Posted by: montclairlibrary | March 23, 2021

Finding Children’s Books

Children's books on shelf, photo by Vlad Vasnetsov from Pixabay

A children’s librarian commented the other day that many parents and kids were having trouble finding books to read without the usual option of rummaging through the shelves to find something that inspired them. Until it’s possible to roam the library and see what catches your eye again, here are some ways to find children’s books that your kids will love:

OPL’s Children’s Services Blog
This blog on the OPL website profiles new books and highlights lists of books about timely topics (like holidays and history).

OPL’s Book Me! Service
They may not be sitting behind a desk every day right now, but librarians still love to recommend books! Fill out a form about what you like (and dislike) and a librarian will send you a personalized reading list. Available for adults and teens, too.

Award-winning books & ALSC Notable Children’s Books
The annual list put together by the ALA’s Association for Library Service to Children features “books of especially commendable quality, books that exhibit venturesome creativity, and books of fiction, information, poetry and pictures for all age levels (birth through age 14) that reflect and encourage children’s interests in exemplary ways.” The current year’s Newbery, Caldecott, BelprĂ©, Sibert, Geisel and Batchelder Award and Honor books are automatically added to the list, so you don’t have to search them up separately.

Recommendation Lists
Lots of entities publish lists of recommended reading by age group, from NPR to Common Sense Media to Scholastic to the Children’s Book Council to IndieNext.

Reading by Theme
If you’ve got a kid who’s passionate about a specific topic, from tigers to time travel, themed reading lists are for you. Discover books by topic at places like Reading Rockets, What Do We Do All Day and BookRiot. (From time to time, we publish themed lists for kids, too.)

Read-Alikes and Lexile Scores
Lastly, two more resources that can be useful but require a little more investigation and curation on your part:
Enter the title of a book your child enjoyed at What Should I Read Next and the site will recommend similar books. For example, enter The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan and get a list of other books that match Fantasy Fiction, Fathers and Sons, Greek Mythology and more. Be prepared to weed out things that match on some categories but still aren’t appropriate for your child’s tastes or maturity.

If you know your child’s Lexile score (many schools test for it), you can look up books at their level on the Lexile website, although sometimes it can be hard to find books that match their interests, even if the level is right. For example, middle schoolers with high Lexile scores still might not be interested in reading Machiavelli’s The Prince or Locke’s Second Treatise of Civil Government, even if they’re technically able to comprehend it.

When viewing kids’ books in the OPL catalog, if you scroll down to the bottom of the book listing you’ll also see the book’s Lexile score and recommended grade level (the “Accelerated Reader” level) and you can browse by either of these criteria.

Screenshot of Lexile Measure and Accelerated Reader Level info in the OPL catalog

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