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How to Guide Children to Great Books

 

Q. I want my child to read quality books. But how on earth can a Mom or Dad sort through the millions of options to find jewels for the child to read?

 

One of the most important tasks of parenthood is to guide your child into putting the right things into his or her body, right? Most of us stop with advising them on good nutrition, and avoiding drugs, alcohol and tobacco.

 

But what about what they choose to put in their MINDS? That's just an important. Being able to guide your child toward books that will become a part of his or her heart is as fulfilling as it is practical, from the child's point of view.

 

Here are some guidelines:

 

WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN A GOOD BOOK

 

Good literature, well-written, with rich vocabulary and images.

 

A few words that are new to you. A quick way to tell if a book is "too hard" for you is to open it at random to three pages and count how many words per page you don't know. If there are three or more per page, wait a while and try that book again.

 

Complex, unusual, unique, engaging plots or structures. Avoid formulas and sequels. Kids love series with the same character doing the same kinds of things, but you can go overboard on that. There are too many stories out there in the world to get stuck on the same one, over and over.

 

Conflict and problems are fine. Seek material that is emotionally challenging but not emotionally disturbing. Most young people can't handle violence, profanity, sex and aggression.

 

Imaginative illustrations that involve or challenge the reader.

 

Characters and situations with which the reader can identify.

 

Appropriate, effective role models. "Happy" endings are not necessary and "evil" need not always be punished. But those are both helpful, satisfying outcomes for young readers. Remember, their emotional needs are different from those of adult readers.

 

Realistic portrayals of people and events (except for fantasy genres).

 

Accurate information (fiction as well as non-fiction).

 

 

USE YOUR LIBRARY!

 

Make friends with a librarian. Let him or her serve your family as other professionals do, from your doctor to your painter.

 

USE YOUR LOCAL BOOKSTORE!

Make friends with the children's literature specialist who works there. Develop a great "reading repertoire" for your children with a combination of free library books and cherished, store-bought books.

SET UP A "LENDING LIBRARY" WITH YOUR KIDS' FRIENDS

On the first Saturday of every month, get together to exchange paperback books.

 

MIX YOUR MEDIA WISELY

Read one book for every 10 hours you watch TV. Read one book for every video you rent. Read one book for every 10 hours you play computer games.

 

 

Homework: Most public libraries sell used books once or twice a year, and that's a great time to get books for your home library at a very reasonable price. Having books in your home sends a good message to your children. A parent who actually sits down and reads a book every day sends an even better one!

 

By Susan Darst Williams www.ShowandTellforParents.com Reading 15 2008

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