Early Learning and Child Care Renfrew County

How to Choose Books for Children

This page will help you find books that are appropriate for your child’s age level and development. According to the Canadian Children’s Book Centre, there are a few basic things you should consider to help you evaluate the quality and suitability of a book for your child.

For suggestions on how to choose books for your children, please see the sections listed below from the Canadian Children’s Book Centre website.

Choosing Books for Babies and Toddlers

Ready, Set... Learn to Read! Books for Babies and Toddlers

Long before children speak they are collecting words. Reading stories, singing lullabies and reciting nursery rhymes to babies help build a rich foundation for language for the coming years.
The illustrations in books help babies to recognize simple objects in their world. And the intimacy and warmth of shared reading is a joy for both baby and parent.

Look for these:
Books with repetition of sounds and words.

  • Books that say a lot with simple language.
  • Books that illustrate the primary things in your child’s life.
  • Books that are just the right size for small hands.
  • Books of nursery rhymes, lullabies and songs.
  • Books that are sturdy and will stand up to being chewed, pounded or covered in mushed banana.
  • Books with simple, uncluttered illustrations of familiar shapes.
  • Books that have physical “tricks” such as finger holes, opening doors and peek holes to encourage interaction and involvement.
  • Wordless books that stimulate babies and toddlers visually and mentally and encourage them to create their own stories.
  • Books in various formats such as board books, cloth books, small chunky books and plastic “bath” books.

Activities to Bring Books and Babies Together

  • Visit your local public library regularly. Your child will soon learn that books are an important and fun part of life.
  • Babies love the rhymes, repetition and rhythms of nursery rhymes. Make them a part of your daily life. While dressing recite “One, two, buckle my shoe,” in the kitchen say “Mix and stir and pat in the pan,” or when you go for a walk sing “Humpty-Dumpty sat on a wall, Humpty-Dumpty had a great fall.”
  • Encourage family members and friends to buy books as presents for your baby or toddler and for all your children.
  • Share books with your baby or toddler at a time when they are most alert and full of curiosity. And let them explore books in their own way — grabbing, patting, poking and literally eating them up!
  • Have books visible in different places around the house, not just confined to bookshelves.

Books for Children Two to Six

The Road to Reading: Books for Children Two to Six

In the years between two and six, children are ready for stories. They are able to follow a simple narrative with characters, conflict and resolution. The development of language skills is rapid during these years, and children are gaining confidence about the world around them. It is a time when imagination and curiosity blossom. It is the perfect time for picture books and stories to be read aloud.

When choosing books for this age, you will be looking at slightly more complex texts with good rhythm and word repetition. Illustration plays a central role in a picture book, becoming an integral part of the storytelling process.

Look for these:

  • Books that reflect the everyday world familiar to children, such as playing with friends, visiting family and going to sleep.
  • Books that encourage children to play with words and phrases.
  • Books that both you and your child can enjoy.
  • Books with simple, repetitive text that encourages children to join in during read alouds.
  • Books that present extraordinary as well as ordinary situations.
  • Books that will stretch a child’s attention span and build vocabulary.
  • Books that confirm and expand a child’s view of the world.
  • Books of poetry and verse.
  • Theme-related reading to enhance experiences and events.
  • Large-format books for reading to groups of children.

At this stage, selecting books can be as much fun as reading them. And if you find your child returning to an old favourite again and again at the library, perhaps it’s time for a trip to your local bookstore to make that special book part of your child’s own library.

And remember, you’re not just teaching your child how to read, but nurturing a love of books and reading. Right now your child is looking at the pictures, listening to your voice and enjoying your attention and closeness. A positive experience with books in these formative years will set the stage for strong reading skills in the future.


  • Make regular visits to the library a part of your routine. Get library cards for your children and let them check out their own books. You can help your children choose books, but it is important to respect their choices, too.
  • Combine a favourite book with an activity. After reading My New Shirt by Cary Fagan and illustrated by Dušan Petričić, go shopping for new clothes. Visit the park and look for the animals your children find in In My Backyard by Margriet Ruurs and illustrated by Ron Broda. Or make your own optical illusions after you share The Painted Circus: P.T. Vermin Presents a Mesmerizing Menagerie of Trickery and Illusion Guaranteed to Beguile and Bamboozle the Beholder by Wallace Edwards.
  • You can introduce your children to authors and illustrators without ever leaving your home. After you read a book with your children, why not listen to the author read from their book on tape and sometimes even online! For example, listen to Robert Munsch read aloud a bunch of his best stories in the story time section of his website (www.robertmunsch.com)!
  • Children love pictures and what better way to introduce your child to an appreciation of art than through the books they love? Why not read a picture book and then have your kids design their own cover for the book

For further information please see the following links for:
• Book options for your child - Teachers Top 100 Books for Children
• Recommended books for speech & language - Making Book Reading a Time for
Interaction and Conversation