“A house without books is like a room without windows.” — Horace Mann

Little Girl Carrying Books

Here are some of my favorite resources for hungry readers who want to explore the world of children’s literature. A literary feast awaits!



There are very few people working in children’s literature today who have the incredible experience and insight of Anita Silvey. The former editor of the Horn Book, and a children’s publishing veteran with more than 35 years experience in the industry, Silvey brings a broad perspective any many personal stories to her analysis of children’s literature. The best part? She is just as excited about great children’s books today as she was when she started her career! She has written a number of excellent resources, and three of my favorites are below.

100 BB for children

100 BEST BOOKS FOR CHILDREN, by Anita Silvey
978-0618618774; Houghton Mifflin; August 2005; $9.95 PA
A list of 100 essential books no child should be without. Including classics and newer titles, the list is divided by age ranges, and includes many fascinating stories about how the books came to be published. Great reading in and of itself, and a must-have for anyone building a great library of kids books.


500 books for teens

500 GREAT BOOKS FOR TEENS, by Anita Silvey
978-0618612963; Houghton Mifflin; October 2006; $26.00 HC
No area of children’s publishing is more fraught with danger and confusion for the uninitiated buyer than books for teens. This category has so many titles being published, with such a wide range of content, that it is very difficult to sort the wheat from the chaff, as it were. This book is just the antidote the doctor ordered. Grouped by genre, with detailed analysis, cross-over titles from the adult market, and a wide range of both classic and new writing, this guide is perfect for parents and teachers looking to find great books for the teen readers in their lives.


Essential Guide to CB

978-0618190829; Houghton Mifflin; September 2002; $17.00 PA
Essentially a college course in the pages of a book, this is the definitive guide for anyone looking to dig in and learn all about children’s literature, past and present. With 475 essays covering authors, trends, genres, essays on the craft of writing and so much more, this book will give anyone interested in the study of children’s literature a comprehensive start.


These are two additional references I love, and think belong on any resource shelf:


HTGY Child to love reading

HOW TO GET YOUR CHILD TO LOVE READING: For Ravenous and Reluctant Readers Alike, by Esme Codell
978-1565123083; Algonqiun; August 2003; $18.95 PA
A truly comprehensive and enthusiastic book written by a former librarian, teacher, and children’s lit expert. Aimed squarely at parents who are interested in getting their kids reading, this book is packed with strategies, book lists, activity ideas, and other resources to get kids excited. Covers more than 3,000 titles, sorted by age and subject.


Read Aloud handbook

978-0143037392; Penguin; July 2006; $15.00 PA
This is the fourth edition of this wonderful book that lists more than 1,200 children’s books across all age ranges that are great for reading aloud. Trelease also explains why reading aloud is so important, how to get started reading aloud, and how to create an atmosphere that encourages and welcomes reading. He also addresses the thorny issue of competing with television and other media for kids’ attention, as well as other contemporary trends that are affecting literacy.



In addition to the resources in the blogroll, here are some great websites for taking the exploration further:


The mac-daddy of children’s literacy organizations has a monster website packed with all kinds of booklists, resources, activity calendars and SO MUCH MORE! With separate pages for parents, teachers, and librarians it will take you a long time to uncover all of the treasures buried here.


CBR Wiki

For those of you unfamiliar the concept of WIKI-s, a wiki is a website or similar online resource which allows users to add and edit content collectively. (Wikipedia is perhaps the best-known of these sites.) This one is for children’s book reviews, and it draws hundreds of reviews from more than 20 kid lit sites. Reviews are divided by age, and subject.


teaching books.net

Most of the content on this awesome literacy site is by subscription, but they do have an incredibly comprehensive listing of alphabetical author websites that is browsable by everyone. Track down the webpages of favorite authors and learn the stories behind the stories.