Do you ever think “I totally could have written that” after reading a children’s book? I know I have! But then I tired to write one for my Master’s Project and GOODNESS GRAY it was tough. Probably one of the hardest things I’ve completed in my academic career.
There are so many different components that go into a quality piece of children’s literature. Even though a 18 page picture book seems simple, there is A LOT of thought behind every detail. It’s hard to know and appreciate the complexities of what constitutes good children’s literature, and even harder to determine which books represent quality children’s lit. Therefore, I often refer to my favorite book lists to help guide me. I certainly don’t think every book you read to your child has be awarding-winning literature – believe me, we read a lot of books just for kicks. But I do think it’s important to read your child a balanced diet of children’s literature. The good stuff helps expose them to more thought-provoking and stimulating content matter.
To help understand some of what goes into quality children’s lit, here is a little excerpt from one of my favorite places to look for new and good children’s books regarding how they select books for their annual book lists (Bank Street College of Education):
“In choosing books for the annual list, reviewers consider literary quality and excellence of presentation as well as the potential emotional impact of the books on young readers. Other criteria include credibility of characterization and plot, authenticity of time and place, age suitability, positive treatment of ethnic and religious differences, and the absence of stereotypes. Nonfiction titles are further evaluated for accuracy and clarity.”
This helps give you a bit more perspective on the whole process, right? And these are just a few high-level things that make-up good children’s lit.
SO to help me sort through all the options out there, I rely on these links below for guidance when on the hunt for the best children’s books:
Newbery Medal Winners – Going straight to the top here. These books receive medals for being the most notable contributions to children’s lit for the year.
Caldecott Medal Winners – Up at the top again. These books receive medals for containing the most distinguished illustrations of the year.
New York Public Library – Love this classic list of the top 100 children’s books for the past 100 years.
Bank Street College – Saved the best for last (OK I’m biased as a Bank Street Grad, but really, when it comes to children’s lit they REALLY know what’s up). This is your one-stop-shop when looking for children’s books. They compile annual book lists that are broken down by age and category. You can also search their general book lists to find books that address pretty much any topic.
Where do you go to look for new children’s books?