"Any book that helps a child form a habit of reading, to make reading one of his deep continuing needs, is good for him." Maya Angelou
Just like you don't like being told what you can and can't read, neither do our children. However, since they are only young children, it is our job as the adults in their lives to offer them a bit of guidance. When I read to the students, I choose a variety of genres and styles. When the students are dismissed to the shelves there are some kids who week after week will only choose books by certain authors - Mo Willems being particularly popular. Some kids rarely stray from the sections containing books about dinosaurs. Some love princess stories. Some go digging for those Shel Silverstein books you probably remember from your own elementary school library days. There is a tendency for girls to gravitate more toward fiction and boys toward non-fiction, but that is not a hard and fast rule and tends to be more true of older students than younger. The library is forever evolving to meet the needs and desires of the students.
The Ledgewood Library has books for a variety of reading levels. While we do have chapter books for the kids who are ready for them, I am a firm believer in the value of the picture book. I have found that once kids cross over that line where they are reading easy chapter books, they never want to go back to picture books because they deem them to be "baby books." While some do have very simplistic text and structure, there are a multitude of picture books that are very sophisticated. Many picture books contain richer vocabulary and more complex themes and story lines than a lot of those early chapter books kids like to flock to. While an early chapter book might say "It was snowing a little," the picture book may say "Feathery soft flakes whispered down from the clouds, " - and have the accompanying artwork to help kids to work through that word imagery. The unfortunate truth is that the picture book stage of childhood is shrinking. Once our kids move on from Ledgewood the push away from picture books is even greater, with some teachers even refusing to let the kids choose picture books from library shelves. I am happy to introduce kids to series and chapter books because there are some fantastic ones out there. However, in my very humble opinion, nearly all the students would benefit from continuing to read those rich text picture books, even after they are accomplished at reading chapter books. For this reason we have a library rule that a student can only check out one chapter book at a time and the other must be a picture book (fiction or non-fiction).
Some interesting articles on reading and helping kids choose books....