Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Books Every Young Child Should Own: Home Library Essentials

Today I'm sharing some tips on home library essentials for young children.

I am admittedly a children's book hoarder. I find it extremely difficult to pass up free and discounted books, books that remind me of my childhood, those that are  packed with facts or useful information, and those with lovable characters like Olivia and Fancy Nancy. I see them and I just HAVE to have them. In some ways I guess this makes me a sort of children's book collector.

But, you don't have to be a children's book hoarder to give your child a really nice at-home library. For those of you looking to start, or even expand, your collection of books at home, I recommend purchasing books from each of the categories below to create a "well-rounded" complete library for your young child. If space or money are tight, I'd suggest one or two books in each of these categories.

Why do I think a "well-rounded" collection is best?

Because while the simple act of reading with your child will give him a jump start on literacy, speaking, and listening skills, reading books from these varied categories assures that your child is being exposed to a diverse set of topics, vocabulary, and printed materials.

Children learn a lot from books - literacy skills as well as other skills, life lessons, facts, and important values.

So, here are types of books to consider for your at-home library.

1. Alphabet books.

These books are great for teaching children letter knowledge, an important emergent literacy skill. Our favorites include Maurice Sendak's Alligators All Around and Bill Martin Jr.'s Chicka Chicka Boom Boom.

To find your favorites, check out 50 Fantastic Alphabet Books over at No Time For Flashcards.

2. Object naming or first word books.

These books are great for kids 3 and under, who are learning new words at such a rapid rate. Don't be fooled into thinking that these books are just for babies and toddlers, though, and that your child will outgrow them. They are a fantastic addition to a home library because once your child can identify the objects, he can move on to trying to decode the words, or learn the object names in another language.

Our favorite book is DK Publishing's My First Word Lift-the-Flap First Board Book.

3. Nursery Rhymes.

Every home library should have at least one collection of nursery rhymes. They are not only fabulous for helping children with important phonemic awareness skills that are essential in learning to read, but there is actually research that suggests a child's knowledge of nursery rhymes is a good predictor of future reading success.

As a child I became familiar with nursery rhymes through the collection called The Real Mother Goose; now, baby bookworm is having fun learning them from this very same book.

4. Non-fiction books.

It's a good idea to have a few non-fiction books lying around your house. Non-fiction books are a great way to spark your child's interest in important topics. While it's fun to read stories with animals who talk and do funny things, it's sometimes more fun to learn real facts about animals!

Baby bookworm loves the book Out of Sight which is full of interesting tidbits of information about animals.

5. Poetry books.

Poetry is really an art form. Poetry books make a great addition to an at-home library because they are often full of figures of speech, similes, metaphors, alliteration, rhymes, and varied or unusual vocabulary.

We have a collection of Shel Silverstein's poetry in our home library. This man is a true genius in my eyes.

6. Books on topics that truly interest your child.

For example, if your child is a dinosaur fanatic, then motivate him to read, and read often, by having a few books on this topic on his home bookshelf.

7. Photo books.

Young children love to look at photographs of faces. Having a photo book at your child's fingertips helps him learn about his family, your values, and your culture. It also helps with the formation of autobiographical memories.

8. "Fun" books.

It's also a great idea to allow your child to "play" with books, and some books are more "fun" than others. Lift-the-flap books, musical books, search-and-find books, pop-up books, and sticker books would all fall into the category of "fun". Having books such as these around, gives a child the opportunity to "entertain" himself with a book, much like a toy. In doing so, chances are that he'll gain an interest in books, and consequently reading.

9. Books that teach life lessons.

There are lots of books that teach life lessons. You may want to select a few to own that teach your child lessons that you value.

We own several books with a "sharing" theme such as Mo Willem's Should I Share My Ice Cream? and several that celebrate individuality such as I Like Myself by Karen Beaumont.

10. Bedtime books.

Reading books before bed is a great part of a bedtime routine because 1) you can sneak in some literacy when your child is a little sleepy and more likely to sit still for a story, and 2) it provides emotional bonding and togetherness time. Your child's library should include one or two books that become staple bedtime stories in your home. 

For some suggestions, check out this post on bedtime stories and building a sleep routine.
11. Multicultural books or books with diverse characters.

Having a few books on hand with characters from diverse backgrounds helps to give your child an appreciation of others' differences.

One of our all-time favorite books in this category is The Colors of Us by Karen Katz.

12. Fairy tales.

Fairy tales generally end with a moral, or lesson, but the real fun of them is that, well, they are just fun and imaginative! Little Red Riding Hood, Golidlocks and the Three Bears, The Little Red Hen... all great characters and stories that children love to listen to over and over again.

Lucy Cousin's has a fabulous collection of fairy tales perfect for young children called Yummy.

13. Wordless books.

A wordless book or two in a home library encourages a child's imagination. Let your child "write" his own story, or simply enjoy the beauty of the illustrations.

For newborns and infants, Tana Hoban has created a number of black-and-white picture-only books. For older children, I like Chalk by Bill Thomson.

14. Counting books.

Learn math by reading math. Counting books like Counting Kisses by Karen Katz are a great addition to any home library. I also highly recommend Anno's Counting Book.

15. Picture books.

Last, but not least, what home library would be complete without a few classic picture books.

I hold several picture books near and dear to my heart such as Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak and Miss Nelson is Missing by Harry Allard.

Of course, you can always supplement with books from your local library. And, keep in mind, access to books at home is important!

*A print-rich environment in the home is related to how much children read

*Reading has been associated with number of books in the home; children who

 read more, have more books

*More access to books in the home results in more reading

How does your home library measure up?


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