By around 5 years of age, kids continue developing their language and speech skills. They are now learning longer words, the sounds of language, and how such sounds can combine to produce words. That is why it is important for children of this age to continue reading even very simple sentences.
Choosing the right book for five year olds is thus, crucial to their language, vocabulary, speech, cognitive, and social development. Here are 12 best books for 5 year olds you may want to consider for your kiddo.
A Closer Look at Your 5 Year Old’s Language Development
Choosing the right book for any kid requires an understanding of their unique developmental skills. It is clear that no two kids are alike. Some can read like adults as early as 3 years old while there are also some that may already be teens yet do not have the faculties for reading yet. The language development of children is inherently tied to their early childhood experiences as well as the overall maturity of their cognitive structures.
Looking at an ‘average’ 5 year old child’s language development, there are several areas that are worth noting. These are as follows.
- Language sounds
Five year old kids already understand that sounds make words. Your child may already be able to identify words that begin with the same sound as well as words that rhyme. For instance, your kid may already be fond of playing simple word games or rhyming games blurting out cat, bat, hat, mat, and fat. He or she also knows that the sentence, “Mommy makes marshmallows” have words that begin with exactly the same sound. They also know the sounds of the different letters that make up the English alphabet and they can almost always associate these sounds with the corresponding letters. That is why it is important to keep on teaching kids the letters of the alphabet including how each one sounds. This is critical as 5 year olds can learn to combine these different sounds to form words. For instance, putting together “c”, “a”, and “t” produces “cat”.
By this stage, children are now learning to use connecting words as well as words that explain. For instance, they already know when to use the words “but” and “when”. They also know words that help them explain what they feel such as “upset”, “confused”, and “delighted”. By this age, your kid may already be showing signs of knowledge about the relative position of things such as the use of the words “between”, “below”, “above”, and “behind”. They can also start using words that attempt to explain how their brain is working, such as “remember” or “don’t know”. He or she is also beginning to understand and use more action words so he or she can explain himself or herself a lot better. The thing is that 5 year old kids generally understand more words than they actually can use.
- Comprehension and understanding
The level of comprehension of 5 year old kids greatly varies and is largely dependent on their vocabulary and mastery of the language sounds. Some kids already fully understand certain words and they can use these exceptionally well. However, most kids at this stage do not fully comprehend yet complicated ideas such as “at the same time” or “likewise”; although they will already begin understanding some figures of speech such as “couch potato” or even “pull one’s leg”. The great thing about a five year old is that he or she can now follow simple directions even if it requires more than two steps to accomplish the task. As long as the direction is structured in a manner that the kid understands, he or she will be able to follow multi-step directions. However, kids of this age typically perform the action of the first word that they hear first. So, you have to be especially careful when constructing your sentences and make sure to put the word that you want your kid to listen to ahead of the other words. For example, instead of saying “Before we go, get your jacket first” you may want to say “Get your jacket before we go.”
- Using increasingly complex sentences
You will be amazed at how kids of this stage are progressing. Their speech and language development are already advancing at a steady pace. They can now meld two simple sentences into one. They can also structure their sentences either in the active or the passive voice; although you simply cannot expect them to explain the difference between these two. At 5 years of age, children are known to use longer sentences that contain up to 9 words. Some really proficient kids can even do more than 10 while others, 9 may already be asking too much. Additionally, don’t expect your kid to be grammatically correct all the time. Mistakes are bound to occur and it is your job to make sure to correct these early on. What’s worth noting is that 5 year olds can already talk about things within a particular time frame. Their concept of past and future is now beginning to take shape.
- Storytelling and developing conversational skills
Because of the increasing knowledge of 5 year olds in constructing sentences as well as their inherent skill of conveying their feelings and thoughts, they are now very fond of telling stories. However, it’s either the information they provide is incomplete or simply too much. Their stories may not have meaningful endings or these don’t make sense at all. Nevertheless, they are already appreciative of the ideas of other people and might actually use whatever information they obtain from others to make their own storytelling more convincing. This is very important as it gives them the foundation for developing their conversational skills. This also lays the foundation for their pragmatic skills.
It really is amazing to see what the first 5 years of life can do to a child, especially in terms of his or her ability to communicate. Five year olds are now more talkative than ever and can already express their own views of the world. It is for this very reason that helping them read matters. The things that they read can help them expand their vocabulary and further sharpen their knowledge of grammar and correct English usage.
How to Choose the Right Book for Your 5 Year Old Kid
Reading is a critical component of speech and language development in kids, especially 5 year olds. It provides them with the foundation for the continuing development of the many areas of language including speech sounds, grammatical markers, pragmatic skills, literacy, concept development, vocabulary, questions, and listening skills. But the more important question is how to choose the right book for your 5 year old kid. Here’s how.
- Always consider your child’s developmental level
Some call it age appropriateness but we prefer to go for a child’s developmental level as an indication of his or her readiness for a particular activity. It makes perfect sense. Since language development is heavily predicated on a kid’s knowledge and skill of speech sounds particularly those produced by the letters of the alphabet, if a 5 year old kid still cannot distinguish the difference between the sound of the letter “C” and the sound produced by the letter “Z”, then it doesn’t make sense to choose a book that requires the reading of words that begin with such sounds. It is thus, imperative that you assess first your kid’s developmental abilities and try to compare it with the requirements of the book.
- Check what your kid will be learning from the book
It is very important to look at the value of the book, often based on what your 5 year old should be developing. If he or she is having problems with the sounds of letters, then maybe a return to the alphabet is a must. How about something that will expand your kid’s vocabulary and even comprehension?
- Consider the different genres of books that appeal to 5 year olds
Five year olds can still benefit from toddler books and early preschool literature. They still love bedtime books as well as read-alouds especially if you have a knack for making fun sounds to make the storytelling more engaging than most. Some experts believe that chapter books are now ideal for children of this age as it is neither too long nor too short for their attention span. The important thing to understand is that 5 year old kids love going through stories over and over. So even if they’re done reading, you can expect them to be heading for their books many times over. Here are some books that are just great for kids of this age.
- Books about familiar objects as well as experiences such as those written in nursery stories and even Mother Goose books.
- Books that are written in a particular rhythm as well as excellent repetition of words. Rhyming words are important, too.
- Picture books with excellent character development as well as compelling storylines.
- If your child is able to read independently, books that are written in a straightforward manner, using words that are very familiar to your kid are important. These are often termed ‘easy readers’.
- Nonfiction, informational books can also help especially if you have a child who’s particularly interested in something.
Five year old children do not have the language proficiency of school aged children. Not yet, anyway. However, giving them the right books to read to expand their vocabulary and learn about the basics of grammar and sentence construction can help enhance their overall language development.