It’s never too soon: sharing books with preschoolers

Book cover of baby its youBabies (0 to 18 months)

  • Remember that black and white books (like our free Books for Babies) are best for very new babies, and then move onto brightly coloured books with definite contrasts between colours.
  • Board books allow babies to handle (and chew) books without too much stress. They are available in a variety of sizes for both baby to hold themselves, caregivers to read and to be propped up beside the changing table.
  • Look for books about families, food, getting dressed, toys, animals, cars, trucks and objects found around the home.
  • Babies like faces - look for different ages and ethnic groups.
  • When looking at a book with your baby, point and name the object in the picture - talk about it.
  • Rhymes, rhythm, repetition and sounds will all help your baby learn to speak and communicate. We have some of the rhymes we use in our babytimes on our website.
  • Look for nursery rhymes and lullabies; lap games; hand, foot and finger games; books with flaps or holes; different textures to touch.

Search our catalogue for board books and touch and feel books

Book cover of constructionToddlers (18 to 30 months)

  • Board books are still great, but try using books with paper pages, especially if the child is now used to books.
  • Still look for bright colours and clear pictures.
  • Look for books that are about things your child can do, see or knows about like families, animals and vehicles (don't forget some of the easy information books.)
  • Recurring sounds or phrases are important and fun, as your child has reached the age when they like to imitate sounds, words or phrases. See our list of popular picture books for some of these.
  • Look for concepts like opposites, colours, counting and the alphabet.
  • Books to touch, feel and explore e.g. lift-the-flap.
  • Keep the rhymes and rhythms going with actions, nursery rhymes and sounds.

Search our catalogue for books with flaps and picture books.

Book cover of dear zooPreschoolers (30 months+)

  • Look for simple stories with uncomplicated plots that invite you and your child to participate e.g. books that allow guessing like these animal books.
  • Children of this age begin to develop self confidence and will show preference for books and topics. Let them choose books that they are interested in and seek out books that match their interests. It's free to reserve books on kids cards from our catalogue.
  • Children are starting to develop social skills and may be interested in books that talk about love and family relationships, books about showing emotions and books about greetings and farewells.
  • Children of this age really enjoy books that play a bit more with language and ideas - rhyme, repetition, silly or nonsense language.
  • Look for simple counting, rhymes, poems and songs.
  • Four-year-olds can attend a Learning Party and play some games that encourage early literacy skills.

To do more to nurture a love of reading in your tamariki you can also create a literacy environment at home, come along to our preschool sessions and subscribe to our picture books newsletter.

Find out more about our book recommendations, preschool services and services for families.

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