Read to your child on a regular basis. In addition to stories, read labels on cans and boxes, street signs, receipts, coupons, etc. Be available to answer questions and praise your child’s efforts.

Make available a wide variety of printed material—books, magazines, newspapers, comics, etc. Have paper and pencil available for scribbling and drawing, and display their artwork where everyone can admire it.

Establish the habit of reading aloud everyday, and try to schedule it around the fewest interruptions. For a busy parent, usually bedtime is chosen. At this time, children often look for security and appreciate the physical closeness. They are also tired enough to stay in one place.

Some hyperactive children listen best while they are soaking and swishing in the bathtub. Water is magically calming and enables them to enjoy a story better.

A big, comfortable chair or recliner may be the ideal place for children who have physically outgrown their lap sitting and bed sharing days.

Make sure the readings are interesting and exciting enough to hold their interest while building up their imagination. Use plenty of expression when you read aloud and have fun with the language. Whisper, laugh, oink, meow, or speak gruffly or softly.

Read slow or fast to fit the story and allow time for children to point to everything in a picture and discuss it.

For children who are not used to listening to stories, keep the initial readings short enough to fit their attention spans, and gradually increase the reading time as well as the length of the book.

Do not turn every reading session into a question and answer session. Be sensitive to the times when your child simply wants to enjoy the story.

Read aloud every day. Turn off the television, get comfortable, have good light, and enjoy a good book.


Each year, several awards are given for the best children’s’ books published during the previous year.

John Newbery and Randolph Caldecott are men in whose names awards are given annually by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association.

The Caldecott Medal has been awarded annually since 1938 to the most distinguished illustrator of a children’s book during the preceding year. The Newbery Award has been awarded since 1921 to the author of the most distinguished contribution to children’s literature during the preceding year.

The Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal is presented every three years to an author or illustrator who has, “made a substantial and lasting contribution to children’s literature.” NOTE: This award has been deleted by the American Library Association, as they feel that Laura Ingalls Wilder’s writings do not meet their “politically correct” standards of today.

The Coretta Scott King award is, “given to a black author and to a black illustrator for an outstanding inspirational and educational contribution.”

As prestigious as they are, do not let awards or medals dictate a choice in children’s books. Awards are given for the quality of the writing or the illustrations and do not guarantee that a book will be successful. The parent’s interest, good taste, and discretion should be the influencing factor in choosing a book.


Begin a child’s home library. For young children, divide books into two categories: expensive (place up and out of reach, but in sight) and inexpensive (place on lower shelves within easy reach).

Every child should own a book with his or her name inscribed inside—one that cannot be returned to the library or shared with a sibling. Place a bookrack where it can be used often by a child, no matter how large or small it is.

If parents wish to raise a reader, they should invest in a bed lamp, when their child is old enough to stay up at night and read in bed.

A child’s home library should have a least one good nursery rhyme book by a good illustrator. Purchase one that is beautiful, one the child will want to pass on to the next generation.

They need picture books that say “good-night” or talk about their world in a way that makes them feel safe and loved. Include at least one good poetry book, and purchase a new one for each major shift in the child’s comprehension.

A good dictionary is a must, one with large enough print to invite reading.

Finally, a good atlas needs to be part of a standard child’s library. Ask the children’s librarian at your local public library or check with your local children’s bookstore for a good recommendation.

Because of their flexibility, older children like paperback books. If a book is read a few times and then forgotten, paperbacks are fine, but if the book becomes special, an investment in the hardcover edition is recommended.

Books make perfect gifts. Make a list of favorite titles for grandparents or relatives and friends to give as gifts. Use holidays, seasons, or any other fun experiences as an excuse to give a child a good book.

Unlike toys, books are difficult to break and are ready-made with no assembly or batteries needed. Portable, they can be enjoyed anywhere, at any time of the day, take up less space than most toys, and never go out of style.