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Choosing Books for Your Grandchildren

By: AARP
Books can be the perfect gifts for grandchildren of any age. But, with such a variety to choose from, selecting the right book can be a challenge. This article provides some hints to make the process a little easier.

You've decided to get some new books to read with your grandchildren. As you make your way through the shelves of children's books in your local library or bookstore, you may feel overwhelmed by choices. Which books will they like? Will they be appropriate for their age? Will their parents approve of them?

With the thousands of children's books available today, your task may seem difficult at first. But the following tips can help you in your search for books that will delight your grandchildren and encourage them to read.

Ask for ideas

Talk to your grandchildren. If they're old enough, they can tell you about their favorite authors and interests – horses, cars, soccer, outer space. You might want to select books about a topic that relates to something your grandchildren are experiencing in their own lives, such as starting school, moving to a new house, or getting ready for a new baby or pet. If you have the chance, plan an outing to the library or bookstore with your grandchildren and choose books together.

Talking with others in advance can make your decisions easier. Friends with grandchildren the same age as yours might be able to recommend popular titles or authors, as could the bookstore owner or children's librarian. Your children can tell you which books your grandchildren already have and which authors or subjects they enjoy most.

Age levels

Infants

It's never too early to introduce books to children. Even infants enjoy being read to and looking at and holding books. At this age, the most suitable books have:

  • Pictures with bright colors
  • Rhyming songs and verses
  • Finger plays
  • Cloth, vinyl, or sturdy cardboard covers and pages

Toddlers

Books that are likely to be hits with toddlers include:

  • Pop-up books
  • Counting books
  • Those that tell simple, short stories
  • Those that repeat words, phrases, or themes
  • Picture books that name or identify things (such as parts of the body, articles of clothing, different foods)

Preschoolers

Children in nursery or preschool enjoy books that have:

  • Easy-to-turn pages
  • Stories that tell about familiar activities, such as getting dressed or going to the playground
  • Labeled pictures
  • Stories about animals or with animals as the main characters
  • ABC themes
  • Varied pictures with interesting detail
  • Interesting word rhythm

Elementary school age

Look for:

  • Books divided into short chapters
  • Series books labeled according to reading levels
  • Larger print for younger elementary school children
  • Stories about people or places they are learning about in school
  • Stories about heroes or heroines
  • Books about their hobbies, special interests, or after-school activities

High school age

Although you don't want to choose books with content that is too mature for teenagers, remember that they no longer are children either. Mysteries, science fiction, fantasy, and sports are popular topics among teens. In addition, you might have more success with books that:

  • Feature a main character that's the same sex and about the same age as the grandchild
  • Reflect your grandchild's interests rather than yours
  • Include humor
  • Are exciting and fun to read
  • Are not books they're reading, or are required to read, in school
  • Explore their own culture
  • Are paperback, rather than hardcover
Reprinted with permission from AARP.

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