A ‘good fit’ book

What to consider when choosing a book to read with your child.

IMG_3422Reading with your little ones introduces them to a world of imagination, creativity and possibilities. They go on journeys through stories and learn life lessons. The world of books also exposes them to new vocabulary, teaches them oral language skills, comprehension skills and how reading and writing are connected.

So which books are best? As a Teacher, I’ve been asked many times how I choose a ‘good fit’ book when reading with my toddler. When choosing a book there are a few things I look for in particular:

  1. Rhyme: I consider this to be important for a number of reasons. Rhyme encourages participation through prediction and this is very important for early readers as they learn that reading can be fun! As parents read rhyming stories to their child, the level of engagement increases as the child begins to hear the pattern and starts to participate by predicting the next word. Rhyme also increases vocabulary by introducing word families.
  2. Detailed illustrations are also important for beginning readers. Bright, colourful illustrations which compliment a story help to engage a child. When they are learning to read, they cannot always follow the words on the page so their focus is on illustrations. When they are looking at the pictures, a child is mentally ‘taking their own pictures’. Good illustrations will encourage children to use their own imagination and as they develop their confidence and ability, illustrations will allow them to predict words in the story.
  3. Teaching points. Fiction stories are often used for teaching in the classroom, not only for literacy but also numeracy, so use them at home as well! Counting the animals in a book, stories with a focus on telling the time, estimating, the list goes on! Books are a great way to combine a love of reading with mathematical concepts.
  4. Repetition in stories is great for little ones. If the majority of the text is repeated on each page with little differences along the way, the child soon memorises it and can begin to ‘read’ it themselves. Although technically they aren’t reading, an adult can then point to the words as the child ‘reads’ them and begin to shift the focus to looking at the words whilst they are saying them- it teaches the child that the words have meaning, the reading direction is left to right and that when we are reading we are focused on the words because they tell us the story.
  5. Reading for meaning is very important as children learn that when we read a story we are gathering information and it’s never too early to start teaching this skill. For little ones, a parent would choose a simple text (not too many words on each page) and ask questions which have the answer directly stated in the text. For example ‘John wore blue socks to the footy.’ An adult could ask ‘what colour were John’s socks?’ This is a higher order thinking skill for young children so to begin with you would expect that you would have to re-read the sentence a few times and repeat the question so that the child had the opportunity to answer. You would also ask the comprehension questions at the end of each page, rather than the end of the story, making it more achievable for the child as the information is fresh in their memory.

By keeping these focus points in mind when choosing a book, you will be able to not only enjoy reading a story with your little one, but teach them mini literacy lessons along the way!


By guest writer Kelly Cairns

Kelly Cairns is mum to Carter. Before Carter came along she was a Year Prep Primary School Teacher and Junior School Learning and Teaching Co-Ordinator.

Follow her blog, her Instagram and Facebook to learn more about how you can assist your toddler’s learning journey with fun and engaging activities before they begin school.