“ Summer Reading for Parents” (WSJ) addresses the challenges parents face in choosing the right book for their child but I see more confusion ahead with the publishing industry’s attempt to label books, hoping to inform parents to make better-informed choices.
Here are some simple guidelines to follow. A just right book pairs a child with a book with the proper reading level (children are able to read the words of the story) with their appropriate developmental age and stage (children are ready to think and talk about the subjects a book brings up).
Appropriate developmental age and stage and correct reading level is simple enough to determine and when you add in a child’s interest, you have some very easy to follow guidelines to make informed choices on the books your child reads.
However, I believe that every child deserves and needs a Reading Fairy Godmother. They know that the very best of books make a sound in the heart. Books enter the back door of the imagination, not the front door of logic and herein lay their magic.
When choosing a book for a child, I look for books that cause a reader to pause, and inside those pauses, our hearts open and become more porous to ideas and feelings. With each book, the heart breaks open a tiny bit and into that space new ideas and feelings jump in. Every time a heart breaks, it creates a space that invites new understandings. After each “heart break,” the heart expands and becomes more than it was.