How To Build Your Library to Encourage Young Readers
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Do you love reading and want to pass this love on to your young children so that they become life long learners? Are you considering home schooling preschool but aren’t exactly sure where to start? Not to worry, I’ve got you covered and I will let you in on the secrets to creating a great library that will encourage your child to WANT to read. Any good homeschool starts with a well stalked library. If you’re a parent to a young child or you are homeschooling preschool, this post is for you. If you have an older child look out for a post covering picture books and early reading suggestions COMING SOON!
Choosing the right books is important to ensuring that your child starts off their relationship with reading on the right foot. If you have boring books, and don’t read with your child, you’ll never spark their imaginations and their love of books! Loving to read makes learning so much more enjoyable and quite honestly it makes learning a lot easier.
I’ve separated my list of book suggestions into categories to show why each of these types of books are important when you’re building your library and some of what they teach your child. I’ve also listed my personal favorite books in each category, which was no easy task. To put it simply, I LOVE BOOKS and have a massive kids library in my home!
Not only do I love books, but I have a background in early childhood education. I worked in a preschool for ten years and spent that time with a team of wonderful teachers who taught me a lot about books and how to use them to teach young children. I’d love to share my knowledge with you!
So, where to start?
I would have to say: with any of the following recommendations! Every category is important; but if you have a bit of a reluctant reader I would definitely start with interactive books to peak their interest.
1. Interactive Books: Young children are learning about cause and effect, or how they can make things happen by acting on them. These books are a great starting place and extremely inviting for all children. They are the BEST place to start when you have an active child or a reluctant reader who might have a particularly hard time sitting to listen to books! Interactive books invite children to develop cognitive skills surrounding cause and effect by lifting flaps, sliding things, popping dots and feeling different textures. They build cognitive abilities and pathways in the brain.
Below is a list of my personal favorite interactive books. There are so many to choose from because children LOVE these books! But below are my top favorites. I know you’ll find a new favorite here too.
- Where’s Spot? by Eric Hill – Look out for the turtle page in this book to take a pause and see if your child remembers that Spot isn’t actually under the rug! As your child learns the book, this is a good point to stop and work on making predictions.
- Toes, Ears, and Nose by Marion Dane Bauer – This is a lift the flap book that’s perfect for teaching body parts and has great rhythm to it.
- Tails by Mathew Van Fleet – There are so many different textures and animals in the book! Love, love, love!
- Melissa and Doug Poke-A-Dot Books – There is a whole series of this style of book, but I chose Old MacDonald. This book was new to our collection with my second child and I really enjoy it! My second child was a bit slower than my first in showing a great interest in books. (Mostly he’s just a social guy that loves to be active and there’s nothing wrong with that!) This book was great for him because he pokes the dot and we laugh when it POPs! The interactive nature was perfectly inviting for my kid who loves to move.
- Tap the Magic Tree by Christie Matheson- This book teaches the seasons as it invites you to clap, shake the book, knock on the tree trunk and more! I love the way it was written and it really keeps the kids engaged.
- Slide and See Under the Sea by Fiona Watt – Again, a new addition to our collection with my second child. He loves operating the sliders to reveal new pictures.
- Rainbow Colors Peekaboo by DK Publishing – I love that this one has real pictures, textures, flaps AND teaches color! It’s an all around good book to add to your collection.
- Never Touch A Spider by Make Believe Ideas – This book has more rubbery textures in it rather than soft fur or felt, so it is good for adding variety to your collection. It has bright pictures and rhyming words.
2. Active Books: The next category of books is active books that get you up and moving! Any time you can incorporate large motor movement into book experiences is a good thing, especially when kids are young. These books get your kids moving and doing hand motions. Your excitement in reading them is key and modeling how the books can prompt you to move will get your child moving as well.
- From Head To Toe by Eric Carl – I have a video of my daughter reading and acting out this book! It really gets you moving!
- Shake My Sillies Out by Raffi
- Itsy Bitsy Spider by Iza Trapani – I think there are probably 100 versions of this song in book form, but this is by far my favorite.
3. Concept Books: These books teach about a specific concept such as colors, numbers, the ABCs or emotions. I love books on feelings because there is so much opportunity for deeper learning and getting your child engaged by using dramatic voices. Whenever you can find concept books that feature real pictures is a good thing as well. Children gravitate toward real pictures.
- Pocket Piggies Numbers or Pocket Piggies Colors – I love the rhythm of these books and the fact that they use real pictures. My children seem to love them too! Whenever you can find a good book with real pictures, I recommend snagging it up! I should say it again, kids are drawn to books with real pictures.
- What Makes a Rainbow? – This book has a fun, unique ribbon feature that grows into a rainbow as you read.
- Colors by Aplaprints – I love the construction of this book. with the shiny rainbow visible when it is closed. The pages also have some texture and mix in some realistic images for your children to spot. Overall, this has been another favorite in our family.
- The Way I Feel – Oh dear. I know I said the last book was a favorite, but this is a MUST HAVE book. I love this book so much! Its got a lovely rhyming structure and there is so much to teach with this book. I can’t say enough about it!
- Duck and Goose: Goose Needs A Hug – Of all the Duck and Goose books, I think this is my favorite. Goose is trying to tell his friends how they can help him feel better and they just keep ignoring him and giving him suggestions until at the end he shouts “I NEED A HUG!” Love all the lessons and strategies that can be derived from this simple book.
4. Books that feature Diversity: If you’re looking to add diversity to your young child’s board book collection, here are a few titles to consider! It’s important to create an environment where diversity is celebrated and your book collection is an easy place to start. These books help to build a sense of community and acceptance of various cultures, something that is so important to do from an early age to grow empathetic young people. It’s also fantastic to get books that represent your own culture so your child can feel a sense of pride in who they are and feel represented.
