fluff in this reading program.
Celebrate Reading with Kids
Everyone loves a good party! While reading is indeed its own reward there are also reasons to celebrate reading. We are big on that around our house. We search out fun places to read, use reading to inspire creativity, and use reading to inspire our culinary endeavors. We even love to give reading-related gifts!
We also never miss a reason to have a good reading party. Here are a few of our favorites:
- Host Your Own Kids’ Poetry Tea
- Have a Shakespeare Party
- How to Host a Mad Scientist Convention
- Fall Poetry Tea
- Host a Christmas Picture Book Cookie Exchange
More about reading and fun:
- Summer Reading: Making Memories and Having Fun — ME! As a guest on the Read Aloud Revival podcast.
Library Visits with Kids
Hey we get it. Somedays going to the library with kids is just hard. The dividends will pay off in the long run. Here are a few of our best tips for braving the library with kids as well as a fun library card holder craft that kids adore.
More library resources:
- Library Scavenger Hunt – a fun way to get to know yoru library better
- How to Use the Library in Your Homeschool – practical post with some good ideas from our friends at Simple Homeschool
Picture Books are Not Just for Little Kids
We have scoured the shelves for fun, interesting, entertaining, and exciting picture books with original artwork in a variety of topics — all sure to please a crowd. We came up with 31 Days of Picture Books for Everyone.
From dragons, to sports stars, to aliens and underpants, we have included a little bit of everything. Then we include a few activity suggestions to take the book experience farther — but only if you want to. Not to be missed!
More picture book ideas:
- Spooktacular Fall and Halloween Books (not really that spooky)
- Thankful for Fantastic November Books – my absolute favorite time of year for seasonal picture books
- Picture Book Library Lists — More great selections from our friends at All About Reading.
- Diverse Picture Books to Celebrate Everyday – This fabulous list includes some of our favorite characters.
Reading for Mom
One of the keys to raising readers is to be a reader yourself. Kids catch the reading bug from seeing you do it — even if it isn’t evident when they are younger, they will likely model the behavior as they are older. The key to reading for me is to have some good recommendations to read from. My friends are the best place to go for a good book idea.
I like stretching myself to read from new genres as well as giving myself permission not to rush through a book — to take my time and learn and enjoy. And as a last resort if I can’t always take time to sit and model reading then I will put on a audiobook which has to be the next best thing.