Children's Story Books

childrens story books

Are you looking for children's story books but feeling overwhelmed by the huge number of books to choose from? It can help to think first in terms of the category or style of book which you are looking for.

Are you after a picture book or short novel to read aloud to a pre-reader? Or what about a chapter book for your new reader? Do you think your child would enjoy a traditional adventure story or were you thinking of introducing him to a new fairy tale?

You can find more details about all of the categories and styles of books below.

If you have chosen the category of book, but need help selecting just one amongst the thousands of children's story books on offer in that category, set out to buy children's books which excite and educate your child.

Categories of Children's Story Books

There are many different categories of children's story books. Which category is most appropriate for your child will depend on a number of factors. What is your child’s age and how long is his attention span? Are you intending to read the book aloud to your child or will your child read it himself? If the book is for your child to read himself, what is his reading level and how much can he read in one sitting?

Below you can find a description of the different categories of children's story books available. These categories are roughly organised in terms of age, with books appropriate for younger children being at the top of the list. However, don't take this age classification too literally. Some wordless books, traditionally the realm of babies, are very sophisticated and are meant for older readers. Similarly, children can be enthralled listening to novels which are too hard for them to read themselves.

  • Books for Infants Good books for infants are those which stimulate your child’s senses, for example books with colourful pictures to stimulate their sight, exciting noises and animal sounds to stimulate their hearing and touch and feel books to stimulate their sense of touch. Help make your reading sessions interactive by buying books with flaps for your child to lift.

  • Rhyming Stories Babies and children also enjoy listening to stories that rhyme. Furthermore, learning to find words that rhyme is an important skill for your child to learn and will help him later when he starts to learn to read. Children's poems are also a wonderful way of introducing your child to the magic of rhyme.

  • Wordless Books With wordless picture books the story is told entirely with pictures arranged in sequence. The reader supplies the words using the pictures for clues of the emerging plot. Adults can obviously provide the words, but so can pre-readers or beginner readers. No two readings are the same which can provide added intrigue to the listener.

  • Concept Books Concept books are designed to help young children learn to recognise classes of objects such as animals or food, or to become familiar with concepts such as opposites, shape, colour or the alphabet. Many concept books are multi-sensory with texture pages or sound.

  • Picture Books Picture books contain pictures and words which complement eachother. The amount of text on the page can vary. Choose preschool children's story books with only a few sentences on a page for younger children, leaving children's picture books with longer texts for children with better attention spans. People often think of picture books only in terms of reading aloud to pre-readers, but it would be a mistake to restrict them in this way. Once your child starts to read he will probably like nothing better than to go back and read some of his beloved picture books himself. Also, many picture books carry a wealth of possible meanings which are revealed through both words and pictures. Older children are better placed to appreciate the whole meaning of such books. Indeed, some picture books are written with older readers specifically in mind.

  • Beginner Readers As your child learns to read they start with the hesitant process of decoding, move to a seamless conversion of letters into words and finally achieve a fluent translation of words into meaning. Schools usually follow graded reading schemes to help lead the child to reading independence. You can also find children's story books specifically for beginner readers to read at home which progress from simple stories with lots of pictures to more complex stories with fewer pictures. There are two types of early reading books you can choose for your child. Easy reader phonics books help your child to practice specific phonics rules by containing words which can be sounded out using these rules. Authentic text early reader books contain short sentences written in simple language with some repeated phrases but are not written in order to practice specific phonics rules. Make sure you choose a book which is at a level appropriate for your child. Your child needs to have fun and excitement while gradually building his reading skills. These books can also be fun to read aloud to younger children.

  • Chapter Books As your child begins to read fluently, he will be ready to start reading children's chapter books. These are short novels of about 60 to 100 pages, usually read in more than one sitting. They are divided into short chapters to take account of the shorter attention spans of younger readers. However, don’t wait until your child can read before trying out this category of children's story books. Reading aloud chapter books to preschoolers is a great way to gradually build their attention spans and enrich their vocabulary.

  • Series Books Just as your young child wanted you to read the same picture books again and again, so young readers often like the security of familiar characters and settings in their books. Series fiction books were created with this in mind and are aimed at the pre-teen or teen reader. More commercial series books are often adventure- or family- oriented, written by a large syndicate of writers all using pseudonyms. There are also more sophisticated series books such as the Chronicles of Narnia and Harry Potter.

  • Novels Children's novels are usually longer in length than chapter books, being over around 100 pages. They will often have more description in them, requiring more imagination from the listener or reader. Preschoolers can follow some of them, although check the content first to make sure it is appropriate.

Genre and Style of Children's Story Books

Once you have decided on the category of book, have a think about the genre or style of book you are looking for. Adventure? Mystery? Fantasy? Try to choose a variety so that your child gets used to different styles of literature. A couple of specific styles of children's story books are worth a mention - books about real life concerns and fairy tales. Try to expose your child to some books of these types too.

  • Real-life Concerns Read children's story books which touch on your child's concerns or recent experiences. Stories can provide an emotional framework against which children can compare their own experiences or prepare for the possibility of such events happening in the future. If a child has already confronted such issues in the safety of a book his reactions will be better informed should such situations arise. Try choosing books which:

    • Prepare children for big events in their lives, such as the first day at school or a trip to the emergency room of the hospital.

    • Explore difficult emotional areas such as death, divorce, disability or health issues.

    • Provide a framework to talk about other emotional problems your child might be having such as sibling rivalry, bullying, jealousy, fear or unhappiness.

  • Fairy Tales Many of today's fairy tales have their origins in centuries-old stories and are told, in various guises, across the countries of the world. Originally they were intended for adults as well as children, hence the rather gruesome nature of certain fairy tales. These stories are not afraid of painting the world as it is - a cold, cruel place full of dangers. But they also show children how you can overcome these dangers if you show courage and determination.
    If your child is sensitive you may feel you want to leave some of the tales until they are older, for example, those with particularly scary characters or which feature horrible deaths. However, the very fact that these tales address some issues which parents try very hard to avoid is one of their great attractions. It is, in fact, a cruel world out there and your child might as well be prepared for it.

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