Round-Up: The Literati Youth: Building a
Reviews: Building a Child's Library
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The Literati Youth: Building
a Child’s Library
By J. A. Young
Research demonstrates that it is never too early to introduce your
child to books. Instilling a love of reading in your child means
devoting time for books each day even from your baby's first days.
Setting aside space and shelving for your child's books will
eventually show them how important books and reading are to your
family. The following article offers advice for building a child's
library that will take them from infancy through age eight.
Black and white board books should be among the first books
you show to your new baby. Infants may be able to see the contrasts
of white and black objects. Tana Hoban's books are ideal for their
simplistic black and white illustrations. Consider the popular
Black on White for your first purchase. Other titles to consider
are Dots, Spots, Speckles and Stripes; Panda, Panda;
and White on Black.
For the first few months, what you read will be arbitrary--your
infant is just getting used to your voice and quite often the rhythm
of the text will be a soothing companion for them. Stick to picture
books with bold colors. Very detailed illustrations will be too much
for them at first. Consider books by Denise Fleming for this stage
of reading. In the Tall, Tall Grass; Time to Sleep;
and Pumpkin Eye are fine selections. Books by Lois Ehlert,
like Leaf Man, are also worthy considerations.
There are many classic and classic picture books to consider for
your child’s collection. The Real Mother Goose which was
first published in the early twentieth century is a wonderful choice
for children who do not have the attention span for a full book--a
few nursery rhymes each night will be fun. Other considerations for
purchase might include the works of Hans Christian Andersen (The
Ugly Duckling, Little Mermaid and other fairytales), H.A.
Ray (Curious George books), Grimm Brothers (picture book
versions of fairytales like Little Red Ridinghood), Beatrix
Potter (Tales of Peter Rabbit); A.A. Milne (Winnie-the-Pooh).
There are more, of course, and it never hurts to beef up any
collection with classics.
A serious youth collection will also provide as many Caldecott books
as possible--Caldecott medals are awarded to one book a year for
outstanding illustration. Some especially entertaining titles
include: Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak,
Kitten's First Full Moon by Kevin Henkes, and Madeline by
Ludwig Bemelmans. Remember to consider runners up for this award
too. No David by David Shannon is an excellent book for boys
and even girls faced with the trial of brothers! The illustrations
Pop up and novelty books are always excellent tools to demonstrate
to children the magic of books--in a visual way. Pop-up books by
Robert Sabuda are works of art and his older works are actually
quite collectible today. Titles like Dinosaurs: Encyclopedia
Prehistorica, The Movable Mother Goose, Cookie Count
and The 12 Days of Christmas are fabulous books that even
adults will marvel over. A novelty book that is also a Caldecott
winner is Joseph Had a Little Overcoat by Simms Taback. This
adorable story is a tribute to ingenuity as a character finds many
new uses for his old coat.
As you continue to expand your child's picture book collection you
may want to choose titles according to themes. Depending on your
religious beliefs, you may want to include religious books for early
readers that may include both stories and prayers. Another theme
might simply be historical to introduce your child to past people
and events. Henry David's House by Henry David Thoreau adapts
simple text to fine illustrations to introduce children to this
great American writer.
Alphabet books are another super genre of the picture book world.
Not only do they teach the alphabet, they are often geared around a
particular theme. For example, Appaloosa Zebra: A Horse Lover's
Alphabet by Jessie Haas showcases the different types of horses.
Sharkabet by Ray Troll is, you might have guessed, about
sharks. A wonderful alphabet book put out by the Metropolitan Museum
of Modern Art is called Museum ABC and introduces children to
great works of art.
Other book themes to consider are titles that teach manners or other
important lessons. You may want some picture books about children
from other cultures; Demi is a wonderful multi-cultural author.
Animals will take up a lot of space in your collection. Other themes
might include holidays, poetry, food, seasons, families, town and
country life, communities, modern retellings of fairytales, etc…
Finally, choose books that you yourself might have read as a child
and loved. Visit bookstores and read along with your child and make
book-buying a special event. A book does not have to be
award-winning or fit into a theme to be loved by a child--there are
many tales that will draw your young reader into a love of books. A
few more titles that you might want to consider are Slow Loris
by Alexis Deacon, The Reptile Ball by Jacqueleine T. Ogburn,
How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World by Marjorie
Priceman and The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister. Be sure to
teach your young reader how to properly care for their collection of
books. Be sure to make time for your own reading; when your
youngster sees you read he will be sure to note it--it’s a great
habit to pass on.