How to Choose a Children’s Book, Parts 1 and 2 – Subjective Appeal is Not Optional

PART 1: INTRODUCTION

It goes without saying that a child’s engagement with good books is important and valuable in the child’s development. Not only can reading good books expand a child’s cognitive abilities, but it can also spur a child’s emotional, moral, and spiritual development. However, a quick visit to one of the big online or brick-and-mortar book retailers is enough to make you realize there are zillions of children’s books. Some of these books are good, but many are not. So, if you are looking to buy a book for a child, you are left with a question: “How do I choose a good children’s book?”

In this article I will present the first two parts of a multi-part article series that I hope can go some way toward answering that question in a general way, such that after reading the series (or part of it) you will be more equipped to choose a children’s book, even if you do not have access to reviews or recommendations. I have chosen to write on this topic in a series of articles since I hope to treat the topic in some depth.

The roadmap for this series is as follows. In the first section of the series I will discuss the factors that make up what I call the subjective appeal of a children’s book. In other words, I will try to explain the considerations that might make a book appealing to the key person we have in mind, namely the child that will engage with the book. Simply put, these are the reasons that the child will like the book. So, for example, in the articles on subjective appeal I will be talking about things like humor and illustration quality. Some of these considerations will be general–i.e., they will apply to all children–and some will be particular to the child you have in mind. In addition to simply listing and explaining these considerations, I will try to emphasize the importance of considering subjective appeal when choosing a children’s book. Indeed, I will take up the topic of the importance of considering subjective appeal in Part 2 of this article, following the introductory Part 1.

After discussing subjective appeal, in the second section of the series I plan to take up the factors relevant to the developmental value of a children’s book. The factors I have in mind here are those that allow a book to contribute to a child’s cognitive, emotional, moral, and even spiritual development. The assumption here is that as an adult choosing a children’s book you have some goals for your young reader that go beyond sheer delight (though this is important, as I will emphasize); presumably you will want the book to educate or spur growth in the child in some way, or at least not to detract from this process. In my lingo, books that educate or spur growth in this way have developmental value. Moreover, you might think of a book with developmental value as possessing certain qualities that you hope your child will one day fully appreciate in a book, such as beautiful language, or creativity. Given this hope, you will want to choose books that exhibit these lofty qualities–even if the child doesn’t fully appreciate them now–so that she can develop a taste for them. As a bonus, some of the considerations that make a book developmentally valuable will also make the book attractive to you as an adult, which will help you want to read it to your child!

In the third section of the series I will discuss pitfalls to avoid when choosing a children’s book, such as books that slide by on marketing alone, and books that set particularly bad examples of adult-child interaction. In the final section of the series I will point out the value of “trusted opinions” in choosing children’s books. I am thinking here of such things as “top-100” children’s book lists and children’s book reviews, where authoritative voices weigh in and help you decide which books to choose.

PART 2: SUBJECTIVE APPEAL IS NOT OPTIONAL

With that introduction to the article series, I will begin discussing a book’s subjective appeal in more depth, and in particular I will argue for the importance of considering subjective appeal when choosing a book.

So, here is the central–and what I take to be very important–point: choosing a book with subjective appeal is not optional. Rather, it is a crucial, non-negotiable part of the selection. Now, this might go without saying for most of us: of course we aim to choose books that kids will like! However, this is not obvious to everyone. I have in mind here a certain kind of parent or caretaker that tends toward the “all business” approach to child education and development. This kind of adult might tend, at least sometimes, to read a book to a child because it is good for the child, regardless of the fact that the child would rather not be reading it.

I know that adults with this tendency are out there because I sometimes exhibit it myself! For example, my wife and I are trying to help our children learn French from a young age. Part of the way we encourage French language learning is by reading French language children’s books to them, such as a French translation of Goodnight Moon, by Margaret Wise Brown, called Bonsoir Lune. My kids enjoy this to a certain extent, but they get tired of it pretty quickly, and when they do I sometimes turn into a book nazi, forcing them to attend to a book that they are not enjoying.

However, this kind of practice–where we neglect what is enjoyable to a child–can have disastrous effects. First of all, it tends to erode the child’s desire to be read to. (My children are definitely less inclined to go back to the French language books after an episode like that.) And that fact is, of course, terrible given all the amazing relational and emotional (not to mention cognitive) benefits that derive simply from an adult sitting down and reading a book to a child.

