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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.

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Kid, 10 years old

If your kid is on a fourth grade or higher reading level and like cats TELL THEM TO READ WARRIOR CATS IT IS THE BEST BOOK SERIES ON THE PLANET BESIDES NARNIA!! BTW Narnia is on a 6th grade reading level
Adult written by halegdavidson

This was so helpful! I think kids should choose what they want to read to a certain point, but parents can still help guide their selections. Here's a helpful article from The Lucy Library that provides some insight on how to decide if a story is good for your children:
Kid, 9 years old

I think that it is a good idea to let kids choose the books they read. If you give your kid a list of books you came up with and let them choose from the list, they still have some freedom but that is limited. My parents let me choose the books I want to read. I usually read about my choice beforehand and decide if it is appropriate.
Teen, 15 years old written by Common sense LST

You should let them choose the books that they read, unless they have inappropriate content in it, or if they are a bad influence on your kid.
Parent of a 7-year-old written by mnm4242

I have been thinking of this issue recently with regards to my 7-year old daughter. She is just starting to read chapter books and I am noticing that it's not always easy to tell if the child is ready for the content in the book as it was with picture books. What I have decided to do is do a little research. I've selected 15-20 chapter books through research online (check them out on common sense media and amazon reviews) that I thought would be interesting to her and also appropriate. I also asked her teacher and my friends for some recommendations. I added them to an Amazon wishlist. Next, I plan to sit with her and go through the wishlist and let HER pick which book she wants to read next. This way, I am still giving her the power to choose.
Kid, 12 years old

Kids can usually choose books they like. Unless the book is franchise related, your child will probably choose a book that they will enjoy reading. Although many kids reread, its because they have not found anything with a comparable plot to their book. This is similar to how adults will read many books by the same author, because they know the quality will be consistent (a concept not taught by library teachers). Find books for your child by the same author, or an author with a similar writing style.