How to Pick the Perfect Book for Children

Briallyn Smith 22-05-2015

There is no better gift for children of any age than a book – but once you’ve exhausted your own childhood favorites, where do you turn to for other options? We, naturally, turned  to the Internet and found great online tools for finding the perfect children’s book.


The Internet has made reading a more important skill than ever before. As more and more information (both in school and in other aspects of life) is transmitted electronically through text instead of face-to-face interactions. Beyond its functional importance, reading is also a great way for children to have fun and use their imaginations.

In a world full of distractions from video games, social media, and extra-curricular activities, how do you get a child hooked on reading?

Your best chance to encourage reading success is to get children reading early. Get them reading books that they enjoy. This advice is more easily said than done, as adults can often feel clueless when it comes to recognizing which books will be enjoyed by children.

This article will hopefully solve some of your worries by offering you a few key considerations for choosing books and some great online tools to help you access them.



Key Tips for Choosing a Children’s Book

Age/Reading Level

  • If a child is under 5 their age is the most important factor in determining the interest they are likely to have in a book. Many publishers will place the intended age range for a story on the cover of the book, which helps you to choose age-appropriate storylines and illustrations.
  • After a child begins to read on their own, their ability level is a much more important indicator of the kind of books that they will enjoy. This isn’t an exact science; as long as the book you choose is close to the child’s current level it is likely to still be enjoyed. After all, a book that is slightly below their reading level will increase their confidence in their reading abilities, and a book slightly above their current reading level can be read to them by an adult.


  • Think about what the child talks about, or what they get excited by (do they love to make a mess in the kitchen? do they ask about every animal they see?) and find a book that relates to this interest in some way.
  • A number of children’s books available help children to learn about, and process, new events that may be happening in their life, such as a move to a new town, a doctor’s visit, or the arrival of a younger sibling.
  • Consider choosing a non-fiction children’s book, especially for children that are always trying to figure out how machines work, or why events happen. This can be a great way for them to learn new information in a format that’s directly targeted for their age level.


  • The best way to choose books that become beloved favorites is to talk to others who have insight into what children love.
  • If you are a parent, learning which books your children’s friends enjoy can be a great way to expand your own library.
  • Commonsense media is another option for children’s book suggestions, and offers lists for young readers (separated by age range and subject) that have been curated by expert reviewers. This is a great, unbiased, source for discovering old likes and new releases, with special attention given to offering parents insight into the stories’ quality, their messages, alerting parents to any controversial content, and offering discussion points for families as well.


Where Do You Find Good Books Online?

As much as I will always and forever love the feel of holding a physical copy of a book in my hand, there are a lot of times when ebooks are more practical Books Suck: Why I Love My Kindle More Than Dead Trees Modern e-readers hold thousands of novels, weigh next to nothing, have built in lights, and don't give you a concussion when they hit your nose. Read More than their physical counterparts, especially when it comes to children’s books.

Thankfully, there are a lot of online resources (both paid and free) to help you and your children enjoy e-books when you are travelling, looking to de-clutter your child’s room, living on a budget, or searching for ways to entice your child to read.

Paid E-book Resources

There’s no beating the scope and availability of children’s ebooks on online shopping giants such as iTunes and Amazon’s kindle store.

  • Amazon‘s kindle store is a Mecca for easily downloadable children’s ebooks. Amazon has just about any book you could imagine available for purchase, no matter the subject, author, or age range you have in mind! Prices are significantly lower than physical copies, and purchases are easily transferred to your mobile device.
  • iTunes has expanded its store far, far beyond .mp4 downloads. Its library of children’s books is astounding in its scope and organization, and includes a seemingly never-ending selection of both new releases and old picks. Books are available in multiple formats, including traditional eBooks to be read either on a computer or on a compatible mobile device, audiobooks, and as interactive reading activities as well. Prices tend to be cheaper than the physical book, but not necessarily by much!


  • Tumblebook is a subscription-based service that offers you access to a large library of classic and contemporary children’s books for $10 or less per month. Children can read their favourite books (or have the books read to them!) using the “tumblepad” window in their browser. A free trial is available so you can determine whether or not this platform will work for your family before you subscribe!


Free E-book Resources 

While some ebooks are definitely worth purchasing to have available at a moment’s notice, there are also innumerable resources available for downloading free audiobooks The 10 Best Websites for Free Audio Books Want to listen to audiobooks without paying a premium? Here are the first websites you should check out. Read More and reading children’s books online The 10 Best Sites for Reading Free Children's Books and Stories Online Looking for free children's books online? Dive into these websites which have a growing collection of children's books. Read More .  Here are some of our front-runners:

  • StorylineOnline features beloved childhood favorites read by real people. This website allows your child to have all the benefits of someone reading directly to them (the videos are hosted through YouTube and feature the illustrations and text prominently) if you are unable to sit with them at the time. The website also offers activity guides available for download for many of its books.


  • Your Local Library’s Website is also worth a visit if you are looking for free children’s e-books. Many libraries are connected to a large database of e-books that can be easily borrowed for a set period of time using your existing library account. This can be a great way to access new books for free whenever you need them!

Books Really Are The Best Gift

Introducing children to books and reading early in their lives is an incredible gift. Early exposure to reading helps children improve both their written and spoken language, brain development, and social intelligence later in life. Finding the perfect book to read can sometimes be a struggle, but with these online tools for book recommendations and easy access to e-books, story time should quickly become less of a struggle!

Which is your fondest children’s book of all time? And where do you go looking for inspiration when you’re buying a new children’s book?

Image Credit: “Child Reading” by Chris_Parfitt via flickr; Child Using a Tablet PC via. Shutterstock

Related topics: Book Reviews, Ebooks, Parenting and Technology, Reading.

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  1. Philip Bates
    May 29, 2015 at 10:32 am

    Really interesting article. People always say that there are fewer readers, especially kids or teens, than ever before, but I just don't think that's true. Part time, I work in a bookshop, and I'm always pleased to see the number of people buying books for their kids - and how eager those kids are. Frozen helped! The number of books about Olaf and co. was... quite something! McDonalds, too, helps. On Happy Meals, you get a voucher for two particular books (plus an ebook) for just £1, and parents are generally pleased to part with a quid to feed their children's minds, especially when it's related to something they've seen at the cinema (like Home or Shaun the Sheep) or if it's something they've grown up with (like the Famous Five).

    • Briallyn Smith
      June 1, 2015 at 2:57 am

      Thanks so much Philip! I am incredibly jealous of your bookshop job – that's all I've ever wanted in life. I'm so happy you're seeing so many children being exposed to books, too... I'm patiently waiting for the "children/teenagers staring at screens all day" stigma to go away. I started a Scribd subscription two months ago and have read more books than ever since... staring at my phone but definitely benefitting from it – and I hope that children's online books become more mainstream & accepted. (although I staunchly refuse to believe anything electronic will ever be as good as paperbacks)