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Are you and your child frustrated with trying to chose books from a list of recommended titles? First, find a reviewer who suggests a book you both like, then see what else that author recommends. We think these are the best guides available on Amazon or Abebooks, each quite different. Look through to find one that fits your family. 

    Basic Guides          More About Children's Literature          Specialized Booklists    

    Good Old Booklists                     Online Book Reviews    

Reading Together by FrankensteinThe Best  Book to Begin With!

Reading Together: Everything You Need to Know to Raise a Child Who Loves to Read  by Diane Waxer Frankenstein (2009) THE perfect New Baby Gift! A well-loved book by an authority in family reading and children. 100 books, well described, followed by ways for a parent (or teacher) to interact with the child as he reads or you read aloud. If a parent started out with this book, they would be all set to choose books from the lists below. 

 

Basic Guides

 

Essential Guide To Children's Books by SilveyThe Essential Guide to Children's Books and Their Creators by Anita Silvey (2002) Good reading!  A book list followed by a well chosen series of short entries on books authors and genres, by a former editor of the Hornbook and an authority on children's literature.   A reference resource as well as a read aloud book, which your older homeschooler might enjoy.
Read-Aloud Handbook by TreleaseThe Read-Aloud Handbook: Eighth Edition, Edited and revised by Cyndi Giorgis, includes a giant treasure of Great Read-Aloud Books. A 2019 version of this well loved book with excellent advice about bringing children and books together and reading aloud with children. Trelease presents comments on selected books, which include clusters of related titles. A classic. (the image is from the sixth edition, the new one is very cheerful)

 

More About Children's Literature

Also see the Collector's Corner on this site.

 

A Family of Readers by SuttonA Family of Readers: The Book Lover's Guide to Children's and Young Adult Literature by Roger Sutton and Martha Parravano. (2010) Reprinted 2011 with more child friendly cover illustration. Although this book mentions hundreds of children's books along the way, it is really a book about modern children's literature, rather than a Guide. Sutton edits the Horn Book.

See also our Books for Collectors for A Beginning Children's Book Reference Library for under $25.00 +Shipping. And other books suggested on the Collector's List.

 

Specialized Booklists

 

Book Fiesta by Pat MoraBook Fiesta!: Celebrate Children's Day/Book Day; Celebremos El dia de los ninos/El dia de los libros by Pat Mora, illustrated by Rafael Lopez. Written in Spanish and English for Dia, Children's Book Day, which falls on the same day as Mexico's Day of the Child.  Not really a booklist, but an inspiration, which I came across while looking for a book of Latino children's books. Written by one of our favorite authors, with beautiful illustrations and a rainbow of little children reading books. Mora and Lopez have also collaborated on Yum! Mmmm! Que Rico! Americas' Sproutings , a vibrant picture book about foods native to the Americas. What a treat!  Take a look at Pat Mora's webpages . . 
Books That Build Character by KilpatrickBooks That Build Character: A Guide to Teaching Your Child Moral Values Through Stories by William Kirkpatrick,  Gregory Wolfe, Susanne Wolfe, Robert Coles (1994) A new copy of a wonderful older book that stays in print, used copies easy to find. Not nearly as didactic as the title sounds, an excellent list of literature, well described, that takes the ethical concerns and questions of children seriously. Look for ex-library copies of these books, they are classic and by now some are collectible.
With a preface by Robert Coles.
Black Books Galore!: Guide to More Great African American Children's Books by Donna Rand (2001) Written by parents, for parents, with extensive lists and cross references. The authors organized Book Fairs across the country, and these books come from their own family experiences and their experience with children and parents. There is also a 1998 book with additional listings, and one for Girls (2001) and Boys (2000). An updated version would be welcome but there is a lot here to get started on.
1001 Children's Books You Must Read Before You Grow Up by Eccleshare1001 Children's Books You Must Read Before You Grow Up by Julia Eccleshare (2009) If you and your children are ready for some new book adventures, this English book will be just right. International in scope, and some are untranslated European languages but there are plenty left. s
1001 libros infantiles que hay que leer antes de crecer (Spanish Edition) Included are books from Spain and Latin America. However, for North Americans, this doesn't have enough listings of the many beautiful Latino/Chicano books that have been published in the last 20 years. I do not know if this is just a translation or a reconceived book. 
Best Jewish Books for Children and Teens (Jps Guide) by Linda R. Silver (2010) Eleven chapters recommending fiction and nonfiction, each with an introduction clearly stating Silver's criteria for book selection: Jewish Rites and Customs, Holidays, The Bible (collections and individual stories), Folklore, History, Immigrant Life, The Holocaust and World War II, Israel and Zionism, Contemporary Issues, Famous Jews, Judaism and Other Religions. National Jewish Book and Sydney Taylor Award winner Lists, Recommended Reading Levels for all books, Title, Author, Illustrator, and Subject indexes. Intelligent, well-written, selective reviews,  a perfect present for a young Jewish family and also very useful for parents of different faiths, and for teachers of children and teens.
Honey for a Child's Heart by Gladys Hunt. (2002) A well-loved book from a conservative Christian family perspective, but with many listings that all will enjoy. Hunt has also written similar books for different age groups. Honey for a Teenager's Heart, etc. 

