How to Choose Age Appropriate Books

Encouraging your children to be passionate about reading can begin at birth, if you learn how to choose age-appropriate books. Many publishing houses distinguish children's books by age and attach labels that indicate the ages their books are ideal for. This is a great first step in narrowing down your options, but there are several other factors to consider, especially for older children.


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    Scan the cover of potential books for a recommended age group. This is particularly helpful for younger audiences, as most publishers of infant to preschool books will label their books with a suggested age group.
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    Choose board books for babies or infants. These books are made from a hard cardboard or plastic material and can withstand chewing or rough play. Look for books that are colorful and feature large pictures or faces. Generally speaking, books with paper pages are suitable for children ages 3 and older.
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    Get in a childrens book club.
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    Search for interactive books if your children are toddlers. These books will feature flaps to lift, buttons to push, or activities the children can perform while reading. All of these activities can further engage children in these books.
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    Review the educational content of the titles you're considering. Books suitable for babies through toddlers should focus on core concepts such as the alphabet, basic rhyming, emotions, colors, and so on. Books for older children should contain subjects or characters that are interesting to them, such as a favorite animal or character.
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    Choose familiar or favorite authors if you are purchasing a book for older children. Many authors have books written in a series or similar subject matters or themes, and choosing another title from their collection may be a safe bet.
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    Look at the classics. Look at classic authors.
    • The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame.
    • Just William by Richmal Crompton.
    • The Adventures of Tintin by HergĂ©.
    • The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain.
    • Harry Potter by J. K. Rowling.
    • Little House on the Prairie by Laura-Ingalls Wilder.
    • Tracey Beaker by Jacqueline Wilson.
    • Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll.
    • Jungle Book by J. M. Barrie.
    • The Famous Five go adventuring again by Enid Blyton.
    • Allan Ahlberg.
    • Roald Dahl.
    • The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis.
    • Alex Rider by Anthony Horowitz.
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    Look at bestsellers lists.
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    Purchase award-winning titles if you aren't certain what might be most appealing. Books that have won awards or are noted as best sellers mean they have been recognized for their quality and content, and you can assume they are good choices.
    • The Red House Children's Book Awards.
    • The Guardian Children's Fiction Prize.
    • The Chicken House Children's Fiction Awards.
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    Select books that deal with issues or situations that are relevant. If the recipients are dealing with divorce, new siblings, friends, or other issues, look for titles that discuss similar themes. Consider any major milestones children may be near, such as potty training, teething, etiquette, school, and so on. Find books that can relate to these situations.
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    Buy books that mix imagination with historical or science themes for older children. Titles that start with a real concept, such as a historical event or a scientific fact, and build an imaginary story around it may engage older readers. The fictional story may spark interest in the concept.


  • Don't choose books based on the recommended age group alone. Children learn at different paces, and may be more or less advanced than their exact age. Be sure to select books that are appropriate for their level of reading proficiency.
  • When buying books for older children and teenagers, also take into account the genre. If they don't like a particular genre, and it's pretty obvious that the book falls under that genre, they'll be less likely to read it.
  • When looking through potential choices, pay attention to the pictures as well as the words. Are the images of places, people, or things your readers can connect with? For younger children, look for vibrant colors and pictures of their favorite sights, including animals, trucks, or dolls. For older children, choose images that trigger their imagination or catch their interest, such as dragons, fairies, princesses, or other similar icons. Choose books with pictures of items your children enjoy, and you will have a much better chance of success.

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Categories: Books | Purchasing Books