We have all grown up with books – and most of us still do a fair bit of reading.

Until around the 15th century, books were handwritten paper manuscripts. Actual book printing spread fast later in that century. This was followed by technical achievements, like the development of offset printing, improving many aspects of book culture. In the late 1990s, the Internet created downloadable electronic books giving readers another option to their reading pleasure.

Where can you find books in New Zealand? : At what age can your child start reading? : How do you choose books? : Useful websites

Where can you find books in NZ?

There are now a wide range of choices available for where to source books,  with each option varying in convenience and cost:


With the large range of potential locations for finding books, one of the best places to start would be your local library. Most books will be freely available, though some libraries do have certain payment systems in place for more recent publications. The benefit of the library is having almost every imaginable book at your fingertips. Great for getting out loads of picture books to read to the kids at night or to find that handy volume that will deal with matters that you just need some assistance with as a parent. Make sure you keep an eye on the due dates though, as the fines can make your visit an expensive one over time.


Bookshops are great for the books you will be using over and over again. To have your own copy is often ideal – building up your own library that you can share with family and friends. Staff in bookshops are often helpful in guiding you around their shops and are most willing to order titles that they haven’t got on the shelf. Keep your eye out for specials – where you can pick up good deals for great prices.

Second Hand Bookshops

Secondhand bookshops can be found in many towns, and are often a superb way of finding an interesting addition to one’s collection. They also provide a good opportunity to trade in those old children’s books in exchange for new reading material. Specialised shops sometimes have sections devoted to first editions, where you can pick up marvelous publications. In recent years the second hand market seems to have transferred to the online world, with a variety of auction sites offering a large variety of titles.

Garage Sales – Book Fairs

Book sales are a great place to pick up some gems that will bring knowledge and joy to you and your children for years to come. Check your local papers on Friday and take the family for a tour around the garage sales on Saturday morning. Give your children some money that they can spend on finding great deals on books they would love to read.

Book Fairs are another way of finding publications for a fraction of their original value. Local papers will often advertise these fairs or you will see signs popping up around town giving you notice in advance.

Online Auction Sites

Online Auction sites, including TradeMe, are ideal for selling and buying your books. There are a large variety of titles to search through, with the listings often describing the condition of the book and showing a picture of the cover. You might want to check the details of the person selling to make sure the copy you receive is going to be in the state as described. As always with these sales, it’s “caveat emptor” (buyer beware).

Book Clubs

Book clubs can be another great place to source your reading material – ensuring your own collection grows over time (and often at a nice discount).

Also you could become part of your own book club. Every night of the week there are groups of people meeting over wine and food comparing and discussing their latest reads. Check out this website about book clubs – with a great section on kids books: http://www.book-club.co.nz/kids.htm

At what age can your child start reading?

Children are never too young to start discovering books. Some parents even read to their children while they are pregnant, getting their unborn child adjusted to their voice.

Introducing books at an early age teaches your kids to appreciate them over the years. It is a good idea to have special books available that can either stand up to the handling of the littlest ones – or are okay to suffer over time…

The age that children start reading varies from child to child. Between the ages of two and three word recognition usually starts and a great way to stimulate reading is to have words placed on objects and areas throughout the house.

Children learn by seeing, doing and hearing. Games combine all three methods and thus are a great way to help with reading. Make it a fun experience that’s shared with the whole family.

Once your child is involved in school you will soon see an increase in their reading abilities. To increase their joy in reading, make joining a library a fun activity. Children will also be more comfortable reading if they are in an environment where books are around them and they see you, as a parent, reading. Have regular family reading times – instead of television or computer games.

It is important to take an interest in what your children are reading and talk about possible book suggestions with other parents. Make sure you enjoy it as much as they do!

It’s never too early to jumpstart a child’s imagination!

How do you choose books?

As parents we want to make sure that we choose books which are appropriate for our children. They must fit the child’s reading age which includes factors such as cognitive development, emotional maturity, and personal interests including subject (information) content.

Books for ages 0 – 3 – Toddlers love picture books, bright, coloured, fun!

Books for ages 3 – 5 – Preschool books, getting your child ready for school.

Books for ages 5 – 7 – Introduction to reading

Books for ages 8+ – Ready to read “everything”!

To help you choose suitable books for your family, we will feature and review books for children of different ages to read, as well as those which can be read by the whole family. Kiwi Families will be covering classics and new releases – and will have regularly updated lists of popular titles for different age groups.

Useful Website:

Gumboot is New Zealand’s newest online book store. With almost 5 million titles, you’re sure to find what you’re looking for!!

Fishpond is New Zealand’s biggest online bookstore with a huge selection of books to choose from.  An easy shopping facility and prompt delivery of books.  You can purchase the majority of the books listed on this site from Fishpond.

The Whitcoulls website has a great archive of resources, with the list of top 50 books for kids being very impressive (created from votes by 40,000 Kiwi kids) A great place to start.

The National Library of New Zealand features “The International Children’s Digital Library (ICDL)”- an online library of children’s books published in many different countries and languages. The books reflect the similarities and differences in cultures, societies, interests, and lifestyles of people from around the world. Choose between recent (since 1970) or earlier books.

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This information was compiled by the Kiwi Families team.

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