Title: What to Read When
Author: Pam Allyn
Publisher: Penguin Group

We all know how important it is to read to your child and, when they’re old enough, encourage them to read on their own; but with so many books out there, it can be a challenge to figure out which ones are going to hold their attention and which will end up collecting dust on the bookshelf. Then there are times that you really need a book to explain a certain concept to your child-like divorce, the birds and the bees, and so on-but you’re just not sure where to turn.

Pam Allyn’s What to Read When is a great resource for helping you build a library full of fun and meaningful books for your child. The book is so much more than a list of other books, as it delves into the importance of reading to or with your child and offers numerous suggestions on how to encourage them from every stage of life. The first major section (after the intro and “landmark books” chapter) covers books in chronological “when” order, starting with great black and white stories to read to your baby and ending with suggestions for kids around age 10.

The second section of  What to Read When is devoted to books that cover specific major topics, like epic journeys, heroes, feelings about school, and even just plain “being silly” books. I turned right to the section about divorce, because even though I’ve been separated from Jacob’s father for over three years, he’s just now starting to have a more difficult time understanding it. Allyn offers a handful of suggestions and explains the key points of each book so I have a better idea of which ones may appeal to Jacob the most.

By incorporating suggestions from other sections, such as separations and loneliness, I can address all of Jake’s current issues through characters in stories. He tends to get the message better when an interesting character presents it than when I try to explain it. He’s just like me in that respect, as books have always been more than just my escape, they’ve been my therapist at times.

Of course, What to Read When  isn’t all about the serious subjects. Like I mentioned earlier, Allyn offers up suggestions for books that are just plain fun and silly as well. The overall result is a resource that will allow you to build a diverse and exciting library that will encourage your child to read and fit just about every mood or interest that they may have.