Children have a natural desire to understand the world around them. That's why they're always asking questions. And as much as we might remember what we learned in school, the exact answer to questions like "How many stars are in the sky?" is bound to elude us. If you have good reference books around the house, all you have to say is "Let's look it up."
As your child progresses through school, you'll see a pattern: in kindergarten, it's time to grow seeds; in third grade, it's time to study pilgrims. And there are topics (like the Revolutionary War) that children study several times in their pre-high-school career. Good reference books have a long life. They should help and inspire your children year after year.
Reference books provide more than homework help. They also support your child's hobbies and interests. Children love to be "experts" on the topics they love. Comprehensive books about a particular subject-dinosaurs, for example-can keep young enthusiasts absorbed for hours.
The most important books on your home reference shelf will be the ones that answer the quick questions: "how do you spell..."; "where is ..."; "how heavy is..."; "who was the first..."; etc. Must-have references include:
- a dictionary
- a thesaurus
- homework and research support
You'll be surprised at the wealth of information you can find in these references. We think of dictionaries as the place to find spellings and meanings, but a good children's dictionary also has pictures and diagrams of objects. A good thesaurus not only lists a word's synonyms, but also defines and provides sample sentences for each one. Homework and research references should make it easy for children (and their parents!) to complete homework assignments from start to finish.