What to Pack
- Book bags
- Book or author wish list (see below)
- Go online. Go to your local bookstore's Web site to find out about special events—think parties, author readings, story time—and time your visit accordingly.
- Make a list. Write down the names of authors and illustrators your child has enjoyed in the past.
- Talk to the experts. Check ParentsConnect's Book Lists or your local librarian for book recommendations and create a children's book wish list. At the store, share your wish list with someone on the children's-book staff and talk about your child's special interests. Think about your child's latest obsessions, such as dinosaurs, fire engines, rock collecting or ballerinas.
- Consider age-appropriateness. Babies and toddlers will enjoy concept books (numbers, shapes, colors) and stories about familiar everyday experiences, such as going to the playground or taking a bath. Preschoolers like nursery tales and picture books with clear story lines, lots of repetition, and stories that invite participation. Early elementary school kids branch out into information books, folktales from other lands, humor books, and stories about best friends, school, and families.
- Explore formats. For very young children, consider indestructible board books or irresistible books with die-cut holes or textures to touch. Look for picture books for ages 0-8, early readers for kids just starting to read, and chapter books for older readers or family read-alouds.
- Examine art styles. Strong lines and bright, simple colors appeal to babies and toddlers. As kids get older, they'll respond to watercolors, collages, photographs, oil paintings, folk art and more. Look through books together and test their visual appeal for your child AND for you! If you're going to have to read it 1,002 times, you'd better like it!
- Have a scavenger hunt. Can your child find a book about a dog? A baby? A firefighter? A book about a real person? A book about an imaginary place?
- Do a read-through. Once your child finds a few books he likes, take advantage of a cozy corner to read aloud. Ask yourself, Did this book draw my child in and hold his attention? Employ fun-to-read language and engaging art? Encourage discussion? Reflect my values and avoid stereotyping? Bear repeated readings? (If you don't enjoy reading the book, move on. Your lack of enthusiasm for the book may be misconstrued as a general dislike of reading.)
- Investigate: Ask your young reader these questions as you scout the aisles:
- What's a board book? A picture book? An early reader? A chapter book?
- How are the books arranged? (By author? Holiday? Genre?)
- What would you like to read about next? (Allowing kids to choose their own books boosts their interest in reading.)
- Which illustrations do you like best?
- Choose variety. If your child is learning to read, look for beginner readers that encourage newfound decoding skills, but don't stop buying picture books, which employ more advanced vocabulary and explore more sophisticated subjects. And continue reading aloud from older chapter books at bedtime.
- Read all about it. For the best new books, look for The Best Children's Books of the Year chosen by the Children's Book Committee at the Bank Street College of Education (bankstreet.edu/bookcom/). Want to see a list of 100 Picture Books Every Child Should Know? GO!
Educational Perks Visiting a bookstore provides your child excellent role models—people who love books! Investing in a child's library shows that you value both books and the literacy skills your child will need in school.
Bonus Explorer Activity Try writing a book together. Method #1: You provide a first sentence. Your child adds a sentence. You continue and so on. Method #2. Have your child name three characters, such as a robot, a dragon and a fox. Then make up a problem, such as the dragon has no friends. How would your child solve the problem? Write the story down as your child dictates and then have your child illustrate it. Later, read it aloud to other family members.
For more ways to explore together, play Dora's Great Big World game, find do-together Dora crafts, recipes, and activities, and print a personalized Explorer Kit for your child at DoraTheExplorer.com.
Thanks to Susan Hood
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