Instead of a typical blog post, I’ve made a little video all about choosing books for preschoolers. I hope you enjoy it!
Happy June! It has turned hot and humid here in Pennsylvania this week. We don’t have air conditioning at our house and since it’s too hot to go out into my garden I’ve been enjoying sitting with our new little kitten while reading. She’s quite playful so I don’t always get a lot of reading done until she tires herself out. It’s been a long time since we’ve had a kitten in the house so I don’t mind!
I’ve also been having a blast getting to know some new children at Montessori Toddler Camp. We’re into week two now. One of the areas of the classroom is always a little library. I love to see which books the children want me to read over and over and over. In my last post I listed a few things to think about when choosing books for children under six. Here’s that list:
Today I wanted to talk a little about books and Toddlers. I don’t love the term toddler although we use it quite a lot in the U.S. When I say toddler, I’m speaking of a child who is walking (9-18 months) until about 2.5-3 years. As always, I like to think about the developmental stages of this age group before choosing toys, activities and books. So, what do we know about toddlers?
How do we use this developmental information to help us choose books? During this time children will often look at books on their own as well as with you. Help your child learn to turn pages and to treat books with respect. Having a little shelf or basket with 6-10 books available at a time in a common area or in two parts of the house will give your child lots of opportunities to look at books and for you to read to him or her. You will have to decide when your child is ready for books that use paper instead of cardboard. If your child is rough with her books you may choose to keep the paper books out of her reach until she is ready to use them without ripping or throwing. Watching you take care with the books is the best way to teach a child how to care for them.
Take trips to the library if your child is able to handle it. Our local library has a lovely two tiered half circle seating area surrounded by books in the children’s section. When my boys were toddlers they only wanted to jump off this instead of looking at books. I decided they were not yet ready for the library and left them home with my husband while I searched the library for books to bring home. When they were older they loved going to the library to pick out their own books and had the self restraint to resist jumping of the seating.
At this age still try to find books that talk about daily life, that have a few more words and may have more complicated photos. Toddlers love to look at the photographs and drawings in books and to talk about them. This is all language learning. The more language you can provide to your young child the more success he will have when he begins learning to read himself. Knowledge of vocabulary words is such an important step in reading readiness.
Here are a few suggestions for Toddler books:
This is just a very short list of amazing books that you can read to your young child. Take every opportunity to bring books into not only your toddler’s life but also into your own. Seeing his parents enjoy reading will encourage your child’s enjoyment, too.
I hesitate to recommend reading books on electronic devices whenever possible. Often the device is more appealing than the story. Your child also loses the fine motor practice of using her pincher grip to turn pages and to have the sensory experience of the paper in her hands. These are important learning experiences and steps to later skills such as writing.
Next week I’m going to talk about books for preschoolers. I’m hoping to blog in a different format so stay tuned! I hope you are having a relaxing and enjoyable summer. Now, back to my book (and the kitten)!
June is here! I don’t know about you, but summer always makes me head to the library for some new books. Although I always have a non-fiction book about child development or how the brain learns language or some Montessori philosophy book or other on my bedside table, I also welcome summer with a stack of fun fiction. Something to lose myself in and to relax once my school year has finished. I also just reorganized my children’s books. I pulled out the books that I might want to use for the Toddler Camp I’m heading up at a local Montessori School and purged a few boxes of books that I never used. All this book sorting and library going made me think about how important books are to children and how important it is to have a little knowledge about how to pick books for different ages. So this is the first of three blog posts about books.
Today I want to talk to you about babies and books. I think it is so important when choosing anything for a child (be it clothing, books, games, furniture or toys) that we first think about that child’s developmental stage. So what do we need to know about babies before we choose books? And for this post, I’m talking about children from birth to 12 months.
The first year of life is full of tremendous changes. Your baby is born with limited abilities. She can’t focus her eyes very well and not very far (about from breast to mom’s face). She isn’t able to purposefully grasp any object and can’t really move on her own. At one year of age she is a very different child! Some children are walking and running and have started saying a few words. Her skills with her hands and fingers may have progressed from whole hand raking of objects to beginning to pick things up with thumb and finger (although very unrefined).
How does this help us choose books? Perhaps most importantly we need to remember that children at this age have what we refer to as an Absorbent Mind. They are unconsciously learning from their environment. So we want to make their experiences as rich as possible. Here are a few tips when choosing books for children under age 6.
For infants you may want to choose books that are all illustration and are printed in black and white. I love these books by Tana Hoban.
Of course for an infant, I also recommend reading anything outloud (being mindful of the content, of course!). Babies are listening to everything about our language. They are taking in our inflection, cadence and how we break apart sounds and sentences. Reading to your baby (and even your unborn child) is helping him learn to understand and speak even if he won’t be able to do so for a long time!
Other books that are lovely in the first year of life involve few words on the page, simple illustrations and are generally sturdy for little hands to explore (ie: the board book!). Books that have some sensory component to them are great as well since your child is learning through all his senses, not just visually. Here are a few I love.
I could go on and on but this gives you a little sampling of the type of books your baby will love. I always try to keep a little basket of books in our general living area that I rotate. Don’t overwhelm your child with too many at a time. And, perhaps most importantly, if your child doesn’t seem interested in a book put it away and keep searching for the books she enjoys. Use your local library, too. We have wonderful libraries in our town and the librarians are a wealth of information.
I hope this information was helpful to you. I’d love to hear about the books your children love. Post them in the comments, please! Next week I’ll be sharing part 2: Books for Toddlers.