Early Literacy Collections

A Parent’s Guide to Library Collections for Youth 


Irving Public Library’s youth collections (also referred to as juvenile or children’s) are divided into collection areas based on the target age of the reader, the number of words in the book, reading level, and/or the subject matter. Items are placed in areas of the collection based on the publisher and author’s intended audience, and review source recommendations. An item’s placement in a collection allows for the organization of resources and provides viewpoint-neutral guidance to users. It is not intended to imply that every item in that collection will be of interest to or relevant to the collection’s intended user. Becoming familiar with the definitions and intended usage of each collection is a good way for parents and caregivers to stay informed and make the best decisions for the child and family in selecting reading material. This page is a guide to the collections intended for early literacy development which provide stepping stones to the love of reading.  

Board Books: BoardBooks

Ages: Infants to age 2 years 

What:  Board books are constructed of heavy cardboard, making them durable, and providing babies/toddlers hands-on experience without worries of tearing pages. The pictures are primary in telling the story and the books usually contain few words.

Why: Board books give caregivers the opportunity to read to the child and/or allow the child to play with the book and “read." They are a first introduction to physical reading skills (fine motor, reading left to right, etc.) and help increase word development.

What parents should know:  While it might seem inviting to use a board book as a toy for a child to play with independently, sharing books with children is the first step to building a lifelong love of reading!

Picture Books:  picture book

Ages: Age 2 years to approximately 3rd grade

What:  Picture books are typically about 32 pages long with illustrations that also tell the story, and in most cases and have about 50 to 1,000 words. These books are often meant to be read aloud while the listener looks over the pictures.

Why: Picture books offer exposure to a high word content (building vocabulary) with the diversity and nuances of language and provide the foundation for a lifelong love of reading.

What parents should know: Picture book topics can serve as an introduction to life lessons and situations that help children navigate their world and new situations. It’s a good idea to skim through the book before reading it to a child to ensure that the language or subjects are appropriate for their attention span or understanding. Not every book will be of interest to every child, and not every subject will align with all family values.

Easy Readers (ALSO called Emerging Reader or Beginning Reader books)beginning readers

Ages: Kindergarten through about 3rd grade  

What: Easy Readers are for children starting to combine letters into words, words into sentences, and sentences into paragraphs. For young readers ready for more advanced reading, this collection also includes beginning chapter books. Such books are characterized by having slightly larger print, more pictures and shorter chapters than books for older readers.

Why: Easy Readers are for children beginning to read on their own. The books have controlled vocabulary and scattered illustrations.

What parents should know:  Moving from picture books to beginning readers before a child is ready to learn how to read can deprive them of the rich language and vocabulary development provided by picture books.

Resources for reviews and information on contents

  • Library Catalog – examine the description of the book, check the attached review sources, review Novelist
  • Read the book and/or the book jacket
  • Ask for assistance at a library service desk
  • Engage with LibChat on the Irving Public Library website
  • Visit free websites that also review the materials/books (sign-up may be required):

Reader perspectives:

Library/Bookstore perspectives:

Parent perspectives:

Library Card Holder options and circulation

Anyone with a library card can check out materials from the library. For a youth to obtain a library card, a parent must bring them into the library and sign for the card. The Irving Public Library’s policy has long been that the library does not operate “in loco parentis,” that is, staff do not employ restrictions and controls that are a parent’s prerogative. Options for parents who would like to be involved in decisions as to what their child reads:

  • Allow the youth to have their own card and insert the parent email in the registration form so that checked out items can be viewed by the parent.
  • Allow the youth to have their own card and record the youth’s account number and PIN to check the youth’s library account.
  • Only obtain one card and use this for the family.