Tips on Choosing Books

Children are excited by books that speak to them and their experiences. They love familiar sights and stories, but also love novelty and challenge. For some suggestions of what to look for when choosing books for young children, see below:

Infants (6-12 months) like:

  • Board books with photos of babies
  • Brightly colored board books to touch and taste
  • Books with pictures of familiar objects—balls, bottles
  • Small books sized for small hands

Young Toddlers (12-24 months) like:

  • Sturdy board books they can handle and carry
  • Books with photos and pictures of children doing familiar things—sleeping, eating, playing
  • Goodnight books for bedtime
  • Books about saying goodbye and hello
  • Books with only a few words on the page
  • Books with simple rhymes or predictable text

Older Toddlers (24-36 months) like:

  • Books with board pages—but also books with paper pages
  • Silly books and funny books
  • Rhymes, rhythms, repetitious text—books they can learn by heart
  • Books about children and families
  • Books about making friends\
  • Books about food
  • Books about animals
  • Books about trucks
  • Word books

Preschoolers (3-5 years) like:

  • Small books sized for small hands
  • Books that tell stories
  • Books about kids that look like them and live like them—but also books about different places and different ways of living
  • Books about going to school, books about making friends
  • Books with simple text they can memorize
  • Counting books, alphabet books, vocabulary books

Tips on Reading

Parents can make reading with their children part of the daily routine. Reading together in the evening can become an important part of the bedtime ritual. Here are some additional suggestions for making reading together a pleasurable experience:

Make Reading Part of Every Day – Read at bedtime or on the bus.
Have Fun – Children who love books learn to read. Books can be part of special time with your child.
A Few Minutes is OK – Young children can only sit for a few minutes for a story, but as they grow, they will sit longer.
Talk About the Pictures – You do not have to read the book to tell a story.
Let Your Child Turn the Pages – Babies need board books and help to turn pages, but your three year-old can do it alone.
Show Your Child the Cover Page – Explain what the story is about.
Show Your Child the Words – Run your finger along the words as you read them.
Make the Story Come Alive – Create voices for the story characters and use your body to tell the story.
Ask Questions About the Story – What do think will happen next? What is this?
Let Your Child Ask Questions About the Story – Use the story as an opportunity to engage in conversation and to talk about familiar activities and objects.
Let Your Child Tell the Story – Children as young as 3 years old can memorize a story and many children love this opportunity to express their creativity.

Additional Resources

Reading tips for your family flyer
Reading tips for your family spanish
Milestones of literacy development graphic
Milestones of literacy development spanish
For more information and reading tips, visit our national website or the Literacy Toolkit offered by the American Academy of Pediatrics at

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