`Pat the Bunny,' then...Guides for parents buying children's books
AS children's book editor of the New York Times Book Review, Eden Ross Lipson is besieged with questions from young, determined parents. ``They're always coming up to me and saying, `I need a book for so-and-so, aged such-and-such,''' she says, with a gust of laughter.
``I mean, have you talked to some of these yuppie parents? They are crazed, absolutely crazed.
``I find myself telling them ... that if a baby doesn't like `Pat the Bunny,' it doesn't mean that reform school is the next stop!''
With four children, aged 5 to 19, Mrs. Lipson has read her share of child-selected bedtime titles.
The enjoyment she gets from reading to her own and others' children, combined with four years' experience selecting the 300 children's titles that the Book Review covers each year, has contributed to the enthusiasm Lipson has poured into her recently published Parent's Guide to the Best Books for Children (Times Books, New York, $12.95, 421 pp.). An annotated list of almost 1,000 old and new titles, it is arranged in alphabetical order, according to reading level, with almost 100 pages of categorical indexes.
Some of the entries are single-sentence reviews, and many bear a characteristically breezy comment. Lipson is quick to point out that her listing is not intended to compete with the handful of well-respected books that introduce reading concepts and help parents choose books for their children.
As parents and interested friends and relatives begin the annual search for the perfect summer afternoon activity, a number of experts are standing by with low-key advice on time-tested titles. Bookstores and libraries ought to carry most of the following:
For Reading Out Loud!, by Margaret Mary Kimmel and Elizabeth Segel (Delacorte, New York, $16.95, 259 pp.), has recently been revised and expanded. The authors, both professors of children's literature, include a new list of 125 books recommended for reading to children from infancy through kindergarten, and have added 50 full annotations to their original titles.
Books are listed by type, length, and subject. Entries include time required for each reading session.
Choosing Books for Children, A Commonsense Guide, by Betsy Hearne (Dell, New York, $2.95 paperback, 150 pp.), is a parent-friendly standard. Advice about how to look at picture books from a child's point of view or what to look for in fantasy novels is combined with suggested lists of titles, by age groups.
Choosing Books for Kids, by Joanne Oppenheim, Barbara Brenner, and Betty D. Boegehold (Ballantine, New York, $9.95 paperback, 345 pp.), provides comprehensive reviews of more than 1,500 titles, along with explanations of child development. The authors are associated with the highly respected Bank Street College of Education.
A Parent's Guide to Reading, by Nancy Larrick (Westminster Press, Philadelphia, 1982, 271 pp.), is a longstanding classic that helps parents introduce reading and books to children. A founder of the International Reading Association, Ms. Larrick offers advice for preschool activities and assures parents that teen-agers can be expected to enjoy reading.
The RIF Guide to Encouraging Young Readers, edited by Ruth Graves (Doubleday, New York, $16.95, 324 pp.), was published last year under the auspices of Reading Is Fundamental, the largest reading-motivation program in the United States. In addition to a comprehensive listing of titles, the guide suggests more than 200 activities that help introduce children to reading.
The Read-Aloud Handbook, revised edition, by Jim Trelease (Viking Penguin, New York, $7.95 paperback, 240 pp.), includes more than 100 new titles from the man who wants to turn every child into a bookworm. Discussions of home-school connections and library strategies for promoting books are lively and well researched.