Buying a book for a child seems like an easy option especially as a gift. What could be easier? And so easy to wrap!
Off you trot to the local book store and you are faced with a scene similar to these –
Now, even if you are a seasoned children’s picture-book buyer, there is no way you can pick up a book and walk unfalteringly towards the checkout. Something else will aways catch your eye.
This is where the dilemma begins.
Ooooh, that one looks fun.
Aaaah look at those illustrations in that set.
A story about a hippo, how cute.
By the time you reach the checkout, you are laden with 12 books which, quite frankly, will cost a fortune.
I thought I’d share with you my criteria for buying picture books. To be honest with you, I still walk out of the store with 12 books but they do fit my criteria and I’m a sucker for picture books.
The first, and in my opinion, the most important thing to look for are the illustrations.
There are some extremely talented children’s book illustrators and, as an adult, I can see the beauty of the work.
I like the illustrations to be big and bold, especially for pre-schoolers. As they get older, children can pick out more and more detail in pictures but when you are only little it takes a bit of focussing to take in everything on the page.
If you ask ‘where is the dog?’ and the dog is an outline in a corner behind a gate, young children don’t stand a chance.
The thrill they get when they can point to the big, bold, colourful dog makes them want to come back for more and more. (Until you are totally fed up with the dog!)
My next thing I look for is a good ‘beat’ or ‘tune’ to the story. When you are reading out loud, this makes a difference to you and the listener. Children can recognise this very early and it is why nursery rhymes are so popular.
This is a pre-requisite to the rhyming book. I love these, especially when children try to anticipate the words.
I look for books that tell a story. That sounds strange but I’m sure the picture books with a lamb on the first page, a puppy on the second and a duckling on the third etc have their place but I love to see or read a story in a book. It doesn’t have to have any words in the book but you can tell your own story by following the illustrations.
I have compiled a list of my ten favourite picture books. Click here to see how they differ from your own top ten.
Maybe you think I have missed a crucial book out of the list. It would be great to hear from you.