Ten: Resources for Finding Great Books

I’ve had a lot of fun with the Ten posts, but I’ve run into a couple of problems. First, I’m wondering whether there are topics that you’d like to see covered here that I’ll never come up with on my own. The lists so far have developed out of the recognition of repeated themes in my own reading, fleshed out by research and new reading to create a list of ten titles that speak to that theme from different angles. I would love to take on some reader-requested projects! If there’s a topic/theme that you’d like to see covered, just mention it in the comments.

The second problem is that, with the end of term almost here, I’m falling a bit behind on my research/reading for Ten. I have a couple of lists in the works, but nothing that’s ready to go, yet. My solution is to take a bit of a break and offer you an alternative while I catch up. This week’s Ten is not a list of books, but a list of great resources for finding books. Enjoy!

Reading Rainbow
LeVar Burton’s long-running classic has been rebooted. With a website, blog, and content-rich iPad app*, children, parents and educators have easy access to all sorts of tools for finding books and exploring the interests sparked by reading.
*The iPad app requires a paid subscription to access content, but appears to include full text books and new “field trip” videos — sort of like Netflix for picture books.

Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA)
YALSA is a division of the American Library Association, and its website is packed with resources for working with teens that go well beyond finding them something to read. Their free Book Finder app (iPhone too, for this one) allows users to browse by author, year of publication, award, or YALSA-created book list.

Kent District Library’s What’s Next? database
What’s Next is a simple tool that allows users to enter an author, or a book or series title, and discover what’s in a series, and in what order. Especially handy for series that are unclear about the order in which the books should be read.

SurLaLune Fairy Tales
Aside from offering fascinating information on the backgrounds and years of interpretations of dozens of well-known stories, SurLaLune provides electronic collections of fairy tales from around the world and reading lists of modern retellings of the stories it covers. The website is a bit slow to load, but has enough material to keep an interested browser occupied for weeks.

Other Book Bloggers
Every book blogger has his or her own approach to the project of telling readers about great books. Exploring a variety of blogs will reveal the ones that suit your taste and/or interests. The site linked above provides a huge list of YA book bloggers. Quite a few of the links are dead, but enough are still active to make the site well worth a visit.

Authors’ Blogs, Websites and Twitter Accounts
If an author whose work a reader enjoys has an active online presence, chances are good that sooner or later that author will share books that he or she has particularly enjoyed.

Publishers’ Websites
If you find that a number of books a reader enjoys come from the same publisher, take a look at the publisher’s website. If their selection criteria have matched the reader’s preferences in the past, there’s a good chance other books in their catalogue will be of interest as well. For example, several of the books we’ve recommended here have come from Candlewick Press, linked above. A bonus: many publishers include additional features and resources on their websites, including author interviews, teaching and discussion guides, and printable extras.

Professional Review Venues
Another nod to the “find more of what you like” approach: journals and newspapers that have taken time to review other books the reader has enjoyed can be a good source of new reading material. Alternatively, if you’re looking for a more general source of reviews and recommendations, you might visit a journal that specialises in reviewing the type(s) of materials you’d like to find, like School Library Journal, linked above.

Literature Award Lists
Books that have won literary awards (e.g. the Newbery Medal, the Caldecott Medal, etc.) have been judged the best in their fields. Whether or not you agree with the judges, award lists can provide quick access to works that have received special attention and might be worth a look. In most cases, you can read through the criteria used by the judges to assess whether books honoured by the award suit the reader(s) you’re trying to serve.

Goodreads Listopia
For crowdsourced recommendations, Goodreads is a great place to start. With thousands of lists and tens of thousands of voters, you’re bound to find one or more lists that suit your reader’s needs and/or interests.

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