Reading is a pleasure and a right, but when introducing young children to literature it is worth considering the difference between quality material and trash.
Here is my take on the best and worst children’s books:
|Good books||Bad books|
|Beautiful pictures with not too much text||Anything with “Disney” in the title. I am not against Disney at all, it’s just the retelling of a movie in a cheap book, with very long prose, is only popular because of the branding- the storytelling is usually awful|
|A fun or touching story- if it is boring to read it is boring to hear||Anything with lots of text or dull pictures- a picture book should be just that, beautiful illustrations paired with powerfully crafted sentences|
|A melody to the prose, if not rhyming words||Anything dark or sad- yes there is a place for this sort of literature, but maybe not right before bed|
|Traditional fairy stories and illustrated rhymes||Anything with outdated views that border on prejudice. However, “The Tiger who came to Tea” by Judith Kerr, is one of my favorites and has very outdated representations of gender roles and family life- so use discretion and discuss the book with your child, explaining why they may be different from our family or old fashioned|
|Child-friendly language, humor and a nice happy ending (it’s bedtime after all)
|Characters that reinforce bad behaviors without consequences- do you really want your child whining all the time, like Calliou?|
|Stories that connect with your child’s personal experiences, perhaps the main character is an animal but he is scared of the dark, just like Junior. etc.||Robert Munsch- I know, I know, he is an institution in Canada, but I cannot stand his books- they all sound like shouting and I am not a fan of the illustrations. “Love you Forever” is an especially weird and uncomfortable read- I have heard Munsch’s explanation about this book and its connection to a tragic loss of a child, but it’s still a very creepy story|
|Multi-layered, good children’s books grow with the child and have nuances that are revealed as the child grows and develops||Stories with messages that conflict with how you wish to raise your child- “The Rainbow Fish” by Marcus Pfizer is particularly troubling- the main character has beautiful scales and in order to fit in and have friends, resorts to giving away parts of his body, not exactly a message of self-love and acceptance|
|Books you loved as a kid-
A treasured and well-loved story is always read with more emotion than a new title
Books you loved as a kid-
You have to really try and read the book afresh- does it still stand up as a good book, do you love the story or the nostalgia?
With all that in mind, you simply cannot go wrong if you choose a book from this list of my all-time favorite children’s book authors: