“Choosing Children’s Books,” Ensign, Dec. 1978, 40–41
Parents or grandparents who are shopping for the readers in their family may be adding a treasure to the entire family library by a well-made choice. But sometimes selecting a children’s book—particularly a religious book—can be confusing. Here are some guidelines to consider:
1. What is the author’s point of view? Is the book consistent with the teachings of the Bible? Think back to the books you read as a child. One of the most surprising things is that you do remember them. Your children will remember theirs, so make sure they don’t contain information to be unlearned later.
2. Is it right for your child? A young child will lose patience with a book that is too complex. An older one will reject an oversimplified approach. Is it clear and adequate in its treatment of the subject matter?
3. Is it written in a clear, interesting manner? Test it by reading a few sentences out loud. Is the language smooth and vivid? Are the sentences varied or monotonously similar? A related consideration is whether the child will read it himself or have it read to him—his listening vocabulary is much larger than either his reading or speaking vocabulary.
4. Are the illustrations appropriate? A book which tells the Biblical story of Jesus’ baptism may backfire if the illustrations show John pouring water on Jesus’ head. Also, children sometimes look at pictures for hours, so action and detail—but not clutter—are vital. The style of the artist must set the mood for the text. Cartoon art is not suitable for religious books.
5. Will it last? The cheapest book isn’t always the best buy since a child will read a well-loved book ragged. Check the binding for durability, the print for adequate size and spacing, and the paper for nonglare qualities. Good margins and spaces between the lines—not to mention an attractive cover!—all make a book more inviting. Catharine Bowles, Provo, Utah