The Page Turner
Each issue of The Page Turner will feature a question for our librarian.
What Guidelines Should I Use
by Lori Ragsdale and Pamela Little
It's exciting to choose children's books for your program, but it can also be a little overwhelming. Here are some guidelines that will make things easier.
Who will be reading or hearing the story? Pre-schoolers? Teenagers? Your book collection should contain books that cater to the ages of your kids. Imagine reading Lord of the Flies to first graders. Bo-rrring! Similarly, a fifth-grader may find a picture book too babyish. Consider, too, the children's reading and developmental levels. That fifth-grader may not have the vocabulary to read some of the books designated as "fifth grade" in the catalog, while the first-grader may well be reading well beyond the first-grade level. And sometimes a child can read beyond her usual level if she knows and likes the topic, which brings us to the next criterion.
What do your kids talk about when they come to your program? Sports, music, animals? You know your kids best. Ask the kids what they'd like to read about, and select books with their interests in mind.
Genre refers to types of books: fiction, picture books, poetry, biographies, science fiction, and so on. Lately, for instance, many older elementary and middle-school kids love to read science fiction and fantasy, thanks to Harry Potter. Even if many children in your program have a favorite genre, be sure to keep a variety of books in your library, so the kids can have choices.
Over 6,000 children's books are published in the U. S. each year. How can you tell which ones are good? Read reviews, or look carefully at the book.
These are just few suggestions; for a more extensive list, read Choosing Books for Children: A Commonsense Guide by Betsy Hearne (Delacourte, 1990), which offers information on how to choose appropriate books for every age level.