(... And How it Might Influence The Rest of Their Life!)
Have you ever felt completely lost in the middle of all the books you find in a library, a bookshop or on the Amazon website? There are very many interesting books out there, but which ones will please your little one?
More important than the book itself is the interaction between the adult and the child. I am talking about the adult questioning the understanding of the narrative with the child, talking about the illustrations, pushing the barriers of imagination: the adult's and the child's.
How can we choose a book, then? Browse the catalogue... What book is it? What story does it tell? Does it have any educational aim? Is the text more important than the illustrations? What about the book cover, what does it tell us about the book? Should we always judge a book by its cover? It is also important to consider the age of the child: the lower it is, the simpler the story, illustration and vocabulary.
The best way to learn about the wide range of books available in the market and get to know the taste of our little ones is to visit a public library with them and let them explore. Let them discover. Let them show you what they like and what they don't really like. They might surprise you at times!
Watch them choose their favourite books and learn. A parent must always be ready to learn from their children. That is the best way to understand why they behave one way or another, why they prefer a colour rather than another, why they talk about a topic with you at dinner time more than another.
Observe your child's reaction while they (or you) read a book they chose at the library and you will discover their tastes. Be patient. Be open-minded.
They won't always choose what you would choose. To be honest, they might even choose books you would never choose in a million years, because you find them "too baby", "too childish", "too grown-up", "too advanced", "too anything than what you think they deserve to read". As a parent, you must learn to let go. Let your child choose what they really like. Let them shape their tastes on their own. Let them surprise you.
Whether you like or totally dislike (or hate!) what they choose, praise them. Show them you care. Show them it is their choice that counts, not yours. Then, after a first reading, you can always find a gentle way to explain to them that, in your opinion... maybe... that particular book isn't really for them, for such and such reasons... But do not make an issue of it.
What matters here is more for you to let them find their way through books. By doing so, you show them that you trust them to take their own decisions, right or wrong, and, whatever their choices, you accept them. It will later in life define their thoughts, their behaviour and their way of living.
One more reason to enjoy, love and protect public libraries!