5 Reasons To Let Your Little One Choose the Books

Girl choosing books off the shelf
Category: Bookbug

I recently met a friend for tea, cake and a wander around my favourite children's bookshop. As we scoured the shelves for fresh new reads for our little people, my friend confided, in a somewhat exasperated tone, that it was no use - her two-and-a-half-year-old daughter refused to be read anything these days except The Hungry Caterpillar. At first I felt sorry for my book-loving friend. But then I remembered that I'd been there a hundred times myself. And for the following reasons, letting our children choose the books they want to read, even if they are always the same, isn't such a bad thing:

We want our children to be excited about books and being read to, and not feel like it is something being forced upon them

1. Reading should always be associated with pleasure. We want our children to be excited about books and the process of being read to, and not feel like it is something being forced upon them. A key part of this is letting children find a book which captures their imagination. Whether it’s a book about trains, planes or tigers (The Tiger Who Came to Tea was read daily for at least two months in our house) then that’s fine. What’s more important is that they have time to explore books, understand the concept of words and pictures on the page, and have that special time reading with you.

2. Repetition is most definitely a hallmark of being a toddler or pre-schooler. I don’t know many children who don’t love to hear the same songs, rhymes and stories over and over (and over) again. Children love to learn and memorise words; in many cases they will jump in to finish passages from their favourite books! This is the first step on the road to being able to read for many children.

3. Letting your child choose their own books helps them to feel empowered. In a world in which so many choices are made for them – what’s on the menu for dinner, where they will go to nursery, what time they should go to bed – choosing which books to read is a process they can be actively involved in. There are many battles to be lost and won as a parent, and this doesn’t have to be one of them!

mum reading to girl on her lap

4. Certain books have positive connotations for children and can give them a sense of comfort or security. Just as we associate books we have read, or songs we hear on the radio, with happy memories, so too can children. If your child is feeling under the weather or going through a process of change in their life, letting them choose a book which offers them a sense of security can only be positive for you both.

5. According to a recent article by Captain Underpants author, Dav Pilkey, research has shown that children who choose their own reading material become better readers. 'When a child connects to a book – even if it’s a book that we as adults might not care for – it can really change the course of that child’s life!' says Pilkey. The earlier we can instill this level of choice in reading, the better.

So the next time you are asked to read The Hungry Caterpillar for the hundredth time, or your child is desperate to borrow a book about giant spiders from the library, why not just go with it? You can always sneak in extra stories and rhymes throughout the day, but giving your little ones the choice can have a positive impact on everyone.