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Family first

Q: What should I know about choosing books for my young children?

A: Books, books and more books are wonderful for all children. Here are some helpful tips for matching books for your young children’s ages:

  • For babies, bright colors are best; look for books that show a single, brightly colored picture on each page. Animals are fun. Babies like to touch books, so sturdy, heavy, plastic-coated cardboard pages or fabric pages are good. It takes time and practice to learn to turn pages. It’s a great activity.
  • Two-year-olds like books about things they can identify: a mommy, a daddy, brothers, sisters, home, animals and toys. They love to name objects in pictures and they enjoy stories with repetition and interesting sounds. Look for spiral bound books that will open and lie flat.
  • Three-year-olds like books they can "read" by themselves by following picture cues. They enjoy talking animals or machines and realistic stories about families, neighbors, other children and cars. They "get" humor based on sounds and stories that ask questions or make comparisons, like "big and little."
  • Four-year-olds like ridiculous situations and funny words, ABC and simple counting books, and the "why and how books of information. They are ready for more description in stories and enjoy realistic stories and pretend stories about real things.
  • Five-year-olds like stories that involve more feeling; those stories give them a chance to identify with the characters. Now is the time for stories with a plot and stories that can be "acted out." Stories of accomplishment are good choices. Look for "I can read" books.

Especially if you have more than one child in the infant to 5-year range, have fun making books. Cut familiar pictures from magazines and mount them on endboard five by eight inches; punch holes along the sides and lie your pages together with yarn.
Parents who share the wonder of books with young children are giving a gift for a lifetime. At least once a day be sure the television and computer are off, set out some books on a rug or in a comer. Sit down with a book and before long a child will crawl or snuggle into your lap for more than one story. The warmth of your body, the sound of your voice, and the peace in the atmosphere is the best environment for listening and learning.

If you would like to talk with a parenting specialist about the challenges in raising children, call the toll-free Parent WarmLine at 1-888-584-2204/Linea de Apoyo at 877-434-9528. For free emergency child care, call Crisis Nursery at 1-877-434-9599. Check out www.familiesandcommunities.org.

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