Reading for Kids: 6 useful tips on choosing books for your kids

By | April 14, 2009

Choosing a book for your child to read can be rather tricky. When you walk into Borders or browse Amazon for books, how do you choose from the massive range available? Take some basic principles to heart and you will find it much easier to choose.

1. Appearance: Bright and Colorful

When choosing books for your children to read, one of the first things you should consider is the appearance.  Since the child will see the cover of the book first, don’t choose something boring-especially for those who don’t particularly care for reading anyway. A book’s cover should be colorful and give some idea what the book is about. If you can capture the child’s interest when they first set eyes on the book, half the battle is won.

2. Book Length: It’s got to be ‘just right’!

The length of the book is very important. If it is too short the more accomplished readers will forge ahead and be bored while the rest of the children are in the middle. A book that is too long gets tiresome and just looking at it can discourage a child before he even opens it to the first page. A book should take no longer than three to five days for a child ten and under to read, no more than eight to ten days for an older child.

3. Illustrations: Aid to Reading

Illustrations are not only an aid to a child’s imagination, they break up the monotony of all those words! In fact, most children can spot the tell-tale signs of colorful illustrations and tend to look through them before they even begin reading the book. Good illustrations or photographs pique a child’s interest, often making them want to read the book in order to understand such an interesting picture. A drawing or photograph also maintains a reader’s interest.

4. Font’s do matter – Fonts make the book!

Be sure that the book’s font size and style is conducive to young eyes. Younger children don’t have the physical or mental skills to focus on small type and tightly spaced sentences. For readers under the age of eight, type should be larger than normal and for those under the age of seven it’s better that sentences be double-spaced.

5. Serials: Get serious about Series!

You may want to choose a book that is part of a series in order to keep interest running high. Children like to be able to get to know a character and follow their adventures through a series of books. Reading books that are part of a series also makes a child eager to get to the next adventure and gives them a taste of what it’s like to enjoy reading truly.

6. Subjects: Don’t bore! Let them adore!

Finally, choose a subject that is interesting. You might think you know the type of material they like to read but tastes change quickly, sometimes overnight! One thing you can do is take a vote after discussing they types of books the children think they might enjoy. Present the ideas then choose the one that most of them agree on, reserving the remaining subjects for another reading trip to the store!

You will find that there are more useful tips than just these, but the primary tip is one that all children known subconsciously: find what interests them, guide but don’t dictate. You’ll be amazed when they see other children reading, they’ll quickly understand what they can do there! Who knows your child may be reading more, faster and with much more motivation than ever!

Kenneth is a teacher with many years of experience in ESL at Dickson’s English School in Tamsui, Taiwan. You can visit the school blog at to find out more about what students are doing, how important fluency is, and how much fun we’re having. For other advice and help, check out his column at




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