What To Look For In A Great Children’s Book

Telling a compelling story that begs to be read and read again in thirty-two short, simple, and bright pages is not an easy thing.

I am always in awe of children’s authors who seem to understand how to reach our children with their words, and illustrators with their images. Our kids have their favourite stories, and many of these have stood the test of time, renewed with every new generation who turn the pages. But what makes a children’s book great? And what should we look for when choosing those stories that will become embedded in our children’s memories?

What Makes A Great Children’s Book?

A great children’s book stands out for a few reasons:

  1. It includes a new and straightforward or unique idea written with great precision and understanding.
  2. It connects with the reader who is brought on magical adventures to different places, times, and worlds with relatable and interesting characters.
  3. It expands on our children’s world, making them see everything around them in a new and more exciting way.
  4. There is often humour, sensitivity, and a gentle understanding of the various big emotions our children are still learning about.  

What To Look For In A Great Children’s Book

Our kids don’t pick up a book because they’ve read the blurb on the back of the book. They need an immediate connection to the character or to be pulled in by the bright imagery.

A great children’s book will encourage this connection by:

  1. Including strong characters – Various characters help children understand the complexity of the world around them in simple ways, such as using solid characters who stand up to bullies, care for wildlife, and look after their siblings.
  2. Showcasing a story that evokes emotion – Stories and characters help children connect to their own feelings.
  3. By teaching a lesson or sharing an understanding of the world – Kids learn their numbers, colours and alphabet from some of the most engaging children’s books. They also learn about friendship, emotions, empathy, acceptance, and kindness.
  4. By expanding a child’s mind – A great children’s book will give a child new concepts to think about, offer them new words and ideas, and encourage them to ask questions.

Tips For Choosing A Children’s Book

  1. A book with vivid imagery helps children aged 4 – 8 understand ideas and the story. At the same time, they learn new words and expand on their language skills.
  2. A book that is fun to read aloud will often stand the test of time, such as 'The Gruffalo' and 'We’re Going On A Bear Hunt'. A good lyrical flow will often help.
  3. The book your child reaches for may not be your personal pick, but when your little one picks up something they are drawn to, allow them to explore the worlds they are interested in.

Geraldine Walsh

Mum of two Geraldine Walsh happily works from home as a freelance writer chatting about parenting, wellness and mental health.

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