KBR favourite, Cherie Bell is back and here to help you navigate the great ocean of books to find that perfect book (or books!) for your young reader. Enjoy!
I have been asked a few times where I get book recommendations from.
The short answer is the internet, specifically social media. The long answer is
As a kid, if I read a book and really liked it, I would remember the
author’s name and then every time I was in the school or public library I would
scout out the section where their books should be and hunt for other books by
the same author.
I remember doing this for Encyclopaedia Brown books, Where’s
Wally books, John Marsden books and, of course, Babysitter’s Club books.
In Uni, with the advent of the internet, particularly Amazon, I would
search a book I liked and then scroll through the ‘Other Books People Bought’
section to see what a good match for me might be. This was really effective; I
found, read and liked many books using this method.
I now employ similar finding techniques for the kids’ books, only using
social media. If we really like a book I will connect with the author or
illustrator or publisher on Instagram or Facebook. There are a few really great
benefits to doing this. Firstly, they will usually post about their work, so
you can see earlier books or, most importantly, upcoming books. Also, by
connecting with them, you also connect to other people who like their books and
they will often be recommending other books that you might like to check out.
There are plenty of people on social media posting about books they
love. They might be a teacher, a librarian, a bookseller, a home schooler or a
parent. I usually find them by searching through people who like posts that I
also like and then following them.
I have now built up on my social media pages a bank of people who are
contributors to or consumers of the kid’s book industry. These people are
readers, and they will let you know if they really like a book, and they will
often be happy to recommend other books if you ask.
I also use groups, such as Your
Kid’s Next Read, on Facebook. There are lots of well-known names in the Australian
kid’s book industry who contribute regularly to the group. Once you are a
member of the group you can gain access to their wonderfully thorough book
lists. There are lists for girls and boys of all age groups plus more. You can
also access all posts and see what recommendations might suit your child. And
if all this is still not getting you results, you can put the brains trust to
work by posing a question.
You can also go to book review sites. I use Goodreads every so often,
but I find it is too big. For something a bit smaller, besides KBR, you might
try Brightly or (CBCA’s) Reading Time which are all book review sites dedicated to kids’ books. The benefit of these sites is that the reviews
usually go past a well-respected and very knowledgeable editor. The downside is
that they might only review books that have been sent to them by publishers or
creators, meaning you might miss some excellent books which were published
You can also follow blogs such as Megan Daley’s Children’s Books Daily, Brightly or Sarah
Aloud Revival. Or you can listen to podcasts, such as Middle Grade Mavens, The Kidlit Club,
Reading with a Chance of Tacos, and One More Page.
But to really make use of all these recommendations you need a system
to record the recommendations. I use Keep (I’m sure there is an Apple-sphere
equivalent), and I have separate notes for different book lists: one for me,
one for different kids and one for family read-aloud books. When I source a
title that I want to get my hands on I record it along with the
author/illustrator on the list. Then every few weeks I sit down at the computer
and search the library catalogue for them. If the library doesn’t have it, I
will often request they buy it. I use these lists when I’m buying gifts as
well. As it turns out there are way more books out there that I want us to read
than we can actually get our hands on and my lists are only ever growing.
Cherie Bell is a mother of four
unholy wildings, a book reviewer, an aspiring librarian, a blogger, a
volunteer, a netball coach, and a novice gardener. She can be found at Booking For 4, on Facebook and Instagram.