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Should I choose my kid's books or let her choose them?

Although it seems as if letting kids choose their own reading material will ensure they get something they like, it doesn't always work. According to teachers and librarians, when left to their own devices on library day:

  • Kids choose the same book over and over and over (and over) again.
  • Kids choose a book because they like the cover, although the content isn't actually a match for their interests or reading level.
  • Kids choose a book because it's based on a movie (for example, Star Wars), although the book itself is not that great.
  • Kids choose a book because their friends chose it -- and they don't actually like it.
  • Kids simply can't judge whether a book is at their reading level.
  • Kids won't choose a book, leaving them empty-handed and frustrated.

Although some kids will be able to pick out gems, many need guidance. There are ways to prompt kids to pick out suitable books without taking over. Ask them which subjects they like, which previous books they enjoyed, who their heroes are, or which hobbies they enjoy. You also can toss in a few books you like and offer to read them aloud.