Reading to children is one of the most beneficial activities a parent or caregiver can engage in. It nurtures their imagination, enhances language skills, and builds a strong foundation for lifelong learning. However, with an overwhelming number of children's books available, finding the right ones can be a daunting task. This guide offers insights and tips on how to find great books to read to your kids, focusing on book reviews, book recommendations, and selecting age-appropriate titles.

Understanding the Importance of Reading to Children

Before diving into the how-to of finding great books, it’s important to understand why reading to children is so valuable. Studies have shown that reading aloud to children:

  • Enhances their vocabulary and language skills.
  • Improves their listening skills and attention span.
  • Fosters a love for reading and learning.
  • Strengthens the bond between the reader and the child.
  • Encourages cognitive development and comprehension abilities.

Given these benefits, it’s crucial to select books that not only entertain but also educate and inspire.

Starting with the Classics

A good starting point for any parent or caregiver is the classics. These books have stood the test of time and continue to be favorites among children and adults alike. Some timeless classics include:

  • "Goodnight Moon" by Margaret Wise Brown: A soothing bedtime story that has been loved for generations.
  • "Where the Wild Things Are" by Maurice Sendak: A tale of adventure and imagination that captivates young readers.
  • "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" by Eric Carle: A beautifully illustrated book that teaches counting and the days of the week.

These books are often highlighted in book reviews and consistently receive high recommendations from educators and parents.

Using Book Reviews

Book reviews are an excellent resource for finding great books to read to your kids. Reviews provide insights into the book's content, quality, and age-appropriateness. Here are a few tips on how to effectively use book reviews:

  1. Check Reputable Sources: Look for reviews from reputable sources such as The New York Times Book Review, Kirkus Reviews, and Publishers Weekly. These sources provide professional reviews that are thorough and reliable.
  2. Explore Online Retailers: Websites like Amazon and Barnes & Noble feature customer reviews that can offer a variety of perspectives on a book. Pay attention to reviews that discuss the book’s impact on children and how they responded to the story.
  3. Visit Book Blogs and Forums: Many parents and educators blog about children's books and participate in forums. Blogs like Reading Rockets and The Children's Book Review offer curated lists and detailed reviews.

Seeking Recommendations

Personal recommendations can be invaluable when searching for great books. Here’s how to gather recommendations effectively:

  1. Ask Teachers and Librarians: Teachers and librarians are often well-versed in children’s literature and can recommend books that suit your child's interests and reading level.
  2. Join Parenting Groups: Both online and offline parenting groups can be a goldmine for book recommendations. Parents often share their favorite titles and discuss what books have been most engaging for their children.
  3. Utilize Social Media: Platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest have communities and accounts dedicated to children’s books. Following these can provide a steady stream of recommendations.

Choosing Age-Appropriate Books

Selecting books that are appropriate for your child's age is crucial for keeping them engaged and ensuring they benefit from the reading experience. Here are some guidelines based on different age groups:

Infants and Toddlers (0-3 years)

For the youngest readers, look for books that have:

  • Simple Text and Rhymes: Books with repetitive and rhythmic text are soothing and help develop early language skills. Examples include "Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?" by Bill Martin Jr. and Eric Carle.
  • Bright and Bold Illustrations: Visuals are very important at this stage. Books like "Dear Zoo" by Rod Campbell captivate young children with their colorful pictures and lift-the-flap features.
  • Interactive Elements: Touch-and-feel books, board books, and books with interactive features like flaps and textures are great for engaging infants and toddlers.

Preschoolers (3-5 years)

Preschoolers enjoy books that:

  • Tell Simple Stories: Look for books with straightforward narratives that they can follow easily, such as "The Gruffalo" by Julia Donaldson.
  • Introduce Basic Concepts: Books that introduce numbers, letters, shapes, and colors, like "Chicka Chicka Boom Boom" by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault, are educational and fun.
  • Encourage Participation: Interactive books that encourage children to participate in the story, such as "Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!" by Mo Willems, are particularly engaging.

Early Readers (5-7 years)

For children who are beginning to read on their own, choose books that:

  • Have Simple Text: Books with simple, repetitive text like "Elephant and Piggie" series by Mo Willems help build reading confidence.
  • Feature Familiar Characters: Series featuring beloved characters, like "Pete the Cat" by James Dean, can motivate children to read more.
  • Combine Text and Illustrations: Books that balance text with illustrations, such as "Frog and Toad" series by Arnold Lobel, support comprehension and maintain interest.

Older Children (7-12 years)

As children grow, they can handle more complex stories. Look for books that:

  • Offer Engaging Plots: Books with compelling narratives, such as "Harry Potter" series by J.K. Rowling, can capture their imagination.
  • Introduce Diverse Genres: Exposing children to different genres, like mystery, adventure, and fantasy, helps broaden their literary horizons. "Percy Jackson and the Olympians" series by Rick Riordan is a great example.
  • Challenge Their Thinking: Books that introduce new ideas and perspectives, like "Wonder" by R.J. Palacio, encourage empathy and critical thinking.

Visiting Libraries and Bookstores

Libraries and bookstores are treasure troves for discovering great books. Here’s how to make the most of these visits:

  1. Attend Storytimes: Many libraries and bookstores offer storytime sessions where you can see which books captivate your child’s interest.
  2. Browse Staff Picks: Look for staff recommendation shelves. These selections are often curated by knowledgeable staff who have a good sense of what books are popular and engaging for children.
  3. Explore Award Winners: Award-winning books, such as those that have won the Caldecott Medal or the Newbery Medal, are often high-quality reads that have been recognized for their excellence in children’s literature.

Keeping Up with New Releases

Children’s literature is constantly evolving, with new titles being published regularly. Staying updated with new releases can introduce you to fresh and exciting books. Here’s how to keep up:

  1. Follow Publishers: Many children’s book publishers, like Scholastic and HarperCollins, regularly update their websites and social media with new releases.
  2. Subscribe to Newsletters: Sign up for newsletters from bookstores, publishers, and book review websites to receive updates on the latest children’s books.
  3. Join Book Clubs: Joining a children’s book club can provide monthly recommendations and introduce you to new authors and titles.


Finding great books to read to your kids can be a joyful and rewarding experience. By utilizing book reviews, seeking recommendations, choosing age-appropriate titles, and exploring libraries and bookstores, you can discover a wealth of literature that will enrich your child's life. Remember, the goal is to foster a love for reading that will last a lifetime. Happy reading!