Awhile back, I was wandering through the juvenile department of my library, just minding my own business and perusing the selection when I overheard a mom and her daughter who were having some trouble. Mom had a reading list in her hand. Daughter looked supremely bored.
Mom: Oh, look. Here’s one from your list. (picks up Shannon Hale’s Princess Academy)
Me: (gushes) Oh, that’s such a great book! It’s one of my favorites!
I smiled, waiting for the oh-good-there’s-someone-who-can-help-us look. Instead, I got a face full of skepticism, then frank suspicion: the what-do-you-mean-it’s-one-of-YOUR-favorites look. Otherwise known as the why-are-you-lurking-in-the-kids’-section-you-pervert look. It was the first (and hopefully last) time I’d seen that particular expression. Then and there, it occurred to me: I needed a better way of finding good books to read. So I did some research, talked to some media specialist friends, and came up with a list of resources on locating good literature for kids.
· The library and local bookstore. Great resources—if you can hang out there without looking like a psycho.
· The ALA website, a wonderful resource if you’re looking for literary or award-winning books. It’s kind of a busy site, but the link takes you to a list of notable books from 2008. It’s broken down into age categories and lists tons of books that librarians and other specialists have identified as “the best in children’s books” and includes award-winning books for the year. There’s also a link at the top of the page for Past Notable Children’s Book Lists, in case you’re worried about ever running out of books to read.
· Cool-Reads. This site was designed and run by two teenage boys. It’s a collection of reviews for YA books by YA readers around the world. The site is no longer active, since the original creators passed out of the 10-15-year-old age range, but it still contains a wealth of information on books for teens through 2004.
· The BookHive. This site is run by children’s librarians and specialists. You can search for books by author, title, reading level, interest area, number of pages, and even favorite illustrator. Books are reviewed by media specialists and occasionally recommended by children.
· Series Binder. Created by librarians, this site offers a listing of books in a series, so readers can find series of interest and read the books in their correct chronological order.
· The Children’s Book Council. The site as a whole is a massive resource for children’s authors, but this particular link takes you to the Reading Lists page. Here you’ll find many interesting lists, including Graphic Novels for Young Readers, 75 Authors and Illustrators Everyone Should Know, and Books to Grow On (classic books for ages 0-3). One list I’d like to specifically point out is Hot Off the Press. This bibliography comes out monthly and features anticipated bestsellers in the children’s market, both recently-published and forthcoming. This is a good resource if you want to know what’s new and potentially hot.