What is your favorite book to read to children? This is probably the question I ask most often to parents and teachers here at the Family Help Center. Every time I ask it, I am instantly met with a smile. Some people blurt out a favorite without any hesitation while others have to wonder and really think. As for me, I find that question to be so difficult to answer with a single book title, so my answer is always the same: “It depends.”
There are so many great books and because reading can be so personal, it depends on my mood and the mood of the child or children I am reading to. Oh sure, I have my absolute favorite infant and toddler books like Dinosaur Roar! By Henrietta Strickland or Jamberry by Bruce Degen. But, I always have a hard time committing to a favorite because sometimes my favorite is the book an overtired toddler may need to hear right then and there to help ease them to sleep.
Reading to infants and toddlers is so important and even the youngest babies benefit from a good story. Board books are a great way to help babies get used to having books in their hand and part of their everyday world. When we read to babies we help to develop language, we teach to listen and create communication patterns, and most importantly we bond with our babies.
I find that reading out loud changes when kids become preschoolers. At this age, kids can act out wonderful fantasies and books can inspire them to think about new adventures. Sometimes this is when adults become shy about reading out loud to kids. There are plenty of tips to help adults read to children but what I do to help me feel ready is I pick a book that I am comfortable with and I practice it before I read it to anyone. I read it to myself over and over so I know it by heart. When I read to a child, I believe in the fantasy and I do silly voices-sometimes, I even sing. The best tip I have when you are not sure what to read, think back to what your favorite book was when you were a child. When I ask parents and teachers to think back to their favorite book, I can see an instant flash in their eyes as they are brought back to a special memory. That book is the book that you should be sharing with your children. If you have a personal connection with that book, you will help a child feel what is like to love a great story. I have so many favorite preschool children’s books. I love to read anything by Shel Silverstein, Maurice Sendek, and Leo Leoni-I am not sure who likes it more, me or the kids?
What is most important thing about answering the question of what is your favorite book to read to children is simply that you read to children. Have fun with it. Make a fort and read a fun book using a flashlight. Let your child turn the pages as you read. Read the same book over and over-kids love that! Let your child see you read. Read books that are fun and read books that are based on facts-kids love to read about snakes and spiders! Go to the library where all the books you could imagine are there to read together and its free! Go to second hand stores and yard sales to pick up gently used books to build your collection. Scholastic offers many books very cheap and our child care center sends out the order form about once a month. Make your own book with your child so your memories are bound together to remember forever. If you are short on time, record yourself reading a story so your child can have you read to them anytime they want.
Reading is the best gift you can give your child. To be honest, I was not much of a reader until I had children, so it was a gift they gave me. I will continue to try to answer the question of my favorite book knowing that I don’t think I will ever have just one favorite.
“Children are made readers on the laps of their parents.” — Emilie Buchwald
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