Updated: Mar 18
Guest Author - Nancy Faye Anthony
What Qualities to Look For When Finding an Engaging Book for Children
According to an ACER study from 2021, the number of Australian boys and girls who read for enjoyment has continued to decline. In fact, recent figures note that only one-quarter of boys and two-fifths of girls considered reading fun. This is despite evidence that suggests reading for fun has many benefits.
For instance, health writer Ashley Marcin shared that reading helps childrenimprove their vocabulary skills. She revealed that children who regularly read in the five years leading up to Kindergarten are exposed to 1.4 million more words than those who didn’t read during those years. Similarly, an article on literacy by The Conversation stated that children who read more regularly often performed better academically and socially. For these reasons, engaging your children to read books is important. But how can you make books interesting and compelling for your children?
In this article, we will discuss the four qualities you should consider when looking for books to inspire your kids to read more.
To excite your children to read books, you can buy children’s books with stunning illustrations. This factor is especially useful if your child can still not comprehend some words. Even without reading the texts, children will be able to understand what’s happening in the story by simply looking at the illustrations alone. Illustration and picture books are not only perfect for younger readers. If your child is already in preschool, they will still be able to appreciate the drawings in the book, allowing them to remain engaged in reading for a longer time. Some examples of children’s books with beautiful illustrations are The Littlest Elephant by Kate Read and Beyond the Burrow by Jessica Meserve.
One of the important factors to consider when choosing books is the valuable lessons your child can get after reading the book. Because apart from being fun, reading should be a morally and emotionally enriching activity. More importantly, books are a great way for children to acquire new perspectives. In the podcast by Megan Daley and Allison Tait titled "Your Kid’s Next Read", they talked with author Zanni Louise who wrote Pigasus. It's a book that introduces young readers to an empowering rhyming story about believing in yourself and achieving your dreams. Children can feel inspired to adopt the same morals and values by reading such books.
The world is a colourful and culturally-diverse place, and books are a great way for children to see and learn more about this. As explained in the popular podcast show "The Motherly Podcast" on Scribd, books with diverse characters open your child to the concept of diversity at a young age. Not only will this help them recognise other cultures, but it will also teach them to respect and appreciate the differences of the people around them. Moreover, having books with diverse characters will enable your child to relate to the protagonist, especially if they're from the same background. If the story is more relatable for your child, the more they will enjoy the story they’re reading. If you’re interested in books with diverse protagonists, you can check out Lola at the Library by Anna McQuinn, and Danbi Leads the School Parade by Anna Kim.
Finally, finding age-appropriate books is necessary to engage your child to read. Because if children try to read a book they are not yet developmentally equipped to read, they will only associate reading with a frustrating experience. For children between two to five years old, stick to picture books since they’re still developing their ability to comprehend words. But once they reach the age of six to nine, they can start reading graphic novels and even books that rely less on illustrations. Lastly, older children can now grasp concepts related to society and nationalism. This makes them equipped to read books like Common Wealth by Gregg Dreise and Day Break by Amy McQuire, which are recognised in the 2022 Children’s Book Council of Australia (CBCA) awards. By minding how appropriate a book is in relation to your child's development, books can make a better and more timely impact.