Selecting Books by Age

Tips for selecting books that kids will really want to read.

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When you pick books for kids, involve them in the selection process. "Kids are more likely to read and enjoy books they pick out themselves," says Carol Rasco, president and CEO of Reading Is Fundamental, Inc., the nation's largest nonprofit children's literacy organization.

Below, Rasco offers tips that can point adults toward books that kids will enjoy.

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Ages 3-5

  • Main characters who are the children's ages or slightly older. Playful animals, both real and imaginary, will also hold a child's attention.
  • Images that are clear, colorful, and engaging.
  • Simple, engaging plots. The action should move quickly so each book can be read in one sitting.
  • Lively rhymes and repetition that children can repeat and remember.
  • Stories about everyday life and events that encourage kids to ask questions about their world.
  • Books that review basic concepts, such as letters, numbers, shapes, and colors.

Ages 6-11

  • Clear text that is easy to read.
  • Colorful, attractive images that bring the text to life and give clues to the meaning of unfamiliar words.
  • Books that appeal to the children's interests.
  • How-to, craft, and recipe books with clear, simply worded instructions and helpful illustrations.
  • Other books by favorite authors and illustrators.
  • Books with the children's favorite characters.
  • Stories the children enjoyed hearing when they were younger. These are great books for children to begin reading on their own.
  • Books that encourage discussion.
  • Chapter books that can be read over several days instead of in one sitting.

Ages 12 and older

  • Books about subjects that interest your child.
  • Novels that might help children cope with daily challenges of growing up by featuring characters dealing with similar experiences.
  • Books showing new ideas and opportunities.
  • Fact books, such as trivia books and almanacs.
  • Biographies, historical fiction, classics, folk tales, and mythology.
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