Donna Perugini Children's Author

Discovering Great Children’s Books

great books

Discovering Great Children’s Books

We’ve all heard how important reading is for our children. We know we should be reading to them, and keeping a steady stream of books in their hands. We know how to get to the library or the bookstore, but then what? There are SO many things to read out there! Are all books created equal? Or should there be more focus on certain titles than there are on others?

My Experience

I’ve written before about literacy in young children. It’s a topic near and dear to my heart. It really is something I could talk about for hours. Can I admit something, though? In hindsight, I was sorta clueless when it came to children’s literature (and I now realize I still have MUCH more to learn!)

When I learned that I was going to be a mom, one of the first things I thought about was reading to my not-yet-born baby. I knew a little about great chapter books for an older audience, so I chose a couple of really well-known classic stories to read to my developing son (and then another when my daughter came along).

That was a fun experience, and I trust it paved the way for them to become good readers, but then they were born, and started to grow. I really didn’t know much about great literature for young children. I didn’t know how to seek out good stories that would nourish their growing minds. I was familiar with Dr. Seuss books and the Curious George series, and that was close to the extent of my knowledge of children’s literature!

Oh, we kept our home stocked with books for sure, but we had lots of board books from the dollar store that had ABCs and animals and things like that. That was great for learning the alphabet and numbers and building their vocabularies, but in the early days, our home was lacking in really good stories. We had a couple that were treasured read-alouds, like Goodnight Moon and The Gingerbread Cowboy (both gifts!) but if I had known better, I would’ve added many more to our collection!

How I Discovered Great Books

When we took the plunge and decided to homeschool, a whole new world of literature opened up before me. In trying to navigate our path as homeschoolers, I discovered a vast array of previously untapped authors, stories, and lists of award-winning and timeless books. It really was incredible how many new books were on my radar!

What is Twaddle and Should I Let My Children Read it?

This is a question that comes up quite a bit in homeschooling groups. Twaddle is a term coined by Charlotte Mason. Merriam-Webster defines twaddle as “foolish words or ideas.” Text that talks down to kids, that bore parents, that don’t expose them to rich language or wholesome, useful ideas all would fit into this category.

That being said, I believe children should be mainly exposed to good quality stories, but also should have some freedom to choose other books they might be drawn to (even if something has licensed characters). As with anything else, definitely monitor what they are reading- kids can be easily influenced by wrong attitudes and behaviors of the characters they read about! (Ask me about our Garfield ban sometime! Ha ha.) The idea is to build up their appetite for great literature, but don’t turn them off of reading by being too nit-picky!

So, What’s the Best Way to Discover Great Books?

Thankfully, lots has been written on this subject! While I don’t necessarily believe that any one person can dictate what makes a good book (we all enjoy different things), the number of available books can be overwhelming, and many of them have been long-cherished by children and parents alike. I personally am thrilled whenever I find a list that someone has taken the time to create, and shares titles that have worked for their children or students. Thank you for streamlining my trip to the library or bookstore!

Here are some of my favorite lists of books for kids:

MENSA’s Excellence in Reading program

Half Price Books’ 40 Books Every Child Should Read

Simply Charlotte Mason’s Favorite Read-Aloud Books for Preschoolers (and their literature list for older students)

The Read-Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease

Honey for a Child’s Heart by Gladys Hunt

If you want to discover more great reading (and book-related things), check out my Pinterest board called “Books! Check ’em Out!

What is YOUR favorite way to discover great books for your children?

becky profileBecky is a wife of nine years and stay at home mom to four young children. She aspires to encourage women in Biblical truth on her blog, Happy Christian Home

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