Great books, Reading theory

Why adults should read children’s books

Sepia illustration of a bookWhen kids see adults reading they’re more likely to read, themselves. It isn’t just a theory, there’s been research done on this.

When a kid sees an adult reading a children’s book, he’s even more likely to read. Try picking up a kid’s book for yourself the next time you’re at the library; the effect on your child will be very interesting.

My literacy colleague, Jen Robinson, has a slew of other great reasons why adults should read children’s literature:

*Re-reading the books you loved as a child will transport you, like a time machine, back to your childhood.

*Some of the new children’s books are fantastic. If you don’t read them, you’ll have missed out on some great reading.

*Bonding. If your child loves books already, you’ll be able to talk to her about what you’re both reading.

*You’ll better understand what your child is interested in (or concerned about) if you read what she’s reading.

*If you didn’t read much as a child, now’s your time to catch up on what you missed.

*Since good tends to triumph in kidslit, children’s books may uplift you and inspire you. It also tends to charge those imagination muscles that may have become slightly dormant in adulthood.

*If you read what your child is reading, you’ll be aware of the kind of content he’s being exposed to–especially if you’re wondering whether a particular book is appropriate for your child. It also gives you a chance to explain, or put into context, any content you think might be confusing for him.

*It’s a great way to show your child that you care about what’s going on in his world. You’re taking the time to be interested in what he’s interested in.

*Children’s books are faster reads than adult literature. Even if you “don’t have time to read,” you do have time to read a children’s book.

*It’s fun. Pick up Percy Jackson–I guarantee you won’t be able to put it down until you’ve finished it.

Children's literacy blogger Jen Robinson
Children's literacy blogger Jen Robinson

How to get started
Ask your child to recommend a good book. (He’ll be proud that you asked him, and it will be a chance for him to show off his knowledge a bit.) If he can’t decide on one, just pick up whatever he’s reading now–you can read it after he’s gone to bed.

Jen Robinson has also put together this handy list of 25 children’s books that adults will enjoy.

Let me add to her list my own favourites:

*The Twilight series;

*The Percy Jackson series;

*The MacDonald Hall series;

*The Encylopedia Brown series; and

*The Mysterious Benedict Society (book one).

Here’s Jen’s original article.
Image: Wikimedia Commons.


  1. Thanks for sharing these ideas, Joyce! The more we encourage adults to read kids’ books, the better, I say. And there are so many fun titles! My husband has been reading children’s books for several years now, thanks to my recommendations… Bound to be good for Baby Bookworm in the long run, too.

  2. I absolutely agree. My son loves when I read the books that he reads. We can then talk about them. Who doesn’t like to share their reading experiences? That’s part of why I became an English teacher!

  3. These are some great reasons for adults to read children’s books. I would certainly agree that children will want to read more books if they see their parents read them.

    As I sit her thinking about anecdotal evidence this just popped into my mind: My daughter is 5, and she is a very advanced reader. She went through the stage of wanting to have chapter books (which she can read), from the library, as gifts, etc. I think most children eventually gravitate toward chapter books because they know they are more mature – more adult-like. However, she passed quickly through that phase and is again focusing on reading picture books which she sees her mom (an elementary teacher) and her dad (a picture book blogger) reading.

    Therefore, I feel there is a direct reflection of the parents’ reading on their children. If a family reads and has a home that promotes reading it will have an impact on the children.

    In closing, I admit I am an adult who loves reading children’s books. I love the variety of topics, I love the imagination, and I love the illustrations.

  4. Couldn’t agree more – we must live what we want our children to copy.

  5. So true. I always make sure that my students know what I am reading, so that when I ask them to read it’s not “Do as I say, not as I do”! I wish that more men would read, since it’s sometimes hard to get boys motivated.

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