There is no surprise that I am a lover of picture books. I have spent my whole life reading books and marveling at the language and illustrations in them. I get lost in stories and hope my sons find the same pleasure in books as I do. But here’s the thing; not all books are the same. Not all books are well thought out or executed. Not all books grab me, and nor should they. It’s really important that I choose a book that appeals to my interests. One that jumps out and screams “READ ME!!” If it doesn’t grab me, then I ain’t reading it, and in fact, it turns me right off.

So, if I can get turned off by making the wrong choices in books, then imagine how easily our children can be turned off?! It’s SO important that we choose QUALITY picture books for our kids to read, and we teach them what to look for when they are choosing their own reading material too!

In our experience, here are the top things we look for when choosing books for our sons and you can be guided by these too.

Child’s Interest

Talking to your children about what their interests are is so important. Ensuring that your child is self aware enough to identify their own interests will eliminate half the battles when it comes to choosing a book to read. Because the most important part of choosing a book, is choosing one that will be fun to read. The more fun, the more engaged your child will be.

Titles: Well, these depend on your child’s individual likes.

Quality Pictures

Books with quality illustrations are so important for engaging your little reader. Bright colours or wonderfully detailed pictures may be the hooks for your child. But more important than the aesthetics and appeal of the pictures, is whether or not the pictures actually support the text. Especially for early readers, pictures must add meaning to the text otherwise they are pretty much useless. Using the picture to help read a word or create meaning from the story is a strategy we teach A LOT in the early years of school. If the picture doesn’t match properly then I would say that it is not a quality book worth choosing.


Who Sank the Boat? By Pamela Allen

Grandpa Green by Lane Smith

Interesting and Creative Language

Over the years there has been a huge range of research that suggests that reading lots of quality books increases vocab and language development in young people. And I mean, of course it does! There are hundreds of words in any given story; sometimes thousands! Books with creative and interesting language can help improve your child’s vocab because they provide a space where children may not have otherwise heard these wonderful words. Choose stories with new words in them. Words that sound interesting and make your child ask, “what’s that word?” You could even make a list of all of the new and interesting words they find! This is a perfect time to add in some non fiction reading too!


Animalia by Graeme Base

What a Wonderful Word by Nicola Edwards

The Word Collector by Peter H Reynolds

Rhythm and Rhyme

Following on from language development, rhythm and rhyme play a huge role in early literacy skills. This is because children’s early literacy skills are about listening and speaking rather than reading and writing. These first two skills are the pillars for the development for the latter and should be developed early. Therefore, finding books with lots of rhythm and rhyme allow children to develop these skills and also to predict which word may be coming next. Prediction being another great reading skill for comprehension.


Hand Hand Fingers Thumb by Al Perkins

The Magic Hat by Mem Fox

Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown

A Clear Message or A Book that Teaches

Obviously, non fiction books are perfect for teaching us many things, but what about fiction books? Fiction books that teach your child something are always great to have in the collection as they get children thinking about the world around them. It can evoke plenty of conversation about who we are and how we interact with others in this world. Depending on the story and its theme, it can provide opportunities for reflection and give children a chance to see their own lives mirrored in a character’s. Books like this provide so much more than just a reading experience; they provide learning about self.


Uno’s Garden by Graeme Base

Those Shoes by Boelts Maribeth

Mr Huff by Anna Walker

Pick up a Classic

Classics are classics for a reason. They last the test of time for a reason. They are beautifully written and carefully executed. They have engaged, taught and touched generations of children before yours. Basically, I would trust those “30 year anniversary edition” stickers, and totally pick up one of those books. They are designed to be read over and over again, and THAT is a sign of a wonderful book for your collection.


There is a Hippopotamus on our Roof Eating Cake by Hazel Edwards

When the Wind Changed by Ruth Park

Elmer the Elephant by David McKee

The Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

There are so many things to look for when choosing quality books for your family; these are just SOME of the things we consider when we are choosing books for our children. While these are all very important ways to choose books, remember that reading is for pleasure. Books need to be engaging. Whether they are fun or emotive, they need to connect with us in some way. Make us interact with it. Reading should evoke curiosity and connection between the adult and child (those reading the books together), or between the child and the characters in the story. So be sure to make reading fun and do it LOTS!

What do you guys look for when choosing books? Leave a comment below!

A xo