I love curating book lists for kids so much, I've put together over 200 children's book lists. Because of
my obsession this, people often ask me about how to find good children's books. Most of my parent friends confess they choose reading material for their children based almost exclusively on what their child brings home from school, what's displayed prominently on bookstore shelves, or get random suggestions from other moms and dads. While there is nothing wrong with those techniques, there are other methods, too!
Of course you don't have to go out and do lots of research, and you definitely don't have to read every book at the library before handing it to your child, and you could just rely on my book lists! 🙂 But, for those of you who want to learn how find the best children's books on your own, I'm detailing my not-so-secret methods.
Children's Book Awards Lists
Award lists are one of my favorite ways to find good children's books. These books have been vetted by professionals who pay close attention to both what's on the market, and which books will appeal to children, while at the same time focusing on writing and illustration quality. Here are some of my favorite book awards lists for you to bookmark:
U.S. Children's Book Awards
- Boston-Globe Children's Book Award
- American Library Association has a massive list of awards, I will include only a few on this list to keep it under control!
- Pura Belpré Award
- Randolph Caldecott Medal
- Theodor Seuss Geisel Award
- Coretta Scott King Book Awards
- John Newbery Medal
- Schneider Family Book Award
- Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Medal
International Children's Book Awards
- Hans Christian Andersson Award
- Children's Book Council of Australia
- Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award
- Carnegie and Kate Greenway Award
- Jane Addams Children's Book Award
I like to visit professional sites devoted to reviewing and discussing children's literature.
My favorite book review source is Kirkus Reviews. I read every book with a starred book review that I can.
School Library Journal. The SLJ site includes reviews, news and several excellent book blogs.
Common Sense Media. This site has its limitations in that it doesn't have enough books on it for me, but when I want to find out if a book is age appropriate before I take a look, I wander over to Common Sense Media. I will admit, however, to using the site mainly for its movie, rather than its book, reviews. Still, it's a good source of information if you don't want to preview every book your kid reads. (And who can do that, anyway?)
Booklist. You have to have a subscription to get access to all their content, but you can still find many reviews and book lists without one.
Independent bookstores have much, much better curated collections than chain stores, which are often overpopulated with syndicated characters and books which play music. I can't visit bookstores very often due to my intense desire to purchase books, but whenever I do, I always find some little-known (at least to me) gem.
I visit the library, of course! Many people take a look at the "New Books" shelves, but don't forget the librarian display. I always snag books from the display! Attending story time will also introduce you to books librarians know will appeal to children. Those librarians know their books, people.
Library Sharing Websites and Social Media
Occasionally I visit personal library sharing sites like Goodreads or Library Thing. Many readers swear by Goodreads, but I don't use it very much. These websites offer recommendations based on your likes and dislikes, plus you can view lists of what others are reading and read reviews. Here's a list of the Reading Rainbow books on Goodreads!
Instagram is the newest hotbed of gorgeous photos of children's books. I have my own Instagram account, but I don't attempt to take gorgeous photos (I do not have the requisite brain power for that). Still, you can see books I'm reading that haven't yet made it to one of my book lists. After you follow me (of course!) you can poke around and find other book-centered accounts that appeal to you
So that's it folks! Those are my highly classified tips for how to find good children's books. Of course you can simply continue to rely on me to do the heavy listing by bookmarking the index of all my book lists (Did I mention I have over 200 now?), or for chronological browsing, visit my books category archives.
And don't forget to subscribe to our email list and be the first to know about our new Monday book list each week.