- Global Babies – We purchased this book nearly every year when I worked in a toddler preschool room. Why? Because its that good and the kids loved on it so hard that it ended up getting destroyed. The photos of babies from around the world are lovely and really draw you in and show you how we all start out the same and are loved.
- One Love by Bob Marley – Love this book and the song that goes with it, to help teach young ones about being part of a community and taking care of each other. “Let’s get together and feel alright!”
- Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes – This is a new book to my personal collection, but I already love it. It shows babies born all over the world and in different environments, focusing on the fact that they’re all wonderful and all share the same quality of having “ten little fingers and ten little toes.” The pictures in this book are really sweet and I love the rhythm it has. I know you’ll enjoy it too.
- Yo! Yes? – This sweet story of friendship is a favorite of my one year old, but is also commonly used at the elementary level as well. Basically, your child won’t grow out of it!
- Say Hello – This book shows you many ways to say hello in many languages as it shows families and people from many cultures. Theres a guide in the back if you’re not sure how to pronounce something. How many ways can you think of to say hello?
- My Heart Fills With Happiness – At the end of this book, it prompts your child to think about what brings them happiness. It’s always good to have a time to discuss and stop to think together!
***If you’re looking for more suggestions I wrote a separate post just to highlight books that show diversity if you want to check it out! Books to Add Diversity to Your Child’s Library ***
5. Rhyming and rhythmic books, books with a pattern, help kids to develop a sense of predicting what comes next and a sense of having fun with language.
- Silly Sally by Audrey Wood – Take a look closely at the pictures in this book. Hidden in the background on each page is a picture clue to tell you what animal Sally will meet next on her journey to town. Point these out to your child and ask “who do you think Sally will see next?” to help them learn to notice the pictures and make predictions.
- The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carl – The middle section of this book, where the caterpillar eats thru a bunch of foods, has a great pattern that’s easy for kids to follow. With this book you can practice building your child’s vocabulary, counting, and days of the week with other children.
- Mr. Brown Can Moo Can you? by Dr. Seuss – This fun book has lots of sounds to engage your child. It was a favorite of my daughter!
- Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb by Dr. Seuss – This book is another by the famous Dr. Seuss and has fantastic rhythm and is an opportunity to practice drumming with the beat of “dum ditty dum ditty dum dum dum.”
- We’re Going On A Bear Hunt – I created a video to share in the Facebook Group for Big Love Small moments which shows you exactly how I read this amazing book. I use hand motions, silly sounds, and facial expressions to engage my audience with. It’s beautifully done illustrations are perfect to practice noticing details, and my children love finding the dog and the baby on each page. I HIGHLY recommend this book for starting your children’s library at home! So much can be done with it!
- The Very Busy Spider by Eric Carl – There is a definite pattern throughout this book, and great pictures by Eric Carl. I love that it also helps to teach animals.
- Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell – This is a staple in our house. Be sure to shut the flaps with force and wag your finger as you say “I sent him back!” it helps to reinforce the pattern of the book! (Also its fun.)
6. Wordless Picture Books: Wordless picture books provide an opportunity for your child to create and narrate their own stories based on what the pictures show them. While these two books below aren’t entirely wordless, the stories are told by the pictures, leaving your child the space to narrate the books.
- Hug by Jez Alborough
- Goodnight Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann
7. Books for Bed – These books can probably filed into the other categories, but I wanted to pull them out for you to give you some calm suggestions that can be used to connect with before bed. Reading books before bed can be a good way to snuggle in and get ready to sleep. In my home, we have a basket of books right by the bed with these exact books in it. I have all of them memorized and my children enjoy them. I hope you love them too!
- Kiss Goodnight by Amy Hest
- Good Morning, Good night by Teresa Imperato – This touch and feel book is perfect for bedtime!
- Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown – It’s a classic for a reason, and definitely deserves a spot on this list. We read this book often at night.
- Wherever You Are My Love Will Find You by Nancy Tillman
- You Are My Heart by Marianne Richmond
- The Bear Snore On by Karma Wilson
8. Books you love! I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, excitement is contagious and your child will know if you’re having fun reading with them. If you want you child to fall in love with reading you have to love to read them their books and enjoy your time engaging with books. So pick the books you WANT to read over and over and over. These are a few of my favorites you might want to check out for yourself!
- Quick As A Cricket by Audrey Wood – build vocabulary using many descriptive words and has beautiful pictures
- The Little Mouse, The Red Ripe Strawberry and The Big Hungry Bear – This is a book from my childhood that I remember my parents and grandparents reading to me. I now read it with my children.
- Elephant and Piggie Series by Mo Willems – these books make us laugh and make us think. What could be better?! Mo Willems is easily one of my favorite children’s book authors. I call him the modern day Dr. Seuss for those who don’t know who he is. Try “Knuffle Bunny” or “Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus“ if you fall in love with his books too! One of our favorites from the Elephant and Piggie Series is Elephants Cannot Dance.
- The Baby Goes Beep
If you choose a 1 – 2 books from each category, you’ll be on the right track to creating a wonderful children’s library that is sure to encourage your young reader! Books open up new worlds. What a joy it is to share a love of reading with our children. I hope you find some new favorites on this list and you continue to share special moments reading together!
To discover how to teach early reading skills using the awesome books on this list check out my post: “How to Begin Teaching Early Reading Skills”. It is the first in a series of posts I created to help you gain the skills and confidence you need to teach your child to read at home! You’ve got everything you need. You are enough!
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