Selection and Censorship
There are some outstanding books being published for youth. However, there are also many awful works. How do you decide what to select? Short (2014, 5) suggests that
“Quality in writing and illustration has to do with originality and importance of ideas, imaginative use of language and image, and beauty of literary and artistic style that enable a work to remain fresh, interesting, and meaningful for many years. The best children's books offer readers enjoyment as well as memorable characters and situations and valuable insights into the human condition. These books have permanent value and stay in our memory.”
Short’s description of “quality” is excellent, however it’s not the only factor in choosing books for children and young adults. Each reader comes to a book with different interests and expectations. While some young adults will love a classic like The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton or A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle, others will find them boring and dated. Although adults may find the Nate the Great books by Marjorie Sharmat predictable, they’re perfect for a second grader who has just discovered a passion for mysteries.
Book Reviews and You
The book was really a “page turner”.
I laughed and I cry as I read this book.
The conversational approach engaged me from beginning to end.
Book reviewers often comment on the overall impact of a book. In most cases, they’re simply conveying the idea that the book was well-written and had an emotional impact. It’s important to understand this balance of quality writing and emotional response.
Some books are a joy to read. The author’s use of words match perfectly with the tone of the book. Every piece of dialog propels the story forward and each descriptive passage reinforces the emotion of the moment. The characters come alive, the setting is vivid, and the plot moves quickly. Time flies by as the words and reader become one.
Unfortunately in other situations, the words on the page lack power. The analogies and metaphors seem overworked, the dialogue sounds fake, and the descriptions feel like they are filled with words from a thesaurus. The reader begins to scan rather than read or sits the book down never to return.
Read Tunnell, Michael O., Jacobs, James S., Young, Terrell A., & Bryan, Gregory (2012). Chapter 3: How to Recognize a Well-Written Book. Children’s Literature, Briefly. Fifth Edition. Pearson.
Read the book review for Boom, Snot, Twitty by Doreen Cronin, the book review for Mark of the Dragonfly by Jaleigh Johnson, and the book review for Big Fast Disaster by Beth Fehlbaum. For each, pick out a few key words that you thought were an interesting way to describe the book.
Go to the Kirkus Review for Children and Teens. Pay particular attention to books that contain The Kirkus Star. Look at the words and analogies they use to describe books.
The Difficulty of Selection
You’ll find lots of guidelines and criteria for selecting books for youth. Unfortunately, it’s much more difficult than it sounds for a number of reasons.
First, there’s the issue of librarian preferences. Of course, we’re supposed to leave our personal feelings out of the equation, but this can be difficult. We tend to carefully nurture those areas of the collection connected with our personal interests.
If you have a hard time getting excited about school stories or dragon tales, you don’t want your collection to reflect your lack of enthusiasm. Some children are enthralled by dragons and you need to be able to encourage that young reader.
According to Bilalic and McLeod (2014, 75) in Scientific American, "while we are working through a problem, the brain's tendency to stick with familiar ideas can literally blind us to superior solutions." Librarians spend their careers identifying and categorizing great books in their minds. It's easy to rely on personal favorites and overlook new and powerful options. For instance, steampunk is a relatively new sub-genre that you probably didn't read as a child. For some youth, it provides a wonderful bridge to related genre like fantasy and historical fiction. Your "tried and true" favorites may block better choices.
A second issue is literary quality. You’ve already been bombarded by lists of award winning books. However just because it’s won an award doesn’t mean that a book will fly off the shelf. Unless a tween is “required” to read a Newbery medal or honor book, he or she might never read a book that’s been praised as having the highest literary quality.
On the other hand, some award winners are wonderful works that are easy to match with youth readers. The key is not to pressure youth into reading “quality literature.” Instead, find quality works that connect with youth interests. It’s not possible to purchase every “starred-review” book. Instead, think about your audience and their needs. Books like Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko, The Tale of Despersaux: Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup, and a Spool of Thread by Kate DiCamillo, The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer, and Hoot by Carl Hiaasen are all examples of popular Newbery awards books. The book Holes by Louis Sachar is perfect for a child seeking adventure and Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine will engage a child who loves the world of princesses.
Regardless of whether a book has won literary awards, it should have an engaging theme, characters, plot, setting, and style. A well-crafted story is the foundation of a quality work.
