Let’s face it, folks, there are a lot of kids out there who are read-i-phobic because books are full of words – those squiggly markings on the page that don’t make sense when you’re just starting out to read, and for some kids, don’t make sense even after spending quite a bit of time trying to learn to read. How can you help these kids feel a little less threatened by books?  Here’s one answer:  by selecting books that have something more than just words in them.  In fact, Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences says that there are at least eight different kinds of smart: word smart, picture smart, number/logic smart, body smart, music smart, people smart, self smart, and nature smart.  Book worms display a lot of Word Smart, but what is out there for Body Smart kids, or those whose strengths lay in Music Smart or People Smart?  Here’s a run-down on choosing books for kids of all ages based on their different kinds of smarts.

Picture Smart – Choose pop-up books (example: Bugs: A Stunning Pop-up Look at Insects, Spiders, and Other Creepy-Crawlies by George McGavin (author) and Jim Kay (illustrator) (Candlewick, ages 7 to 10).

Body Smart – Choose books that include something to do with your hands (example: Juggling for the Complete Klutz – (Klutz Press, ages 8+).

Music Smart –  Choose books that include some type of musical instrument that allows your child to play along example: Disney Frozen – Sing-Along Songs! Board Book with Built-In Keyboard Piano  (Phoenix International Publications, ages baby – 6 years).

People Smart – Choose books that involve kids playing games together with the boards, rules, playing pieces, and dice in the book (example: The 15 Greatest Board Games in the World, (Klutz Press, ages 7-10 years).

Self Smart – Choose books that invite kids to think about themselves, what they’re good at, what they want to be etc. (example:  Smarts! Everybody’s Got Them by Thomas Armstrong (Free Spirit Publishing, ages 5-9).

Nature Smart – Choose books with nature themes, especially those that come with seeds and gardening tools  or nature collecting containers (example:  The Bug Book and Bug Bottle by Hugh Danks – Workman Publishing, ages 6-12).

Number/Logic Smart –  Choose books that involve science themes with tools for experimenting (example: Kaleidoscopia! Book and Kit: Everything You Need to Know About Kaleidoscopes (Including How to Make Your Own!) – Workman Publishing Co., ages 9-14).

Word Smart – For the child who has strong oral language but is a reluctant reader choose books that include a recording of the story (example: All The Ways I Love You: Recordable StoryBook, by Theresa Trinder – Hallmark Books, ages baby to six).

Once your child sees that books have something for them that they really like besides words, they’ll develop a book-positive attitude and cultivate a love of books for the rest of their lives!


To learn more about the theory of multiple intelligences and the eight kinds of smart, get my book for parents, In Their Own Way:  Discovering and Encouraging Your Child’s Multiple Intelligences.

photo of book

This page was brought to you by Thomas Armstrong, Ph.D. and www.institute4learning.com.

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About the author

I am the author of 16 books including my latest: The Myth of the ADHD Child: 101 Ways to Improve Your Child's Behavior and Attention Span Without Drugs, Labels, or Coercion (Tarcher-Perigee). http://amzn.to/2ewwfbp.

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