 

Good Old Booklists
These books can be purchased directly from Amazon in new condition. You can also find some of the books below second-hand. If you are going to spend more than a few dollars on a used book, check www.abebooks.com as well, as their descriptions are more detailed and it's easier to contact the seller.

Choosing Books for Children: A COMMONSENSE GUIDE by Betsy Hearne and Deborah Stevenson (2000) Very parent friendly and one of our favorites but sadly not updated. 
 
NY Times Parent's Guide to the Best Books for ChildrenThe New York Times Parent's Guide to the Best Books for Children: 3rd Edition Revised and Updated by Eden Ross Lipson (2000) A very useful book with wide margins for notes. Well indexed by Titles, Authors, Illustrators, Age Appropriateness, Read-aloud, and Special Subject. All in all a knowlegeable selection of basic books, 1001 from the 20th c, which you could also buy used and supplement with the internet. again, this begs to be updated!.
The World of Children's Books by Michele LandsbergMIchele Landsberg
Literate. Opinionated. A treasury of more than 350 great children's books and a beautifully written essay and guide by a Canadian critic who knows her books well and holds passionate convictions about children's literature. It's one I always pick up for a dollar to slip into a customer's package. Published under three titles: The World of Children's Books: A Guide to Choosing the Best. (1990) Reading for the Love of It: Best Books for Young Readers (1987) Michele Landsberg's Guide to Children's Books (3rd edition, 1986) 

 

Online Book Reviews

Use these with the second hand copies of the older books above and you'll have a great homemade guide!

link to hornbook newsletterNotes from the Horn Book, a free monthly electronic magazine, is  "perfect for parents and anyone else who is looking for good new books for children and teenagers. Each monthly issue features interviews with leading writers and illustrators, brief recommendations of noteworthy titles, and the latest news from the children's book world. It's written and published by Horn Book editors, the most trusted authorities in the field."

Indiebound  Indibound, a Google supported online association of independent booksellers, replaced Book Sense in 2008. Through them you can order most books from these lists. For the most current children's books! A list of the bestsellers at independent booksellers sold during the last week!  (scroll down) Also, the Indiebound list of recommended children's books by booksellers during the year, IndieNext which comes out in the spring and fall.

Chinaberry This catalogue, which amounted to a free magazine, has been through some changes. If you can find a stash of them, you are in luck. Chinaberry had excellent selections and reviews. You might also enjoy their thoughtful book, Under the Chinaberry Tree, Books and Inspirations for Mindful Parenting (2002). Mostly addresses picture books, many more appealing to little girls.

The Horn Book Magazine, launched in 1924: "independent, opinionated, and stylish, The Horn Book Magazine has long been essential for everyone who cares about children's and young adult literature. Our articles are lively, our reviews are insightful, our editorials are always sharp. We have gathered current and archival material to give you a taste of what we've been offering since 1924. Dig in", Lots of current and older reviews. A subscription to the Horn Books really makes you part of history. Discounted subscriptions to both the Magazine and the Guide are available.

For teacher groups, schools, and librarians,  Its sister publication, The Horn Book Guide, is strictly reviews — a concise, authoritative, and ingeniously indexed publication that critiques and ranks more than 2,000 books in each semi-annual issue. The Horn Book Guide Online contains "more than 80,000 authoritative, concise, and fully searchable reviews — nearly twenty years of the best, the worst, and everything else in children's and young adult publishing — are a click away. Individual subscriptions start at just $7 for 7 days. Multi-user subscriptions are available."

Links to Children's Literature sites
There are so many of these out there! To get started, explore the links listed on our Booklinks for Collectors