Keep in mind that everyone doesn’t always agree when it comes to quality work. While one reader may find the characters in The Fault in Our Stars by John Green "relatable", "haunting", "funny" and "realistic" another may find them "pretentious", "obnoxious", "annoying" and "unbelievable". These are actual words drawn from Amazon reviews for this book. You may wonder if these people reading the same book! With more than 10,000 reviews, more than 85% gave the book 5 stars. Personally, I gave the book 5 stars, however there are always going to be people who dislike even highly rated books.
A third consideration is popularity. It really comes down to personal preference and tastes.
Children will find books about their favorite Disney characters fascinating. Leveled reading books for young readers based on the movie Frozen are flying off the shelf. Preteens and teens are on the “dystopian literature” bandwagon reading and re-reading their favorite series like Hunger Games. Goofy picture books like The Day the Crayon Quit by Oliver Jeffers will always be a draw. You may or may not love books about vampires, but there’s no debate that they circulate! Get to know the themes will will attract young readers. Books like the Wimpy Kid series and Percy Jackson and the Olympians series may be the first step toward life long reading.
Remember that young people generally connect with books they can related to on some level. It’s one reason that males tend to choose books that have a male protagonist and city kids choose urban themes. Kids are literally “coming-of-age,” so books that involve the obstacles facing young adults are likely to be popular along with school stories and tales of friendship.
Your job is to create a balanced collection. It’s great when a quality work is also popular, however this isn’t always the case. It’s important to purchase highly reviewed award winning titles. Then, think of ways to market them to readers. Teens who enjoy books about World War II will enjoy award winners like Postcards from No Man’s Land (1999) by Aidan Chambers or Code Name Verity (2012) by Elizabeth E. Wein. It’s your job to be sure they’re in the mix when you recommend books.
Tunnell (2012) suggests looking at both the literary merit of the book along with reader response. The easiest selections are those that have high literary merit along with positive reader response.
What makes a good book? It can vary from genre to genre. However there are basic elements that are the same regardless of whether you're seeking a great mystery or an authentic work of historical fiction.
Read one of the following articles in the "what makes a good..." series:
Burkam, Anita L. (January/February 2014). What makes a good horse book? Horn Book, 60-65.
Ribay, Randy (November/December 2013). What makes a good YA urban novel? Horn Book. 48-53.
Barthelmess, Thom (September/October 2013). What makes a good picture book about loss? Horn Book, 56-62.
Gershowitz, Elissa (July/August 2013). What makes a good "bad" book? Horn Book, 84-91.
Smith, Rachel L. & Hedeen, Katrina (May/June 2013). What makes a good YA love story? Horn Book, 48-54.
Gross, Claire (March/April 2013). What makes a good coming-out novel? Horn Book, 64-70.
Spisak, April (May/June 2012). What makes a good dystopian novel? Horn Book, 55-60.
Bircher, Katie (March/April 2012). What makes a good picture book app? Horn Book, 72-78.
Using these articles as a model, think about an article you would write about another type of book. What makes a great steampunk book? What about a good social problem book?
No longer do librarians need to simply choose between hardcover or paperback editions. Today, you may also have the choice of e-books, audiobooks, enhanced versions, app versions, movie videos, and transmedia experiences.
War Horse for iPad (shown on right) from TouchPress provides an interactive reading experience. This enriched reading experience includes an audiobook, musical performance, expert interviews, and an interactive time.
When selecting materials for a library collection aimed at youth, the topic of developmental appropriateness should always been considered. Although the developmental levels of youth are fairly straight-forward, the term “appropriate” can be difficult to define.
Reading level should be something on the mind of youth librarians. Elementary media specialists must meet the needs of children from the pre-K reading level through eighth grade and possibly beyond. In addition, middle and high school librarians need to keep in mind that many youth read below their grade level. Books known as “hi-lo” provide high interest for older youth with a low reading level to meet their reading skill.
Although many fourth graders are able to read at the high school level they may not have the maturity to understand what they are reading. The book The Giver (1993) by Lois Lowry is a classic example. Although many third graders possess the skills to read the book, the dark, dystopian themes are more developmentally appropriate for sixth or seventh graders.
Stoodt (1996) identified three categories of criteria associated with the selection of children’s literature.
Work-centered criteria. Focuses on the use of award winning books, recommended reading lists, and professional evaluations.
Child-centered criteria. Stresses children’s interests and choices.
Issues-centered criteria. Explores topics related to race, ethic, and gender issues.
