Remember the last time you read something extraordinary that transported you across time and space? Or how about something that unexpectedly taught you something? The gift of literacy is invaluable, which is why books are vital to young readers. Now is a great time to give books to the children in your life, or to those you don’t know who are in need. But where to start? University of Findlay Mazza Museum Deputy Director Kerry Teeple has some tips:
Q: What should adults keep in mind when buying books for children?
A: The No. 1 factor for buying books for children is age appropriateness, including subject matter and reading level. The construction of the book is important too; most books for younger audiences are made to withstand wear and tear, while intricate paper engineered books that appeal to all ages are geared more for the older set who understand how to care for them.
Q: With so many books to choose from, what prep work can buyers do to keep this gift goal manageable?
A: Is the child an avid or reluctant reader? Choose a more advanced title for someone who’s ready for Harry Potter, or a graphic novel for the hesitant type; the latter can be a confidence builder for a child who might be struggling. Consider a book that correlates to activities the child is interested in at school and in his or her spare time. Soccer? Karate? Nature? There’s a book for that! Also, if you know a child has a favorite book, see if you can find another book by the same author or illustrator.
Q: Are there any “don’ts” when buying books for kids?
A: Yes – Don’t be afraid to ask for help! Our Mazza gift shop volunteers are really knowledgeable and willing to help if you’re feeling unsure about your choice.
Q: How can adults maintain a child’s interest in reading?
A: A good predictor of a child’s enjoyment of the book is YOU and your enthusiasm! Reading aloud to children, which builds their vocabulary, reading fluency, exposure to different cultures and more, is the best way to get them interested in literature. But perhaps the most important part of reading aloud with a child is the emotional connection that they experience during the time spent together. It’s really quite amazing.
Here are some of Kerry’s favorite children’s books:
“Dance” by Matthew Van Fleet. This fun, rhythmic read is about a newly hatched chick who is taught how to dance by some fun-loving animals. Sturdy tabs on each page allow the young reader to make the characters wiggle, bop and hop. This is a fun one for kids who have lots of energy and want to dance with the chick!
“Polar Bear Night” by Lauren Thompson, illustrated by Stephen Savage. A baby polar bear leaves the cozy warmth of his sleeping mommy to explore the arctic night. Along his adventure, he spots seals, whales and a star shower. His journey ends with a loving embrace. Great for nature lovers who like to snuggle.
“Katy and the Big Snow” by Virginia Lee Burto. This classic tale is brought back in a board book perfect for little readers. Katy the snowplow saves the day when Geoppolis is covered in snow. Included are glorious illustrations that are especially fun for little vehicle lovers.
“The Missing Donut” by Judith Henderson, illustrated by Findlay’s own T.L. McBeth. A collection of small stories with some really big words. A fun read for beginners. The sprinkle Fairy and her Sprinkles add big words throughout the story giving new readers a boost.
“Can You Find Pup?” by Vincent X. Kirsch. Tate is an artist with an adorable multi-colored poodle. Each time Tate draws a picture, Pup is sad that Tate’s drawings have no Pup. Trouble ensues when Pup decides to run away with the circus. Can Tate bring Pup back? Each page of this easy reader has seek-and-find drawings and loads of detail for curious viewers.
“Maximillian Villainous” by Margaret Chiu Greanias, illustrated by Lesley Breen Withrow. Maximillian Villanous is not living up to the standards of his villainous family. What kind of villain wants a bunny and helps people? Maximillian finds a way to prove to his family that he’s OK, even if he’s good. A hilarious story that makes readers rethink villains.
“Captain’s Log: Snowbound” by Erin Dionne, illustrated by Jeffrey Ebbeler. This is the hilarious story of a boy who’s trapped in his house by a snow storm on the day that he was supposed to present his living history assignment about Ernest Shackleton, Arctic Explorer. Taking the assignment a bit too far, the boy reenacts Shackleton’s arctic mission in his own home complete with scallywags, grog and hardtack. Great for any history lover with a big imagination.
“Jump! From the Life of Michael Jordan” by Floyd Cooper. Michael Jordan wasn’t always the super star that he is today. A lot of hard work and determination helped him to become one of the greatest basketball players of all time. This beautifully illustrated book created in Floyd Cooper’s signature style is sure to excite and encourage the young athlete in your life.
“Holes in the Sky” by Patricia Polacco. The follow-up book to “Chicken Sunday,” Patricia Polacco tells the story of herself, as young Trisha, and the sadness in losing her grandmother. The sadness is healed with joy when she moves to her new California neighborhood where she meets new friends and the beloved Miss Eula! Great for avid readers who enjoy heart-warming stories.