It only takes my son a few pages to decide whether or not he likes a picture book. If he likes it, we keep on reading. If he doesn’t, the book gets pushed out of my hands as he proclaims, “I don’t yike it!” Once a book has been “unliked,” I hardly ever can crack it open again for a second chance. There can be many reasons why he doesn’t like a book: he isn’t in the mood to read, he doesn’t like the pictures, or the reading level is too high for him. Thankfully I’ve still be able to read quite a bit with him, and today I’ll be sharing my tips with you! This post will mostly be geared towards finding picture books your children will love, although some of the suggestions can apply to chapter books as well.
1. Pick a Subject Your Child Likes and Explore
What toys does your child play with the most? What TV shows do they like to watch? Chances are if you find a book that relates to the toys they play with or the shows they watch, they’ll end up liking it. For my son, I know I’m safe if I get a book that has dogs, construction vehicles, or is a retelling of ‘Jack and the Beanstalk.’ You can browse by subject at your library, or simply skim the shelves for titles and cover art that match your child’s interests. Usually I pick several shelves to look at each time we go to the library, changing it up every time so I can be exposed to new authors and illustrators. I’ve found dozens of books this way.
2. Ask a Librarian
Extra points if the librarian you ask is one that does Story Time! I always get books my son likes from Story Time. I know if he’s sat through it once, he can sit through it again. These librarians know what children’s books are most popular. They also will be able to guide you to authors or series that your child may like. They also have an extensive knowledge on searching the library databases. A few months ago, I could not figure out how to search for books with songs (you know, like nursery rhymes or classic kids songs like “Old MacDonald”) but within a few minutes one of our librarians printed out two pages of books in that category.
3. Binge Read Authors and Illustrators
Once you find a book your child likes, look up every book that author or illustrator has done. If they liked one book, they’re likely to enjoy the others. Children’s book authors are more prolific than chapter book authors, and so this should lead you to several–perhaps dozens–of books your child will enjoy. It is especially helpful to research illustrators because often they collaborate with several different authors. Pictures are really important to young kids, so if you find an illustrator they like, they probably won’t notice that the author changed.
4. Introduce Books from Your Childhood
If you remember a picture book you read as a kid, chances are it was an excellent one. Look it up and try it out! Your kids are more likely to be excited about reading it if you exclaim about how much you loved that book when you were little. And it’s much more fun to read aloud when you know you will like the book as well. We’ve already started doing this with several series, like Berenstain Bears, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, and What Mommies Do Best.
5. Try Again
Your child will still come across books they don’t like. The important thing to emphasize is that there are still books they can love to read, and you will help find them! We always have a few books from our weekly library haul that never make the cut. By figuring out why my son doesn’t like them, I’m able to troubleshoot so it doesn’t happen again. If he isn’t in the mood, I try reading the book later. If he doesn’t like the pictures, I try to avoid that illustrator in the future. If the reading level is too high, I make a mental note to try the books again when he’s older.
If you are still looking for books your kids will love, check out our Recommended Reads posts! We post about our favorite picture books, chapter books, and young adult books at the end of every month.