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Why Are Children's Books Important?


We all remember having a favorite bedtime story. The story that we would ask our parents to read to us over and over again as the familiar plot would lull us to sleep. However, there are many other benefits to those stories we loved as children other than our nightly companion. Quality children's literature also helps teach moral lessons, enhance children's vocabulary, and provide characters to connect to. These are just a few of the many benefits that children get from reading stories. In this article, we will dive into why children's books are so important as well as ways to sift through them and find the best quality books for your family. Let's dive in!


What is a Children's Book?


A little girl holding a children's picture book and laughing.
Common picture books are usually for ages four through eight.

When we use the phrase children's book what exactly are we referring to? Oftentimes, people lump various categories together under this large umbrella term. However, it is important to distinguish between the different levels so that you can ensure you are providing your child with the correct book for their age and current developmental stage. There are six different groups when it comes to young readers, those groups are as follows:

  • Board Books: Ages 0-3

  • Picture Books: Ages 4-8

  • Early Readers: Ages 5-8

  • Chapter Books: Ages 6-10

  • Middle Grade Fiction: Ages 8-12

  • YA Readers: Ages 12 and up


Each stage has books with unique characteristics and themes that help your child further foster their skills at that developmental stage. We discuss each stage briefly below.


Children's Books: The Stages


Board Books


An infographic image that shows photos of babies and board books as well as information about these types of books and the skills that they assist with.
Board books are more durable as they are typically made of cardboard.

Board books are typically the first books your child will encounter on their reading journey. The earlier you begin to read to your child the better! Some experts even suggest beginning reading to your child while they are still in the womb. Reading to your child assists them in developing language skills and brain development. However, when you are dealing with a child ages 0-3, picture books can be too complicated and not durable enough.


Children in this age group want to touch everything. They gather information about their surroundings through touch, including their books. Board books are more durable because they are often made of cardboard and can withstand the hands, and mouths, of curious little readers. In addition to their durability, board books have very simple text and feature more images. This coincides with children's developmental stage at this age, where they are more heavily focused on visual recognition and are just emerging in their early literacy development.


Picture Books


An infographic that shows various picture books as well as discusses what age they are for and the skills that they help with.
Picture books are the most common thought of category when mentioning children's books.

When people imagine children's books, this is typically where their minds wander to. Picture books are beloved by many, but contrary to popular belief they are not aimed at children of all ages. While it is true that children under four, or children over eight can still enjoy a picture book, that is not the target audience. Picture books are aimed at this age range because they are a great combination of visual and textual storytelling. Once your child reaches the age of four, they now need more stimulation than those board books can offer. However, they are not quite ready to dive into a book that is mostly text. Enter the picture book.


These books typically don't have more than 1,000 words and offer narratives or important concepts through loveable characters, simple text, and stunning pictures. These books aim to enhance vocabulary, stimulate your child's imagination, and allow them to begin understanding important themes such as love or friendship. Additionally, they help children begin to understand sequencing and to develop empathy.


Early Readers


An infographic that shows what an early reader book is as well as images and descriptions of the skills that it helps with.
Early readers are great for beginning independent readers.

Once your child further develops their reading skills, it is time to move past the picture books. The next stage of their reading journey involves early readers. Targeted for children ages 5-8, these books may still offer the occasional picture but are more heavily focused on text. As your child begins to develop independence with their reading, they will begin enjoying these books. While they are heavier on the amount of text, usually maxing at about 2,000 words, these books still use short language and simple structure. Their aim is to allow children to practice the literacy skills they have already developed while also expanding vocabulary and reading fluency.


These children's books are important because they allow children to build confidence in their reading. They are also great for recognizing repetition and patterns. These sorts of books are often used for recognizing sight words while reading.


Chapter Books

An infographic on children's chapter books, what they contain and the skills they help improve.
Children's chapter books help increase reading stamina and enhance their vocabulary.

The age of chapter books is an exciting one. Your child is now more actively engaged in the story's characters and plot than the images. They are able to stay focused and understand longer stories and more complex storylines. Common favorites in this category include The Magic Treehouse series, the Goosebumps series, and classics such as Charlotte's Web.


Chapter books help children enhance their vocabulary as they are exposed to new words and increased word count. Also, longer plots allow them to improve their reading stamina. Problems and solutions are not so readily available now, instead, children have to work through the book chapter by chapter. Additionally, children reading chapter books are able to understand multi-layered stories. There is often more than one problem in a chapter book. Students can begin to understand rising and falling action. All of these help support your child's literary and cognitive development.


Middle-Grade Fiction

An infographic image that shows information about middle-aged fiction stories, as well as images and skills that these stories help with.
Middle-Grade Fiction stories offer relatable themes that allow children to easily connect with them.

Middle-grade fiction stories are children's stories aimed at higher-grade levels. Although children as young as eight can enjoy these stories, books in this category are typically loved by students between fifth and seventh grade. Although, some stories that fall into this category, such as Harry Potter, are loved by adults as well. Children's books in this category are important because they offer stories with relatable themes that children can connect to easily. This is a core component of engaging them as readers and fostering their love of literacy.


Additionally, these books often expose students to broader worldviews and vocabulary. This category of children's books is very important because it helps children foster a love of reading. Loveable characters, relatable themes, and intriguing storylines will keep your child turning the pages and devouring these stories word by word.


YA Novels

An infographic of YA novels, with images, descriptions, and skills that they assist with.
YA Novels are targeted towards children ages 12-18, but adults often enjoy them as well.