Sensitive Selection Issues
It’s easy for library collections to come alive from dedicated librarians. Although we call them “our” collections, they really belong to our library users. Marilyn Irwin (2013) notes
“You may not have realized it yet, but librarians do hold a considerable amount of power. You decide whose voice, culture, and experiences will be represented in your collection. When I say ‘your collection’, I mean the collection for which you are responsible. It is really your patrons’ collection and should serve their needs. As librarians, we need to ensure that considerations are given toward gender, ethnicity, sexual identity, language, and religious and political beliefs.”
Some librarians have a difficult time dealing with materials that address sensitive issues such as abortion, incest, and violence. Many of our young people face these issues every day. It’s important that their perspectives are represented and that the collect reflect the needs and interests of all our users regardless of our personal views. Again, Marilyn Irwin (2013) addressed this concern
“I remember a conversation by a group of young adult librarians about Francesca Lia Block’s book, Wasteland. The story is about a teenage girl who is coping with the death of her brother with whom she had an incestuous relationship. Many of the librarians admitted that they would not select this book for their collection, even though it had been given good reviews, but then one librarian said, ‘What about the kids who can relate to this? Don’t we need to have this book in our libraries?’”
Many libraries maintain a list of books on sensitive topics to help parents and teachers identify quality works for youth.
Go to the Allen County Public Library’s Parents’ Primer page. Notice their list of topics. Spend some time exploring topics in one of these areas. Create your own list of topics that could be added to a page like this.
Selection and Censorship
Librarians and libraries have an important responsibility to provide information representing a variety of viewpoints. Providing open access to information conflicts with the mission of some groups who wish to regulate what people read, watch, and hear. These groups may pressure you to restrict access to information they find offensive or contrary to their beliefs.
Submitting to censorship is to enter the seductive world of 'The Giver': the world where there are no bad words and no bad deeds. But it is also the world where choice has been taken away and reality distorted. And that is the most dangerous world of all. - Lois Lowry, author of "The Giver"
The American Library Association is very concerned about censorship. You should already be familiar with the Library Bill of Rights. ALA’s Office of Intellectual Freedom provides a wealth of information to support librarians who face challenges. They also have great resources related to banned books and challenged materials.
Browse the Intellectual Freedom Manual (Eighth Edition). Think about how it might apply to a school library or the youth collection of a public library.
From defacing book pages to formal calls to remove books from the library, there are kinds of censorship. At some point during your library career, it’s likely that you’ll face issues related to censorship.
Informal approaches to censorship may go unnoticed unless you’re on the lookout for problems. Individuals may steal or rip out pages of books they find offensive. Markers might be used to deface passages or Bible passages may be written on the title page. Marilyn Irwin (2013) shared the following example.
“A school library media specialist reported that she discovered that someone had written, 'Sinners go to hell' along with a psalm from the Bible when reading Rainbow Boys by Alex Sanchez, a story about three homosexual young men, a book checked out from her own library’s collection. Not only do youth have the right to go to the library to find information from all perspectives, they have the right to do so without being harassed.“
Formal approaches to censorship may be brought by individuals or groups. Parents sometimes feel that a book isn’t appropriate for their child and want the book to be removed from the library so others aren’t “hurt” by the book. It’s important to let the parents know that you respect their individual right to decide what their own child reads. These cases can often be handled informally by pointing out to the parent that other parents may not find the book objectionable. The library serves all youth and their families, not just a vocal few. It’s essential to have formal policies in place if a parent or group chooses to formally request reconsideration of an item. It’s also a good idea to maintain a file or links to reviews used in making selection decisions.
Sometimes religious groups or nonprofit organizations will fixate on a particular book and formally call for its reconsideration. Having a process in place for addressing these types of challenges streamlines the process.
Unfortunately, censorship often begins with an ill-informed librarian who chooses not to select a book for purchase because of the possibility of a challenge. Marilyn Irwin (2013) provides an example.
“Remember the example I used about the book Wasteland? That librarian was choosing not to offer quality material because she was not comfortable with the topic. We as librarians have to keep in mind that there is a difference between selection and censorship. We select materials that represent different perspectives about various issues based on age-appropriateness. We don’t (or shouldn’t) select materials based on what we think are comfortable topics or what we enjoy reading.
I recently heard someone refer to selection as a rule of thirds. You are comfortable with a third of the collection, you can live with another third of the collection, and the content of final third makes you feel at least a bit uneasy. There is very little growth when you only select within your comfort zone.”
The "Real World" of Censorship
Challenged books aren’t restricted to teen content. Over the past couple decades, picture books are increasingly being targeted. Popular author/illustrator Maurice Sendak was one of the most challenged authors including his book In the Night Kitchen (1970). More recently, some extremist organizations were upset by And Tango Makes Three (2005) by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson, the beautiful, true story of two male Chinstrap Penguins raising a baby penguin together.