However, as if that were not bad enough, forcing a child to bear with a book they do not like also erodes a child’s desire to read at all. In other words, such a practice may well contribute to turning the child off of reading altogether. Keeping in mind that what we want to cultivate in a child is a love of being read to, and a lifelong love of reading in general, it will be crucial to choose books that a child will enjoy reading, i.e., books with subjective appeal. After all, do you consistently read things you find boring or unappealing?

There is one final caveat to my emphasis on the importance of considering subjective appeal when choosing a children’s book: simply choosing a book that a child will like is also not enough. Why? Because sometimes children like books that are not so good for them (so do adults!). For example, my kids love the Captain Underpants series by Dav Pilkey, which I do not think serves them well.

The implicit point here is that we, as adults, have certain developmental goals in mind for the children in our lives, so we also need to consider those goals when choosing children’s books (I will say more about what constitutes a book’s developmental value in future articles). So, given a child’s proclivity for certain forms of junky books, and given that we have certain developmental goals in mind for our children, that a book has subjective appeal for a child should not be enough to seal your choice, but it is a crucial start since it encourages a love of reading. Plus it is just plain great to see a child enjoying something!

In the next article in this series I will begin to discuss the particular factors that contribute to a book’s subjective appeal. Specifically, I will take up the topic of the themes of appealing children’s books.

Christian Book Store – The 5 Best Spiritual Children’s Books for Christian Kids

The right books can really be the path for your children to find love for Christianity. You can install all the great traits and love for Jesus with right books. If you plan to give books as gift to your children, there is huge variety available including the followings.

• The Secret of St. Nicholas

• The Story of the Nativity

• When Someone Dies: Find Comfort in Jesus

• GIVEWAY: Two New Meghan Rose Chapter Books!

• Tabitha’s Travels

The Secret of St. Nicholas tells the story of St. Nicholas in very interesting and attractive manner. There are so many stories that have been part of this legend of St. Nicholas that its always a entertaining read for young children. His love for Jesus, God, and children is explained right from the childhood of St. Nicholas.

Dealing with death is hard on anyone, explaining that to children is hard thing. “When Someone Dies: Find Comfort in Jesus”, is great book to deal with this subject. This sweet book is very smartly written by Julie Stiegemeyer. This can bring comfort to the child dealing with death of pet or grand parent by explaining the circle of life and importance of keeping faith in God.

My personal favorite book in this selection is “The Story of the Nativity” this is simple yet quite sweet book offering insights to the story of Jesus. The illustrations are very sweet, alongside some really nice ways how to spend the Christmas. The book comes with some great stickers too.

The “GIVEWAY: Two New Meghan Rose Chapter Books!” are coming with some great reviews from the all important Christian book reviews. This is quite interesting series for children to follow. My personal favorite in them is the Meghan Rose Takes the Cake.

The next book “Tabitha’s Travels” is one of interesting almost adventure like story around the love for God and finding your place in society. These travels give the insight from the little Tabitha the shepherd in ancient Israel, who gets the chance to find God and love for Christ.

How to Choose Children’s Books for Your Child

Reading is one of the most essential things that children should learn. Parents love to see their children getting hooked with reading books. If you think it is time for your child to start reading books, there are some considerations that you should keep in mind in choosing children’s books for your child:

1. Discover your child’s interests. Though it is impressive to see your child engrossed in reading encyclopedias, it is not enough reason for you to push only that kind of book to your child. What you need to do is to observe your child to know what his or her interests are. If you notice that your child has an affinity for animals, then you may choose to buy them a book of fables. You should always consider the interests of your child over your own. By doing so, you are cultivating his interest in reading.

2. Choose age-appropriate materials. You should consider the cognitive level of your child when choosing children’s books. Do not force them to read books which are too complex for his age. Let your child enjoy reading by choosing books that they can understand well and relate to.

3. Choose books with attractive graphics. As much as possible, buy children’s books that are appealing to the eyes. Children love colors and drawings. Once your child sees that the book you bought for them is attractive, they will be interested to explore its contents. Since children are generally visual learners, they find colorless books to be unappealing. On the other hand, books with colors and graphics will keep them interested and will enhance their imagery.

4. Choose books that teach values. Books are very influential. With this in mind, you should make sure that the books you buy for your child gives them the right influence. There are a lot of books that are written to impart golden values such as courtesy, honesty, respect, caring, sharing, etc. This is a really great way for your child to learn about these values while enjoying reading stories.

Reading can be a lot more fun for your little ones if you guide them on their first books. Read their books with them. By doing so, they will find reading to be a really important activity since you spend time to do it with them. Once they get used to reading books, they will eventually love to read more.