Don’t rush your children in choosing reading matter. From infancy to about age three you will read the same favorite books over and over. Remember you are doing more than looking at pictures. In the beginning a child has to learn to hold the book right side up and turn the pages front to back. That’s no small feat!
Getting acquainted with the world of the book, and transferring images to their real world also takes some doing. Use your own imagination to make the book interesting. Voice the animal sounds. Entertain yourself as well as the child.
The best kind of early childhood books are written and illustrated by people who have a bit of the child left inside of them. They see with a child’s eyes and heart. And these may not be the books that you would choose for yourself. The secret is to think “child” not “boredom.” That’s why you will enjoy books by old favorites like Margaret Wise Brown, Ruth Krauss, Maurice Sendak, and Brian Wildsmith, as well as the many other authors who keep popping up with good things produced just for this age. They have a capacity to delight the very young.
Some picture books are for adults. I list some of them in Honey for a Child’s Heart. You can get taken in by all the hype, and then find out that they are not children’s books at all. They have a clever twist that delights adults but leave children only mildly interested and sometimes not one bit interested. In this last presidential election I kept an amusing book called Duck for President by Doreen Cronin (with fun illustrations by Betsy Lewin) on our coffee table. It solicited chuckles and outright guffaws from adults, but the allusions all had to be explained to my very bright eight year old niece, who simply shrugged after we read it and went on to something else. Judith Viorst’s Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day is like that. From the time that it was first published I noted that mothers think it is hilarious, but most children can’t see what is so special about it. They forget their Very Bad Day things almost as soon as they happen.