Every generation has dealt with censorship. As a child of the 60s, I was a young rebel-wannabe. I remember enjoying every rebellious act in Harriet the Spy (1964) by Louise Fitzhugh. Today most people can’t imagine what would make this book so controversial. Check out an excerpt of Pat Scale’s reflection on the fiftieth anniversary of it’s publication.
“I was a junior in college when I first read Harriet the Spy. My children's literature professor thought we should read the novel, which critics were discussing. Some loved it; others were perplexed by it. Censors had a field day with it because Harriet wasn't a good role model. After all, she is a bit naughty and occasionally even lets loose with mild profanity, something never before seen in children's books. For this reason, the novel made some adults nervous, and it was blackballed from many "notable" lists for children in 1964 because girls shouldn't act that way. Yet libraries had long waiting lists of girls who wanted to read it. Those whose mothers objected managed to bury themselves under the bedcovers and read it by the single beam of a small flashlight. Now Harriet is turning 50, girls read it in full view, and we wonder what the ruckus was about.
Harriet M. Welsch is the quintessential feminist. She was born at a time when women were burning their bras and letting their voices be heard. She was not the female character in the books of my youth but the girl I would have liked to meet in fiction. For the most part, she was not the girl I was but the girl I secretly wanted to be. Who wouldn't want to sneak into places and jot down observations about people who didn't know they were being watched? What girl wouldn't have liked the freedom to walk around city streets all alone clad in jeans and sneakers with a secret spy journal in her hand? Who knows? Maybe Harriet gave girls permission to be independent and courageous. Just maybe she is responsible for girls' realizing that it's okay to be smart, creative, inquisitive, and imaginative. She is a girl who knows what she wants to be, and she sets out to become it.”
Read In Defense of Drama. Think about a book you feel needs to be defended.
Promote Intellectual Freedom
An important way to fight censorship is helping our youth understanding their rights.
Go the Banned Book Week page to learn more about this important advocacy activity.
Use social media and in-library displays to promote intellectual freedom. A display of challenged books is a great way to start a conversation in your library about the constitutional rights of youth and all Americans. You’ll find the tweens and teens love the idea of reading “banned books”. Youth need to understand that the library is on “their side” in protecting books that may not be approved by others.
In building an effective library collection for youth, the topics of selection, evaluation, awards, and censorship all go hand-in-hand.
Go to the Banned Book Week page. Think about a marketing campaign for a school or public library that would promote intellectual freedom and materials for youth.
Book Reviews Sources
Book reviews are an essential tool in selecting materials for purchase. Keep in mind that just because a book is reviewed in a journal or blog doesn’t mean that it’s a good book. Look for starred reviews and other indicators of a positive recommendations. Then, check them against what consumers are saying at websites like GoodReads and Amazon.
Don’t just take the word of reviews. If possible, review the book yourself. Many publishers and sales websites provide samples. Also, try Google Books for previews. This gives you a chance to try out the book and see what you think.
In your S502: Collection Development course, you should have already learned about the major selection tools. If you’d like to read more, go to my Selection page from the Collection Development course. Or, go directly to the Book Review Sources.
Let’s explore a few book review sources specifically focused on youth selection.
VOYA (Voices of Youth Advocates) is a fantastic resource for book reviews. Examine their review system and read one of their review columns to see how it works. Use the Citation Linker at IUPUI to find complete, online copies. They're in the Academic Search (EBSCO) databases through IUPUI.
School Library Journal is popular regardless of your library setting. Use the Citation Linker at IUPUI to find complete, online copies. They're in the Academic Search (EBSCO) and LexisNexis databases through IUPUI.
Horn Book is geared specifically for children and young adults. Use the Citation Linker at IUPUI to find complete, online copies. They're in the Academic Search (EBSCO), Literature Resource Center and ProQuest Central databases through IUPUI.
**Kirkus Reviews is for all materials, but they also review materials for youth by age. Use the Citation Linker at IUPUI to find complete, online copies. They're in the Academic Search (EBSCO), Literature Resource Center and ProQuest Central databases through IUPUI.
Other periodicals include:
H. W. Wilson (EBSCO) has published a range of “core collection” tools to help librarians build a collection. Available through IUPUI Library. These include
- Children's Core Collection (EBSCO)
- Middle and Junior High Core Collection (EBSCO)
- Senior High Core Collection (EBSCO)
Also consider NoveList Plus fom EBSCOhost. Available through IUPUI Library.
