My child is 5-8 years old. What should I look for when picking a book they will want to read? We asked Sydney Catholic Schools’ Education Officer: Reading Recovery, Rosemary Peric.

1. What should a parent/carer look for in a children’s book?

  • Interesting vocabulary with the unexpected use of language making the story exciting;
  • Stories with rhyme, rhythm or repetition;
  • A story with a ‘problem’ and then the joy of resolution;
  • A theme that interests the child; and
  • A story that makes the listener attuned to the detail of the language to be thinking, problem solving as the story is read, making meaning and … children saying: ‘Read it again! Read it again!’ when the book is finished.

2. What are the benefits of reading aloud to children at this age?

When you read to young children it:

  • Promotes a love of reading
  • Develops awareness of the sounds, rhythms and patterns of language
  • Builds vocabulary and a knowledge of book language
  • Develops skills in listening comprehension and critical thinking
  • Builds concentration
  • Encourages children to be imaginative
  • Promotes oral language development
Sydney Catholic Schools' Education Officer: Reading Recovery, Rosemary Peric

Rosemary Peric. Photo: Kitty Beale

3. What is your best tip/s for encouraging a reluctant reader?

  • Read over and over again! Read stories that your child/ren love and read them with enthusiasm, don’t be dull, flat or boring, read with joy;
  • Visit your local library and allow your child to choose their own books;
  • Don’t worry if they want to read the same book more than once, just as a musician enjoys playing the same piece of music many times, so too a young reader can get something more from a book each time they read it;
  • Talk about the pictures and details that catch your child’s interest. This will help with understanding the story and learning what new words mean; and
  • Spend at least 10 minutes reading aloud to your child/ren every day! Read, read, read!

4. What were your favourite books as a child, and why?

  • Possum Magic by Mem Fox for its wonderful storytelling and illustrations to match.
  • All the Lynley Dodd books – Hairy Maclary, Slinky Malinki, Schnitzel Von Krumm – for their imaginative characters, lots of intrigue and rhythm and rhyme.
  • The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle, because the pictures tell the story.

5. Your top 5 recommended book list for children aged 5-8 year olds (K-2):

  • Edward the Emu by Sheena Knowles and illustrated by Rod Clement
  • Handa’s Surprise by Eileen Brown
  • A Giraffe and a Half by Shel Silverstein
  • Where is the Green Sheep? by Mem Fox
  • Lost and Found by Oliver Jeffers