7 Ways to Choose the Perfect Book for Your Child

By Beth Brennan and Allison Egert, Ed.D

A book that is too easy for your child can be just as frustrating as one that is too hard. There is a science to choosing the right book, whether you are buying a special book for the holidays, or selecting children's books from your local library. Following these simple guidelines will help you find a book that challenges and entertains, while helping your child progress to the next reading level.

1. Print size: The younger the child, the bigger the print

2. Match the topic to the reader: Choose books about things your child has expressed interest in.

3. Subject the book to the "five finger test": Have your child read a page and hold up a finger every time they get to a word they don't know. Zero or one word means the book is too easy. Two to three words is just right and four, five or more unknown words means the book is probably too challenging.

4. Books in a series: Success is the best indicator of future success. That is, if your child enjoys a book, look for more books in that series. The 100 Best Children's Books of All Time published by TIME contains classics generations of children have enjoyed.

5. Look for the right amount of pictures: As with the print size, the number of pictures goes down as the child's reading level goes up. The right mix of pictures and words will hold a child's interest and stimulate imagination.

6. Research reading levels: Websites such as Scholastic Book Wizard post valuable information on reading levels, making it easier to evaluate and compare books your older child might enjoy.

7. Judge the book by its cover: We always say not to, but children will. An attention-grabbing cover will make your child want to open it, and that is the very first step toward reading it.