YA novels are such a diverse category. Although they are marketed for ages 12-18, anyone 12 years or older can enjoy them. In fact, many adults love reading YA stories as well. YA stands for young adult, and that is what makes these books so appealing to 12 and older children. As they enter the teenage years, children tend to develop more independence and often think of themselves as all grown up. These stories explore themes relevant to the teenage experience, which can help your child feel connected to the characters in the novel.


These children's books are longer, ranging between 45,000 and 80,000 words. Not only are they multi-faceted and in-depth stories but they also feature more mature content and vocabulary. Due to the sometimes mature content, YA books tend to have a higher number that makes it onto the banned books list than other categories of children's books. However, the positives about this category are that these books encourage critical thinking and empathy, enhance emotional and cognitive development, and offer children a greater understanding of diverse perspectives.


Why Are Children's Books Important?


An image of five students laying the grass outside all reading books.
Children's books help fuel imagination and enhance literary skills.

Have you ever heard someone say they read to escape reality? Or how about they travel the world through the pages of a book? Books offer us a chance to explore corners of the world we have never been to before. They grant us permission to step into our wildest daydreams. They fuel our imaginations and give us much-needed joy. However, books do far more than inspire us, and our children to dream.


Children's books are important because they help children develop and enhance language skills. Whether it is phonemic awareness, increasing their vocabulary, or reading fluency, interacting with books at a young age has profound positive effects. In addition to language and emotional skills, certain children's literature can also teach children new knowledge. If it is an informational or nonfiction text, it can be used to educate a child on a particular subject.


The Importance of Reading to Your Child

Contrary to popular belief, you do not need to wait for your child to be able to read their own books to gain all the benefits that come from reading, they can begin to gain benefits from you reading to them. Research shows that even the experience of just holding a book can support your baby's cognitive development. Reading to your children helps expose them to new words and language, which allows them to maximize their cognitive capacity. Additionally, by reading to them before they can speak you are helping to lay the neurological groundwork that will later be used for language and literacy.


According to the Child Mind Institute, "children whose parents read to them daily have been exposed to at least 290,000 more words by the time they enter Kindergarten than kids who aren't read to regularly". Furthermore, your child is not just developing language knowledge but knowledge about the world as well. You can choose informative books that provide your child with a wide base of background knowledge. For example, if you choose books about various animals, they can learn facts about those creatures. Or if you choose books about different places in the world, they can obtain that knowledge as well. Young children are like sponges and will absorb any and everything that you teach them.


This is all in conjunction with the emotional awareness your child will gain from being read to at an early age. Books provide children with a safe way to experience different emotions. They can begin to understand sympathy and empathy for characters and their experiences. It helps to show them that these feelings are normal, and how to handle them. Also, and maybe one of the most important benefits, reading to your child allows you to form a strong connection. Making reading to your child a part of your daily routine shows your child that they are a priority and having this time carved out of your day, to bond and slow down with one another, will also benefit them cognitively. Spending time with their caregiver is an essential part of a child's cognitive development.



What to Look For When Selecting a Children's Book


An image of a small boy in a blue sweater sitting and reading a picture book in a bookstore.
When selecting children's books, look for books that teach moral lessons, have a good storyline, and offer some educational value.

When your child is a newborn or an infant, it is more about what you want to read to your child than what you think they need to hear. In the beginning, it is all about building the routine, bonding with your child, and having them hear your voice and the spoken language. However, as they age it is important to read them books that correspond with their current developmental stage.


If you refer back to the section above, I discussed the different stages of children's books and why each stage is important. Each type of children's book has a specific style, word count, and target skills that it assists with. Understanding your child's current age and the skills they should be developing is key to identifying the type of books that you should be reading with them. For example, if they are between the ages of 4 and 8 and are just starting to understand the sequencing of events and can begin to follow storylines, then picture books are a great choice. However, if they are slightly older and you notice that picture books seem too simple, it may be time to move on to Early Readers.


Furthermore, you want to select books that have relevant themes to your child's life. For example, if you think your child is having a hard time regulating emotions you could find a story that deals with a child handling big feelings. Or if your child is having a hard time sharing their toys, or developing a growth mindset you can find books that focus on those themes. You want to look for books that teach a moral lesson, have a good storyline, and offer educational value. However, the most important thing you want to look for when selecting a children's book for your child is, making sure it is a story they will enjoy. If your child doesn't enjoy reading they will not gain as many benefits from it, so select your books with your child's interests in mind.


Where Can I Find Children's Books?


An image of a young girl sifting through books at a bookshop.
Children's books are readily available in local bookstores, retail stores, and online.

Luckily, in today's world, finding children's books is relatively easy. You can go to a local bookstore near your home or a major retail bookstore such as Barnes and Noble. Even retailers that are not known specifically for books sell children's books. Examples of these include Target, Walmart, and Kohl's. You can even shop for books online at places like Amazon. Furthermore, your favorite authors may have their own websites where they sell their children's books like our very own books are sold here at buidlingbrightminds.com.


If you want to support local authors be sure to check out farmers markets or your local literary conferences, as we often sell our merchandise there. If you are at a loss of where to look in your neighborhood, you can always join groups on Facebook or other social media platforms that can help supply you with great recommendations.


So, Why Are Children's Books Important?


Children's books are important for a multitude of reasons. From increasing reading fluency, phonemic awareness, and vocabulary, to teaching background knowledge in various subjects and offering bonding time with caregivers. The list of reasons why reading to your children, and having them read on their own is beneficial truly is endless. Allow them to broaden their imaginations and knowledge base by engaging with a good book. Enjoying children's books together will benefit both you and your child. If you want to explore quality children's books for various ages be sure to visit our shop. We offer a variety of children's books that teach moral and educational lessons while showcasing loving and relatable characters. We hope to see you there!

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