Where to Find a Good Children's Book
Oct 27, 2014
A couple of years ago, I wrote a post about where I went for book recommendations. I thought about that post recently and realized that, while some of it is still current (I still rely heavily on the library catalog, award lists, and book lists for new ideas), the blog section is woefully out of date.
The only two from that list that I still check with any sort of regularity are No Time For Flashcards (where I usually head when I'm planning out a preschool lesson and want a book to match a specific theme) and Everyday Reading (a blog I obsessively follow--Janssen's recent Summer Unplugged series was chock-full of new ideas for books we'd never read).
So yes, I thought it was high time to update my list and spill all of my book-finding secrets.
But first, I just have to say that the book lists that often get the most attention on Pinterest and the web are usually not the most helpful for new ideas. In my experience, those lists of 101 Best Books of All Time are usually a) made up of the same 101 classics that have been praised and mentioned for the past 25 years (classics? yes, read them; new ideas? not so much) or b) recommended without ever having been read by the person recommending them.
If you feel like you keep running into the same recommendations, I would definitely start following some of these blogs. You won't be disappointed.
1. What Do We Do All Day
I've lost count of how many times I've mentioned Erica's blog (but hint: it's a lot), but this list would be incomplete without her blog on it. If you're a fan of the list format, Erica's the book blogger for you. She has lists on Books to Inspire Artistic Creativity, Science Fiction Picture Books, and almost any other subject you can imagine. She also highlights her favorite new books from the current year (usually in quarterly installments) and (one of my favorite things) she features lesser known books from decades past. But the best thing of all? She only recommends books she has already read and loved with her two boys, so you know they're going to be good.
2. This Picture Book Life
Danielle's blog is eye candy for picture book lovers. Seriously. Go ahead, click over, and you'll see what I mean. She does a regular book pairing series (basically a list of books on a certain subject) as well as talks about the life and work of various picture book authors. She knows how to present picture books as their own art form, and I always find good ideas when I scroll through her posts.
3. Growing Book by Book
Jodie's blog is a great resource, not only for finding new picture books, but also for book extension activities and crafts. (Also, her facebook page is a wealth of current literacy ideas of all kinds.)
4. The Picture Book Review
I used to look at this blog all the time, and then there was a period of several months without any new posts. But, I'm happy to say, since the spring of this year, Tiffa's been posting regularly once more. Her reviews follow a very structured format, which makes them really easy to read and glean the essential bits from. Plus, she always links to other reviews of the book, and I love being able to find them all in one easy spot. (Also, check out her list of favorite Halloween books for a timely read.)
5. Read-Aloud Revival
I was not a podcast listener until a couple of months ago. But when I found the Read Aloud Revival podcast, I was instantly hooked. Sarah McKenzie talks to educators, parents, and authors about the benefits of reading aloud and how to build your family's culture around books. (Basically, she's a kindred spirit from afar). I can't listen to an episode without feeling rejuvenated and inspired (which can be a bad thing if I'm listening at 10:30 pm--it makes it REALLY difficult to fall asleep.) Sarah is well-spoken and engaging and relatable, and I always get fantastic ideas for new books to read. My favorite two episodes so far are with Ken Ludwig and Alice Ozma.
6. A Fuse #8 Production
Betsy Bird is the New York Public Library’s Youth Materials Collections Specialist. She regularly reviews picture books (usually new ones), has written her own picture book, and is a great source for interesting book news. Her writing is engaging and witty, and I'm dying for the day when I can go to New York and hear her speak.
7. J House Vlogs
My good friend, Kendra, recently started a daily vlog with her family. As part of that, she has, what I think is going to be, a regular feature showcasing their favorite finds at the library. There are only two library episodes so far, but this is definitely one I'll be keeping my eye on. Kendra has excellent taste in books, and I trust her recommendations completely. (Plus, she has four kids--almost all the same ages as mine--so we are at a similar place where kid's lit is concerned.)
8. Jen Robinson's Book Page
Jen is a voracious reader (seriously, I don't know how she gets through so many books), and her thoughts are both insightful and honest. Another perk is that she's not limited to just picture books but explores a wide range of levels and genres.
Of course, I haven't even mentioned where I go for middle grade and adult recommendations (I have many sources for those too!), nor did I talk about any of my favorite blogs in general (because, believe it or not, on occasion I do read about things not related to books). I'll save those for another day.
And now it's your turn! Where do YOU go for tried and true book recommendations?