I write a weekly (or bi-weekly) news column for the IAA Parent Newsletter, so I'm posting them here. I was a bit backlogged with work until just now, so I'll date the posts.
Every day, my route home from work inevitably finds me traipsing back through the Senior Library with my three KG children to retrieve a forgotten item from my office before our driver arrives. Often, by the time I’ve located the forgotten item, I come around the corner to pleas of, “Mommy, can I take this book home?” One day, Jana, 5, was standing on the library stool to reach up to the fourth shelf to pull a book with a picture of a cat on a spine. “I want all these cat books,” she cried with delight. Each “cat” book in the Warriors series by Erin Hunter is about 300 pages long, a bit of a stretch for a 5-year-old…even if her mom is a librarian. Did I stop her from taking them home? No way! Why?
Let me share a bit of what I’ve learned about choosing books, so that you can be prepared to help your children make some important choices for Book Week (adapted from “Help a Child Choose a Book,” International Reading Association, 2014, Web).
1. Choosing a book independently teaches your child that we seek books for different reasons. As early as possible, introduce the idea that we read for a purpose, even if that purpose is pure enjoyment.
2. Encourage your child to spend time browsing a selection of books at a library or bookstore. If this is overwhelming, try organizing the books you already have at home and letting your child browse through them.
3. Give your child authority over choosing books to read. Say “yes” as often as you can. A book that your child wants to read is the one you want to take home. And looking at the pictures is a perfectly acceptable way to read a book.
4. Let your child know it’s OK if he or she doesn’t like a particular book. Use a not-so-great selection as an opportunity to understand more about reading skills and preferences. Could it be the book was just a little too difficult for the child to tackle alone?
5. If your child really wants to read something you know is beyond his or her ability, solve it by reading it aloud together.
6. Know that the IAA librarians are always available with reading lists and suggestions for you and your child.
With my daughter, I walked through steps 3, 4 and 5, and we enjoyed some mommy-daughter bonding over the adventures of the ThunderClan, the ShadowClan and an ordinary housecat named Rusty.