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Posted by Tom, May 29, 2015

Choosing books together

Today’s guest post is by Ahrani Logan, a TV producer, brand creator, and non-fiction writer, on choosing books for her child to read.

I love books. This means that I live in a house filled with books. My daughter, who is 6 years old, has grown up in this environment. We have a vast array of picture books, but now she is moving onto chapter books. This means that we visit the bookshop more often. This is because she likes to select her own reading now. She will still read something I buy, but I’ve noticed the difference. The books she selects she pretty much starts reading as we walk out of the bookshop.

I embrace this slight shift. After all, if she is reading, that is the main thing.

Sometimes she will try to select books older than her reading range. “Harry Potter” is a good example. She recently began watching the movies. So now, of course, my little reader wants to immerse herself in the pages that tell all the exciting adventures. She seems particularly taken with Lord Voldemort. No doubt I expect she will be picking up horror books at some point. An area I would voraciously read from 12 onwards. So I have to say “no” to these books for now. What happened to the cute books?

I tend to encourage my child to choose books within the 5 to 8 age range now. Apparently “picture books are for babies”. But she still enjoys a good picture book, if only to study and perhaps copy the illustrations, or read them to me. Having said this, I have seen her enthused by the rather wonderful illustrations that can be found in chapter books for this age group. It’s a great mix of picture with long-form story that ticks the right emotional boxes, continuing to embrace the young reader whilst simultaneously acknowledging and supporting their literary growth.

On a recent trip to Waterstones, my six year old was drawn to two books published by Nosy Crow. Zoe’s Rescue Zoo: The Playful Panda by Amelia Cobb and My Head Teacher is A Vampire Rat! by Pamela Butchart. The cuteness factor of the panda definitely played a part. The vampire meets school concept seemed to satisfy my six year olds need for a bit of scary-tale. What I noticed is that the spine of both of these books quite accurately communicated the front cover. I think that was an important factor for making a quick assessment in front of a shelf of many, many books.

We spent around 40 minutes in the store. Taking books down. Having a browse and a read. I do wonder if her choice was also determined by the fact that these books were on the shelves at a six year olds “viewing level”.

I love visiting bookshops with my daughter. It is something I loved to do with my parents, at the weekends, when I was a child. I love that she loves books so much, so young. She loves story and she loves facts. After one particularly successful visit of discovering new titles, she couldn’t help skipping down the high road singing “I love books!”

I still often read aloud to my six year old. This is usually at bedtime and because she wants me to read slightly older books to her, like those by Roald Dahl. She sometimes wants to read a picture book to me. Of course I know if I am read a book at bedtime like this, I am more than ready to fall asleep!

I can understand why choosing books with your child could be daunting. With the vast array on offer, it can be hard to know where to begin. I find that quick online searches for recent releases, or books that have won awards, are good starting points before entering a bookstore. Twitter has been a useful place in increasing children’s book title awareness. Allowing your child to lead you, if they are naturally book-inclined, also helps. Choosing books can be quality time. They encourage communication and are good talking points. Children who often respond with “Can’t remember” to “How was your day at school?” may be more eager to chat about an interesting book that they have read. Books can open lines of communication, foster imagination, grow young minds and generally make the World go around.

Thank you, Ahrani! You can read the opening chapters of both The Playful Panda and My Head Teacher is a Vampire Rat below – and if you’d like to contribute a guest blogpost on a children’s book-related subject, we’d love to hear from you! Email tom at nosycrow dot com if there’s something you’d like to share.

Take a look inside Zoe’s Rescue Zoo: The Playful Panda:

Buy the book from Waterstones.

Take a look inside My Head Teacher is a Vampire Rat:

Buy the book from Waterstones.

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