Part I of this topic introduced parents to background information focused on the importance of enjoying books with your child.

Part II provides further information on this topic and the positive approach to parenting continues, giving more insights about the importance of books, how to choose a book and also provides some suggested books for each broad age group.

Pointers as to why books are so important for your child

Books help your child

  • develop a close bond with you, family members and other carers.
  • experience a pleasant, relaxed time together
  • build a sense of security
  • cope with feelings
  • increase language development
  • increase thinking skills
  • learn about the wider world
  • develop cultural understanding

Guide to choosing a book

The following pointers apply whether you are buying a book or selecting a book from the National Library.


The book should be:

Non-toxic - especially for babies who put everything in their mouth.  It is the print on coloured pictures which could have poor quality toxic paint.  Note Books from the National Library should be safe and of good quality.

Durable – do not tear easily, are not flimsy, and easy to turn pages.

Age appropriate – suited to the child’s level of understanding.

Interest appropriate – again suited to your child’s age and interests.

Well written and well presented – poor quality books, if buying them are a poor investment and will not sustain children’s long term interest.

Appealing in terms of the pictures, colours and overall  eye catching.

Whichever book you choose, it is the quality time you spend with the child that matters

Further tips to help parents select an appropriate book

For infants

  • As infant’s eye sight is still developing, books containing bold, high-contrast or simple black and white images will hold their attention.
  • Infants love listening to their parents’ voices. Choose books that have rhyming text and read it in a soothing voice.
  • Board books with bright, colourful pictures can endure rough handling and children can respond to by pointing, babbling, tossing, pulling and even chewing. With their developing fine motor skills, older infants find it easier to turn the hard thick pages of a board book.
  • Books with hidden surprises such as pop-up, lift-the-flap books engage infants.
  • Some 95% of children’s learning happens through their senses. Sensory books with touch and feel pages encourage exploration. Choose tactile books with different texture, or sounds to stimulate their senses.
  • Older infants enjoy pointing at objects and pictures. Choose books that have simple illustration of familiar objects that they can point to and name.
  • Nursery rhymes, simple action songs and finger plays can keep your child engaged. 

For toddlers

  • Resist the urge to ‘teach’ letters, colours, numbers etc. and focus on engagement and conversation.
  • Toddlers love picture books on various themes such as animals, feelings, vehicles etc. Wordless books with large pictures also help you and your child to create your own stories.
  • Sensory books such as pop-up books, lift-the-flap books and touch and feel books encourage exploration.
  • With their developing fine motor skills, board books continue to be a favourite among toddlers as they find it easier to turn the thick hard pages.
  • Books with bright, colourful illustrations and a short story line help older toddlers to understand the language of print. Encourage participation by asking simple questions to develop comprehension.
  • As toddlers love familiarity, choose books with rhyme and repetition.
  • As the toddlers’ spoken language skills are at the developing stage, they express themselves through pointing at pictures and attempting to vocalise. Choose books that have simple illustration of familiar objects that they can point to and name.
  • Nursery rhymes, simple action songs and fingerplays can keep your child engaged and help in acquiring new vocabulary.
  • Older toddlers love books with familiar situations and experiences such as ‘Bath time’, ‘Getting dressed’ etc.

For preschoolers

  • Books with detailed illustration and a slightly complex storyline help sustain children’s attention.
  • Children of this age often have strong interests, for example, dinosaurs, planes, planets so capitalise on these interests.
  • Cause and effect stories will help build their problem solving skills, e.g. stories that present a problem in the beginning and then ends with a solution to the problem.
  • Funny stories, rhymes and poems containing silly words and phrases help develop children’s sense of humour.
  • Books containing everyday experiences such as ‘Getting dressed’ and ‘Going to the zoo’
  • Children love books with rhyme and repetition and they enjoy a sense of familiarity and helps to learn new vocabulary.
  • Three year olds still depend on their senses to learn new concepts and continue to enjoy Pop-up, lift-the-flap, touch-and-feel books. Tactile books with movable parts such as puppets develop oral skills and imagination.
  • Children of this age enjoy simple non-fiction books on topics of children’s interest such as dinosaurs, trucks, insects and other interests.

Concluding comments

Finally, help children to build up a bank of favourite, loved books. These books they will want to read and reread many times.  Eventually they will be able to “read” these themselves.

Surround your child with books! Leave books and colourful reading materials around in visible and reachable places around your home and in your car for children.

Whenever possible, let your child choose the books that they want you to read.

Early exposure to books has long-term effects on children’s language abilities, thinking skills and positive emotional development.

This is the pathway to success in reading.

Copyright © Marjory Ebbeck and SEED Institute 2016

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any forms or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the Copyright holder.