17 Ways to Find Your Child's Next Book

Hello parents!

We all know that reading is important. And up until a certain point, you're the one choosing the books for your child to read.

My oldest son is seven years old. That's seven years of choosing books for a child, though of course he chooses some of his own as well. I have another son who is five, and my youngest daughter is only two. I've got years and years of children's literature in my future (Hooray!). How do I find new books for my kids to read? I've put together a list of 17 strategies that help me find the next book, and I hope you like it.

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17 ways to find your child's next book:

  1. Recommendation from a friend - I love taking recommendations from friends because when I do I know I have someone to talk to about the book. Half of the time I can borrow the book from the friend and don't have to worry about a library due date.
  2. Comb the library shelves - Just today Jubilee and I did this. We started out looking for a specific book, but it wasn't there. So we just picked some nearby books that looked like winners.
  3. Ask a librarian - I don't know why I don't do this more often! Maybe it's because my local library is realy good about putting out displays of new books and librarian favorites, so it's easy to find these without asking. Anyway, every time I've asked a librarian for a recommendation it's been a good one.
  4. Check a book blog - I love getting recommendations from the blogs I follow. But obviously I don't find many recommendations on my own blog. I hope you do! If your crowd is young, Janssen gives great picture book recommendations. If your kids are ready for meatier books, I really like the read-aloud and chapter book recommendations that Amy gives. If you're looking for more YA, definitely check out Melissa's recommendations.
  5. NYT bestseller list - I like encouraging my kids to read what others are reading when appropriate, because I like the idea of our common culture being built on good books.
  6. Indie Next List - If you haven't heard of this list, check it out! It's billed as "inspired recommendations for Kids from Indie Booksellers. When I go into bookstores I often see a copy of this lying on the counter and take a minute to glance at it. I've come to trust the recommendations.
  7. Cybils book lists - You know I look at these all the time! I help to make them, and I love it. Every book that makes it onto a Cybils shortlist or winners list has been extensively discussed by kidlit bloggers and is high in both kid appeal and literary merit.
  8. Grab from a display at the library (or bookstore) - I mentioned library displays before. The fact is that professionals who deal with books all day know their stuff, and they do put thought and heart into their displays.
  9. Niche book awards - I didn't realize how many book awards there were, back when I was a kid. Now I know there are state awards, library association awards, booksellers awards, and more. There are awards for audiobooks and for mysteries, for graphic novels and for books by debut authors. If you're looking for something that meets some specific criteria, look into the book award for that criteria.
  10. Use the author - This is totally basic but I can't believe how often it is overlooked. When I love a book, I take note of who the author is and make sure we find more by that author.
  11. Use the publisher - Less basic. When I find I love I book, I sometimes note the publisher of the book and find more recommendations that way. The publisher is usually on the spine of the book, along with the author. It's definitely going to be on the copyright page. When I first started reading graphic novels, I started to notice that a lot of my favorites were published by an imprint called First Second. This year marks their tenth anniversary. Congratulations guys! You distribute great books! I have loads of other publishers and imprints (divisions of publishers), I'd love to talk about if y'all are interested.
  12. Browse Amazon - Amazon has it's pros and cons. (One of it's biggest cons being that it plays dirty with publishers who don't agree with its terms: see here.) But let's be real, its "Customers who bought this item also bought" feature is pretty good. I just got, like, 5 ideas from looking at Ella Enchanted.
  13. Your childhood favorite - I own some of my childhood favorites, but not all of them. And it is surprisingly pleasurable to give my kids a book that I loved when I was younger, have them read it and tell me about it and relive it through them. Same goes for reading them picture books that I loved. I highly recommend this tactic.
  14. Ask a teacher - Who checks the reading logs of all the kids in your child's grade? Who knows a bunch of age appropriate books for all reading levels, without even having to think about it? That's right. Ask a teacher.
  15. Ask a bookseller - If you forgot to ask a teacher before you went to the bookstore, definitely ask a bookseller. They're so conveniently near when you're in a bookstore. And their eyes just light up when they realize you're asking for a recommendation and not directions to the restroom.
  16. Let 'em loose at the thrift store - Kids really do love picking books out themselves, don't they? It seems like mine always find something to interest them when we go to a thrift store book section, and I don't mind a bit, because the price is right.
  17. Author who blurbed a favorite book - If you've exhausted option #10, look at the back of one of your favorite books and see who blurbed it. (The blurb is the short endorsement of the book on the back jacket, or in the front few pages.) Many times publishers get other noteworthy authors in the genre to write these blurbs. Pick one of these other authors and voila! You've got another body of work to read. 
Which of these methods is new for you?

I admit that I plan to look back at this list myself when I run into a dry spell with choosing books. It happens to the best of us, but now I have all my best ideas in a convenient list. I'm not lying when I say I'm going to have to Pin this.

~ Alysa


  1. This should be published and put in libraries and schools where parents can get it. Book fairs and bookstores should have flyers out, too.

    1. Thanks! That's a great compliment! Maybe I can make a printable version, to distribute.

  2. You could even do a version for students without the parent part. How to find your next book.


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