Each journal has it’s own unique way of reviewing books. Compare reviews from three different sources such as Horn Book, Kirkus, and VOYA.
Looking for a review for a particular title? Go to Citation Linker and enter the title of the book. Then, try a particular journal such as Kirkus.
Book Review Index Online from Gale is a comprehensive online guide to over five million review citations from thousands of publications. This service is available through IUPUI list or go directly.
For more information, go to Gale.
Book Review Digest Plus from EBSCO is a subscription database that provides excerpts and citations on current adult and juvenile fiction and non-fiction. Critical evaluations are selected from 109 periodicals for inclusion including Booklist, Library Journal, School Library Journal, Kirkus Reviews, and reading journals. This database covered the period of 1983-present. This service is available through IUPUI list or go directly. For more information, go to EBSCO.
Many popular magazines and newspapers also have sections focusing on youth materials. For instance, the New York Times.
It's important to consider the opinions of end-users. For instance something that may seem silly to you, may become a hit with kids. Think about the popularity of Captain Underpants! You'll find websites with reviews by those in particular age groups and genres.
- BookHive - reviews by kids for kids
- LitPick - by preteens and teens
- Teen Reads - reviews by teens for teens
Increasingly, social networks are being used to share the buzz about particular books. Keep up-to-date on the trends by following social media sites.
Try some of the following Book Review Lists:
Explore quality websites that focus on reading and literature.
Professional blogs are another great tool. You'll want to start your own list of favorites. When you find a good blog, look at their "blog roll". This is the blog's list of their favorite blogs.
- Abby the Librarian
- Literature for Kids
- Mrs. Readerpants
- Nerdy Book Club
- Secrets & Sharing Soda by Katie Fitzgerald
- Stacked Books
- YALSA The Hub
For more ideas, go to the Cybils Children’s and Young Adult Bloggers’ Literary Awards. Check out the bloggers involved with this project.
The YALSA-BK LISTSERV is a wonderful way to get involved in what’s happening with young adult literature. Librarians post their questions and hundreds of others chime in with ideas. Some of the best discussions are archived at the YALSA:The Hub blog. To subscribe to the book discussions through email, go to http://lists.ala.org/wws/arc/yalsa-bk.
Writing Book Reviews
Once you’ve purchased and read a book, you may want to do a book review, create a book trailer, or give a book talk. These are all ways to connect your new books with readers. You may wish to review materials for fun your own personal pleasure, advise youth, or help adults choose books for youth.
When creating nonfiction book reviews, consider the following ideas for a quality review:
- Focus on the best of the best, you want to share good examples.
- Stick to forgotten classics that are being reprinted or engaging new books that are currently in print. You want readers to be able to buy the book you suggest.
- Provide the title, author, publisher, copyright date, age ranges, and if possible the Lexile reading level.
- Provide a summary that includes the content, structure and features of the book.
- Provide a critique of the contents and organization of the book.
- Provide reasons why you think this book should be part of the collection. What features does it have that others don't?
- Provide examples including images and excerpts from the book and be sure to discuss these examples. Share why you chose this image or phrase.
- Discuss what type of reader might be interested in this book.
- Make comparisons with other books that might be familiar to readers.
- Recommend pairings or clusters with books people might already have in their collections. Describe WHY you selected these companions.
- List major awards the book has received.
- List outstanding websites, digital images, or digital collections that might accompany the book.
- Suggest use or extension activities with specific examples (i.e., great read-aloud because..., examine a globe together and locate key places in the book).
Booktalks and book trailers are an effective way to promote the nonfiction collection for youth.
A booktalk is a short presentation, skit, or spoken narrative intended to convince youth to read a book. Generally, the audience is provided with a glimpse of the book's focus. When booktalking a narrative nonfiction, it's important not to give away the ending. The key is providing enough interesting information to make the potential reader ready to choose the book. Booktalks are generally three to seven minutes in length. Book commercials are sometimes 60 to 90 second like a TV spot.
Read Booktalking: That Was Then and This Is Now by Joni Richards Bodart. ALAN Review, 2010, 38(1), 57-63.
