Although there is some controversy these days over what age kids should start getting into the habit of reading, what everyone does agree on is that the educational experience of children should be complemented by a varied selection of reading material. But what type of material is most appropriate for young readers just getting started? Should we actively guide our kids in their choices or should we give them complete freedom to choose for themselves?
Although it would be wonderful if our kids started out loving reading the same books we did when we were kids, it’s important to keep in mind that many things change over time, even forms of expression and speech. When introducing kids to reading, it’s important to be aware of the world that surrounds them and the types of subjects that they’ll find interesting.
That means that we should let them play an active role in choosing their own books and we should respect those choices. It doesn’t mean that we should look the other way if they choose a book that is inappropriate for their age, but if a child prefers Paddington Bear over The Little Prince, that’s a preference that can be honored.
Let’s not forget that most of us started reading for recreation, as an escape, or to stimulate our imagination. Don’t insist that your kids dive immediately into purely educational texts or literary classics. Start out by showing them that reading can be fun.
Are there guidelines designed to help parents choose ideal reading material for kids according to their ages? You could say that the best guideline is to take a look at the book itself: everything you need to know is right on the cover, the summary in the back, and in the table of contents. Many specialists also point out that there are three important age groups: kids four years old and younger, who should focus on books with basic storylines (things like “learn about animals”, etc.); kids ten years old and younger, who should focus on illustrated books and “fairy tale” type stories; and kids twelve years and younger, kids who are beginning to mature as readers and who are looking for stories about adventures and characters that they can empathize with.
In conclusion, our role should be more about offering advice than making choices for our kids. Remember, going to the bookstore with your kids to take a look at the exciting titles on offer can be a rewarding experience.