Secret to picking best books for kids

I’m going to let you in on a secret. And it’s a biggie. Getting kids to read is simple, really. Astonishingly so, in fact. And I am going to share it with you, now.

Ready? You have to pick the right books.

Books they’ll enjoy. Books at their reading level. Books that cater to their interests, not yours.

I know that’s hard to do! How many times have I caught myself saying: You’ll LOVE this book, it was my favorite when I was your age! Only to have them gawk at the cover or title, read the summary and say ‘Puulllease, mom’. Ok, so maybe some of Judy Blumes titles aren’t ideal for my two tween boys…

So how does one help a possibly reluctant reader pick a book he or she won’t want to put down? Here are my top tried and tested, sure-fire ways to get your kids reading:

  1. Reading-Rewards.com (Book Recommendations tab) Well, you had to know I’d tell you to check out Reading Rewards, right? But I bet you didn’t know that beyond being a really cool online reading log and earning rewards, there’s a Book Recommendations tab that’s full of great reading suggestions. Here’s what you’ll find:
    • Most Popular Books on Reading Rewards, as logged by our almost 5,000 users. Click through to read member reviews!
    • Books members liked: This tab allows you to make selections by age and gender, and see what members like you have enjoyed. A random selection, but you may find some great surprises! Click through to get a synopsis and reader reviews.
    • Books my friends are reading: If you’ve connected to friends on Reading Rewards, click here to see what they are currently reading. My boys tend to enjoy a lot of the same books their friends do, so this is one we check a lot.
    • Similar to me! Give this tab a bit of time to gather it’s results, but it’s a good one. We’ll search through our members’ libraries, and see if any match yours on at least a couple of books. See what else they’ve read and enjoyed for some great recommendations!
  2. Your librarian. Best books for kidsNothing beats a good librarian for great book recommendations. I’ve spent hours Googling and Binging, compiling annotated book lists, only to walk into my local library, ask a few questions, and get some GREAT suggestions. Our librarian asked me a little bit about my son, his interests, the kinds of books he’s enjoyed, and rattled off a ton of titles and explained why she thought he’d enjoy them. Not only was it a lot quicker than all the Internet searching I’d been doing, but it was so nice to actually speak to somebody so knowledgeable who cared about my son’s reading.
  3. Pam Allyn’s Best Books for Boys. Pam Allyn is the Executive Director and Best books for boysfounder of LitWorld, a global organization advocating for children’s rights as readers, writers and learners. She has recently written and released a fabulous resource for parents and teachers, called Pam Allyn’s Best Books for Boys. I recently reviewed the book, and highly recommend it if you have any reluctant reader boys. The annotated book list at the end is where she offers up fantastic book recommendations that won’t miss.
  4. StorySnoops. Created by moms, StorySnoops offers children’s book reviews from a parent’s perspectiveStorysnoops. Search options allow you to find great books based on child’s age and gender, book genre, author, title and much more. Or pick from their ready-made lists (tweens, teens, animal lovers, etc). This site is just fab!
  5. Kidlit bloggers. It’s hard work sorting through all the great blogs that deal with kids’ book reviews and recommendations. You might have your favorites, but here are some you should definitely check out:
    • Read Aloud Dad. Specializes in (you guessed it) read alouds with younger children. He is inspiring, has a great blogging ‘voice’, and hasn’t steered me wrong with my daughter yet.
    • The Children’s Book Review . Named one of the ALSC (Association for Library Service to Children) Great Web Sites for Kids, this website is full of great reading-related resources. Select books by age or category, you’ll be sure to find something your kids will love.
    • The Book Chook. One of my favorite kidlit bloggers, Susan’s blog not only has great book reviews, but lots of literacy and learning ideas you’ll want to try out.
    • Jen Robinson’s Book Page. An active member of the kidlit community, Jen’s blog is full of great book reviews. She also publishes a weekly newsletter that is definitely worth signing up for.
  6. ALA Lists/Notables. The American Library Association hands out its prestigious Newbery, Caldecott, Coretta Scott King and many other awards every year. You can find them on the ALA Website, but we’ve also compiled them on our Book Recommendations tab. Just choose the award you’re interested in to get the full list.
  7. Lexile Framework for Reading. One of the things that might be hampering Choose books by lexile levelyour kids’ reading pleasure is that you’re choosing books that are simply too difficult. This website allows you to enter a Lexile measure, select interests, and find books they’ll not only like, but be confortable reading.  Tools help you out if you don’t know what your child’s Lexile measure is. An absolutely great find!
  8. Reading Rockets. Reading Rockets is a national multimedia project offering information and resources on how young kids learn to read, why so many struggle, and how caring adults can help.
  9. Children’s Choice Book Awards. The name says it all! Kids’ favorites, in several different categories, sponsored by the Children’s Book Council.
  10. Your kids’ friends! Friends will often share many of the same interests, and may possibly enjoy many of the same books. Get your kids to ask their friends what they’re reading and enjoying, not only for some great recommendations, but it could also stir up some great conversations about their books. Asking his friend was how my son discovered the Percy Jackson series, the first set of books that really got him hooked. Hard to beat that!

Do you have any suggestions for finding great books for your kids? I’d definitely love to hear them!

Happy Reading,

Michelle