There’s nothing quite like snuggling down to read with them before bedtime, is there? But hang on, it’s that book again... 🤭 It may be your kid’s favourite, but when you start reciting it in your sleep, you know it’s time for a new story. Sometimes you play safe with books, not because it’s the favourite per se, but because nothing else on the shelf seems quite right for their age or stage. Too wordy, too long, too many flaps? We hear you. So here are some tips to help you narrow down the right book for babies, toddlers and pre-schoolers.
SIMPLE SOFTIES for 0-1 year olds
It’s never too early to introduce babies to books and modern brands create brilliant first reads that are soft, tactile and full of content to develop their visual skills. The Wee Gallery cloth book is great for pulling out and using as a sensory prop while they're kicking around in the cot. A great gift for a newborn is this organic soft book set by Petit Collage, complete with a cute bunny teether, that can be used a story time prop too.
PRETTY PICTURES for 1 to 2-year-olds
At 1-2 years, tots will often have a real interest in turning pages in books, but they may not be too fussed about the content. A durable board book like Oh No George is perfect. A.) It won’t get ripped (hallelujah!) And B.) The home alone style story about a dog is fun for adults too. Perfect for toddlers who are image-driven, the colourful graphics encourage little ones to pause from constant page turning and enjoy the pictures instead. They are sure to be having a go at saying ‘Oh No George’ by the end as well.
BOARD BOOKS WITH FINGERPLAY for 2 years +
Two-year-olds are full of beans, so sitting to read is often not very appealing to them. So fingerplay books are a great way for getting them to focus, even if only briefly. Requiring simple interaction, little ones will relish the praise that comes from completing fun puzzles. Find Me has plenty of flaps so it's perfect for toddlers: they'll love finding the hidden animals and imitating the sounds they make. We also love Mix It Up! It's perfect for getting hands on and learning about colour.
MEANINGFUL MESSAGES for 3 to 4-year-olds
By 3-4 years old, your little people are definitely no longer babies and you’ll find they begin to ask lots of questions. Story books with moral messages or stories exploring feelings are great as they are written to be accessible to pre-schoolers. For this age, we love Petra, it's a quirky story about a rock who imagines she is a number of things. Parent tested by Seren and mum Vicki, she says ‘The story itself holds a great message about empowerment, self identity and adapting to change. It’s great for anyone starting school/pre-school’ We love that Seren also made her own Petra from a stone found in the garden. Cute.
THE BOOKS WITH AWESOME CHARACTERS
4 years +
For this age, we love story books that feature inspiring characters. Bookspeed's Little People, Big Dreams series offers up real life characters that stand in good stead amongst make belief heroes. Got a superhero mad four year old? Pick up the Stephen Hawking edition, which helps children realise that ordinary people can be superheroes too. Looking for something a little different, these Cards feature 20 iconic women with fun facts for inquisitive schoolies to learn. Not technically a book, but they box up perfectly to sit on your bookshelf...
THE FIVE FINGER RULE
Around 5 years+, mini bookworms will begin to recognise words and start to read by themselves 💓. This is a really important stage to make sure you’re picking out books that will be just right, too much of a challenge and they’ll likely get fed up. We really rate the five finger rule when it comes to choosing a book for a new reader, it goes like this: Pick a page and identify how many words your child doesn’t know. 0-1 = too easy, 2-3 = just right, 4 = give it a try, 5 = too hard. It’s easy to remember and is great for picking out books when you are in the library as well. So it's the fiver finger rule for 5 years+, remember that and you'll be on the way to developing some healthy reading habits.
Need more inspiration for your little bookworms? Shop our complete reading range here.
Our IDEAS articles are based on our own experiences as parents & a need to find gorgeous, genuinely useful stuff for baby. That’s why you’ll always find our fave picks below our tips. Yes, we’re good to you ;)