Education Professor Gives Advice on How to Find a Good Book for Children
December 18, 2003

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ATLANTA- Parents need to remember this holiday season that books can make excellent gifts for children, and if parents pay attention to their children's interests, they can find books their children will be excited about receiving, according to Dr. Jacquelyn M. Culpepper, assistant professor of teacher education at Mercer's Tift College of Education.

"Books are excellent gifts for children because they send the message to young readers that reading is important," said Culpepper, who has a doctorate in reading education.

Culpepper said another reason books make great gifts is a young reader's imagination may be fostered by the invitation to pretend found in imaginative literature. And young readers' vocabularies are enriched and expanded by the books they read or have read to them.

With thousands of children's and young adult books published each year, it's important parents make good choices when giving books to young readers, Culpepper said. Here are a few tips Culpepper shared on how to find a good book for a child.
  • Know the interests of the young reader and find books on these subjects.
  • Know the abilities of the young reader.
  • Observe the child's responses when you read to him or her or when they read to you. Stop and talk about what the child is reading or what is being read. Become aware of they're thinking and feeling. This will help you make judgments about the appropriateness of specific books.
  • Be aware of the variety of genres available in children's and adult literature: traditional fiction literature, fantasy, science fiction, realistic fiction, historical fiction, informational nonfiction, biographies and autobiographies.
  • Visit http://falcon.jmu.edu/~ramseyil/index.html to find lists of award-winning books for children and adolescents.
  • Purchase a copy of the book you give an older child for yourself as well. This way you can read the book together and discuss it together.
Culpepper said the best way for parents to ensure that children will read the book parents give them is to be an avid reader.

"When children are surrounded by adults who read, research shows that the children become avid readers themselves," the former middle school and high school English teacher said. "It's like, children do as we do rather than as we say or tell them to do."
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