There is no greater gift you can give to your children than to read to them everyday (even after they can read independently). Reading opens up worlds of information, expands vocabulary, and can open up the door to important conversations. When there is a difficult topic to discuss, whether it is personal or social, finding and reading the right book can make the subject easier for you to broach or for the children to understand.
Finding the right book, though, brings to mind the dilemma you may face when your child brings home a book he/she chose at the library. Unlike adults who choose books based on their internal content, children, who do not yet read, often have different criteria.
These may be related to anything from what they presume to be the subject, to the picture on - or even the color of - the cover or the size of the book. (The bigger the better in some of their eyes!) Despite the teachers’ efforts to oversee the children’s choices, at times they are insistent about what they want, or the cover and title of an unfamiliar book may be misleading.
This may lead to a predicament when your child expects you to read the story in a nonfiction book that doesn't actually have a story (e.g. "Taking Care of Cats as Pets"), or a book with unexpected content that may not quite match the cover's art.
In the first situation, when your child brings home what seems to be the largest book in the library, I recommend either looking at and talking about the pictures, or letting your child look through the book and choose his or her favorite pages to share and talk about with you.
In relation to an unfamiliar picture book, it is best that parents and caregivers read the book on their own first, before storytime. That way, you can avoid negative surprises and plan ahead.
In some cases, you may be able to paraphrase some of the text. In what hopefully would be a rare instance, you may choose not to read the book and simply explain that the book is really meant for older students and is not something that they would enjoy right now.
If needed, parents may send a book back to school with a note, and teachers will take your child back to the library to make another selection.
This is a post from the Head of The Experiential School of Tampa Bay, one of the best private preschools in Pinellas County. To learn more about the 3, 4, and 5-year-old program at Shorecrest, we invite you to schedule a personal tour.