What Makes a Children’s Book Great?

Tips on choosing children’s books

The story should sound good when read aloud. It should sound good to the listeners and feel good to the reader. Are all the words in the right place? Does the author use precise language? Does the language flow smoothly?

rhyming book should read in a natural and comfortable way. Is it rhythmical? Does the rhyme seem forced? Are the words well chosen or used just to fulfill a rhyme scheme?

The book should encourage reader participation and interaction. Lift-the-flap books, books that pose questions or call for listeners to chime in on a repeated word or phrase, and those with predictable elements that children will anticipate are ideal. Books that leave something for the reader to imagine or figure out are good.

The text should have interesting language and introduce children to new vocabulary. Children learn quickly and will remember and enjoy new words.

The illustrations should be engaging, interesting, and designed for children. When you look at a book, consider whether your children will respond to the illustrations.

The illustrations should be a perfect match for the text. Whether bright or soft, realistic or cartoons, they should complement the story.

The illustrations should expose children to a variety of artistic styles – watercolor, oil paint, collage, cartoon, photography, block prints, and more.

Children’s books should be free from gender, ethnic, racial and religious stereotypes. Is the book dated in its depiction of any individuals or groups? Is the experience shown authentic, that is, is it based on the author’s deep knowledge and/or experience of the culture?

Children should have access to some books that reflect their own lives and experiences, as well as to books depicting the diversity of the larger society.