A book trailer is a video advertisement for a book. Like a booktalk, it's used to promote books and reading. Like a movie trailer, it uses visual and audio elements to convince readers to check out the book. In many cases, it includes still images from the book along with music and narration. Watch videos from publishers intended to entice readers to read. Some examples are listed below:
- Capstone Publishers
- HarperCollins Children's
- HarperCollins Teen
- Hatchette Book Group
- Henry Holt
- Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
- Little Brown Books for Young Readers
- Penguin Young Readers
- Random Books Children's
- Scholastic Kids
- Scholastic Teens
- Simon & Schuster
For lots of examples, go to YouTube and search for book trailers.
Read Not So Innocent: Book Trailers as Promotional Text and Anticipatory Stories by Denise Davila. ALAN Review, 2010, 38(1), 32-42.
Designing a BookTalk or Book Trailer
There are many approaches to creating a booktalk or book trailer for youth.
When designing a booktalk, it's critical to think about the needs, interests, and desires of the audience. What will engage a second grader or teen reader?
While some booktalks focus on one work, others explore a genre such as mysteries, poetry, or steampunk. For these genre booktalks focus on three or four books that reflect the broad spectrum of options in the area.
First person booktalks are a fun way to attract attention. Dress up as an historical character, scientist, or sports figure. Talk from the point of view of these character. Or, use puppets to act out a passage.
The key to selling the book(s) is eliciting an emotional response. Gross out tweens with fake facts about zombies or draw them in with statistics about bullying. Use costumes and props to bring the topic alive.
Don't forget the book! In your excitement about skits and props, remember to provide information about the book. Read exciting passages, point out amazing facts, and show engaging visuals from the book.
Make your booktalk or book trailer memorable. Could you wear a costume, use props, or weave in associated background music? Could you turn it into a skit or mystery? Be creative!
Go to the Book Trailer Manual blog and do some exploring.
Watch some booktalks and book trailers at publisher websites, on StoryTubes, or at YouTube. My Collection Development course links to popular Publisher YouTube Channels. Look for the children/teen divisions.
Critique at least three booktalks/booktrailers for youth providing the URL, summary, and review. What works and doesn't work in creating a video booktalk or book trailer? How are fiction and nonfiction treated differently? Create a set of guidelines for producing a video booktalk or book trailer for youth. How can you engage readers by going beyond the book (i.e., costumes, props, music, special effects, mystery).
Create your own video booktalk or book trailer for the selection of your choice. Or, create a genre booktalk promoting some section of your collection.
Your trailer should be engaging. I should want to run to the library to check it out. If you're going to do a traditional "talk at the camera and read an excerpt", choose another option. Instead, this is your chance to be create!
Reader Advisory for Youth
Children and young adults often need help in locating quality materials. The librarian must be ready with lots of ideas.
Sometimes children have a specific book in mind, but don’t know the title or author. Generally, they’ll describe the book based on the cover. Although “big orange fish” helps, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll be able to find the book. If a subject search doesn’t work, head to Google and enter the child’s description. You’ll be surprised to find that this works much of the time.
Enter the words “overfeeding a fish book” into Google. The first book listed is A Fish out of Water that has a big orange fish on the cover. Try “book about a vampire bunny” and Bunnicula comes right up. Finally, search for “crashing truck children’s book” and Smash! Crash! by Jon Scieszka appears on the screen. Try your own search based on a general description of a children’s or young adult book. How many searches did it take to find the book?
I've already read all the zombie books. What should I read now?
I like series books about kids in school. What series should I read next?
I really liked Hunger Games. What else would you recommend?
You need to be ready with ideas. Read-alike lists are helpful in anticipating youth questions. Read-alikes are books with a similar theme, characters, or settings to a book a youth likes. For example,
- If you like this author, you may like...
- If you like this series, you may like...
- If you like books about X, you may like...
- If you like books set in X, you may like...
- If you like this character, you may like...
Do a Google search for the word "read alike" and you'll find lots of websites. If you're looking for something specific, try "read alike" along with a topic such as Twilight or Diary of a Wimpy Kid.
Bilalic, Merim & McLeod, Peter (March 2014). Why good thoughts block better ones. Scientific American, 75-79.
Irwin, Marilyn (2013). Materials for Youth. Course lecture.
Maguire, G. (2002). Postcards from No Man’s Land. Horn Book Magazine, 78(4), 454-455.
Short, Kathy (2014). Essentials of Children’s Literature. Eighth edition. Pearson.
Stoodt, Barbara (1996). Children’s Literature. Macmillian Education.
Tunnell, Michael O., Jacobs, James S., Young, Terrell A., & Bryan, Gregory (2012). Children’s Literature, Briefly. Fifth Edition. Pearson.