‘Books books books, everywhere you look” – Justine Clarke
She’s right you know, there are books everywhere you look and being able to decipher the good from exceedingly average takes persistence and practice. However, if you’re a parent, chances are you lack time for either.
So I’ve fast tracked the hard work and am giving you my ULTIMATE hints in buying good books
Drum roll please…
1) Super Markets are good for food.
I wager that most times you’re even conscious of buying your child a book is when you are standing in line at a checkout and your child is reminding you how truly awful a parent you are for having not bought them a gift. Naturally they have reached for the bright pink book unapologetically placed at child height and now you have little chance to say no without full scale isle trashing.
But stop and breathe.
If these books held any value in the world of childrens literature they’d be in a book shop.
Simple as that.
Sorry to the small percentage of childrens literature conscious minded super markets out there in the world, but if a kids book is in a super market, it’s there to make a buck, not to enrich your child’s life. Best way to pick it? Does the cover look enticing or intriguing? Enticing usually means it’s going hard for the sell. We may not judge a book by its cover… But your kid will.
So don’t give them the pleasure of selling out your kids and taking your cash.
This is a good rule of thumb for most shops who DONT sell children’s books for a living.
Super markets are good for food…
2) Leave The Child Out Of It
I accept this one is pretty hard and if you did find yourself with a little heap of childless hours, you’re probably legging it to the bar. But on the off chance you find yourself near or around a bookstore, take ten minutes to have a flick through some children’s books.
We are all different and we all have different beliefs and the majority of us are conscious of the messages and images we want for our kids. Strong female role models, multicultural, Artistically challenging, Chaos. We all see value in different things and kids books are the same. Some you may applaud and some you may simply not.
So have a read, find the ones you think are great and get them.
Added bonus to this one is you will be more inclined to read it to your kids if you enjoy it also and that’s a pretty sweet outcome.
3) Try Before You Buy.
One of the stupendously awesome things about kids is if they like something they won’t get bored. If they like a book, they will read it thousands of times, seeing something new with every read.
As they get to know the words verbatim (we’ve all seen this), they’ll want to read it by themselves which builds independence. Sweet!
The biggest mistake we often make is thinking a child needs copious amounts of variety. On the contrary. As a child grows more familiar, they grow in confidence and push themselves to try new things.
So, go to the library, borrow a bunch, read them. Find one your kid gets a decent kick out of then buy it. Books can be, and often are, annoyingly expensive, so at least you know your getting your money’s worth.
Reading a book for the 100th time can take its toll, I’ll admit. But trust your kid, if they want it AGAIN, there is usually a good reason for it, even if it’s not that clear to us.
4) Look for the Bear
I have mentioned this before but I’ll mention it again and I’ll keep mentioning it until they ring and tell me to stop… Walker books is the biz.
All things walker books usually rocks and if you are completely at a loss then let the bear with the candle light your way.
They just know their stuff. It’s that simple.
Other purveyors of fine picture books include red fox and penguin.
I feel with children’s books, we often fall into the trap that education is paramount. (Or perhaps makes us feel like disciplined and good parents)
But I gotta tell ya, if it aint well written and a joy to read, ABC’s have little bearing in my class.
Children count while they build with sand, they learn letters as they wait for a bus, they count birds, trains, blue cars, dogs, steps. anything that can be represented by a definitive number is worthy of a numerical value. this being the case, do we really need a book to speed up the process?
Anything and everything is an opportunity for numeracy and literacy, but precious little moments are succinct enough to tell and engage us with story. Books have a very unique place in our world, and currently are the best introduction to literacy any way so lets not put the added pressure on them of teaching our kids to count as well.
Thats not to say steer clear of overtly educational fodder. But if its only attribute was that it found an item of clothing for every letter of the alphabet, I say ‘Its not as easy as 123’.
And for those of you panicking that it may be the difference betwreen your child being a judge or being judged, I suggest asking a judge.
6) Rhyming Books
Kids dig rhymes.
Its well understood that children learn through play so the more fun something is, the more likely they are to soak it up.
Rhyming is a great way to make language fun. It’s engaging, its funny, its silly and hearing a bunch of sentences that all end the same, surely must appear to wield some kind of magical powers to a child.
Words are a beautiful thing, and rhyming gives it a new outfit.
So there you go. A few helpful hints for some good book scoring. I hope it helps.