As the leading advocate for family literacy and reading aloud in Hong Kong, we are often asked by parents, “What are the best books to read to my children?” Over the past ten years, we have accumulated a comprehensive list of the best English and Chinese children’s books. In response to the growing demand for our recommendations, our book guide was created by our team of dedicated literacy specialists, librarians and consultants who have volunteered their time and expertise to research, tag and thoughtfully select from thousands of books for positive child development.
Special Note on Our Age Ranges:
BMABHK provides age ranges as a benchmark for users of our book guide, however, we recognize that every child has a different reading journey that is very personal. We also recommend for parents and educators using this guide to search for books outside of your child’s age range. Older children can benefit from many concepts found in sophisticated picture books. Younger children can benefit from having conversations with parents who are reading selective chapter books together.
“There is no such thing as a child who hates to read; there are only children who have not found the right book”, Frank Serafini
The routines and attentive habits that are set now will last a lifetime. Reading aloud has a direct impact on language development and literacy. Research has shown that, when compared with daily parent-child interactions, picture books are two to three times more likely to include a word that isn’t among the 5,000 most common English words. Rhythmic books, nursery rhymes, texturized and board books with nonsense words, songs and animal sounds are all wonderful ways to start a child’s reading journey. Cuddle up with your child and have fun!
In this tech-obsessed world, it is more important than ever to show your child how much fun reading can be and to use reading time to deepen the parent-child bond. This is a wonderful time to introduce your child to new themes, special interests, more complex storylines and multi-dimensional characters. Remember that picture books are perfect for this age. Although they may be learning to read on their own, parent-child read-aloud at this stage are essential for children’s emotional, social and language development.
As children begin to read independently, your role expands. Encourage children to ask questions about themes that the books explore – friendship, adversity, courage, change – in hopes that they can tie these subjects to their life and share their personal experiences and views with you. Research shows that reading fiction is the best way to develop all the positive qualities of theory of mind: empathy, understanding, tolerance, problem-solving. So let reading time at home be curiosity-quenching and inspiring. Your most important job is to foster lifelong love of reading; don’t put it on yourself to make your child hit particular targets or make reading seem like homework.
Help your child choose books that will deepen their interests or share books that you’ve read and enjoyed so that they can understand you better too. Having conversations about the books that you and your child are reading provides an opening to conversation and helps you reconnect with your child to strengthen your parent-child relationship.
“The greatest gift we can give our children is our attention. Reading and talking about a story creates a strong parent-child bond and is the attention children need to thrive.” Diane Frankenstein