Articles for parents

How to help your child choose books that are right for them

May 2023
You can help someone choose the right reading material for them by sharing these tips and asking these questions
You can help someone choose the right reading material for them by sharing these tips and asking these questions.

Guest post from the National Literacy Trust.

Finding the right book to read can be a difficult task, especially as a child has to find a book which not only interests them, but is also within their reading ability.

Furthermore, as a parent, you'll want to help your child find books to expand their mind and improve their literacy skills.

One way to help your child choose a book is to find one that fits with another of their interests. If there is a hobby or sport your child likes, find relevant fiction or non-fiction books that will appeal to them. Your local library will have a goldmine of children's books, designed to appeal regardless of whether your child likes soldiers, nature, aeroplanes, horses or fairies.

Once you've found a book you think looks interesting, you may want to check if it is the right difficulty level for your child, as a book that is too hard can be daunting and could put them off reading it. One simple technique is to choose a page at random and ask your child to start reading it whilst holding one hand open. If they find a word they can't read or don't understand then they put one finger down. If by the end of the page, they have a fist it's probably too hard; equally, if they didn't struggle with any of the words it might have been too easy. Choose another book and then try again, although if your child is very keen, then perhaps suggest reading it together until they get the hang of the more difficult words.

If your child has a favourite author or is addicted to a series of books, then choosing is easy, but what happens when they have read them all? Your local children's librarian or bookseller will be able to suggest similar books so you can keep that momentum going.

The most important thing is to choose books you think your child will enjoy, or better still, let them choose themselves. We know children and young people are more likely to read a book they have chosen for themselves. You can help someone choose the right reading material for them by sharing these tips and asking these questions:

  • BEST:
Blurb – does the description on the blurb draw you in?
Emotion – what sort of mood are you in? Do you want something to make you laugh, something scary?
Series – is this book part of a series? If so have you read any of the others, and have you enjoyed them?
Topic – is the topic of the book something that interests you?

• and CLAP:
Cover – There are lots of clues on the cover to help you choose a book.
Length – Is the length of the book about right for you?
Author – Have you read anything by this author before? Did you like it?
Pictures – are there any pictures in the book or on the cover? Do they appeal?

Although there are thousands and thousands of great books out there, they are not the only thing to read. Blogs, websites, magazines, comics, newspapers – whether paper-based or online – are all perfectly valid reading materials. Celebrate words in all their forms!

And finally, remember that reading should be fun. Children don't have to finish a book if they discover they don't like it – it's better to move on to something that they do enjoy!