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Good Reads

Reading with kids


One of the best things that parents can do for their children is to teach them to love reading. This will give them a head start in school, help them build their vocabulary, and literally strengthen the brain by increasing neurons.
Develop your children’s love of reading as soon as they are born by reading to them. It is a beautiful way to bond and builds a warm and happy association with books. Set aside 15 to 20 minutes every day and continue reading to them through elementary school. At that age, they will start bringing home their own books to show you how much they can read.
I will never forget the first time our son brought home a book from school and read the entire book to me. Older children will enjoy “quiet time” as you sit together and each read your own book.
Selecting books can seem hard because there are so many wonderful books for all ages. Some classics that you may remember from your childhood are still very popular today, and librarians and teachers can recommend new ones. Remember that when you read a book to your children that you enjoyed when you were young, they will sense this and feel it, too.
Babies love “board books” that have bright colors and patterns with text that is simple, repetitive and rhyming. They love touching books with interactive elements such as textured areas, flaps or foldouts.
“On the Night You Were Born’’ by Nancy Tillman
In this magically illustrated tale, your baby will hear about all the babies from the animal world and how their families celebrate their arrival, like the polar bears who dance the night away after the birth of a new one. Your little ones will learn how very special their own arrival is.
“Everywhere Babies’’ by Susan Meyers
Babies love looking at other babies, and yours will love hearing your voice as you read this lovely book with rhyming text and darling illustrations
As your children get older, reading to them will build their vocabulary and prepare them for school, where they will start learning their colors, ABCs and numbers. You also will be helping your children learn about the expanding world around them.
“Pat the Bunny’’ by Dorothy Kunhardt
Toddlers love to put their hands on books, especially when they feel the fur and sandpaper and see themselves in the mirror.
“Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site’’ by Sherri Duskey Rinker and Tom Lichtenheld
Getting your child ready for bed is a lot easier with this collection of catchy rhymes and great illustrations of machines with personalities.
“Grumpy Bird’’ by Jeremy Tankard
We all feel grumpy sometimes. What better way to shake off the grumpies than to read this hilarious story about a grumpy bird who gets rid of his grumpies with a little help from his friends?
Preschool and kindergarten
“Separation anxiety” may set in for both the child and parent when it is time for preschool. Reading stories about what to expect in preschool can prepare children for this new and exciting experience of meeting new friends and learning about different things.
“Preschool, Here I Come!’’ by David J Steinberg, illustrated by John Joven
This collection of funny, joyful poems and delightful illustrations will help your little ones look forward to their first day at school with a happy heart.
“The World Needs More Purple Schools’’ by Kristen Bell and Benjamin Hart, illustrated by Daniel Wiseman
I once taught a class to third-graders about the art of compromise using T-shirts. We talked about creating one for their school and when one wanted red and others wanted blue, I said let’s compromise and do a purple T-shirt. Bell and Hart expound on this idea with their series of hilarious and joyful stories about purple people and purple schools.
“Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day’’ by Judith Viorst
This much-loved book about Alexander, who is having a very bad day, can be a great lesson for all of us. Things happen and don’t always go right, but it helps when your child learns that other children can have bad days, too.
School age
By the time you children start first grade, they will probably be “into” reading. You have helped build their own personal library and add to it all the time. Together, you have gone to the library to check out books, too. They will get plenty of suggestions on books from their teachers. The library is a great resource for this.
“Firefly Hollow’’ by Alison McGhee
This is a magical tale about the endearing friendship among a cricket, a firefly and a vole that team up with a young boy after a mysterious loss in his life. They end up helping him find his place, and they make history. This may become a classic that the whole family can enjoy.
“Schomburg: The Man Who Built a Library’’ by Carole Boston Weatherford
Arturo Schomburg, an Afro-Puerto Rican immigrant, collected books, letters, art and music with a passion. He turned his passion for these items from Africa into the “Negro Division” Collection at the New York Public Library in 1905. Weatherford’s picture book explores this little-known history and will engage both parents and children in a story about the love for books.
As your children leave elementary school and are reading on their own, don’t stop creating ways to share in their reading. If they are reading books for school or even for pleasure, check them out and read them yourself. When all the teens are reading certain books, start on it yourself. That’s how I got into the Harry Potter books, and I loved them all.

Diane Parfitt, Good Reads, children's books